New Kobo family proves Kindle are not the only e-readers in town

It was announced late last week that eReading giants Kobo (10-million users in 190 countries with around 3 million books across 60 different languages) are set to unleash a pretty awesome series of eReaders for everyone – the Mini, Kobo Glo, and Kobo Arc. Starting at £59.99 the series will be available at the world’s largest network of booksellers and leading retailers including WHSmith. Good work.

Kobo-Family

Arguably the most impressive (in our view, at least) is the new front-lit, Kobo Glo. It is billed as the next generation in comfortable eReading. It’s got nice soft, even and adjustable ComfortLight technology to enable consumers to read anytime – day or night. That’s nice, isn’t it? Its durable screen and customisable page-turning features make it very useful. To go a bit deeper into it all, the Kobo Glo uses E Ink technology, customisable fonts and a no-glare XGA high-resolution 6” E Ink screen that is just like reading print on paper, and connects easily to Wi Fi allowing users to explore and discover recommendations in the Kobo eBookstore. The Kobo Glo eReader comes in black or white and a selection of stylish colours like…err, Blue Moon and will be available starting October 1 for £99.99 MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).

“Our focus has remained firmly on delivering a superior experience for booklovers around the world. With 11,000 booksellers and leading retail partners across five continents, we are bringing the new Kobo Family to booklovers everywhere,”
Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo.

This announcement follows last week’s one about Kobo’s slick partnership with the American Booksellers Association (working with 2,000 bookstores across America). US independent bookstores now join Kobo’s global network of leading booksellers including Indigo (Canada), WHSmith (UK), FNAC (France), Mondadori (Italy), Libris (Netherlands), Collins (Australia), Whitcoulls (New Zealand), Rakuten (Japan). Massive!

The Kobo Mini meanwhile, is the world’s smallest and lightest full-featured E Ink eReader available, offering the full Kobo experience at a very decent and accessible value. Proving that great things come in small packages (like me…ahem), the 5” Kobo Mini easily fits into the pocket Kobo with some excellent features. Just like reading print on paper, the no-glare 5” E Ink screen is pretty easy on the eyes (even in sunlight) and it comes in black or white and offers a selection of three Kobo SnapBacks in Teal, Ruby Red, and Purple. So peeps, basically, this one is best for people on-the-go, young adults, and easy for first-time readers to hold and read; it’ll hold 1,000 eBooks and like the Glo, it’ll be available from October 1 priced at £59.99 MSRP. Cool beans.

Neeext! We have the award-winning Kobo Touch, which is the industry’s first touch-screen eReader and is available in stores around the world. This one is now £79.99 and includes Kobo’s latest software with more ways to personalise the reading experience, get recommendations and discover new content. The Kobo Touch is available in seven languages including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Japanese. It’s as good as it sounds. Seriously.
On to the (very) impressive Arc now; this delightful beast offers booklovers a Android 4.0 multimedia tablet with a new way to discover content – books, movies, TV shows, music, web pages and more. With a Kobo-developed interface called Tapestries (…this is so cool!), Kobo Arc is giving consumers a more exciting way to engage with content.

Using an intelligent cross-media recommendations engine, Tapestries responds to the user’s “pinned” content to recommend related videos, movies, books, webpages and other related content. What’s also cool about Tapestries is that it makes it easy to discover new personal multimedia recommendations with little effort as the engine “learns” what users enjoy. The 7” high-definition display delivers crisp, sharp text and with 16-million colours to create the best photos. With front-facing speakers featuring SRS TruMedia, a built-in microphone and high-resolution 1.3 MP camera, the Kobo Arc offers up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play (yeah!), and two weeks on standby. With Google Play, Kobo Arc users have access to more than 600,000 apps and pre-loaded ones like Facebook, Twitter and PressReader. The Kobo Arc is available in all the usual colours and interchangeable SnapBacks. This one will be available from November, starting at £159.99 (8G) MSRP and £189.99 (16G) MSR.

For more information visit the official Kobo website: http://www.kobobooks.com

Best e-readers for the summer holidays

If you’re travelling this summer, an e-reader is an essential companion. Instead of cramming your suitcase full of books, an e-reader can save your valuable luggage space. The average e-reader can hold at least 1,000 books at a time, so you’ll never be stuck for something to read.

Kindle-Touch

Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is the most popular e-reader on the market. Buyers have a choice of model, ranging from the basic Kindle, to the Kindle Touch with 3G. The Amazon Kindle Store has millions of free and paid books, as well as newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and Kindles support MOBI and PDF documents. Weighing in at less than 370 grams, and small enough to fit into your pocket, the Kindle is the perfect companion to a long journey.

The Kindle is available from £89.

Sony Reader

Billed as the ‘world’s lightest ebook reader’, the Sony Reader is perfect for anyone who wants to go digital, but doesn’t want a Kindle. The Sony Reader has a 6-inch screen, and stores up to 1,200 books or documents, including EPUB and PDF formats.

The Sony Reader retails for £120.

Kobo

The Kobo comes in three different models: the Kobo Vox, Kobo Touch and Kobo Wifi. The Kobo Vox offers coloured books, a multi-media screen, and access to Google Play, while the other models use E ink. Books start at 99p.

The Kobo e-reader range is available from £59.99.

Bookeen Cybook Opus eReader

The Bookeen Cybook Opus e-reader is perfect for both novice and experienced digital readers. With  5-inch screen, 1GB memory (enough to hold up to 1,000 books), and up to two weeks battery life, the Bookeen Cybook Opus e-reader has something for everyone.

The Bookeen Cybook Opus eReader retails at £109.98.

iPad

The Apple iPad isn’t technically an e-reader, but it’s still worth a mention on this list. As one of the leading tablets on the market, the iPad is designed for people who want to be able to work and play on the go. The built-in iBooks app gives users access to a huge range of free and paid books that you can download directly into your iBooks library. The iPad doesn’t have E ink, and instead uses a backlit screen, but the device is compatible with a variety of formats, especially when using apps like Stanza.

The iPad is available from £329.

Kobo Touch eReader review: An unobtrusive reading experience

Not many consumer electronics devices get away with a backside that looks like your Grandma’s quilt. Like a grandparent, however, it’s not the aesthetic that counts for the Kobo eReader, but the stories it tells. And the Kobo tells stories very well.

Kobo-Touch-eReader

Looking beyond the quilting, the Kobo Touch interface is both simple and simply beautiful. Turn it on and you’re greeted with the covers of your most recent books, so that you’re just one tap (it’s touchscreen!) away from your stories.

Opening a book will take you to your last opened page, with tabs to the left or right of the screen scrolling you through the pages. You can also make a swiping gesture to change page, if you’re fixed on the tablet experience.

The fact that the Kobo uses a touchscreen means that, combined with the unit’s matte -white finish, you’re faced with an extremely unobtrusive reading experience. You’ll only find two buttons on the device – and only one on the front. It boats a 6″ Pearl e-ink display – the very same one you’ll find on the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader series, so there’s no disparity there.

Hold your finger on a word and you’ll bring up an iPhone-style selection cursor, which then allows you to save your highlighted section, add a note, look up the definition, translate the word or search the book for another occurrence. We found that this was much better that using the Kindle’s d-pad to look up words, but the touchscreen was sometimes unreliable and highlighted the wrong area. Annoying.

You can also share it on Facebook, although we didn’t feel inclined to share our reading progress.

A tap on the centre of the screen brings up the options menu, where you can access the built-in dictionary, translation tools, search the book, view your annotations or jump to the table of contents. You can also access the device’s settings and – uniquely – change the font.

While other devices let you change fonts on the device, the Kobo actually allows you to add a new font to the eReader when you plug it into your computer. Simply create a “fonts” folder on the unit and draw your favourite TrueTypes onto the system, then select it from the menu. You can also edit font size, line spacing, margins and justification.

There are three main navigation options, Library, Store or Reading Life. Library lets you see your books, news & magus, previews and your shortlisted items, while the store lets you download books through the devices wifi from the Kobo store. There are also free eBooks, top picks and a search option.

Reading Life is the most interesting feature, however, as it shows you your reading stats and awards. We thought that the awards were a bit of a pointless gameification addition for people who want to boast about their reading achievements on Facebook, but really enjoyed browsing our reading stats.

For your current books, you can see how long your average reading session is, as well as the total hours you’ve spent reading and the number of pages turned. You can also see the number of books you’ve finished, your total time spent reading and the percentage of your library you’ve finished.

The Kobo supports EPUB, PDF, MOBI, KPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR, with a 2GB storage capacity and a microSD slot for a 32GB card.