Some would argue that Amazon has the ereader market sewn up with its Kindle range, and that the newly announced £89 Kindle puts the tin lid on the efforts of others. Others, of course, would not agree – and WHSmith is keen to get some of the e-book reader action. The high-street store has adopted two e-book readers from Kobo, one of which is the Kobo eReader Touch Edition
Touch to turn
The convention with e-book readers is that you use buttons to turn pages, and to access menus. That’s not the way the Kobo eReader Touch Edition does things. There’s a clue in the name. You can sweep the screen to move between pages of a book, and touch it to access menus and generally interact with it. This doesn’t make page turning any faster than it usually feels with an e-book reader, but it does somehow feel more intuitive – probably because we are all now so used to sweeping at the screens of our phones.
The Kobo eReader Touch Edition is being pushed for its support of multiple platforms. You can read ePUB, PDF and MOBI ebooks, .txt, RTF, and HTML, CBZ and CBR comic book formats and JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF files. These can be sent to the reader via a PC.
Alternatively, you can browse and shop over a Wi-Fi connection – WHSmith says its store offers more than 2.2 million titles making it the largest e-book store in the UK. You can search for books by title, author, subject or ISBN, so finding something specific should be pretty fast and easy. And if you don’t want to pay for your reading, Kobo has more than a million free e-books to choose from too.
Under the hood
The Kobo’s basic specifications aren’t top-notch but they’re decent enough. The 6in E-Ink screen is the same size as that found in the new Kindle – and in terms of size and weight there’s not much to choose between the two devices either. The Kobo eReader Touch Edition measures 165x114x10mm and weighs 185g, while the new Kindle comes in at 166x114x8.7mm and 170g.
The Kobo eReader Touch Edition manages about a month’s battery life from a single charge, and 1GB of storage is available for e-books. That’s less than the Kindle, but you can augment it with microSD cards, which you can’t do with the Kindle. There are four colour options to choose from: three with a white front and either a white, pink or blue backplate; or an all-black version. The backplate has a strange, almost quilted look to it.
The Kobo is also supplemented by free apps for your desktop computer, Android, iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry which can synchronise to the page last read. And there are some interesting extras like a Facebook link and reading stats that might have limited appeal, but at least show some original thinking around how e-book readers might be differentiated.
- Good touch screen; supports lots of formats.
We rather like the Kobo eReader Touch Edition. Its page navigation system is intuitive, and there's certainly a large enough library of e-books to choose, from both free and paid-for. Add in the fact that you can read texts in multiple formats and there's plenty of scope here. But it is considerably more expensive than the Kindle - and the Kindle is already very, very well known. A £50 price and storefront positions might help it along.