COOL-ER (or COOL-ER Classic) is a cool-looking but rather unexceptional eReader for the considerable price. The COOL-ER is the first ebook reader from the UK-based Interead, though the actual device is produced by the Taiwanese company Netronix, the EB-600, the most copied eReader design in the world (a pity it isn't particularly exceptional). It has the same basic hardware as the the European Cybook Gen 3, the UK Elonex, the Russian Pocketbook 301, the Polish eClicto, the South Korean Soribook, NUUT and the US eSlick and Astak Mentor Lite.
Again, the device certainly lives up to its name, coming in a whopping eight colors, including red and purple. That said, this very light eReader does seem a bit fragile and plasticky to us. The scroll wheel will be tricky for left-handers to use. Buttons include "ON/OFF", "Up ", "Down", "Right ", "Left", "Enter ", "Delete", "Menu", and "Music."
The COOL-ER is clearly meant to be the "iPod of books," but when you shift from the slick form to actual function, the COOL-ER leaves much to be desired. The boot time is on the long side, a full 30 seconds, that little too long in our opinion. Audio is via 2.5mm headphone jacks (not the standard 3.5mm size), so you'll need to use special ones. However,the music function seems like an afterthought--you have no audio play controls unless you get out of your book and into the audio file. The battery meter fluctuates annoyingly, and there is no auto-off function, so the display will remain as is indefinitely.
The fonts have a distinct digital look unlike the more "print-like" Kindle. And the menu system seems less polished as well, indicative of a smaller company.
We are impressed that the COOL-ER caters to the international market well, with menu options in 8 languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Traditional Chinese, and Simplified Chinese.
Connecting: There is no wireless connectivity, quite a drawback when you can get worldwide wireless connectivity (and indeed simple web browsing) with the Kindle 2 for about the same price. Both charging and access to drag and drop ebook files is via a USB 2.0 port.
The COOL-ER reader is designed to be used with Interead's impressive ebook storefront. Even though you get 25% off at the store if you own a COOL-ER, prices for newer books can be quite expensive: for instance, Stephanie Meyer's The Host costs $9.99 for Kindle, but $20.79 at coolerbooks.
Accessories: There are many accessories for the COOL-ER (in many colors as you'd expect). There is a range of leather cases from Tuff-Luv
which allow you to prop the eReader up ($40) or a silicone skin case
for $28 (though this muddles the outrageous colors the COOL-ER comes in, so is pointless in our opinion). You can also get a car charger
for $19 or a international AC wall charger
Price: The COOL-ER retails for $249, a bit much for the sparse features in our opinion when you compare it to Amazon, Sony, or Barnes & Noble eReaders. Moreover, you can only buy the COOL-ER online from the company, and they charge an exorbitant $20 for shipping, ridiculous when compared to the free shipping deals on so many eReaders.
The COOL-ER is currently sold out, and we'd expect it to remain so well into 2010.