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Kobo To Release Android Tablet E-Reader 80

Posted by timothy
from the cute-name-at-least dept.
First time accepted submitter Alt-kun writes "Like Amazon last month, Kobo is now making the jump to an Android-based tablet e-reader. Priced at $200 and available on October 28th, the Kobo Vox is set to complete with the Kindle Fire rather than the iPad. While Kobo can't match up with Amazon's sheer mass of available content, it is partnered with various major book sellers and has a good-sized base of existing customers. Also, previous Kobo products have made a point of supporting open standards for media, and that will presumably continue with the Vox. For those who aren't familiar with Kobo: they have little presence in the US, but their e-readers are fairly popular in Canada, Australia, and a number of other countries."
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Kobo To Release Android Tablet E-Reader

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  • by mpweasel (539631) <mprzyjazny@ g m ail.com> on Saturday October 22, 2011 @05:53PM (#37806358) Homepage
    When completitors complete, conslumers win!
    • Kobo have excellent customer service. I bought one for my son when I was in the states last year.
      My son broke the screen, I told Kobo that it was broken because of misuse and they still replaced it. Paying for both parts of the international shipping. If they where selling them to the UK or I was popping over soon I would buy a Vox.
      Kobo make good open standards systems. Maybe a little fragile and cheap feeling but they are cheap and have great customer service.
  • ... but as of last week one of the electronics retail chains started selling them.
    • by deniable (76198)
      They were previously only available from Angus & Robertson and Borders. Both of those went bust so they had to find a new supplier.
    • by Phoghat (1288088)
      Citation not only needed, but wanted.

      Eh, wassamatayu? a link or sumptin'?

      Oh, and BTW, "Let The Hacking Begin"!

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I should have written that JB Hifi and probably a few other places are now selling the touch and wifi versions but not the new one yet. Since the touch took over a year to get here don't expect the new one just yet.
        There's been some limited wifi and touch hacking and the details of how to actually write to the framebuffer and put stuff on the screen of the touch have apparently just come out.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @05:57PM (#37806378)

    While Kobo can't match up with Amazon's sheer mass of available content, it is partnered with various major book sellers and has a good-sized base of existing customers.

    Unless their goal is simply to sell Android-based readers to their existing customers, this doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Why would anyone pick this over the Kindle Fire?

    Also, previous Kobo products have made a point of supporting open standards for media, and that will presumably continue with the Vox.

    I can see why that would attract the Slashdot crowd (seriously). But, again, that's not something that'll bring in a bunch of new customers - it doesn't matter in the least to the vast majority of people.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because you can't actually buy a Kindle Fire outside the US. There's a big reason for everyone in the rest of the world!

      • by symbolset (646467) *

        I'm pretty sure that outside the US still has eBay [ebay.com]. The world is shifting to a global market thanks to places like eBay where localized products can be arbitraged for a nominal fee. That's how we in the US get access to the thousands [ebay.com] of Android tablets built and marketed for third world markets when we don't live there.

        It's one world now. If you have the cash and Internet access you can have anything sold anywhere in the world delivered reliably and quickly to you in any place that has delivery services

        • by Tridus (79566)

          And then if you want to buy any content on it, you need to hook up a VPN to make it look like you're coming from the US since the store the Fire's connected to doesn't work in most of the rest of the world (like say, Canada). Which for the overwhelming majority is far too much of a PITA to be worth the hassle.

          If you're outside the US I haven't seen much of anything that would say the Fire's better then the Kobo Vox (or other cheaper Android tablets).

        • If you believe that then I doubt you've lived for a significant time outside the US.

          US products that aren't sold outside the US are replaced by equivalent products that are sold there, not by desperate attempts to get the exact same thing the Americans have. There's no advantage and huge disadvantages to trying to buy a Kindle Fire (now with no huge array of content backing it!) when you could get this instead.

          • by symbolset (646467) *

            >If you believe that then I doubt you've lived for a significant time outside the US.

            Good point.

            Why is that's material I ask. A thing is what it is, wherever it is. Moving it to your house or mine doesn't change it.

    • Because if you're in Canada the Kindle Fire isn't available and even if you get one anyway has no content available? Amazon in Canada is a pretty pathetic shadow of it's US version.

      The Kobo on the other hand has a pretty strong seller in Indigo books and has content. It's all right there in the summary about the Kobo stuff being targetted more internationally. Just because someone in the US wouldn't want one doesn't mean anything on the rest of the planet.

      • by Camaro (13996)

        Agree completely. First I wanted a Nook Color. Sorry, not in Canada. Then I wanted a Kindle Fire. Sorry, not in Canada. If Kobo can get this thing selling in Canada, they might just get my hard earned money just to save me jumping through fire-ringed hoops to get one of the others.

        • by Tridus (79566)

          Indigo's got it: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/kobo-vox/ [indigo.ca]

          Not sure about the non-book content, but my wife has one of the ebook reader Kobo's and has been pretty happy with what's available.

        • by Rotting (7243) *

          Agree completely. First I wanted a Nook Color. Sorry, not in Canada. Then I wanted a Kindle Fire. Sorry, not in Canada. If Kobo can get this thing selling in Canada, they might just get my hard earned money just to save me jumping through fire-ringed hoops to get one of the others.

          I would assume the Canadian company Kobo would be selling this in Canada ;)

          You have basically described my situation in the past regarding the Nook and now the Kindle Fire. Even if I get the Fire when it comes out, it would be severely lacking in content so the Kobo offering is much more appealing to me.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Because if you're in Canada the Kindle Fire isn't available and even if you get one anyway has no content available? Amazon in Canada is a pretty pathetic shadow of it's US version.

        The Kobo on the other hand has a pretty strong seller in Indigo books and has content. It's all right there in the summary about the Kobo stuff being targetted more internationally. Just because someone in the US wouldn't want one doesn't mean anything on the rest of the planet.

        And Kobo knows it. That's why they produce the crapp

    • by EdZ (755139)

      Unless their goal is simply to sell Android-based readers to their existing customers, this doesn't seem like a recipe for success. Why would anyone pick this over the Kindle Fire?

      Because you can install the Kindle app onto it, and thus it does everything the Kindle Fire does and more? And for those outside the US, there's the chance you might even be able to buy it!

    • Kobo's books are sold in ePub format, which means you can put them on a lot of different devices without having to convert them. Moreover, in Canada, there are licensing problems that Kobo doesn't seem to have.

      Lastly, Kobo's books tend to be cheaper for the same thing. I've bought books from Kobo that cost me $1 or $2 that would have cost me $5-10 if I had a Kindle.

      Kobo's a better book store; Amazon-Kindle is arguably a better contained system.

      But both the Fire and the Vox are stupid devices. I bought an eR

      • by sateh (467083)

        """Kobo's books are sold in ePub format, which means you can put them on a lot of different devices without having to convert them. Moreover, in Canada, there are licensing problems that Kobo doesn't seem to have."""

        Yeah this is not exactly true; Kobo uses EPUB with their own proprietary DRM on top of it. I know this because I have worked on that code.

        (There is no DRM standard for EPUB so all ebook sellers use their own weird standard. What Adobe does with EPUBs is also not a standard. They love to call it

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Kobo uses EPUB with their own proprietary DRM on top of it.

          It's pretty easy to strip that right off. Apparently, it wasn't very secure DRM.

          I know this because I have worked on that code.

          Oops. Sorry, I hope I didn't offend.

          But by the way, weren't there any jobs available at labs that test biological weapons on bunnies and puppies?

        • by mattcsn (1592281)

          Kobo uses Adobe Digital Editions DRM. It's trivial to strip off. Just google "ineptepub" and you'll find an easy solution.

    • by reub2000 (705806)

      It's an open android tablet. Install the FBReader app and you can download and read free ebooks to your hearts content. (No need to get out the USB cable like I have to with my Nook.) You can also install the Amazon MP3, Kindle, or Nook App, so you can purchase stuff from whomever. This announcement has certainly piqued my interest.

  • Specs (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xgamer4 (970709) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @06:00PM (#37806386)
    The article was all-around useless for the stuff that actually mattered. So here's a link to the specs page for the device on their official website:
    http://www.kobobooks.com/kobovox_tech [kobobooks.com]

    Most important:
    Device Size 192.4 mm X 128.4 mm (7.57 in. 5.06 in.)
    Device Depth 13.4 mm (0.53 in.)
    Weight 402.6 g (14.2 oz.)
    Diagonal Display Size 7" FFS+ multimedia display; 1024 x 600 resolution
    Screen Qualities Multi-touch screen with exceptional +/- 89 viewing angle
    Processor 800 Mhz; 512 RAM
    Operating System Full open access to Android 2.3
    Storage 8GB of internal storage, holds 8,000 books** and unlimited Kobo eBook cloud storage
    Memory Expansion Option to add a 32 GB SD Memory Card
    Battery Life 7 hours***
    • by oakgrove (845019)
      Capacitive or Resistive?
      • by Graemee (524726)
        Capacitive. Not IR or Passive. They really are trying a different approach to the device as "social" reading. While the Fire is more a media device, for the US. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiRxIXytLYQ [youtube.com] The only thing I'm concerned about is the Android Market. While they say it's a full and open android device. I suspect they have their own Android store and will have limited you to apps they allow. Whether you can sideload the Kindle app on to it needs to be seen.
    • From what I've read, the browser doesn't display pages pre-rendered by Indigo/Chapters. It will be slower to show pages than the Kindle Fire, but this is a HUGE plus to anyone who doesn't wish to be tracked by the people who sold them the tablet. Given that both units are $200, the choice just got a lot easier to make.

    • The article was all-around useless for the stuff that actually mattered. So here's a link to the specs page for the device on their official website:

      http://www.kobobooks.com/kobovox_tech [kobobooks.com]

      Most important:

      It's a matter of perspective. For example, you list the features you consider the "most important", but to me they're mostly fluff. Only two of the specs you listed (OS and battery) mattered to me.

      Also important to me:
      Wireless Connectivity--Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB*
      Supported File Formats--Books: ePUB, including fixed layout and enhanced ePUB. Images: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP Audio: MP3, AAC, .3gp, mp4, m4a, flac, ogg, wav, mid. Video Formats: 3gp, mp4, webm
      Web Browsing--Open Web browsing
      Utilities--Em

  • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @06:00PM (#37806388) Journal

    The Kindle Fire and the Kobo Vox, while being far more versatile than previous models, completely miss the point of an ebook reader. If I wanted to read books on an LCD screen constantly stabbing my eyes with a bright backlight, I'd read on my Android tablet, or my laptop. The reason I bought one of the first gen Kobo ereaders is because of the e-ink screen.

    • Exactly. I have a classic wi-fi nook and you couldn't pay me to read books on an LCD screen over eink.

      • Not to mention having to charge an LCD device at least daily. I get a good two weeks of reading out of my Kobo.

        • by stanlyb (1839382)
          And you could buy Amazon's books, and change their format (dont tell the bad guys), and then read it on my Kobo device.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think the angle here is that these devices ARE low-cost Android Tablets, with e-reading being only one of their capabilities. Companies are looking to capitalize on a wider market than just books -- we're talking every form of digital media here: movies, songs, etc. at a price point that is lower than most tablets.

      Reading an e-book on an LCD with a backlight isn't really all that painful -- I've been using my iPod touch as a portable e-reader for the past several years and have never had any problems. But

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Unless Pixel Qi or someone else comes up with something reasonably cheap and good, I think low-cost tablets are going to outsell E-ink readers.

        I hope "someone else" does a better job bringing something to market than Pixel Qi.

        Although I see that some small outfit called "3M" bought up Pixel Qi. Well, let's hope you're "someone else" gets a move on, because I don't think we'll hear anything more from Pixel Qi.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        E-ink is great in theory, but its refresh rate is too low for video and the lack of color is a deal-breaker for most children's books.

        The sort of children's books with colour illustrations tend to be quite large format anyway, and hence wouldn't really work on a small e-reader in the first place.

        Also, who needs video in a book reader? Again, the screen is too small to watch anything much. You might as well complain that ebook readers don't cope with graphically intense FPS games very well.

    • by ThorGod (456163)

      Yep, I just wonder if it really needs to cost $380 (or whatever the DMX runs) for a decently sized eink display.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You can't get full color magazines and comic books or video on an e-ink screen. You can't get video either. These aren't really e-readers, per se. A better name would be content consumption devices. If you've already got a tablet (say an iPad) and can stand the LCD screen, these won't do anything for you. But if you don't have one and don't want to pay for one, this is a nice option.

      I've got the Nook and the Nook Color and I use them for completely different purposes. The Nook Color is essentially an androi

    • by c++0xFF (1758032)

      Wrong. It doesn't defeat the purpose because that's not the purpose of these devices. The problem is that their niche doesn't work for you.

      When iPad owners look at the Nook Color and the Fire and the Vox, all they see is a cheep, featureless tablet. "Why would anybody want that tiny screen?" When Kindle owners look at them, all they see is an ebook reader with an LCD screen. "But e-ink won't give you eye strain!" When smartphone owners look at them, all they see is an enormous screen size. "That big,

  • Borders Books' ebooks were powered by Kobo, but they weren't a huge name to the end user, I think. Before now their main competition, which they couldn't beat, was actually the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. It'll be interesting to see if they can differentiate themselves enough with this new self-branded tablet to get people to choose them over the Kindle and Nook lines. As it is, however, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, and Aldiko (yet another bookseller) all have reader apps on Android, as does Google

  • by grantpalin (1994704) on Saturday October 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#37806494) Homepage
    As an owner of the 2nd-gen Kobo (WiFi+USB), I'm not feeling at all interested in this new device. I love the e-ink display on my reader, and the fact it can go weeks without a charge. I don't need a bigger and heavier device to do the same thing.
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      As an owner of the 2nd-gen Kobo (WiFi+USB) [...] I don't need a bigger and heavier device to do the same thing.

      It wont do the same thing, though, because it has an LCD not an eink screen!

      • Well, for the purpose of _reading_, there's no extra benefit. I don't need multimedia etc on the same device as my reader, so an LCD screen adds nothing for me.
        • by ThorGod (456163)

          Yep, I agree. The worst part is that, I bet, barebones, they could put out a 10" $200 kobo if it used eink and didn't mess with all the other crud.

  • Another product that will force you to reduce your reading to what one particular vendor thinks is good for you. Who in the world is buying this crap?
    • The Kobo uses ePub, which is an open format I believe. Yes you can make purchases directly from the Kobo store, but you can also sideload content from other sources. I have purchased ebooks from Sitepoint, O'Reilly, and Manning and read the ePub editions on my Kobo without issue. It's even possible to purchase Kindle-formatted content, and convert to ePub using the likes of Calibre.
    • By definition the library you go to limits your scope to the books on hand or available. This library limits you far less than a physical library that only has the books it has. They do so for well-defined reaons in their charter.

      Ebooks do away with this. You can get uncensored works in their original from the source. How is this a bad thing?

      • by reub2000 (705806)

        For works that are still covered by copyright, the library has a much larger collection. True, I have access to a library in a major city, but there are a lot of titles that aren't available in ebook format. I'm not sure what is taking so long.

    • The Kobo readers natively read the open EPUB format, IIRC. Plus, since it runs Gingerbread, you could run any e-reader app from any market or Android author. Therefore, why do you think Kobo will restrict your content?
  • I have a Galaxy Tab here. I installed Foliant [quixey.com] on it, and this is perfect for reading books. I like the LCD with the backlight, and I never liked e-ink screens. If Kobo makes yet another tablet then it's fine, but they are competing in a cutthroat market. There doesn't seem to be much of a difference, in principle, between the Galaxy Tab and the Kobo product. It's the software that does the work - and you can use any software you like.

    • by Stonefish (210962)

      Never like or never used. Forgive the misspelling I'm writing this from a laptop near a pool and the text is nearly invisible, especially with polarised sunglasses. E-ink on the other hand is near perfect in the sun its just slow.
      I recently lend an e-ink device to someone who was an avid ipod lover to take on a holidays and needed to go a week without charging his device. He's now bought one and finally understands that they are currently separate markets.
      I do a lot of reading and rarely play the puerile ga

      • by tftp (111690)

        I'm writing this from a laptop near a pool and the text is nearly invisible

        You are probably right that most wars between the e-ink and the LCD are waged over a rift in usage scenarios. I personally read books in bed, before going to sleep. The lights in the room are off, and the Galaxy Tab (as well as my other tablet) have the correct backlight setting for that. I wouldn't like a bright light either. What I want is a good contrast and quick screen redraws. E-ink is bad on both accounts. As an experiment

  • Any E-book reader needs e-ink. I've been given an Ipad for work and while its a nice toy... its a toy. It not small enough to fit in my pocket, it sucks for reading work related documents, however its great for games and ok for magazine type content. Really WTF are organisations blowing their cash on these things? Here's a tip companies and government organisations that buy these devices should be slashing their IT budgets and giving the money back to shareholders.
    If I wanted an ipad-kindle hybrid it need b

  • I bought a KoboTouch for my girlfriend. I liked the simplicity of it. Just an ereader with no DRM and less temptation to spend money.

    For myself though I got a NookTouch and rooted it straight away. I have Kindle reader on it and loads of other stuff but I wouldn't recommend buying one for the non-technical person.

    In general I love the Kobo. They seem like an honest company and everything seems straightforward. I liked the simple implementation without bells and whistles. It makes explaining how to use it so

  • I live in Canada and have an Android phone and a Kindle 3. I would strongly discourage Canadians from buying a Kindle Fire. The reason is Amazon's horrible support for Apps in Canada. The Kindle has had games in the US for years, but none of them are available on the Kindle in Canada. They've also had an Android app store for a long time now with some great exclusives (Plants vs Zombies) and free games... also not available in Canada. I do not trust them to be able to bring a robust app store to the Canadia

  • Kobo is a Canadian company run by the CEO of Canada's largest book retailer - indigo/chapters. They're seeking to maintain their presence in the market by preemptively offering a tablet before Amazon figures out their international content distribution issues. They have large bookstores in most Major Canadian cities with prominent Kobo ereader displays near the entrance. That kind of exposure is critical, because in Best Buy they'd be relegated to a corner beside much more impressive and expensive tablets.
  • Being an SEO, I have seen the android based applications are essential now-a-days to get more coverage. e-reading is now very popular but reading through book seems slow in reading. http://www.infoshaira.com/seoservices.html [infoshaira.com]

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