The Sharper Image may have fallen on hard times in recent years—declaring bankruptcy and shuttering its retail stores in 2008—but that doesn’t mean the company is out of the gadget game yet: the Sharper Image has just taken the wraps off the Literati Wireless Reader, a new color e-reader it plans to launch in October, powered by the Kobo electronic books platform.
The Literati features a 7-inch 800 by 480-pixel color display, and comes with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity to connecting to the Internet and downloading new content from the Kobo ebook service, which currently offers over 2 million ebooks. The Literati features a QWERTY keypad, and will be available in white and slate grey colors (the case and button designs look a touch different). The device is made by MerchSource, which will also be handling distribution under a trademark license from Sharper Image.
“The majority of ereaders available today are either too expensive with too many features, or the manufacturer has slashed key functionality and overall device quality to lower the price,” said MerchSource co-founder Kirk McLean, in a statement. “We designed the Literati from the inside out—starting with the bookstore—to give book lovers exactly what they wanted: a simple, dedicated device that lets them get right to the book.”
The Literati will ship with 25 public domain books pre-loaded on the device, with a coupon for loading another 125 pre-selected public domain titles into the user’s account.
MerchSource plans to give the Literati a solid launch into the end-of-year holiday buying season, with plans to put the device in more than 7,000 retail locations (including Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, JC Penney, Macy’s Kohl’s, and more) with a $159 price tag—or even lower via rebates, promotions, and special offers.
There’s no word yet on the Literati’s battery life: one advantage of the EInk displays used in devices like the Kindle is that they merely sip power, enabling owners to use the devices for long periods of time without recharging. A color LCD display—and, presumably, backlighting—will consumer considerably more power, meaning less reading time and more frequent recharging.