updated 11:20 am EDT, Mon May 23, 2011
Kobo eReader Touch Edition due in June
Kobo this morning put itself back into contention in the e-reader space at BookExpo America by launching the eReader Touch Edition. Its new model has a namesake six-inch, infrared-based touchscreen that simplifies the interface even further with swipe and zoom gestures along with taps. The reader should also be an upgrade to the experience itself, getting both a faster, higher-contrast E Ink Pearl screen as well as a faster Freescale i.MX507 processor to speed screen redraws.
The design still has the Wi-Fi of the Wireless eReader for shopping and syncing books.
Price will be one of the cornerstones for the Touch Edition. Where past Kobo readers have typically been more expensive for the features, the new model is expected to cost $129, or both $10 less than the regular Wi-Fi Kindle and only $15 more than the ad-supported Kindle. Kobo ships the new touch model in June and will be accompanied by a price slash on the existing Wireless eReader to $99.
The Canadian company has had to struggle against Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even Apple, often remaining a small player, but more recently has accelerated its pace. It recently got $50 million in funding and is the preloaded e-reader supplier of choice for the BlackBerry PlayBook. Its Touch Edition is both an attempt to get ahead of the Kindle and Nook but also to distance its e-readers from tablets, making them a more compelling buy for those who either might easily be upsold to a tablet or who might consider getting a dedicated reading device as a companion.