CTIA wasn't just about cell phones; Kobo Books was there to show off not only their smartphone reader applications but their upcoming 6 inch e-Ink ebook reader. For those who don't know, www.Kobobooks.com sells ebooks online (including popular best sellers) in standard Adobe ePUB format. Their books work with any reader that supports Adobe ePUB with DRM. That means the Sony Reader series, the Barnes & Noble nook and the IREX DR800 but not the Amazon Kindle (Amazon doesn't support ePUB).
The Kobo Reader follows the Kindle 2 and nook school of design with a modern plastic front bezel and a slim design. The back has a nice quilted pattern that not only looks good but helps you hold onto the device. It has a 6" e-Ink display with 8 shades of gray and it's smaller than the 6" Kindle and nook since there's no keyboard or secondary touch display. The Kobo reader will be available in white and black.
This isn't a high end reader with scads of new features. Instead it's meant to be an attractive, compact and affordable ebook reader. And from what we've seen it succeeds at that nicely. At $149 it's seriously cheaper than the Kindle 2 and nook, yet you get the same 6" e-Ink reading experience. Nice. You can of course load books purchased from Kobobooks.com and you can load ePUB books from other stores including Sony's.
The reader's controls are on the left edge which is a little weird at first, but we found the front rubbery d-pad worked well. Text quality is good and you can select from 5 font sizes.
The Kobo Reader should be available this summer at Borders stores (Borders owns a part interest in Kobo). Though it's easy enough to side load books to the reader's gig of internal memory over USB, we wonder if computer-phobic types will be turned off by the lack of a wireless store on the reader itself. There's no 3G, no WiFi and no on-board bookstore. You'll instead buy books using your computer's web browser or smartphone app and transfer them to the Kobo Reader. The ebook reader does have Bluetooth and you'll be able to sync books between the reader and selected smartphones.