Could the Kobo be a genuine UK rival for the Kindle?

30 November 2011

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Whisper it quietly, but there’s a chance that Amazon’s Kindle might have a serious rival. The Kobo e-reader was launched a few weeks ago as a WHSmith exclusive, linked to their online eBook store, and it looks as though it could be gathering pace as an easy high street alternative to the pioneering Amazon device.

It’d be fair to say that there was some derision from various quarters at the time, but WHSmith have given the Kobo some serious promotion, and last week hurriedly launched a sequel, the Android-powered Kobo Vox, with a seven-inch colour touchscreen and optimisation for outdoor reading as well as internet access, apps and all the other gubbins that you’ll expect to get when the Kindle Fire launches. Also, it supports many more formats than the more prohibitive Kindle does, with ePUB, PDF and MOBI, TXT, RTF, HTML and CBZ and CBR comic-book formats running on it along with JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF image files.

The Vox has hit the shops ahead of the Kindle Fire, and as far as the casual consumer is concerned, the Kobo devices could appeal as a more attractive entry-level e-reader than the Kindle. The Kobo has certainly been a hit in its native Canada, and the company has just been snapped up by Rakuten, who also recently acquired Play.com. It’s almost certainly just a matter of time before Play set themselves up as a seller of eBooks and begins to ape Amazon’s business model note for note.

But even though the reviews have been generally favourable (this one for exmple), hey, let’s not let turn this into a big ad for the Kobo. Tell us what you reckon – is the Kindle the only e-reader that matters or is there room for another one? Does the connection with the multi-coloured shit bazaar that is WHSmith put you off? Have you had a fiddle with both devices, and which one did you like best? Come on, don’t be shy, TELL US!

TOPICS:   Gadgets   High Street News

15 comments

  • Tom
    I got a Kobo Touch for the mother, and it is actually pretty good. I am tempted to get one for myself. Main selling point was it took .epub format.
  • greg
    the Kindle is to the ereader market as the iPod is to the mp3 player market: it was around early, is a good price, well built, and has tonnes of support, everything else out there is just second rate copycat bullshit.
  • The B.
    @Greg hahahahahaha, someone sounds pissed off about their overpriced underspecced phone.
  • Sicknote
    "Could the Kobo be a genuine UK rival for the Kindle?" ...No
  • nerd.
    7 hours battery life could be a killer. I can take my Kindle away on holiday and not have to worry about charging it. This one wouldn't survive a long flight. Up until that it was sounding very impressive though.
  • heywood_jablome
    Can I use it in direct sunlight ? erm no Will the battery last 2 months ? erm no Will it hurt my eyes being backlit ? erm yes Does it have e-ink ? erm no So is it just a cheap android tablet like the rest ? I guess so. As for the formats - calibre converts an entire library in seconds to kindle mobi formats If you want a poor mans ipad, buy this, if you want an e-reader, buy a kindle. I wouldn't strap a ghettoblaster to my chest to go out jogging when there's a near perfect device I can wrap around my arm or put in my pocket.
  • Dick
    I'd go for a device backed by Amazon over one backed by WHS any day.
  • Am z.
    Even a multi-coloured shit bazaar is entitled to get something right occasionally. This could be one of those occasions.
  • Brian's U.
    1. the Vox should not be compared to the Kindle. It should be compared to the Kindle Fire which is a totally different product to the Kindle. 2. Kobo can be compared to the Kindle and the comparison is quite favourable. Personally I wouldn't buy any of these though.
  • Mike H.
    Brian's uncle, what am I compairing again? I'm lost?
  • Alex
    I would suggest rather than British challenge it is probably a Canadian challenge. The vox is a poor mans Ipad, you wont want to read a book on it, much like you dont read a book on a computer screen. The E-ink one sounds good but as its around the same price as a kindle I would buy that. The amazon service is great.
  • Brian's U.
    Kindle = Kobo Kindle Fire = Kobo Vox Simples.
  • Loafer1946
    One advantage the Kobo has over the Kindle in the UK is that you can borrow books from local libraries. The Kindle is not a supported device by libraries.
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