Today was a big day for device junkies and e-book addicts in Canada and the U.S.
At competing press conferences in Toronto and Santa Monica, California, Kobo and Amazon each unveiled a pair of new e-readers and an upgraded tablet device. The timing, not to mention the similarities between the new product offerings, shows how the two companies are competing very much in lockstep.
While the bulk of media coverage so far has focused on the escalating tablet wars (Kobo unveiled the newly branded Kobo Arc, which will replace the existing Kobo Vox, and Amazon revamped its Kindle Fire), both companies also showed their continued investment in dedicated e-readers, offering several new E Ink products and an array of pricing options.
On the low end of the price spectrum, Kobo arguably has the edge, at least in terms of novelty. The pocket-sized Kobo Mini, which retails for $79.99 and comes equipped with a 5 E Ink touchscreen, is being billed as the smallest e-reader on the market. By contrast, Amazon’s low-price entry is really an updated version of its existing starter model, with the price knocked down to $69.99 (U.S.). Both models go on sale Oct. 1.
Both companies are also releasing new touchscreen e-readers with front-lit displays, a technology that improves contrast and allows for reading in direct sunlight and low-light conditions. The Kobo Glo makes use of what the company calls ComfortLight technology, while Amazon is branding its new e-reader as the Kindle Paperwhite.
How do the competing e-readers stack up? It could be weeks before anyone gets their hands on both devices for a side-by-side comparison, but the specs provided by the two companies are remarkably similar. Here’s how it shakes out:
Release date: Oct. 1
Storage: 2 GB, with option to expand to 32 GB with micro SD card
Battery: More than one month with Wi Fi and light turned off; more than 55 hours with light turned on
Display: 6 E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity: Wi Fi enabled
Price: $119 (U.S.); 3G model available for $179 (U.S.)
Release date: Oct. 1
Storage: 2 GB
Battery: Eight weeks, even with the light turned on
Display: E Ink touchscreen
Connectivity: Wi Fi enabled; 3G option available