Let’s start with the Kobo Arc tablet. This isn’t the first tablet that Kobo has released, as the Kobo Vox came out late last year, but was eclipsed by the better specced, more exciting Kindle Fire. Not being Google Certified didn’t help the Vox either, but it appears Kobo has learned from its mistakes with the Arc.
Powering the 7-inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display is a 1.5Ghz, dual-core Texas Instruments processor, along with 1GB of RAM, while the operating system is built around Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Kobo has included the Google Play store this time around too, but has also added its own user interface over the top of the Android OS, along with a new feature called Tapestries.
At first it sounds like a customizable homescreen really, as you can “pin” favorite books, pictures, videos and web links to your Tapestry, but it gets a little more interesting as the Arc will then offer content suggestions based on what you’ve pinned to the screen.
Kobo has also added features such as Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, and a battery that should provide 10 hours of continuous reading. Two models will be made available, one with 8GB and the other with 16GB of internal memory, and they’ll be priced at $199/£169 and $249/£199 respectively when it’s released in November.
On to the Kobo Glo, then, which is a 6-inch e-reader. The E Ink touchscreen boasts an impressive 1024 x 768 resolution with 210 dots-per-inch, which at the moment, trumps the competition.
The clue as to what makes the Glo standout is in its name, as the screen has an adjustable front light, so it can be read in the dark. Naturally, this affects battery life, and with the light on you can expect 55 hours of reading time, but more than a month with both it and the built-in Wi-Fi switched off.
There’s 2GB of internal memory with a microSD card slot to boost this by 32GB, plus the Glo will accept .ePub books protected by Adobe DRM too. This is especially helpful, as unlike the Kindle, you won’t be restricted to a single store from which to buy your books. It’s set for release on October 1 for $129/£99.
Finally, we come to the Kobo Mini, the company’s basic e-reader. It features a stock 5-inch E Ink screen, 2GB of internal memory, Wi-Fi and a lightweight 134 gram chassis. It too will be out on October 1 at the bargain price of $79/£59.
Kobo’s new hardware range looks great, and is priced competitively, however it will still need to contend with whatever Amazon, Barnes & Noble and potentially even Apple have in store for us before the all-important Holiday season. Will these devices help put Kobo’s name on the map?
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