The Kobo Wireless eReader is one of the newest eBook readers in the market. With so many eReaders and eBook online platforms out there (Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook and the [oops, we’re sorry about the Playstation Network] Sony Reader, to name a few), consumers have to look out for what is exclusive to each eReader.
As far as the Kobo goes, it is a budget-conscious choice for consumers. Weighing in at $99, it is one of the cheaper eReaders in the market, but does that necessarily mean it’s the better product? Why not dish out a few extra bucks for a Kindle ($114) or the Nook ($149) to get a better quality, better established eReader experience? According to the tech-savvy CNET people, consumers should do just that1.
A good way to see how the Kobo falls short is its lack of a keyboard2, which makes it harder to navigate through the Kobo online bookstore. The bookstore itself is huge, boasting 2.3 million books, magazines and newspapers3. That is a huge selection when compared to the Kindle’s 950,000+ selections. More is good, right?
So why then does the Kobo fall short in the online market?
Kobo was developed as Borders’ too-little-too-late response to Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s online presence. Borders’ hesitance to jump into the digital market proved to be a fatal blow for the company earlier this year and Kobo might see the same fate due to bad timing. Originally meant to be a big competitor in the eBook market, Kobo trades technology for price in a time when the Kindle and Nook devices are more affordable than ever.
The Kobo’s lack of 3G services is an Achilles’ heel for the eReader. Kindle and Nook owners (for $189 and $199, respectively) can access their respective online stores whenever, wherever. Only last year, the Kobo was still slave to a USB cable to transfer books from personal computers to its hard drive. The eReader was upgraded to wireless last November, but that means the device is dependent on an available Wi-Fi connection in the area. More often than not, you will have a tough time finding a Wi-Fi connection outside of your home or local café. This is not a device a consumer can bring to a park bench to buy and enjoy the new eBook he’s been waiting for. Kobo is still behind the times.
Regarding Kobo as an online bookseller, Melissa J. Perenson of PC World puts it beautifully, “The store is a mixed bag, though. I appreciate the fact that it’s available, and that I can buy something new while I’m on the go. But it’s extremely sluggish, and the screen refreshes slowly4.”
That said, there is one feature in the Kobo repertoire that shows potential: The Reading Life5 app for iOS (iPad, iPhone & iTouch) allows consumers to post what books they’re reading as well as post quotes from said books on Facebook. This allows for literary conversations to ensue on a worldwide scale. Alas, the days of café literary buffs are up (maybe). But imagine having weekly book club meetings through social networking. The Reading Life makes it a bit easier.
The complete Kobo product is a good choice for the social media and kids and/or adults who are getting their first eReader with not the faintest idea on how to use one. The techies, on the other hand, might find Kobo way too watered down for comfort. The Kobo is definitely a good basic eReader with all the basic features of an eReader (besides a keyboard), but the Kindle or Nook is a better investment. They’re trustworthy, they’re high quality, they’re the Marcia to Kobo’s Jan.