Home / Mint-lounge / Features /  Kobo takes on Amazon’s Kindle

Amazon started selling its Kindles in India last year, and on Thursday, Kobo announced that their range of e-readers and their Android tablet will also be available in India. The new devices go on sale from Thursday, at electronics stores and select bookstores.

The full range includes the Glo eReader, which has an inbuilt light so you can read at night as well as in daylight, much like the Kindle Paperwhite, and the Kobo Aura HD, which has a 6.8-inch display with lights, and a 1440X1080 resolution that Kobo claims makes it easier to read than any e-reader available

The Kobo Touch costs 7,999 (and is available for 6,999 till 3 November) and comes with 2GB of storage, along with support for a microSD card of up to 32GB.

The Kobo Glo is very similar to the Touch, but includes a lighting display solution to let you read in the dark; otherwise, the 6-inch e-ink screen looks pretty similar, and has the same storage options. The Glo is priced at 10,999.

The Kobo Aura HD is priced at 13,999, and powered by a 1GHz processor, is smoother when turning pages, or loading books, when compared to these other e-readers. It also comes with 4GB of storage, and microSD card support.

Aside from the e-readers, Kobo has also launched the Kobo Arc, a 7-inch Android tablet running a customised version of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The 1280X800 pixel display looks good, and it’s powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and seemed to be smooth in general use. However, the Arc is fairly heavy for its size. It’s priced at 11,999, but till Diwali, will be available for 9,999.

Of course, an e-reader is of limited value without a way to get the books. All these devices support WiFi connectivity and can also connect to your computer via a USB cable. From the device, you can access Kobo’s ebookstore which, the company stated, has around 4-million titles now, and includes most of the bestselling authors in India. At the same time, unlike the Kindle, the Kobo supports the open epub format, so even if you have bought e-books from some other source (for example, some authors distribute their books freely in the format) you can still use them on your device.

Unlike the Kindle though, Kobo isn’t coming to the market with any 3G based offerings yet, while some of Amazon’s e-Readers come with the option, which means that you can take them out of the house and still buy and browse books if you want.

One area where Kobo has a slight edge over the comparable Kindles is in design; Kobo’s hardware feature slight bevels and dips, with a different pattern for each model. While the Kindles are also very comfortable to hold, the Kobo devices felt just a little bit nicer. While reading, our page turning experience was a little bit better with Kindles, except when compared with the Aura HD. The Aura HD is also supposed to have a better screen as well, but the differences are pretty limited, and people will only notice in a side-by-side comparison.

Amazon’s offerings meanwhile match Kobo on price. The only difference is the Kindle Touch, which was discontinued. Instead, Amazon’s offerings start with the 6-inch Kindle, priced at 5,999; until Diwali, the Kobo Touch represents a value buy. After that, it’ll be 2,000 more expensive than the Kindle.

The Paperwhite with WiFi matches the Glo in price, and the Paperwhite with 3G costs as much as the Aura HD, which is WiFi only. In both these cases, the Kindle appears to deliver greater value. The Arc, which is also discounted till Diwali, sounds like a good option for now, but after that, it’s priced exactly the same as the Kindle Fire HD, at 11,999, and in our review of the Kindle Fire HD, we were pretty impressed by the tablet.

Overall barring minor differences, there’s little to actually differentiate reading on a Kindle and a Kobo; the differentiate the two sets of e-Readers, and that might hurt Kobo. There’s no particular incentive to choose a Kobo over a Kindle, and the Amazon brand is already well known, even amongst people who aren’t necessarily following technology news, which isn’t the case with Kobo.

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