UK-based startup Interead has unveiled a new e-book device that promises to apply pricing pressure to rival e-book products from Amazon and Sony.
Called the Cool-er, the device is the result of a realization that the time for an "iPod moment" for e-readers had arrived, according to Interead founder and CEO Neil Jones. "This is the moment when you start to see the eReader reaching the mass market of non-technical people who will be using these devices in their daily lives," Jones explained.
Support for Standardized Formats
The Cool-er -- which measures 7.2 x 4.6 inches, weighs a svelte 6.27 ounces and is just 0.4 inches thick -- comes in the user's choice of eight different bright colors. Interead also says its Linux-powered gadget is capable of delivering up to 8,000 page turns from a single charge of its 1,000mAh battery.
Under the hood, the Cool-er integrates a 400MHz Samsung processor, 1GB of storage, and 128MB of internal memory. Additionally, the device sports an SD card slot capable of supporting the storage of an additional 4GB of information.
On the software side, support is on tap for displaying books and other content in several file formats, including PDF, .txt and JPEG. Even better, the Cool-er fully embraces Adobe's DRM/ePub technology, which means that users won't become locked in to buying e-books in a proprietary format that will run only on certain devices, such as Amazon's Kindle.
"So you can buy books elsewhere and use them on the Cool-er or buy books at coolerbooks.com and use them on another eReader device like Sony's," noted Forrester Research Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.
Jones sees advantages in not giving Cool-er wireless technology. Rival products "have been overpriced because they have had too much technology built into them," he noted. "And Kindle only works in the USA, so if you are traveling abroad you can't access the latest bestsellers."
By contrast, Cool-er users can download the latest e-books from anywhere by using a standard USB cable to connect to any computer running Windows or the Mac OS with a broadband connection. "And as we are the only one with a Mac-compatible device, we have re-enfranchised this part of the computer market," Jones noted.
Users also can listen to their favorite music tracks over headphones while reading. "Cooler has a built-in MP3 player that gives [users] the ability to play music files, audio books or even learn a new language," Jones said.
Looking at Overseas Markets
The exploding popularity of netbooks also has demonstrated that many consumers are perfectly happy to buy electronic gadgets that offer fewer bells and whistles as long as the price is right. Beginning next week, users in the United States will be able to purchase the Cool-er online for $249, whereas the cost of comparable products from Sony and Amazon range between $299 and $359, and the upscale Kindle DX retails for $489.
By itself, the Cool-er isn't likely to have "a huge impact on the market," noted Forrester's Rotman Epps. "The race is to get to a $199 price point with simpler models, which we expect to happen by the third quarter of 2010."
Moreover, the wider war for world e-book domination is barely underway. This is why the Cool-er currently offers support for eight different languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese. "So if they get the distribution strategy right, they could have an early foothold in markets where no eReader company has gone before, even Sony," Rotman Epps explained.
However, there are also companies working on a $99 e-reader aimed at the BRIC markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, Rotman Epps observed. "We expect models on the market at that price point by 2012."
Posted: 2010-07-08 @ 2:21pm PT
I bought one, it never worked. I sent it back. I was told it would be replaced, over 110 days ago. They won't respond to e-mails, phones have been disconnected. I think they're thieves. They won't give back my money, replace the reader, or responed to e-mails, mail and have bad phone numbers. I wouldn't recommend them.