WH Smith says the new £169.99 Kobo Vox colour e-reader has gone on sale in its UK shops before a previously announced colour tablet from an online retailer. This could give it a free run at the Christmas market, before Amazon starts to market the Kindle Fire in the UK.
The Kobo Vox has a 7-inch multi-touch widescreen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, 512MB of memory, 8GB of built-in storage, an SD card slot that can hold up to 32GB of removable storage, and "infinite storage" in the cloud. The tablet measures 192.4 x 128.4 x 13.4mm and weighs 402.5g. Claimed battery life "up to 7 hours with Wi-Fi off".
Vox runs Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) operating system rather than the 3.0 (Honeycomb) version aimed at tablets. Unlike the Fire, it provides access to the Android Market, "including apps to read continuously across desktops, laptops, tablets, Android phones, iPhones, iPads, Blackberry and smartphones," says WH Smith.
Like other Android tablets and smartphones, the Kobo Vox can be used for the usual tasks such as accessing email, listening to music and watching movies, browsing the web and playing games, as well as reading books in the industry standard ePub format. It also includes Kobo Pulse, which "takes social reading to a new level". WH Smith says: "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]".
As the "official e-reading partner to Facebook", it also supports Facebook's Ticker and Timeline features.
Amazon's Kindle Fire has been very successful in offering a colour tablet at a low price: it costs $199 in the US, undercutting Barnes & Noble's Koob by $50, and other Android tablets by up to $200. However, it works more as a media consumption device and a shop front for Amazon, rather than a general purpose tablet. The Wi-Fi-only Kobo Vox could therefore attract tablet buyers who see £169.99 as offering a cheap alternative to an Apple iPad 2. It could also attract people who own Android smartphones and would like a familiar interface and/or the same apps on a device with a larger screen.
How well does the Kobo Vox work, and is it worth the money? It should be relatively easy for UK residents to find out. It is going on sale at 650 WH Smith stores, as well as online.
Kobo Vox - WHSmith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RY3p1ZRzZc