The Kobo is getting a lot of attention in the crowded ereader market primarily because of its $139 price. The Borders ereader is also worth checking out because it comes loaded with 100 ebooks, and it has a lot of great features, including the ability to access free ebooks from your local library.

Specifications and features

  • Device size: 184mm x 120mm
  • Display size: 6″ (diagonal)
  • Weight: 221 grams
  • Width: 10mm
  • E Ink technology
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • USB connectivity
  • Battery life: Up to two weeks or 10,000 page turns
  • Adjustable font sizes
  • Quilted back
  • Colors: Onyx, Pearlized Lilac, Metallic Silver
  • Pre-loaded with Borders eBook Desktop Application
  • Comes loaded with 100 eBooks
  • Stores up to 1,000 eBooks
  • Memory expansion: Up to 10,000 eBooks with a 32 GB SD memory card
  • More than 2.2 million eBooks, newspapers, and magazines at the Borders eBook Store
  • Access free ebooks from your local library
  • File formats: PDF, DRM ePub, Adobe DRM
  • Where to buy: Borders or the Kobo site
  • Price: $139 USD

What I like

  • Easy install: It’s a snap to install the desktop application and get started searching and buying ebooks.
  • Most buttons on the device are clearly marked: The Home, Menu, Display, and Back buttons on the left of the device are clearly marked.
  • Free gift card with purchase: When we purchased the Kobo, we received a $20 Borders gift card. Unfortunately, you cannot use the gift card in the Borders eBook Store.
  • Read the eBooks on various devices: You can also read Borders eBooks on certain smartphones, tablets, desktops, and tablets. (There are free mobile apps for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and the Palm Pre.)
  • Search: I liked how the books were categorized on the site. Categories such as Hidden Gems made me check out more titles than I would have if I just searched by title or author.
  • Comparison page on the Kobo site: Although this isn’t about the actual device, I like that the Kobo site features a chart that shows how the reader compares to the Kindle, the Sony Reader Touch Edition, and the Barnes & Noble nook.

What I don’t like

  • Cannot wirelessly shop for ebooks from the device: You can wirelessly shop for books on the Kindle and the nook.
  • Look of the device: When I first saw the Kobo, I thought it looked like it was designed for kids. It didn’t take me long to get past the look of the device, although this could be a factor to consider, especially if you’re buying it for a gift.
  • Cannot highlight text or insert notes in text: This could be a deal breaker for students.
  • Library link didn’t work on the site: I was most excited to try to access ebooks from my public library. I tried clicking the link on the Kobo site in various browsers without any luck.
  • Discounts on the site: It’s not a major issue, but I was a little bummed to see the 35% off your first eBook purchase offer on the Kobo site after I’d already purchased my first eBook. (The Kobo site currently has an offer for a one month free trial of The New York Times.)
  • No non-leather accessories on the Kobo site: There are non-leather Kobo covers, but only the leather options are featured on the Kobo site.

Geek bottom line

The Kobo may not be the most modern looking ereader available or have all of the options that come with other devices, but its affordable price and its numerous features make it a very attractive gift.

Geek gift score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: ***
  • Geek factor: **
  • Value: *****
  • Overall: ****

Want more reviews of tech gadgets and gizmos? Download the PDF of TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2010.