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Kobo Launches Vox E-Reader Android Tablet, But Can It Compete with Kindle Fire?

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E-book retailer Kobo has launched its own Android tablet that’s geared towards readers of digital books called Vox. The Vox tablet will run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread and will be priced at the same $200 price point that Amazon is targeting its Kindle Fire tablet, and both tablets are similar enough with 7-inch displays, 1024 X 600 resolution screens, social networking integration, and WiFi-only support, at least initially.

With what appears to be a customized experience for e-reading, the Vox tablet will come with its own UI.

There appears to be a lot of similarities between Amazon’s offering and the Vox tablet, but it’d be interesting to see what consumers end up choosing. With Vox, it appears that you’ll get access to Android Market for apps while the Kindle Fire will lock you into Amazon’s ecosystem with the company’s own Amazon Appstore for Android.

What it ultimately boils down to is features and performance versus format. Vox will rely on the more open EPUB format, which can be read on rival tablets from Barnes & Noble and Sony, for example, while the Kindle Fire tablet will be locked into Amazon’s own format for e-books. On the other hand, there’s the issue of performance. Amazon’s same price will net you a dual-core processor, making it on-par with some of the high-end tablets of today, while Vox will give you a more paltry 800 MHz processor. Additionally, Amazon’s vast ecosystem will provide users a bit more in the end. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, you’ll have access to streaming videos and TV shows through your tablet and Amazon has optimized its web performance through a customized browser. The advantage goes to Vox, however, if you’re concerned with storage space. With Kindle Fire, you’ll be locked into just 8 GB of storage as Amazon is leveraging its cloud for storage while Vox will give you the same internal storage amount with the option of gaining more space with a storage card, giving you a maximum storage total of 40 GB.

The Vox tablet will start shipping on October 28.

Press Release:

KOBO EXPANDS EREADER FAMILY

ANNOUNCES THE NEW KOBO VOX WITH VIVID COLOR DISPLAY THE WORLD’S FIRST SOCIAL EREADER

INTRODUCING THE NEW KOBO VOX EREADER: INSPIRED BY VOX POPULI; VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

START CONVERSATIONS AND ENGAGE WITH FRIENDS AND OTHER READERS AROUND THE WORLD, DISCOVER NEW BOOKS THROUGH FACEBOOK

ENJOY READING OUTDOORS WITH THE MOST ADVANCED 7 INCH AFFS+ MULTIMEDIA TOUCHSCREEN WITH ANTI-GLARE

READ IN VIVID COLOR WITH RICH CONTENT FOR ALL AGES INCLUDING COMICS, COOKBOOKS, TRAVEL GUIDES AND CHILDREN’S BOOKS WITH READ-ALOUD TECHNOLOGY

EXPERIENCE MORE – BROWSE THE INTERNET, ACCESS EMAIL, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, LISTEN TO MUSIC, WATCH MOVIES, PLAY GAMES, READ NEWSPAPERS & MAGAZINES – PLUS ACCESS AN APP STORE WITH OVER 15,000 FREE APPS, ALL ON ANDROID

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER TODAY IN CANADA AND THE US FOR THE LOW PRICE OF $199.99

TORONTO, October 19, 2011 — Kobo, a global leader in eReading with over 5 million users worldwide, today announced the New Kobo Vox eReader, the world’s first social eReader. The Kobo Vox, inspired by “Vox Populi” meaning the voice of the people, enables readers to start conversations with other readers and discover new books and authors through their social network. With a vivid color display, Kobo takes the reading experience to a whole new level and offers even more content – rich color books, newspapers, magazines, games, music, video, games and social feeds – all on an open Android platform.

“Kobo Vox is the reader for your connected life, and opens the door to the next generation of eReading – social eReading – where books can come alive in color and conversation. Readers can get more out of their experience by connecting with Kobo’s global community of booklovers.” said Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo. “Plus, with Kobo Vox you have the freedom to connect with friends, listen to music, watch movies, play games and discover new apps with almost unlimited choices.”

A WORLD CLASS READING EXPERIENCE

Based on Kobo’s #1-rated Android eReading experience, Kobo Vox was built by readers for readers. People can access their entire library on the go, in an easy to hold, lightweight design with a comfortable quilted back. The Kobo Vox comes in a selection of four contemporary, fun, new colors – Hot Pink, Lime Green, Ice Blue and Jet Black, giving a choice of options to reflect personal style, and delivers a superior user experience that allows users to easily navigate their library, scroll through books, and turn pages with a tap or swipe, plus personalize their reading experience with highlights, annotations, adjustable fonts and more. The Kobo Vox has onboard storage for up to 8000 eBooks, with expandable storage to hold up to 40,000 books, and access to unlimited storage in the Kobo cloud. With Kobo, you can read continuously across devices with free top rated Kobo apps available for most popular smartphones, tablets and computers. Developed on Android 2.3, readers have the freedom to customize their experience to best suit their personal needs and preferences.

CAPTURING THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

Building on the industry leading social platform, Reading Life, users can now choose to connect with friends or create book clubs and discuss their favorite reads on Facebook, track their reading statistics, and unlock fun and exciting awards just for reading. The recent innovation of Kobo Pulse™ takes social reading to a new level – readers can feel the pulse of a book, start conversations, share comments and thoughts and leave reviews by ‘Liking’, ‘Disliking’ and/or commenting, real-time, with others who are reading the same book. Kobo Pulse provides the ultimate source for book recommendations, as the suggestions come from friends and ‘like’ minded readers whose opinions and interests are similar and trusted.

Now, “The End” is never the end. Kobo is the first eReading platform to be integrated with Facebook Ticker and Timeline to enable further reading discovery and entertainment.

THE MOST ADVANCED MULTIMEDIA TOUCHSCREEN

Featuring a brilliant multimedia touchscreen, readers can experience text with high contrast resolution and immerse themselves in books, magazines, games and videos in vivid color. Kobo uses the most advanced 7 inch AFFS+ display, with anti-glare – the same technology used in airplane cockpits (there are no clouds at 30,000 feet) – for great reading indoors or outdoors and featuring an extra-wide angle for incredible viewing and ideal for shared reading and viewing.

NOW READ IN VIVID COLOR

Kobo’s global ebookstore – 2.5 million books and over 1 million free – just got better with new color and enhanced multimedia content. Discover a new world of reading with rich color content for all ages, including cookbooks, engaging travel guides, comic books, and graphic novels. Parents and children can read together with Read Along children’s books, a great way to spend quality time and a fun way to help children learn to read. The Vox eReader includes three free color books, so people can start building their color library right away; there is a selection of dessert recipes for the chef-in-training in Sweet Dreams, Lonely Planet’s Europe Essentials for the avid traveler and Franklin and the Thunderstorm for young readers.

EXPERIENCE MORE – THE EREADER FOR YOUR CONNECTED LIFE

In addition to reading – Kobo Vox users can easily browse the Web, check email, listen to music, watch movies, play games and store personal photos. Choose from a selection of pre-loaded top ranked entertainment apps:

Magazines from Zinio® – plus 12 FREE popular magazines for Kobo Vox owners
Newspapers from PressReader™ – over 1,900 full newspapers from around the world – and a gift of 7 newspapers of your choice!

Unlimited music from RDIO®

Get social with Twitter® & Facebook®

Book lover must-have: Merriam Webster’s Dictionary

Games like Cut the Rope®

Apps – over 15,000 FREE apps

Kobo and Facebook widgets that sit right on the home screen

Access to more music and video services in the app store

FREEDOM OF CHOICE

At Kobo, we believe you should have the ability to read on any device. Readers can download free Kobo eReading apps to read across the most popular devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, AndroidÔ phones, iPhonesÒ, iPadsÒ, Blackberry® Smartphones and PlayBooks. Readers can also download their ebooks and read on a wide range of dedicated eReaders.

Consistent with our open philosophy, Kobo Vox offers full access to Android 2.3, and includes an open app store with over 15,000 FREE apps for Android. With ultra-fast web browsing, the latest news, weather, and Hollywood gossip at your fingertips. Plus, a full-featured email client supports POP, IMAP and Microsoft® ActiveSync so you can get all your personal email like Yahoo and Gmail and work email too!

AMAZING LOW PRICE OF $199.99, AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER STARTING TODAY

The Kobo Vox will begin rolling out internationally today, starting with the US and Canada.

In Canada, Kobo Vox is available for pre-order online at leading Kobo retail partners:
Indigo Books & Music (www.indigo.ca), Future Shop (www.futureshop.ca), Best Buy (www.bestbuy.ca), and Kobo.com for a MSRP of $199.99

In the U.S., the Kobo Vox is available for pre-order at Best Buy (www.bestbuy.com), Fry’s Electronics (www.frys.com), and at Kobo.com for a MSRP of $199.99.

For more information on Kobo and the new Kobo Vox eReader visit www.Kobo.com

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

3 Comments

  1. Synergi

    10/20/2011 at 7:53 am

    True, it doesn’t have the faster processor but wow, it has a AFFS+ screen. I know you guys know how great those screens are from all your Motion computing reviews. This will be viewable outdoors.

    Thank you Apple. Since they made a big deal over using IPS, we are finally seeing less and less crappy screens with terrible viewing angles.

    So the Vox has AFFS+ and SD storage going for it vs, Amazon’s giant ecosystem.. hmmm.. choices, or is it a choice at all?

  2. Brent

    10/20/2011 at 9:56 am

    The Kobo would be sweet with the Skyfire browser that provides many advantages of Amazon’s Silk Browser (Flash video).

  3. Kieran Ward

    10/21/2011 at 9:00 am

    Any word on whether or not this supports Flash?

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