The UK eBook reader market may seem like it's dominated by Amazon's Kindle Fire (opens in new tab), the Kobo Glo (opens in new tab), and Barnes & Noble's Nook range (opens in new tab), but that doesn't mean there aren't independent hardware manufacturers producing exciting new products to compete with the big boys.
Yesterday, French consumer electronics company Bookeen announced its latest device, the Cybook Odyssey HD FrontLight, which is set to roll out across Europe in November.
Billing the new offering as a "revolution" in the eBook reader market, the firm was especially keen to highlight the Cybook Odyssey HD's impressive E Ink display, which features a 1024 x 758 pixel resolution with a density of 213 DPI - marginally better on paper than the Kindle Fire's 1024 x 600 pixel screen at 169 PPI.
The Cybook Odyssey HD also boasts a supermodel-style slimline physique, weighing just 180g and measuring a mere 9.4mm thick - pretty much the same as Apple's über-svelte iPad. By way of contrast, the Kindle Fire – finally due to arrive in the UK in a couple of weeks (opens in new tab) – is a positively porky 400g with a 11.5mm waistline.
(opens in new tab)Bookeen is also pushing the Cybook Odyssey HD's FrontLight display solution as a key selling point, with the device featuring a choice of twenty levels of light power - easily adjustable via a regulator on the touch screen – to optimise the digital reading experience across multiple environments, conserving power where appropriate and resulting in "weeks" of single-charge use based on active daily deployment of around 30 minutes.
Company CEO Michael Dahan put the Cybook Odyssey HD's impressive positioning down to Bookeen's expertise in its chosen market – it was one of the first firms to deal specifically with the digital reading concept when it was founded in the relative dark ages of 2003, fully coming of age five years ago with the introduction of its E Ink technology.
"In 2007 with the launch of the first reader with E Ink display technology, we participated in making digital reading a success. We did this by offering a new comfort and demonstrating how the competition between e-readers and paper books is changing our lives," Dahan said.
"Now with the new Cybook Odyssey HD FrontLight we are making a huge step forward, demonstrating that we are the only independent solution to partner with booksellers against Amazon or Kobo," he added.
Of course, unlike the Kindle Fire, Booken's Cybook Odyssey HD is a pure eBook reader and doesn't really double as a pseudo-tablet like many of its rivals, but it does come Wi-Fi-ready for easy content downloading. You won't get the Android platform either (opens in new tab), but Bookeen is touting the Cybook Odyssey HD as featuring its most sophisticated native user interface ever.
Pricing, further specification details, and preferred UK retail partners are due to be announced shortly, and the device will be available in six different cover colours, ranging from 'Old Pink' to 'Red Vermillio' by way of a more standard-issue black palette.