Despite its relative success in the US, the Nook eReader and tablet from Barnes and Noble have often been viewed as underdog devices trying to go up against the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire. So imagine the position that Kobo is in with its 6-inch Kobo Glo eReader and 7-inch Kobo Arc Android tablet. Yep.
Once aligned with the now defunct bookseller Borders in the US and sold in several book shops here in the UK, the new 6-inch e-Reader and 7-inch longshot competitor faces a battle from not only the aforementioned companies, but also Google with its Tegra 3-powered Nexus 7 tablet.
So how does the Kobo Arc stack up? With its 1.5 GHz, dual-core TI OMAP 4 chipset, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software, and 1 gigabyte of RAM, it's the things a last-generation device are made of. And that would be fine if the device could enter the market at a price point below the competition, or if it shipped with stock Android that catered towards those who like to tinker. But that's just not the case; expect to pay £160 for an 8 gig unit, and £190 for 16 gigs worth of storage. Ouch. The one upside of the Arc is its 1280x800 pixel display, which is really top notch. And while its possible the company could have worked some magic to make the device snappy, its likely not the case without Android 4.1
As for the Kobo Glo eReader, it has a 6-inch 1024x768 XGA screen that has a higher DPI than any other e-Reader before it (210 DPI vs the 170 DPI on the Pearl displays of other readers). Additionally it has touch controls and a front lit screen, all of which are standard on eReaders now, along with Wi-Fi, and 2 gigabytes of internal storage (expandable to 32 gigabytes). And that all sounds fine for a £100 device, but if you're looking to align yourself to a bookstore, Kobo may be a risky proposition. It also says it offers more than 3 million titles, but considering that both Amazon and Barnes and Noble say that their selection is more than a million, Kobo may be counting differently.
And if you're really looking for something on the cheap there's the Kobo Mini. The 5-inch device lacks the front-lit screen and next-generation display of the Kobo Glo, but it's smaller and only costs £60. Cheap, yes, but again, not cheap enough compared to the competition. [Kobo]