With the Kobo eReader Touch Edition, it is clear that the future of the eReader doesn't lie in physical buttons. Instead, E-Ink-based devices are following the tablet's lead to the golden shores of the touch screen. And so far, it's pretty good.
The Kobo is a beauty of a device. smaller than the Kindle and better-looking that the Nook Touch. Similar to previous versions of the reader, the Kobo Touch comes with a quilted back, which makes holding the device a strangely pleasant experience. It makes the device feel organic and real, and surprisingly comforting.
Using the Kobo's touch screen to navigate and read is a mixed bag. One one hand, tapping or swiping to change pages is a welcome change from the button-based reading of the current Kindle. But on the other hand, there is something painfully slow about the experience. This likely owes to the inner workings of E-Ink, which requires that the screen refresh itself between pages. It's jarring on the Kindle and Nook, and its jarring here. But it's also made slightly worse with the touch screen, which tends to lend itself to a certain degree of responsiveness. Not so with the Kobo. In fact, functions like highlighting are often made unusable by the less-than-responsive touch screen.
The Kobo eReader Touch Edition runs for $129.