Kobo Announces Their New E-Readers

Geek Culture
The new Kobo family – Image: Kobo

Today has been a busy day for both Kobo and Amazon with the announcements on their new E-Readers. But what does this mean to you as a consumer? What E-Reader is the best one for you? How do they compare to each other? Should you get the Kobo Arc or the Kindle Fire HD? Should you get the Kobo Glo or the Kindle Paperwhite? What about the Kobo Mini? Or should you just keep your Kobo Touch or regular Amazon Kindle?

One thing that will be a deciding factor is your location.

It appears that the Kindle Paperwhite is only available in the United States. However, the Kindle Fire has expanded its market, with the Kindle Fire HD being made available in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. It does not appear that Amazon has intentions of making the Kindle Fire HD available in other global regions any time soon.

If you are like me and will not have access to Amazon’s new line of E-Readers, here is a brief rundown on Kobo’s new products and how they may suit your needs. Or maybe you are an American, but do not want to purchase a Kindle, for whatever reason, and are in the market for a new E-Reader or tablet.

Kobo Arc. Image: Kobo

As someone who lives in Canada, I’m excitedly anticipating the arrival of my Kobo Arc — formally known as the Kobo Vox — in November.

The Kobo Arc has some pretty huge improvements over its predecessor, and it will be available in two models: 8 GB and 16 GB. There is one thing missing on the Arc that I really liked about the Vox, and that is the Micro SD slot. However, the other improvements more than make up for the lack of Micro SD.

Aside from the two models and lack of Micro SD, here is a list of what you will find on the Kobo Arc compared to what is currently available on the Kobo Vox:

  • The Kobo Arc is available in black or white. It will have interchangeable backs, available in a couple of colors. The Kobo Vox is available in jet black, ice blue, hot pink, and lime green.
  • The wireless connectivity for both the Kobo Arc and Kobo Vox is WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB.
  • The audio is one of the major improvements. The Kobo Arc will have dual front facing speakers and universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with SRS TruMedia™ sound. The Kobo Vox has a single built-in speaker, found in the top-right corner. The Kobo Vox also has the universal 3.5mm stereo headphone jack, but it does not have SRS TruMedia™ sound.
  • The Kobo Arc is slightly smaller than the Kobo Vox. The measurements are 120mm x 12.4mm x 189mm, and 128.4 mm x 13.4 mm x 192.4 mm, respectively.
  • The Kobo Arc weighs slightly less than the Kobo Vox; 364 grams, and 402.5 grams, respectively.
  • Both the Kobo Arc and the Kobo Vox have a 7″ display, however the Arc is an IPS display.
  • The screen resolution is another area that is seeing a nice upgrade. The Kobo Arc has 1280 x 800 HD resolution; 215 ppi; displays 16 million colours; clarity at extra wide viewing angles (+/-) 89 degrees. Compare this to the Kobo Vox with 1024 x 600 resolution and 400 brightness.
  • The Kobo Arc sees the addition of a 720p HD, 2MP, front facing camera. This is not available on the Kobo Vox.
  • The processor on the Kobo Arc is one of the biggest improvements. The Kobo Arc will have a 1.5 GHz dual core processor and 1 GB RAM. The Kobo Vox has a 800 Mhz single processor with 512 MB RAM.
  • The operating system is another thing getting a major overhaul. The Kobo Arc will be released with open access to Android™ 4.0, with plans to update to Android™ 4.1 within a couple of months. The Kobo Vox OS is open access to Android™ OS v2.3.
  • There is only a slight improvement to battery power. The Kobo Arc will have 10 hours of reading and 2+ weeks of standby, with Wi-Fi turned off. The Kobo Vox has up to 7 hours with Wi-Fi off.
  • The Kobo Arc will see some advanced features that the Kobo Vox does not have. These include wireless display capability to stream multimedia content to your TV with a compatible WiFi Direct A/V adapter. It also included a new feature called Tapestries, which will make reading suggestions based upon content you’ve pinned. Kobo Arc will also have Twitter and Skype preloaded.
  • Another improvement on the Kobo Arc is the placement of the headphone jack and the volume button. Those will be found on the right side of the Kobo Arc, compared the headphone jack at the bottom of the Kobo Vox and the volume buttons on the left side of the reader.
  • The price will be $199.99 CAD for the 8 GB model, which is comparable for the price start of the Kobo Vox, and will be $249.99 CAD for the 16 GB model. It is not yet available for pre-order.
  • Both the Kobo Arc and Kobo Vox have access to Google Play.
  • What’s missing? 3G and 4G connectivity.

There are many other things the Kobo Arc will offer, but those are the highlights.

I’ve been using a Kobo Vox since the beginning of this year, and if I were to compare the Kobo E-Reader app to the Kindle app — I have both installed on my iPad, laptop, iPhone, and Kobo — from a user standpoint, I prefer the Kobo app to the Kindle app. Another major plus to Kobo E-Readers is that you are not bound by regional restrictions. Once you purchase media through the Kobo store, you are free to purchase and view content wherever you are in the world, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.

The Kobo Arc will be available internationally. When it launches, it will be available in the following languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese, with plans to launch more language support in the near future.

Kobo says they will continue to support the Kobo Vox for another year. However, if you considering an upgrade, or want an E-Reader that doubles as a tablet, then the Kobo Arc may be the device for you.

If you are an American, or live in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, or Spain, and are wondering if the Kobo Arc is for you, there are a few things you should consider. The Kindle Fire HD has more storage, the resolution is better, it is available in a variety of screen sizes, has 3D graphics, and also comes in a 4G model. The Kindle Fire HD 7″ model’s processor is only 1.2 Ghz dual-core, compared to Kobo Arc’s 1.5 Ghz dual-core. However, the more expensive Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ model — this model appears to be only available in the United States — is equipped with a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor. If you wanting to move away from a Kindle E-Reader, for whatever reason, you will still be able to read your Kindle eBooks on the Kobo Arc by installing the free Kindle app, available in Google Play.

Kobo also announced two other new E-Readers: Kobo Mini and Kobo Glo.

Kobo Mini. Image: Kobo

The Kobo Mini will be a very basic E-Reader. Here is a brief rundown of the Kobo Mini’s hardware specifications:

  • Dimensions: 101.6 mm x 133.1 mm x 10.3 mm (4 in x 5.24 in x 0.41 in).
  • Weight: 134 g.
  • Processor: 800 MHZ Processor.
  • Display: 5″ E Ink touch screen; Vizplex V110 display.
  • 16 level grey scale.
  • Screen: Non-glass touchscreen for glare-free, fingerprint- resistant reading.
  • Buttons: Power on/off.
  • Connectivity: Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n and micro USB.
  • Storage: 2GB — 1 GB available to store content, which equals over 1000 eBooks.
  • Battery: Over 2 weeks with Wi-Fi turned off, depending on individual usage.
  • Colours: Available in black or white. Three interchangeable backs are available for purchase: Ruby Red, Purple, and Teal.

The Kobo Mini is $79.99 CAD, and is now available for pre-order.

Kobo Glo. Image: Kobo

The Kobo Glo has a few extras not found on the Kobo Mini, and can be called Kobo’s answer to the Kindle Paperwhite. Here is a brief rundown of the Kobo Glo’s hardware specifications:

  • Dimensions: 113.9 mm x 157.4 mm x 10 mm (4.5 in x 6.2 in x 0.39 in).
  • Weight: 185 g.
  • Processor: Freescale, Solo 6 1 GHZ.
  • Display: 6″ E Ink XGA screen for 1024×768 resolution.
  • 16 level grey scale.
  • Light: Built-in ComfortLight technology with micro-thin hard coating for even light diffusion and durability.
  • Screen: Non-glass touchscreen for glare-free, fingerprint-resistant reading.
  • Buttons: Power on/off; Light on/off.
  • Connectivity: Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB.
  • Storage: 2GB — 1 GB available to store content, which equals over 1000 eBooks. Option to expand to 32GB with a micro SD card.
  • Battery: Over one month with Wi-Fi and light turned off, depending on individual usage.
  • Over 55 hours of continuous use with light on, pending testing.
  • Colours: Black Night, Pink Sunset, Blue Moon, Silver Star.

The Kobo Glo is  $129.99 CAD, and is now available for pre-order.

As the Kindle Paperwhite only appears to be available in the US, I won’t say too much about it. However, one thing I wish Kobo would spend resources improving is the battery life of their E-Readers. That is one area in which they all fall a little short. However, Kobo tends to focus more on the book lover, and less on the tech-junkie, including many extras such as Reading Life™, which allows you to share what you’re reading with Facebook and Twitter. It also has a huge digital library, with nearly three million books, newspapers, and magazines, and over one million free titles.

Kobo also has the Kobo Touch, which was Wired Magazine‘s 2012 Editor’s Pick for Best E-Reader, calling it, “The most natural e-ink reader we’ve ever used.” It is priced at $99.99 CAD, and can be purchased now.

If you are considering a Kobo E-Reader, and are unsure which model is best for you, then take Kobo’s which E-Reader is right for you quiz.

Did you pay attention to today’s announcements? Are you planning to upgrade your E-Reader? Which brands are you looking at and why?

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