Kobo just announced three new tablets and an eReader during a press event in New York City. The company currently sells both Android tablets and eReaders, and these new devices will replace some of the aging products. The new tablets include the Arc 7, the Arc 7HD and the Arc 10HD.
Kobo isn’t typically a name associated with the mobile market, but the company does more than okay for itself in what is otherwise a very competitive space. The toughest competition for Kobo’s new devices will be other budget-friendly tablets, such as the 2013 Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD lineup, which both have access to large stores of eBook content, in addition to plenty of movies, books, music, apps and more. But Kobo isn’t afraid to go stand right up to the competition, and these four new devices are clearly answers to more popular devices currently available.
The Kobo Arc 7 is the lineup’s cheapest of the bunch, but still manages to impress. With a 7-inch (1,024×600) display, 1.2GHz quad-core chip, 8GB of memory (microSD expandable) and price tag of $150, the device is an obvious undercut of every other big name small tab on the market. It’ll attract a nice following of consumers that don’t need the super sharp displays or mind blowing specs, but fit nicely into someone’s home without breaking the bank.
Things get bumped up with the Arc 7HD, and puts Kobo into the conversation of other, more popular 7-inch tablets. At $200, or $249 for the 32GB model, the Arc 7HD comes with a 1,920 x 1,200 display, 1.7GHz quad-core processor 16GB of internal storage and 1.3-megapixel camera. You know, just in case you need to snap a quick selfie. It might not attract someone who was otherwise going to buy Google’s newest Nexus 7, but it’s a nice combination of specs and price, and should turn a few heads at the point of purchase at retail stores.
The Arc 10HD is as expected: 2,650 x 1,600 display, 1.8GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of storage for just $399. Each of the three tablets runs Android 4.2.2 with a custom skin on top, but promise to receive updates as Google rolls them out; they’re also certified for Google’s play store. The devices don’t command immediate name-brand recognition the way Amazon’s or Google’s devices do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve attention. Kobo said the devices put the reading experience first, but still focuses on traditional tablet functionality.
Even though eReaders are slowly getting pushed to the bottom of the pile, they still offer enough function and utility for those who strictly want a reading-only experience. There are already excellent eReaders on the market—our favorite being Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite—but Kobo’s new Aura might be the new winner. Marketed as a mid-size luxury eReader, the Aura sports a 6-inch e-ink display with market-leading front light technology. At 0.32 inches thick and 6.1 ounces, the device is pretty tiny, and shouldn’t give your wrist fatigue when going on reading binges.
The Aura also sports a few new design cues, too, which were taken from its big brother, Aura HD, and an estimated two months of reading time. You can pre-order the Aura today for $150, and it’ll start shipping sometime next month. It’s not the cheapest eReader you can buy, but its design and improved specs should justify that price tag.
We’ll have hands on with each of these devices soon, so stay tuned. Even if you passed over Kobo before for other more recognizable brands, you have to admit the company is capable (at least on paper) of making some good mobile devices. We’ll see pretty soon here how they hold up.
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