Tag Archives: kobo

Amazon Introduces Kindle 3

Amazon announced the third-generation Kindle today. On their home page, they detail what’s new, summed up as amazingly small and light. This new Kindle also includes the revised e-ink originally introduced in the Kindle DX, and claims battery life of up to one month.

It’s available for pre-order now, but won’t release until August 27. All around, it looks like a sleek, dedicated ereader, one that’s miles ahead of the clunky, first-edition Kindle.

Other things that struck me, not all of which are noted by Amazon:

  • The second-generation Kindle is no longer available, it’s still there but just sold by third-party sellers (many of whom have priced it far beyond what it’s now worth).
  • Similar to the Barnes & Noble Nook, there is now a Wi-Fi only Kindle available for $139.
  • The third-generation 3G Kindle remains priced at $189 (same as Kindle 2). They’re obviously underpricing the Nook, which has similar models available for $10 more.
  • They’ve incorporated a more prominent D-pad, that’s similar to, but much smaller than that on the Kobo reader.
  • The Kindle DX is barely mentioned and difficult to find on the Amazon site. It seems the DX has waved the white flag and surrendered to the onslaught of the iPad.
  • Includes native support of the PDF file format.
  • The page featured on the faceout shot of the new Kindle is from a book called “The Art of Choosing,” complete with a quote from Joseph Campbell. Chapter title: Past Is Prologue. Is this a not-too-subtle reflection on Gutenberg, his fancy device, and how customers can handle a world where every book written gets published.

All around, this looks like the no-brainer choice right now for a dedicated ereader, though Borders/Kobo and Barnes & Noble will react soon. It’s more certain than ever that the $99 ereader will be here by the holiday season.

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eReader Price Wars, First Round

The long anticipated ereader price wars began this week. Apple has cornered the market for the multi-purpose device and can demand a premium for the iPad, but how the dedicated-ereader market plays out will come down in no small part to price.

Barnes & Noble started things off by dropping the price of the Nook to $199, and introducing a Wi-Fi only version (the regular version also has 3G) for $149. It’s a big plus that the Nook supports the non-proprietary ePub and Adobe DRM (plus the old standby PDF) formats. It’s also the only of these three ereaders with a color screen. Barnes & Noble needed to get cheaper than Amazon to remain in this game. Selling a device for $110 less than their previous cheapest offering is a steep move in the right direction.

Amazon responded the next day by dropping the price of the Kindle to $189. I’m surprised it took them this long following the iPad release, and even at the new price I’m still not a fan because of the proprietary Amazon ebook format. Any books bought from the Kindle Store can only ever be read on an Amazon device. Of course, there are ways you can get around this restriction, but they’re of questionable legality, and more importantly far too much of a hassle just to take your books with you when you move.

Borders also entered the fray by offering a $20 Borders gift card with the purchase of the Kobo ereader which is still priced at $149. This device also supports ePub, Adobe DRM, and PDF formats, though it can’t connect via Wi Fi or 3G. You need to plug it into a computer or sync it with a smartphone to load more books on it. I like that this device isn’t so married to a particular store, and in theory it should work seamlessly with both the Kobo and Borders ebook stores. Kobo also does the best job of offering a side-by-side comparison, though they haven’t yet updated the prices on this page or added the new Wi-Fi only Nook.

The mountain of unread paper books by my bed means that I have no fear in delaying this decision, yet again. My hunch is that by this year’s holiday one of these devices will come with enough gift cards to essentially make it free. All three will undoubtedly soon follow the Kobo and Borders model of not dropping the price, but piling on the perks. Why buy one when I can wait and hope someone else gets one for me?

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Kobo eReader: Is It the Real Kindle Killer?

What a difference an eReader launch can make? The Kobo eReader is available today in Canada, and the lack of attention on this side of the border is almost deafening. It seems that gadgets need bells and whistles to attract much hoopla, and the Kobo eReader is almost old school in the world of ebooks.

Michael Tamblyn, vice president of sales and merchandising at Kobo, recently presented at BookNet Canada’s Technology Forum 2010. There, he called it a device “for people who love books more than they love technology.” He goes on to highlight the company’s philosophy of letting the reader choose the right device for them “not just from month to month or year to year, but even within the course of a day.”

And at $149, the Kobo eReader is cheap enough to back such claims.

Kobo also hosts an ebook downloads store that currently features 2 million titles. Perhaps the best feature about this startup is its approach to ebook format. The Kobo eReader supports standard ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM formats. If down the road you want to move your ebooks to another device, even one not made by Kobo, you can do this relatively easily. The iPad and Kindle are designed for lock in. Anything bought in the iBooks and Kindle Stores can only be accessed on future devices made by Apple or Amazon. The Nook supports more open formats, but like the Kindle it costs $110 more. Unlike all these other devices, the Kobo eReader can’t directly download new books. You need to either connect it to a computer or use Bluetooth to sync it wirelessly with a phone. Though the Kobo eReader does comes preloaded with 100 books.

Other features include the same size (6-inch) screen as Kindle 2 and similar e-ink technology. This is one of the deal breakers for me with the iPad. I don’t want screen glare for those few, though hugely enjoyable, all-day reading stints. The iPad does look like a snazzy games gadget, but I don’t need any more incentive to waste time playing stupid games.

Kobo is definitely a company to watch in this space. They’re small now, less than a year and a half old and very much in startup mode. Their approach is firmly grounded in giving customers what they want first, empire building second. The titans with whom they compete seem to be far more concerned with empire building. The Kobo eReader won’t be available in the US until summer. They’ve partnered with Borders, so US consumers will be able to check the device out before buying it. And at $149, it just may get me to take the plunge. At the very least it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kindle and Nook pricing as the competition heats up.

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