Originally written for eBookGuru - The Digital Magazine Devoted to eBooks
It’s amazing how fast things are moving in the eReader world. It was only the beginning of this month when I wrote about the possibility of a $150 eReader and now Chapters-Indigo Books & Music, Canada’s own bookstore, is launching a new eReader called the Kobo for $150.
A quick search of the internet lead me to some favorable reviews for the Kobo, notably this one from Engadget, fresh from the CTIA show in Las Vegas.
…the 6-inch E Ink reader is fine hardware in its own right, with quality plastics throughout, a nice patterned rubber back, and a big friendly d-pad for paging through books.
Although the Kobo lacks 3G or even Wi-F, it does have Bluetooth for wirelessly syncing the Kobo with select smartphones, allowing you to update your reading list on the go. The Kobo also has applications for the iPhone, the upcoming iPad, Blackberry, the Palm Pre, and Android phones (speaking of which The Gender Divide is available as an Android app from For-Side.com - I’m not sure if the link provided is the best one so if you have an Android phone and can provide a better link please let me know in the comments section).
The Kobo has a lot of nice features that make it attractive as an eReader:
- Price - $150
- Comes loaded with 100 free eBooks
- A quilted back for a ‘comfortable, enjoyable reading experience’
- Minimal but responsive and intuitive navigation options
- 1GB memory, enough for 1,000 eBooks
- Expandable memory via SD Car
There are a number of other features, including some interesting navigation options. Visit the Kobo eReader home page for more information, including a comparison to the Kindle, the Sony Reader, and the Nook.
Although the Kobo can’t compete with the Kindle store yet in terms of books, it does have the advantage of having a retail presence in Canada (via Chapters-Indigo) and the US (via Borders), as well as a strong international presence (check out this posting from iReader Review comparing the Kobo to the Kindle.
However the most interesting thing about the Kobo is its aspiration to be more than an eReader. eBooks downloaded from the Kobobooks website can be read on many of the Sony Readers, the Nook, the COOL-ER, and several other platforms using Adobe Digital Editions. This article in Digital Trends states that
Kobo envisions a broad ecosystem of devices and applications, and users will be able to sync their purchases and reading via their Kobo account across all of them.
It will be interesting to see how this new entrant to the market - and it’s approach - impacts the market. Certainly Kobo is going out of their way to make it easy for people to read books they’ve purchased on any device. As stated on the Kobo website
We are a device-neutral platform. Finished reading on your eReader? Using a Kobo app on your smartphone, desktop, or tablet. Your eBooks and even your bookmarks follow you so you’ll never lose your place.
This is definitely the direction that eBooks should be taking.
Right after I posted this I came across 2 more stories on the Kobo.
Wired Magazine - $150 Kobo eReader: The Real Kindle Killer
The real Kindle-killer will be a cheap e-reader, and it just arrived: The $150 Kobo eReader.
What we really like about the eReader is the interface. The chapter lists are big and clear, the main “I’m Reading” page gives a newspaper front-page-like overview of the newspapers and books you’re currently reading, and you can even choose to display you books in an iPad-like bookshelf metaphor. When you power down, it shows the book’s cover instead of those awful Kindle screen-savers.
It looks like a huge threat to the Kindle, and Kobo seems to have trimmed just the right features to get to this low price. Only hands-on testing will tell if it’s as good as it seems, but right now we don’t see much reason to buy Amazon’s locked-down machine.
Gizmodo - Kindle looks pretty nice for $150
While the Kobo eReader lacks 3G, little else should disappoint. The build is clever, with a quilted, vinyl back and the option to skin the face with a cloth or leather facade.
…the menus just look polished, with touches like leaving the book’s cover on the screen when the device is at rest (a nice feature we see in the Nook) and virtual bookshelves