Whitcoulls has entered the e-book fray with a new reader, as Amazon continues to ignore New Zealand with its popular Kindle.

Launched yesterday, the Kobo e-reader could become the device of choice for many Kiwis by virtue of its low sticker price and availability.

It costs $295, versus over $1,000 for Apples iPad (due here in July) or $800-plus for Amazon's latest Kindle DX, which while available in Australia and even Fiji, is not sold at retail here.

Sporting a crisp 15.2cm e-ink display, the only time power is consumed by the 221-gram Kobo is when a page is turned.

Because of this, its battery life is rated at about 8,000 page turns.

After installing the Whitcoulls desktop application on a PC or Mac, you also gain online access to over two million e-book titles (prices start from $3.99) covering all the usual genres you'd expect from a book store.

The Kobo also comes preloaded with 100 public domain books.

Downloading e-books using Whitcoulls app proved a quick and hassle free process, with purchased books synced across to the Kobo using the bundled USB cable or a wireless Bluetooth connection.

Sporting 1GB of storage, the Kobo can hold up to 1,000 e-books and with an SD memory card you can add storage space.

The Kobo also proved intuitive to drive. Book chapter lists are logically laid out, with an "I'm Reading" page giving an overview of books currently stored.

Powering the Kobo down shows the cover of the book you're currently reading, and on power-up displays the page you were last on.

The Kobo e-reader seems like a simple yet solid choice. Rather than adding a bunch of costly bells and whistles, Kobo's makers have focused squarely on e-reader functionality.

For travellers looking to save luggage space or time challenged readers wanting searchable access to a vast repository of e-books from the comfort of their PC, the Kobo's low price tag and simplicity makes it a worthy contender.

Apple iPhone users can download a free Kobo application from AppStore.

Kobo e-reader
$295