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Illumina XL seeks to light up the e-reader market with greater variety

Amazon’s pioneering Kindle leads among several popular e-readers on the market. But most of them require users to buy e-books from the device manufacturer’s own online store.

Illumina XL is an 8-inch Android-based e-reader that uses e-ink technology just like the Kindle Paperwhite and a few other premium e-readers. But Illumina XL allows its users to select from a wide range of apps, including Kindle, to buy e-books. Unlike most other current e-readers, Illumina XL also supports the MP3 audio format, so users can listen to audio books and music. It’s equipped with a 3.5mm audio jack.

Illumina XL costs $199, but early bird Indiegogo backers can get one now for $169. It is expected to ship in December and its makers, who previously introduced the Icarus e-reader in 2010, are trying to raise $57,000 by Nov. 29.

Enthusiasts concerned about lock-in may seek an e-reader that isn’t dependent on one manufacturer’s platform to buy e-books. But, in addition to low-priced competition from Amazon, these products have been hit hard by inexpensive and more versatile tablets and large smartphones that include features such as Bluetooth missing from the Illumina.