The Cool-ER e-book reader from Interead.com is scheduled to the join the growing e-reader market on June 1.
The Cool-ER has a 6-inch screen with an E Ink display-the same power-efficient technology that gives Amazon.com's Kindle its "reads like paper" quality.
It measures 0.4 inches deep by 7.2 inches high and 4.6 inches wide, weighs 6.27 ounces, comes in a choice of eight bright colors, and will run you $249, direct from Interead.com's Coolreaders Website.
The Cool-ER will face competition from Amazon.com's 9.7-inch, $489 Kindle DX, which launched on May 6, and from the Sony PRS-700, which dropped to $350 after the arrival of the new Kindle. Amazon.com also offers a Kindle for iPhone application that turns the iPhone into a mini e-reader, and Apple itself is believed to have a 7- to 10-inch touch-screen tablet in development, according to Piper Jaffray.
"With a larger tablet device in Apple's lineup, the company could begin selling digital books on its iTunes Store, for use on the tablet as an e-book reader," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a May 21 report.
The newcomer Cool-ER device, however, is notably stripped down. It doesn't feature a touch-screen, wireless connectivity, external speakers or side-lighting.
Additionally, noted Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps in a blog post on the Cool-ER, it uses Adobe DRM/ePub in lieu of proprietary formatting, so users "can buy books elsewhere and use them on the Cool-ER or buy books at coolerbooks.com and use them on another e-reader device like Sony's."
While less impressive than its forerunners in some ways, the Cool-ER could nonetheless make an impact, Rotman Epps wrote, partly because Interead.com is making a push into several countries, such as Brazil and India, where the larger brands currently have no foothold.
She additionally said she expects that the Cool-ER, in combination with other similar products soon to arrive on the market, could have an impact on the market in three ways. The first is by expanding consumer choices; as the popularity of netbooks has made clear, people are more than happy to pay less for fewer options.
The second is by putting pricing pressure on market leaders. Rotman Epps wrote that there will be "a race to get to a $199 price point with simpler models, which we expect to happen in Q3 2010. There are also companies working on a $99 e-reader aimed at [Brazil, Russia, India and China, and] we expect models on the market at that price point by 2012."
Lastly, she said she expects to see new innovations as more companies enter the market, offering the example of e-readers as in-flight entertainment.
The Interead.com Cool-ER, the beginnings of a growing breed, will run the Linux operating system and be compatible with Windows and Mac OS X. Specs include 1GB of storage, 170 pixels per inch, 128MB of RAM and an SD expansion slot for 4GB more.
The processor is a 400MHz Samsung S3C2440 ARM, and the battery is said to last for 8,000 page turns.