I pre-ordered an Aluratek Libre PRO e-reader for $119.99 and picked it up yesterday (July 22, 2010) at the South Portland, Maine, Borders Store. Store General Manager Gail Sanborn was kind enough to video the unboxing using my iPhone 4. The Libre looked pretty impressive in the bright sunlight outside the store, and in the bright light of the store itself. When I got it back to the cottage, I was surprised to see how less clear and contrasty it was compared with the Barnes & Noble nook and the Kindle. Advantage, e Ink, and that’s even before I’ve had a chance to compare battery life, which is apparently about 24 hours compared with upwards of two weeks for the e Ink competitors, depending on wireless use. You load everything onto the Libre with the USB cable, as is the case with the Kobo and most of the Sony Readers.
Still, this is a nice design – very light at 8 ounces. Borders is also carrying the Kobo and Sony Reader Pocket Edition, two competing e-readers using E Ink, both priced at $149.99. The price is the most dramatic breakthrough, but for $30 more I’d go for the Kobo and leave the Libre as a worthwhile experiment that shows why the E Ink screen, at this point, still rules the world of dedicated e-readers. I prefer the Kobo to the Sony Reader Pocket, because the smaller screen size of the Sony Reader makes it less pleasing to read on, in my opinion, and the Kobo has a friendlier, less techy design with a cute blue control button and a soft-to-the touch quilted back.