Toronto-based e-book manufacturer Kobo Inc. has revamped its lineup with three new e-readers, one revamped reader and a library of nearly three million books.
The new devices follow last week’s creation of a partnership between Kobo and the American Booksellers Association, which will see Kobo books and readers available in some 2,000 bookstores across America. Other stores joining Kobo’s global network include Indigo (Canada), WHSmith (England), FNAC (France), Mondadori (Italy), Libris (Netherlands), Collins (Australia), Whitcoulls (New Zealand) and Rakuten, the Japanese Kobo Inc. corporate parent.
The company says it has arrangements with 10 million users in 190 countries, and offers nearly 3 million books in 60 different languages, making Kobo one of the world’s largest e-bookstores.
The Kobo devices are named the Kobo Glo, Kobo Mini, Kobo Touch and the Kobo Arc.
The top of the line is the Kobo Arc, which runs on the Android 4.0 operating system, using a Kobo-developed interface called Tapestries, which vaguely resembles the upcoming Microsoft Windows 8 interface, formerly called Metro. The Tapestries interface can recommend related videos, movies, books and web pages to encourage readers to explore multimedia as the device’s engine learns what the reader’s tastes are.
The 7-inch device offers 16 million colours in a high-definition display. With front-facing speakers, a built-in microphone and high-resolution 1.3 MP camera to take photos and videos, the Kobo Arc offers up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play, and two weeks on standby. With Google Play, Kobo Arc users have access to more than 600,000 apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Rdio, Zinio and PressReader. The device will be available in November, in two models: $199.99 (for an 8-gigabyte model) and $249.99 (for the 16-gigabyte model). Kobo estimates that 1 GB is enough to store more than 1,000 e-books.
Next is the Kobo Glo, which is lit from the front, offering adjustable lighting to allow for reading during the day or night. This device runs on the E Ink display, which allows users change line spacing, margins and turn justification on and off; users have the option of choosing from seven fonts and 24 font sizes on its 6-inch display panel. The XGA screen resolution (1024 by 768 dpi resolution and 16 levels of grey scale). It has built-in Wi-Fi and comes in black or white and a selection of colours. There’s a built-in dictionary and users can highlight passages, and insert bookmarks, and it will automatically insert a bookmark on the most recently read page.
It sells for $129.99 with 2 gigabytes of storage, expandable to 32 GB.
The smallest device is the Kobo Mini, a reader with a 5-inch E Ink screen and designed to fit into a purse or pocket. The no-glare screen can be read in bright, direct sunlight. Mini holds up to 1,000 eBooks. The Kobo Mini will be available October 1 for $79.99.
The older Kobo Touch, a touch-screen device, has also been given a small but important update: It now sells for at $99.99. The new version includes Kobo’s latest software with more ways to personalize the reading experience, get recommendations and discover new content. The Kobo Touch is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese.
Kobo’s mobile software now runs on the BlackBerry, Apple’s iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets. It features now carry across each of the above operating systems as well as desktop devices.