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Kobo, a CAN$ 149 e-book reader next month


Wow! A CAN$ 149 e-book reader with Bluetooth and an SD Card Slot which reads EPUB and PDF files. This is the same screen size as the original Kindle, although the Kobo's frame size is smaller (no keyboard).

Thick: 10mm / 0.4"
Weight: 200 grams / 7 oz.
Frame: 120x184mm / 4.7"x7.2"
Screen: 152mm / 6" (diag.) 8 level greyscale e-paper
Battery: 8,000 pages, or 2 weeks between charges
Connectivity: Bluetooth for file transfer plus SD Cards (no SDHC cards) and USB cable
Customization: Skins in multiple colors and textures, so you can distinguish His from Hers.

Indigo in Canada is taking orders but US shipments are not slated until this summer.

This is a real game-changer; although the design is imperfect (no backlight, no bookmarking), both are easily overcome (clip-on LED for reading in bed, and Post-ItsTM or paper notebooks for bookmarks).

That price is not likely to drift up, as Marvell's Moby (aimed at education) prototype is priced at $99.

High school textbooks, as per one source, average $70.  Add the concept of Open Textbooks, offered for free, enabling the desire of teachers to supplement their curriculum with material not in the mass-produced textbooks bought for them, and there are terrific opportunities for education; not so much in cost-savings (for textbooks appear to be less than one percent of education budgets) but for improved instruction; and, of course, removing the strap marks from the backs of kids burdened with the weight of five textbooks.

The downside, of course, is substandard curriculum; how will a school or school board screen out bad textbooks, textbooks with errors, ideologically driven texts, outdated texts? Here's a review of five Open Texts on calculus, an ideology-free subject (one hopes).