20. January 2022

Kobo writes a new chapter in e-reader war with Amazon


It’s been about 14 years for the reason that launch of the unique Kindle, and in that point e-books have grow to be an extremely in style technique to learn. But only a few challengers have emerged with respectable rivals to Amazon’s big library and stable units.

Kobo, a Canadian agency now owned by Japanese ecommerce big Rakuten, has a historical past virtually as lengthy and is in style with e-book followers that don’t need to be tied to Amazon’s ecosystem. And with its newest units launched final month, Kobo is lastly producing Kindle rivals that may stand on their very own even with out that qualification. With nice {hardware}, a complete retailer and a few methods that Amazon doesn’t match, the new Kobos are price contemplating alongside Kindles for anybody seeking to get into e-books.

The Kobo Sage has a bigger screen than any Kindle, is comfortable to hold, works with e-books you get from other stores or the local library, plays audiobooks and can become a notepad with the sold-separately stylus.

The Kobo Sage has a greater display screen than any Kindle, is comfy to carry, works with e-books you get from different shops or the native library, performs audiobooks and might grow to be a notepad with the sold-separately stylus.

Until now, the primary motive for getting a Kobo was the extra open ecoystem, and that is still a huge promoting level. Kindle has the ability of Amazon behind it, that means it could tie into subscriptions and advantages you have already got. It additionally means extra frequent gross sales, and connectivity with Goodreads. But Kindles are locked to the Amazon retailer, making it powerful to get books from wherever else.

On the Kobo facet, the built-in retailer is simply as full-featured, however you’ve further choices too. If your native library (or any library you’ll be able to signal as much as) gives e-books by way of Overdrive, you’ll be able to take out loans and place holds immediately from a Kobo e-reader, which is a nice supply of free reads. You may plug a Kobo into a PC (or use Dropbox) to switch over e-books in any format, together with rights-protected recordsdata utilizing Adobe Digital Editions, which suggests books you purchase from Google, Booktopia or just about wherever work nice alongside Kobo’s personal ePubs.

Kobo has just lately launched subscriptions to match Amazon on that entrance too, though they’re clearly not fairly as mature. The $14-per-month Kobo Plus, for instance, consists of tons of of hundreds of books, however nowhere close to as many huge names because the equally priced Kindle Unlimited. Kobo Audiobooks provides you one audiobook per thirty days for $13, and you may hearken to them immediately out of your e-reader utilizing Bluetooth headphones. Amazon’s barely dearer Audible providing once more has a higher vary, however for no matter motive Australian Kindles can’t play audiobooks just like the US fashions can.


Then there are the units themselves. On the low finish, each corporations make entry-level e-readers at across the $140 mark — the Kindle and the Kobo Nia — that are extraordinarily related and each supply the fundamentals; a six-inch comparatively low-resolution display screen, fundamental adjustable gentle and 8GB of storage. But the comparisons get extra fascinating with the fancier e-readers.

In years previous, I’d have stated Kobos don’t look or really feel as good as Kindles, however that’s now not the case. Looking on the new Kobo Libra 2 and Kobo Sage, that are rivals to the newest Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Oasis, respectively, there’s no apparent less-good choice.

All these units have very sharp screens at 300 pixels per inch, waterproofing, nice lights for studying in the darkish and blue gentle filters that may improve as you get nearer to bedtime. The Kindle Oasis has an ambient gentle sensor to regulate the brightness robotically, and a cool steel construct which is exclusive, however the Kobos have bigger screens.

I actually just like the asymmetrical design of the Kobos, the place one edge is chunkier and has buttons for straightforward one-handed web page turning (with both hand). It’s grippier than the Kindle Oasis, and makes the symmetrical form of the Kindle Paperwhite really feel awkward.

And whereas Amazon’s official Kindle covers are nice, Kobo’s equipment are way more fascinating. The covers wake the system and put it again to sleep robotically, just like the Kindle’s, however in addition they fold magnetically and prop the Kobo up for hands-free studying. For the Sage particularly you may get a cowl with an extra built-in-battery, and in addition a stylus that allows you to mark up and annotate your books, or maintain a notepad and convert your scribbles to editable textual content.

The Kobo Libra 2, Kindle Paperwhite 5th Gen, Kobo Sage and Kindle Oasis.

The Kobo Libra 2, Kindle Paperwhite fifth Gen, Kobo Sage and Kindle Oasis.

When it comes to cost, issues are comparatively even throughout the units, however Amazon has the benefit of with the ability to supply extra variations of every. For units with 32GB of storage, the Kobo Libra 2 is $280 whereas the Kindle Paperwhite is $290. The Kobo Sage is $440 whereas the Kindle Oasis is $450. But Amazon additionally gives 8GB variations of each the Paperwhite and Oasis, for $240 and $400 respectively.

The competitors for e-readers is heating up, nevertheless it’s to everybody’s profit. As it presently stands, all 4 units are glorious for studying books on, final ages between prices and have exhaustive built-in shops.

But whereas the Kindle ties in with your present Amazon dealings and gives some less-expensive e-reader choices, the Kobos are comfier to carry and provide you with extra freedom in the place you get your books and what you do with your system.

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