If it's time to add an ebook reader to your travel kit then your timing couldn't be better.
In addition to Amazon's newest Kindle 4, which recently launched in Australia for $139, Borders – or more correctly, its online site borders.com.au – is set to launch the Kobo Touch ebook reader on November 30.
At $179 the sticker on the Kobo Touch is steeper than the $139 Kindle, although you can shave the new Kobo's price down to $165 by pre-ordering it online.
There's little practical difference between the Kobo Touch and Kindle 4 in size and weight. Both sport the same 6 inch 'electronic ink' screen with crisp Pearl eInk technology, and at around 200 grams they barely nudge the scales.
Likewise, both have sufficient memory to keep 1,000 books at hand for your on-the-go reading.
Where the Kobo Touch wins out is that, as the name indicates, it's got a touch screen so you can flip pages, browse your library and change settings all with a tap of the finger.
Amazon has a Kindle Touch, of course, but this isn't available in Australia yet – we're stuck with the entry-level non-touch Kindle wi-fi.
Another boon for the Kobo is that, unlike the Kindle, it works with the industry standard ePub format (ePub is to digital books what MP3 is to digital music).
So while Amazon offers a massive stock of ebooks for Kindle you're pretty much locked into Amazon, whereas for Kobo you can browse, buy and download from any number of online stores (including Borders.com.au itself, naturally).
A further advantage of the Kobo Touch is that it has a memory card slot into which you can slip a microSD card to dramatically boost the size of your personal portable library – up to an insane 16,000 books, if you use a 32GB microSD wafer.
Compared to the previous model Kobo Wi-Fi, the Kobo Touch (which still has wi-fi) also gets a faster processor for quicker smoother page turns.
The launch of the Kobo Touch in the US saw the non-touch model drop to $99 , although Borders.com.au still lists this at the regular $135 price.
For more on the device itself, click to kobobooks.com/touch.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.