Kobo unbuttons for $129 eReader Touch Edition, we go hands-on (video)

Kobo today kicked off Book Expo America with the launch of a new six-inch, one-button touchscreen e-reader -- named, appropriately enough, the Kobo eReader Touch Edition. Priced at $130 -- $10 cheaper than Amazon's Kindle -- the pocket-sized device strives for a reading experience more akin to that of old timey paper books, courtesy of a Zeforce infrared touchscreen, new Pearl eInk technology, and a freescale i.MX507 processor for faster page turning. Click on through for more details and our impressions of this little reader.

The WiFi reader has a new search tool accessible through the virtual keyboard and highlighting technology, which makes it easier to look up words via the built-in Merriam Webster dictionary. This is the same Pearl display found on the latest Kindle, so you should know what you're getting into for contrast, but the responsiveness here is hugely improved thanks to that freescale processor. Page turns are quick and, more impressively, you can open a PDF, zoom in, and scroll around. Sure, it isn't exactly hyper-responsive, but it sure beats PDF reading on the competition and it'll help you save a few reams of paper when reviewing technical documentation. And, since that touch screen is built using IR tech that's built into the bezel, the contrast of the screen doesn't suffer -- a common complaint on the early Sony Reader Touch Edition. (Sony has since switched to the same sort of IR technology on their touchable readers, like the PRS-350SC.)

Kobo's Touch Edition features syncing bookmark technology lets you pick up where you left off on multiple devices. The Touch Edition has 1GB of built-in memory, expandable up to 32GB with the microSD slot that's easily accessible on the sid. The device supports ePub, PDF, and open standards, so you can take it with you on the next trip to the library. It'll ship next month, in black, silver, blue, and white, dropping the price of its predecessor down to $99. You can pre-order it now from Borders, Best Buy, and Walmart, in both the US and Canada.

Update: We updated the body of the post to clarify that Sony has adopted the same sort of IR touch tech on their newer readers, like the PRS-350SC. It was the early editions that suffered from contrast issues.