Sunday, June 7, 2009

CNet review of Cool-er Reader

I made an earlier report on the UK's Cool-er Reader, with blog updates added to it afterward.

Several columnists who don't mention the basic features of the Kindle units have referred to the Kindle pricing as "ridiculous" while not pointing out that the Cool-er Reader has virtually none of the Kindle's basic features (especially for a student who would want to search, highlight and add notes to books) -- and definitely not the free 24/7 wireless access almost anywhere that there's a cell phone signal, as the Kindles do, allowing free access to Wikipedia and Google.
  But I've thought for awhile that Amazon should make a budget Kindle without the wireless, to compete in areas (Europe, Canada, etc.) where there is no wireless Amazon has no wireless contracts yet like the one with Sprint for the U.S., since many would appreciate its research features at a more affordable price.

Here's CNet's review by David Carnoy, edited by John P. Falcone.  It includes a videoclip of the Cool-er Reader and is mainly an itemization of drawbacks, while it duly credits the native PDF-support, screen rotation, replaceable inexpensive battery, and SD slot features.  They summarize that it's not quite the bargain they'd hope it'd be.  One notable drawback:
' ...its interface lacks polish and its buttons aren't designed all that well, both in terms of placement and mechanical function (the biggest issue is that they're stiff).  Adjusting the font size, for example is a much more tedious process than it should be;  a dedicated font button like there is on the Kindle would have been nice.  You often end up dealing with menus within menus and check boxes you have to click.  It's just a bit cumbersome...'
They end the article with "At this point, the safer buy in this price range is the Sony PRS-505"... (which also does not have inline dictionary, searching, highlighting, note-adding features either -- nor the 24/7 wireless with web browser).

UPDATE 6/8/09 - Ken Hess writes about the Cool-er and wants feedback.
He asks "I'm wondering if a USB network interface (NIC) would make it wireless capable?  It would be bulkier and a bit clumsier to use but certainly a $249 initial purchase price and a $10 USB NIC still comes in at $100 less than the Kindle."

It wouldn't be actively wireless (even if a USB NIC worked with it) without a wireless contract, which nowadays is about $60/month.  So that margin is eaten up very quickly.

  Kindle pricing is $360 because Amazon advertises that there are no monthly wireless charges though it's available in the U.S. 24/7 almost anywhere and there is even a built-in web browser for the Kindle.  But I didn't want to join yet another discussion circle to merely write that.  I don't think most reviewers are aware of the lack of an inline dictionary, highlighting and note-taking, and searches. He's one of the few who realize the always accessible wireless feature can make a difference although Cool-er has no competition from Amazon outside the U.S. since Amazon has no wireless contracts in those countries.  There's no interactivity with this unit, for $250 though.  I think it will do better when their price is lowered some.  But I think I would personally try it over the Sony PRS-505 if I lived outside the U.S.

  Amazon offers a trial period up to 30 days for the Kindles, with full refund if the device is just not suitable or enjoyable.  Few companies seem to do that.

  Oh, re the paragraph that the USB port allows one to be free of having to buy from one vendor, Kindle users are free to get books from anywhere, unless they're copy-protected -- as long as they're in the common MOBI/prc format (Project Gutenberg,,,, etc etc) and just about all direct to the Kindle without needing a cable, but the Kindle has the USB cable too. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
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  1. So they don't have wireless in Europe or Canada.

    What rubbish?

    The issue is that only Sony and Cool-er have considered that non-roaming Sprint only works in the USA (and even then only some parts).

    Those of us readers that live in Canada have been frustrated by Amazon's arrogance for too long now.

    I can't wait to get my hands on a colorful, french and english language Cool-er.

  2. Hey, Anonymous -
    That was my fault. I saw the wording error and forgot to change it. And will now. It's that the Sprint wireless they have a contract for is not, as everyone knows, in the UK or Canada. It's been reported they're trying to work deals with wireless companies in both countries while getting clearances for books needing that for sale in other countries.

    Amazon's been clear that its Sprint wireless is only for the U.S. at this point and even then not large parts of Montana and Alaska.

    I listed the features the Cool-er DOES have that the review duly credited, and if you don't miss the research features, it should be a useful unit.

    I imagine it'll sell very well in Canada too.

  3. Another factor with other countries:

    Amazon has to deal with local publishers to parallel import e-books.

    This article from Australia asks:
    " So why is it possible for hard copies of books to move across international borders but not electronic copies? The answer is that publishers, who have intellectual monopolies over these works, for their own reasons have not done the deals to make it possible.
    Regardless of what I, as an author, might like, a gatekeeper is standing between my readers and my book.

    " ...For instance, would surely not have to deal with local publishers to parallel import electronic books. Indeed, it wouldn't have to do so to open up an Australian online store-front. This would provide much-needed competition at the retail level for bookselling..."

    So Cool-er and other similar products (the Cybook) have a pretty wide-open field in the UK and other areas since the Kindle wireless is of no use outside the U.S., as long as the in-line dictionary, search and note-taking features are of no interest.


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