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Kyobo Mirasol color e-reader debuts in Korea

After a long delay and reports of its demise, Qualcomm's promising Mirasol display technology finally finds its way into an actual shipping product: Korea's Kyobo e-reader.

The Kyobo e-reader with Mirasol display technology is now available in Korea for $310.

A lot of people thought Mirasol, Qualcomm's once-promising color display technology with e-ink-like properties, was dead in the water. But now we get word that Kyobo Book Centre, Korea's largest bookseller, has announced the retail availability of the first Mirasol e-reader.

Simply called the Kyobo e-reader, it looks a lot like the Mirasol prototypes that have been floating around for the last couple of years. The Kyobo's got a 5.7-inch XGA display (1,024x768-pixel resolution, 223 ppi), runs on a Qualcomm 1GHz Snapdragon S2-class processor, and sports a touch-screen interface. Cost: $310 (KRW349,000) or $265 (KRW 299,000) if you happen to be a Kyobo Platinum Book Club member.

For those who've been following Mirasol, the great thing about the technology is that as with e-ink you can view the screen in direct sunlight and it's also very energy-efficient. However, the issue in bringing the technology to market has been that it's expensive compared with monochrome e-ink and the color is muted compared with LCD. (Qualcomm had promised more vibrant color in future generations of Mirasol displays.)

The e-reader features a touch-screen interface (click to enlarge). Kyobo

Neither Qualcomm nor Kyobo gave specific battery-life numbers for the Kyobo e-reader, but said in a statement that, "The device will allow for weeks of reading under typical usage," which it describes as "30 minutes of daily reading time with Wi-Fi off and front light set to 25 percent utilization."

No word on when or if we'll see a Mirasol e-reader in the U.S. or anywhere else, but obviously the price needs to come down for such a device to compete with the likes of the $99 Amazon Kindle Touch with Special Offers and the ad-free $99 Barnes & Noble Simple Touch Reader, as well as the $199 Kindle Fire and $249 Nook Tablet.