Have you bought a Kindle or Kindle 2 yet? Don't--at least not until you check out the COOL-ER ebook reader. It's about the same size and weight of a Kindle--so what makes it so much cooler than the Kindle?

It could be your choice of eight cool colors, its magical portrait/horizontal page display, its high resolution (800x600) display or its extremely long battery life (8,000 page turns--it only uses battery life when turning pages). More likely it's that the COOL-ER reader is over $100 less expensive than the Kindle!

Yep, that's right. You can have an ebook reader for $249. The Kindle costs $359 by comparison.

The COOL-ER is Linux-based and is ready to deliver with 128MB RAM, 1GB storage (Expandable to 4GB--SD Card) and its Samsung® S3C2440 ARM 400MHz processor.

The only downside to the COOL-ER is that it has no wireless access so all your ebooks have to be transferred to it via a USB connection from a computer (Windows, Mac, Linux). This one lacking option might hurt its initial uptake but the price point will put it in more hands with or without wireless.

Using USB also means that you're not locked into a particular vendor for purchasing books. Google has made thousands of books available in digital format and Project Gutenberg has about 18,000 books available free of charge.

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.

The COOL-ER also supports a wide range of file types: PDF, EPUB, FB2, RTF, TXT, HTML, PRC, JPG AND MP3. Yes, MP3. You can play MP3s on the COOL-ER just like you would on an iPod.

I'm hoping to have a chance to look at and review a COOL-ER and a new Kindle but so far I've only seen the original Kindle. It was kind of cool but clumsy to use (The buttons are awkwardly placed and it felt "funky" in my hands) and the screen was very small so I opted to forego the purchase after actually holding one. Sony also has its reader and I had a chance to look at one--it was nice but at $300, it's still out of my price range.

Check out the COOL-ER and tell me what you think. Give me your impressions of it and feedback about your experiences with other ebook readers. Full reviews from actual users are welcome.

About the Author

My new book, Practical Virtualization Solutions, is out.

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