Here comes yet another e-ink based e-reader! I've honestly lost count of how many companies are in the midst of rolling out one of these gadgets. It's like the early days of the mp3 player.
Anyway, today we have the COOL-ER, from Interead. Engadget has all the details as well as an extensive image gallery, but quickly, we're talking about a six inch e-ink screen, no wireless capability, and a price point of $250. Oh, and you can play Sudoku on it, and for some people I know that might be its biggest selling point. People love their Sudoku.
Assuming you do buy it to read books, where is your content going to come from? The COOL-ER supports material in PDF and EPUB formats, and Interead has set up an online store for selling ebooks (not limited to their reader). You'll need to download material to a computer and transfer it to an SD card, or connect the COOL-ER via a USB cable. That's starting to feel a little retro, isn't it? The website doesn't provide a lot of detail on how this will work, aside from saying "The Cool-er is plug and play compatible. No cdrom, no formatting, just use the USB cable provided to download your book and you will be reading in a matter of minutes!" That implies to me that we'll mount the device as an external drive, then drag content to it.
I belabor this last point because Engadget quotes Interead company founder Neil Jones as saying the COOL-ER represents the "iPod moment that e-readers have been waiting for," and saying that the device is designed for the non-technologically inclined reader. I don't see it. What makes the iPod so easy to use is iTunes. You click a "Buy Now" button to buy your music, wait a few minutes, then you plug your iPod in, wait a few more minutes, and unplug it. You don't have to think about what's going on; suddenly your music is magically on your device.
That gripe aside, $250 is certainly a relatively attractive price point for an e-ink based e-reader, and it's nice that customers have the option of using the Interead store, but aren't locked in to using it.
The COOL-ER ships in early June, but you can pre-order it now.