Borders has been selling Kobo e-readers for a while and in recent weeks has been offering a version with built-in Wi-Fi for $99, discounted from its list price of $139.99.
As the price suggests, the Kobo, which has the same-size 6-inch e-ink display as the Kindle and Nook, is a somewhat basic e-reader (the screen has 8 levels of gray, not 16), but it does offer wireless connectivity (unlike its predecessor) and 1GB of internal memory, and there's an SD card expansion slot for adding more (up to 4GB).
In case you don't know what the Borders connection with Kobo is, this is the synopsis: needing to have some sort of presence in the e-reader space, in 2009 the company acquired a stake in Kobo, which was originally called Shortcovers, a spinoff of Canada's Indigo Books & Music (Indigo remains the largest investor in the company). Now Kobo powers Borders' eBookstore.
On a side note, Kobo also has its own separate e-bookstore, as well its own iPhone, iPad, and Android apps for smartphones and tablets. Confusing? Just a bit.
The quick and dirty specs on the Kobo Wireless eReader:
- • 6-inch E Ink electronic paper display
- • 4.7 inches wide by 7.2 inches tall by 0.4 inch thick, 8 ounces
- • Available in three colors: onyx/black, silver, lilac
- • Resolution: 800x600 pixels
- • Gray scale: Eight-level gray scale
- • 1GB of internal memory (stores around 1,000 e-books)
- • SD-card expansion slot (up to 4GB)
- • Five adjustable font sizes, plus choice of Serif or San Serif
- • Sealed-in (not user-replaceable) battery provides up to two weeks of reading on a single charge
- • $139.99 MSRP, widely available for $99
- • USB cable included
- • Files supported: EPUB, PDF, Adobe DRM
The Kobo is fairly plain-looking, but it has a nice "quilted" back. We didn't have any serious issues with its appearance or feel, and it's designed better than the generic Aluratek Libre (street price: $125). At a hair under 8 ounces, it's relatively compact and lightweight and can be held in one hand for reading.
We found the script on the screen to be a little lighter on this e-reader than on some competing models and the text was not as sharply defined as it should be. Like other e-ink e-readers, there's some lag when you turn pages and go back and forth between books and the home menu. But it's worth noting that the lag is much more pronounced on this Kobo than on the latest-generation Kindle or Nook e-ink e-readers.