It seems barely a moment ago that Kobo launched its eReaders in WHSmith high street stores, but already a new product has come into the mix bringing the total number of Kobo eReaders WHSmith offers to three. This new one has a colour screen and offers a range of extra features.
More than an eReader
The new Kobo Vox is much more than an eReader. It runs on Android 2.3 and brings that to the fore, so that it includes a range of extras over and above standard eReading capability. You’ve got a built in web browser, email, Facebook client, calendar, contacts manager, music player, Twitter and YouTube client. And you’ve got access to the Android Market with its thousands of add-on apps. There’s no SIM card support, but there is Wi-Fi, and 8GB of internal storage with 5.3GB available plus a microSD card slot for adding more. What the Kobo Vox is, in fact, is an Android tablet with the added bonus of access to the WHSmith online ebook store plus the Zinio reader for magazines and PressReader for newspapers. Oh, and applications for smartphones and PC that will synchronise your reading position too, so you can pick up reading on one device at the point you left off on another. It’s quite a combination.
Reading goes social
Any tablet can handle eReading thanks to a range of third party apps including versions of Amazon’s Kindle reader. But as well as the WHSmith tie in, Vox adds the social elements that help differentiate its reader. Kobo Pulse lets you move from a page of a book to an online area which shows people who are reading the book you are reading now and lets you share comments on it. Reading Life shows your reading stats – how many pages turned, how many books read, total time spent reading, that kind of thing. You can even get rewards for reading regularly and mounting up the page count.
Does colour cut it?
These social features are interesting and may be a draw, and the WHSmith ebook catalogue is plentiful and includes huge numbers of free out of copyright ebooks. But can ebooks work on a colour screen? The one here measures 7 inches so it matches many ereaders and is larger than some. It’s 1200 x 600 pixels make for clear text. It isn’t overly bright, and there’s a sensor for automatic brightness adjustment. But it isn’t always easy to see outdoors, and the colour screen technology drains the battery faster than it drains an e-Ink screen as found on a standard eReader.
- large ebook store; Android features; interesting social media features
- Colour screen not ideal for ereading
The Kobo Vox is a tablet and eReader hybrid and the combo has been well thought through. The screen isn't great outdoors, but the social features may be a lure, and the WHSmith tie in means you've a huge ebook store on tap.