Canadian e-reading company Kobo has quietly launched its answer to the recently-launched and much anticipated Amazon Kindle Fire: its very own priced-for-the-masses 7-inch tablet named the Kobo Vox.
As you may have guessed, the Vox was named after “Vox Populi” which is Latin for “voice of the people.” The Kobo aims to bring just that, a voice to the people at a price most can afford. According to the company, its new tablet will be priced at $200 ($199.99, if you want to be exact). That’s the same price as the Amazon Kindle Fire and $50 less than the Barnes & Noble Nook Color at $250.
It has been available to preorder since the company announced it just this Wednesday, October 19, and will begin shipping on October 28 giving it an over two-week head start over the similarly-priced Kindle Fire.
One of the most notable feature of the Kobo Vox is its 7-inch touch screen. It is an FFS+ screen with a resolution of 1024×600 pixels. Kobo claims that the FFS+ (fringe field switching plus) screen of the Vox, dubbed to be a “vivid color display”, performs exceptionally well even when reading outdoors. The Kindle Fire and the Nook Color have 7 inchers with the same resolutions as the Kobo Voxs’ screens so the Vox should offer the same pixel density on its screen as Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s offerings.
The technology is actually not very new as AFFPS+ has been around since 2007. AFFPS, the predecessor to the AFFPS+ and I’m guessing the FFPS+ display technologies has also been around longer. It is uncommon, however, for a consumer product to get it as most manufacturers use the tech in industry applications like on the screens for airplane cockpits. AFFS has also been used in laptop screens. You’ve probably heard of IPS (in-plane switching) displays as this technology is also used by manufacturers for consumer products like tablets and smartphones. Both technologies promise superior color and contrast performance.
Another thing Kobo touts its Vox to be is being the world’s first social e-reader. Vox uses the Kobo Pulse platform which the company says has improved on the Reading Life social reading platform. With Kobo Pulse, users “can leave reviews, start conversations, and share comments and thoughts in real-time with others who are reading the same book, all within the book itself,” the company says. Reading Life and Pulse are said to be the first platform recognized and integrated with Facebook Ticker and Timeline.
So how does the Kobo Box measure up to the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook Color. We chose these instead of comparing them with the ubiquitous iPad since these three devices really are the straightforward rivals of each other even though people may also see them as iPad challengers. Why? It’s because they all come from companies which focus on electronic reading.
The Kobo Vox is pretty much the same as the Kindle Fire and Nook Color specs-wise. The Vox uses an 800MHz processor while the Nook Color uses an 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor and Kindle Fire uses a dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP 4 processor. I guess we’ll only know the clock speed of the Fire once someone over at iSuppli or other firms conduct a teardown of the tablet when it arrives mid-November.
Both the Fire and Vox have an advantage over the Nook Color in terms of apps, however, as Amazon says the Fire has over 16,000 apps available while the Vox has over 15,000 FREE apps. The Nook Color only has over 700. Touting the Vox content offering, Kobo says that it is preloaded with:
• Magazines from Zinio® – plus 12 FREE popular magazines for Kobo Vox owners
• Newspapers from PressReader™ – over 1,900 full newspapers from around the world – and a gift of 7 newspapers of your choice!
• Massive selection of music from RDIO® – with a 7 day free trial
• Get social with Twitter® & Facebook®
• Book lover must-have: Merriam Webster’s Dictionary
• Games like Cut the Rope®
• Apps – over 15,000 FREE apps
• Kobo and Facebook widgets that sit right on the home screen
• Access to more music and video services in the app store
In terms of weight, the Vox comes in at 14.2 ounces versus the Kindle Fire’s 14.6 ounces and the Nook Color’s 15.8 ounces. All of the tablets offer WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. Their operating systems are all Android. Amazon’s Fire, however, uses a heavily customized version of Android integrated directly to its stores. The Vox runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread while the Nook Color uses Android 2.2 Froyo.
All three tablets have 8GB in internal memory but one advantage the Vox has over the Kindle Fire is it’s microSD slot capable of accommodating up to a 32GB card. The Nook Color has the same capability. However, Amazon touts its free cloud storage as the answer to the absence of a external memory slot. It says people can delete and download again previously-purchased contents via Amazon stores so they actually only need 8GB. Nonetheless, The Vox also offers unlimited cloud storage via Kobo Cloud so it trumps both the Kindle Fire and Nook Color here.
The Vox also has 512MB in RAM, similar to that of the Nook Color and we’re not quite sure about what RAM the Fire has, yet. In terms of battery life, the Kindle Fire is estimated to last 8 hours, the Nook Color also 8 hours and the Vox 7-8 hours, according to reports.
It would be interesting to see how this social angle on the e-reader/tablet niche Kobo has taken will play out. Amazon is surely marketing the Kindle Fire as an e-reader as well as a media hub for digital content including music and videos (TV shows and movies) available through its store. It’s also important to note that Kobo does not have the same scale of content available in its repositories when compared to the content available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Will the company strike gold with social e-reading?