Kurzweil debuts Blio, a free eReader platform with read-aloud feature

Kurzweil has arrived at CES 2010 to take on Amazon's Kindle with their new development, Blio. But it's not a device, rather a platform.

Kurzweil has arrived at CES 2010 to take on all of the other old and new e-book reader players with their new development, Blio. But it's not a device, rather a platform.

Blio developers are promising "to transform the consumption of printed media while delivering access to the most comprehensive selection of eBook titles to date." That's quite the guarantee.

Well, it's off to a good start by being free. Blio is also trying to stay true to the original medium (paper) by incorporating an image-rich format of books and magazines. That includes original layouts, fonts, colors, and graphics, combined with some online enhancements like web links and video.

But one of the aspects that does make this platform stand apart is the read-aloud feature. The voice is synchronized with follow-along word highlighting, making it ideal for language learners, young children and the vision impaired.

Being that they've signed up with book distributor Baker & Taylor, Blio users will have access to more than 1.2 million titles. Purchased titles will be stored in a personal virtual library, which can "seamlessly" transfer from one device to another.

When available at the end of the month, the software will work on a slew of different devices, ranging from laptops to iPhones.

Personally, I think the ideal devices would either be netbooks or tablets. If you want to fully appreciate the graphic format-look that Blio developers are advertising, a smartphone would be too small to get all that. And then a laptop is too heavy to always carry around. Netbooks and tablets have already been agreed upon as ideal travel gadgets, and one should always travel with a good book, either digital or print.

Blio will be available for download from its website in late January 2010.