Kobo The Back to Basics eReader

By Christopher Auriol

For a long time the Amazon Kindle has been the preferred eReader due to its ability to read a book in direct sunlight, its long battery life, and its “whispersyncing” with Amazon content. However, despite all these advantages, for a casual book reader, buying a Kindle doesn’t make much economic sense. An investment of $259 for a Kindle 2 is well behind the needs of someone who only reads a few books a year. With the Kobo coming to the market this may change more than a few peoples buying decisions when deciding whether to buy an eReader or not. The Kobo eReader has a starting price of $150

So should we get excited about yet another eReader? The Kobo eReader is more or less what you would find in similar devices. It has with two typefaces and five font sizes available, as well as the ability to navigate through chapters and so on. In your Kobo eReader library you can carry up to 1000 eBooks at once, which offers greater organization functionality found in the Kindle. It is 7.2 inches (18.4cm) by 4.7 inches (12 cm) with a thickness of less than half an inch.

Despite the fact that the Kobo has a rich feature set there are still a few down-sides. To start, it does not have a 3G connection. To load an eBook onto a Kobo eReader you will need to transfer the book through a USB or Bluetooth connection. Also page load times are slightly slower than other available eReaders. Also there are 8 levels of gray scales, whereas other eReaders, such as the Kindle offer 16 levels.

With the Kobo you also get access to the Kobo international store with other 2 million titles. The Kobo supports EPUB & PDF formats.

Overall, the Kobo eReader is a back-to-basics device that provides a good reading experience which will be of interest to price sensitive consumers and casual readers. It appears to have trimmed down the right features while maintaining a good reading experience.

Beyond the strengths and weaknesses of the Kobo device is that of the Kobo strategy. The Kobo strategy is not about creating a super eReader. Instead it’s about building branded software and delivering branded e-book stores for others, including manufacturers (e.g. Plastic Logic), and booksellers (e.g. Borders). This content can be delivered to a wide range of devices other than the Kobo eReader. It already has its software developed for the BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Mac, and PC, and they are currently working on an iPad app.

The Kobo eReader can be pre-ordered at Borders bookstores and will be sold nation-wide this summer for $150.

Christopher Auriol is a writer for Kindle Ready. Visit kindle-ready.com for more information on the Kobo eReader and find an up-to-date eReaders comparison of the different devices found on the market.

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