Not to be left out of the fast-growing e-reader and e-book arenas, Borders now has its own e-reader, the $150 Kobo eReader. With it, you can read e-books purchased from Borders' online store, which is powered by Kobo.
As the price suggests, the Kobo, which has the same-size 6-inch e-ink display as the Kindle and the Nook, is something of a no-frills e-reader: it doesn't have Wi-Fi or 3G wireless connectivity (and the screen has 8 levels of gray, not 16). However, it does offer a Bluetooth connection for "wirelessly syncing with select smartphones and updating your reading list on the go." It comes with 1GB of internal memory, and there's an SD card expansion slot for adding more (up to 16GB).
Needing sort of a hook to make its presence felt in the e-reader space, Borders came up with the strategy of going with an affordably priced e-reader to try to gain a competitive advantage. Late in 2009, the company took a stake in Kobo, which was originally called Shortcovers, a spin-off of Canada's Indigo Books & Music (Indigo remains the largest investor in the company). Alas, shortly after the Kobo shipped in June 2010, both Barnes & Noble and Amazon lowered the price of their e-readers to $199 and $189, respectively, and Barnes & Noble released a $150 Wi-Fi-only version of the Nook.
Borders has tried to respond to those price cuts by throwing in a $20 gift card with the Kobo--which is good--but the problem is that both the Nook and the Kindle outclass the Kobo. Not that the Kobo is a bad little e-reader--it isn't--but the text on the 800x600-pixel e-ink screen could pop a bit more (it's just not as dark as it is on competing models, including the $150 Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-300, which has a smaller 5-inch screen).
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