Budget ebook reader debuts

Britain-based Interead is the first company beyond heavyweights Amazon and Sony to offer both a hardware reader and a sales pipeline for acquiring ebook content

Move over, Kindle, a new e-book reader is in town -- and it's coming from a newcomer to the consumer electronics universe. Britain-based Interead is the first company beyond heavyweights Amazon and Sony to offer both a hardware reader and a sales pipeline for acquiring ebook content. And while its initial offerings -- the Cool-er E-book reader and coolerbooks.com -- are a little rough around the edges, together they offer a viable, no-frills alternative to Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader.

"Cool-er has been designed to fit the requirements of a reader. They want it to be portable, light, to fit in a jacket pocket or purse, and they want it to do what they want to do in a simple manner," posits company founder Neil Jones.

Dissatisfied with the current status quo in ebook readers, Jones pursued his vision of an ebook reader earlier this year. Jones began a rapid-fire four-month development cycle in January, and partnered with a Taiwanese manufacturer on the device's design and production. The resulting Cool-er Reader is entering production now, and will be available at the end of May. The Cool-er Reader costs US$249, as compared to the Amazon Kindle 2's $379.

One aspect of the Cool-er Reader will sound very familiar: It has a 6-inch E-Ink screen. It also has 1GB of onboard storage (good for about 750 to 800 books), and an SD Card slot (as found on the Sony Digital Reader PRS-700 and the first-generation Kindle) for expanding data capacity by up to 4GB. The device weighs 6.3 ounces -- up to half the weight of other e-book readers -- and it measures just 8.6 mm thick, making slimmer than even the Apple iPhone 3G (which also is an e-book reader through several apps, including a version of Kindle).

The Cool-er Reader can handle EPUB-formatted books, in addition to Adobe PDF files, text files, and JPEG files. It can also handle up to eight languages simultaneously (although you can manually change the device's language to one of the supported eight languages, too). The device has MP3 playback, for use with audio books.

Hands On Impressions

I've been using a late production Cool-er and have to say it is a promising first-generation unit, but it's not without its rough spots. The navigation menus are inelegant and lack the general accessibility of its competitors. It has only a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of the standard issue 3mm jack (Jones said that was because of the unit's slim design). And the buttons on the device are noticeably stiff.

But I found a lot to like, too: The Cool-er is a featherweight, which makes it easy to carry. And, it comes in an array of colors -- eight, to be precise, including stalwarts like matte black and silver, and peppier colors like green, blue, red, and pink. The unit has a convenient mini-USB port on the bottom, for charging and for data transfers. (Check back for a more complete update on how the Cool-er works.)

How an unknown quantity like Interead will fare against the establishment remains to be seen, but Interead has taken the step to launch an ebook store, too-coolerbooks.com. There, the company offers over 260,000 e-books . Jones notes that's more than the 160,000 titles in Sony's digital book store's coffers (not counting Google Book Search) and about 4000 more e-books than Amazon offers. Interead plans to sell the books at 25 percent off of list price for Cool-er Reader owners, and 20 percent off list for the rest of consumers.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ebookkindlecool-er

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Melissa J. Perenson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?