New Kobo Touch eReader Attempts To Match Kindle

So far the big contribution that the Kobo has made to the eReader marketplace, in my opinion, is spurring the more established and easy to use eReaders like the Kindle and Nook into an abrupt price drop.  The Kobo hit stores at $150 at a time when a decent eReader would cost you somewhere around a hundred dollars more than that no matter which one you went with.  It made a big difference, even if the Kobo itself was so basic and clunky to use that it didn’t make a huge splash in terms of usability.  Now, with their first major hardware upgrade, the Kobo eReader is back in the race.  The new Kobo is a lot easier on the eyes and promises to be more than a little bit simpler to use.  The big question is whether or not it is enough of a change.

In a lot of ways, the new Kobo Touch is the same concept as the new Nook.  You’ve got a 6″ E Ink Pearl screen, a Home button, and a nicely dark frame.  Lots of visual similarities.  You also get a WiFi connection, though it only works to go to the Kobo Store.  The touchscreen seems ok, and they avoided the blurriness issues that arose in Sony’s touchscreen eReaders by going with a touchscreen technology that does not involve an extra screen layer.  You even get a fair amount of internal memory and an SD slot to work with.  Really, though, it seems like something is missing to be really competitive here.

Leave aside the Kindle comparison for the moment to focus on the more directly comparable new Nook.  Yes, there is a $10 price difference, but consider what is being sacrificed for that money.  Both devices have EPUB support and work well with libraries, by all accounts.  The Nook is supposedly pushing 60 days of battery life these days compared to the new Kobo’s 10 days.  You only get two font sizes to choose from on the Kobo.  You won’t be getting apps of any sort, from what I can see.  Even the size isn’t considerably smaller in any way.

The one place where the Kobo might make a splash is in its social networking service.  Amazon’s Kindle has done a bit along these lines and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Kindle Tablet do more when it comes around, but so far I would say that the Kobo’s Reading Life is a lot more elaborate.  Up until now, to the best of my knowledge, this feature has only been available through iOS and Android apps rather than as a part of the Kobo eReader itself.  It tracks reading time, page turns, books completed, hands out awards for having read books, and more.

Will the novelty be able to clear a spot near the top of the eReader market for the Kobo?  Probably not.  Keep in mind, however, that there is room for variety.  This is probably the third best eReader brand out there right now as far as the price to features ratio is concerned.  There might very well be a place for it even with the Nook and Kindle holding what are in my opinion deservedly superior positions at the moment.

7 thoughts on “New Kobo Touch eReader Attempts To Match Kindle”

  1. Actually the Kobo offers “2 font styles and 15 font sizes”, not the 2 sizes you mistakenly mention…

    By contrast, the Nook has a half-dozen typefaces, and seven sizes. This finer-grained control over type size may be useful, but the Nook also offers some control over margins and line spacing, so it’s tough to say which will deliver better readability.

    I am attracted by the physical profile of the Kobo – a half-inch narrower will make the device much easier to hold one-handed than the Kindle or Nook.

  2. There’s no option for apps on the new Nook either. And unlike the original Nook, the new one will not have web access, just to the Nook store. If the performance equals out the only real difference will be the Nook’s page turn buttons and Kobo’s international access. Even without the touch screen the Kindle seems the most versatile, but the Kobo looks the best. By the way, the Kobo is also available in white with lavender, light blue, or silver quilted backs.

  3. Actually the Kobo offers “2 font styles and 15 font sizes”, not the 2 sizes you mistakenly mention…

    This is correct. I appreciate your pointing it out.

  4. Also, in an interview on the web, the product guy says, “…two fonts, and that will change…”
    I think that with a month until shipment, some of the Kobo specs may change, to meet the now-shipping Nook Touch – first-to-ship doesn’t always have the advantage.

  5. Personally if I wanted an ereader with a touch screen (and I don’t) I would choose the Kobo because of it’s slightly slimmer shaper. The new Nook looks too wide to hold comfortably.

    The Kobo’s screen is comparable to the Kindle and is simple to use.

    P.S. I still prefer my Kindle with it’s full range of options.

  6. Just for the record, the Kobo web site has changed – it now describes 2 typefaces and 17 sizes, while the Borders site says “…multiple type sizes…”.

  7. Meanwhile, a review in the NYT says that the Kobo has 2 typefaces and 5 sizes.

    If so, my on-order Kobo Touch is going to be a return, in favor of the line-spacing, margins, and six typefaces with seven sizes on the Nook Touch…

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