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The Kobo H20 is shipping this October and is the first time the Canadian based company has marketed a waterproof device. Many people are asking the question, is this all they have coming out in 2014, and should I wait until 2015 to buy a new e-reader?

Kobo has confirmed that the H20 is the only device they have to be released in 2014. In an interview CEO Michael Tamblyn, he said that their tablet lineup is still very competitive with everything else available on the market, there was no need to give it a refresh.

Most hardware companies who are heavily invested in selling eBooks have mostly all unveiled their lineup for 2014. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook was the sole hardware upgrade this year from Barnes and Noble and is actually a very solid device. Kobo has their H20 and Amazon is the only X factor. My sources at Lab126, the R&D division responsible all Amazon hardware have said that two new e-readers and three tablets are all ready to go. The tablets will have more synergy with the Fire TV and the Fire Phone, and give people a reason to go all Amazon, like people go all-in with Apple.

What does Kobo have planned for 2015? They rarely tell media people in advance because it gives a competitive edge to Onyx, Pocketbook, Ectaco, and Icarus.  I do have a bit of insider information that points to what they are planning though.

Kobo outsources all of their hardware design and manufacturing to Nettronix Inc. They are based in Taiwan and have involved in the e-reader space since the very beginning. Last month they demoed a new e-reader that used the same shell and internal components of the Kobo Aura HD.  The main difference is that it was utilizing technology from Wacom, which made it compatible with an official stylus.  This allows you to have the ability to take notes, make highlights and annotations with pinpoint precision.  Will the next iteration of the 6.8 inch Aura finally be a viable note taking e-reader?

Sony made note taking fashionable with all of their e-readers in the past four years. A large segment of readers found a stylus to be a bit more intuitive, instead of relying exclusively with the touchscreen. Sony recently abandoned making consumer e-readers and closed down their Reader Store all over the world.   This leaves a void in the marketplace for a company to market an affordable e-reader that comes with a stylus and has modern internal components.

Everyone involved in the e-reader sector is paying close attention to the ravenous demand for the Sony Digital Paper (DPT-S1). This is a device aimed at the business crowd and has a hefty pricetag of $1,100. Netronix is hoping to convince Kobo that a more affordable 6.8 version would sell to your average customer.

Kobo has always invested heavily in their consumer division with selling eBooks and making low cost e-readers. A Wacom enabled e-reader could potentially expand their base further into the education market and into making it a viable business tool.

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Kobo Aura H2O water

The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out in October and the main selling point is the waterproof screen. Earlier in the week we conducted an underwater test to see how the unit performed. Today, due to extensive requests on our YouTube Channel, we are conducting an underwater Glowlight test.

A waterproof e-reader will likely be used while taking a bath. Often the lights are dimmed, or shut off completely and the only illumination comes from candles or the e-reader itself. If an e-reader is submerged or wet, does it affect the brightness of the front-lit display? Does the light become muted while underwater? The video below answers all of these questions.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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icarus illumina and kobo aura

Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Icarus Illumina second generation and the Kobo Aura.

The premise of this comparison is to take a look at ePub eBooks and PDF documents. Both of these devices handle these formats in completely different ways. The Kobo Aura does a splendid job in handling PDF files, with their preview window pane and ability to pinch and zoom. The Icarus really stutters with large PDF files, but does have a neat ability to increase the darkness of an image, but manually adjusting the gray scale.


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Kobo has released a new version of reading app for Android, that has a brand new rendering engine for eBooks. This will allow you to have faster page turns and more options to enjoy your ePub and ePub 3 files.

Improvements include

Better display support for more accurate rendering in EPUB/EPUB3 files.
Support for EPUBs with embedded audio.
Improved loading speed for many books.
Immersive full-screen mode on supported Android 4.4 (KitKat) devices.
Stability improvements for Fixed Layout EPUBs

I dig the fact large screen tablet owners can finally read in full screen mode. Kobo does not have a ton of interactive books yet, that can really take advantage of multimedia aspects such as audio and video. They are setting the stage for a new wave of content hopefully available soon. Download the new and improved Kobo Books for Android, from the Good e-Reader App Store.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Kids ebooks have been slow to take off, despite the great content coming out from companies like iStoryTime and Scholastic. But Kobo, whose Kobo Kids’ Store offers younger readers a catalog of over 100,000 ebook titles, recenlty secured a deal that would add some of the most beloved children’s books of all time to its catalog. This week, Kobo announced that it would offer 40 of Dr. Seuss’ most well-known and admired titles for children, adding that content to the already dynamic ebook offerings for kids through Kobo devices and the Kobo app.

“Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, expanded our idea of what a children’s book could be. Through fantastical worlds and text both silly and inspiring, Dr. Seuss has always played and continues to play a part in igniting the imaginations of young readers,”said Michael Tamblyn, President and Chief Content Officer, Kobo, in a press release. “It is a part of childhood that every parent looks forward to passing on to their kids and we couldn’t be more pleased to be bringing these essential books to young readers in digital form.”

This offering comes at a time when studies still demonstrate that younger readers tend to not only prefer print when reading self-selected texts, but an alarming study also showed a decrease in reading comprehension when kids were required to read digital editions (as opposed to having selected the ebook for themselves). But why the push for children’s ebooks if they prefer print and perform better with paper? Because the educational landscape is changing dramatically, especially for higher education, and students who aren’t equipped to navigate an environment where their coursework is on device screens may find themselves at a disadvantage. By introducing ebooks at an early age and helping students remain focused on the book throughout its use, these readers will grow up to be better suited to the expectations of an increasing number of colleges and universities.

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Kobo is giving $5.00 to libraries for every customer they refer to the platform as part of a new program. Overdrive, Baker & Taylor and 3M Cloud are all offering the ability for patrons to purchase eBooks from Penguin and Simon and Schuster. When books are purchased, retailers such as Kobo actually fulfill the order.

If a customer wants to purchase a personal copy of the title – perhaps because the waiting list is too long, or they want permanent access to the eBook – they will simply click “Buy it Now” and be taken to Kobo to purchase the title. Titles purchased via Kobo are for personal use only and cannot be donated to the library’s collection. An 8% affiliate credit of the total purchase amount will be credited back to your library to use toward your digital collection development.

When a customer clicks the Buy it Now button they have different options to buy the title from a few different resellers. Kobo is betting on libraries to promote their ecosystem, rather than the competition with a straight $5.00 referral fee. This credit will be sent straight to the library and is only paid if the customer is new to Kobo, existing users are disqualified.

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Kobo has released a major new update for their current generation line of e-readers. Owners of the Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura HD should notice the availability of the 3.50 update, which fixes a myriad of bugs and adds new features.

The Kobo internet browser should now provide a more smoother experience, which will hopefully get more people using it. They also remedied the speed in which syncing is accomplished. Syncing is important because it does a ton of different things in the background. It checks to see if you made any purchases on other devices and downloads books right to your e-reader. If there is a new firmware update, it will also fetch all of the data from the main Kobo server.

Some other fixes include the support for new Adobe RMSDK, long paragraph bug fixed for Epubs and the frontlight returns to the same level as before waking the device from sleep or unplugging from a PC.

Kobo has also updated their for PC app, that allows you to shop for books and deliver them to your reader.

If you hit the sync button on your Glo, Aura or Aura HD e-Readers you should be notified that a new update is available. If you don’t see the update yet, Kobo often distributes them in a staggered release, so millions aren’t downloading it at once.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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When Amazon introduced KDP Select, the exclusive program that offered indie authors extra benefits for only selling the ebook through their platform, critics argued that Amazon was encouraging authors to forfeit the ability to sell their books in other locations, thus hurting their overall careers. In exchange for incentives such as paid royalties when Kindle owners borrowed the books, authors were not allowed to list their ebooks for sale anywhere else, including their own websites, and were not able to use platforms like Wattpad where users could interact with the book.

While KDP Select is right for some books and not suited for others, one of the unfortunate truths about self-publishing is that many authors make it as far as uploading to KDP, then don’t go any further. In some cases, their ebooks are even available only through Amazon, and yet are not enrolled in the exclusive program and therefore not receiving those incentives. Mostly through a lack of awareness of other opportunities and difficulties authors faced in trying to create accounts on other sites, many indie ebooks simply languish alone on KDP.

While sites like Barnes and Noble’s NookPress and ebook distributor Smashwords make headlines through their blogs and travel by word of mouth, too many authors are overlooking the opportunities that Kobo’s Writing Life platform has to offer. While perhaps not the household name that Amazon is, the two-year-old platform lets indie authors take advantage of the many benefits that any book on the Kobo platform can have.

Kobo recently released some quasi-specific data on its catalog of self-published titles, showing the 250,000 or so ebooks were currently listed through the KWL platform, uploaded by more than 30,000 authors from 157 countries. These books, which encompass a spectrum of nearly 70 languages, run the gamut of genres, although data showed that romance/erotica, thriller, and fantasy were the top-selling categories.

One of the chief areas that authors are missing out on by skipping over Kobo is the international reach the company has. Despite all the attention given to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, even the “empire” and the “mainstay” don’t have the global reach that Kobo has, with a market presence in nearly 200 countries, as well as an agreement with the American Booksellers Association to allow independent booksellers sell e-reader devices and ebooks.

Categories : e-Reader News
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Late last year Kobo developed an online kids store that has over 100,000 titles. There are plenty of innovative features such as safesearch and the ability to preload their kids account with credits to buy content, its like virtual allowance. Today, the Kids store has expanded from their Canadian roots and now is available in the United Kingdom.

Kobo has made it a point to offer a safe environment to browse and purchase kids content. Not only can you browse for books in age appropriate titles, but it will filter out non-kids books. Parents basically set up a second account in their child’s name, so there is no cross sharing of content.

The Kobo Kids Store was originally supposed to launch last summer, but was close to four months late in their official launch. This was due to erotica and romance titles from the companies self-publishing platform, Writing Life, creep into the kids section. This resulted in a firestorm in the UK, New Zealand and many other markets that had closed their Kobo powered store. All of this drama is sorted out and the Kids store is ready for international expansion.

Categories : Bookselling, E-Book News
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Windows Phone users have little options for quality e-reading apps. The only mainstream one that has been available for quite awhile was issued by Amazon. Readers now have an alternative with the advent of the Kobo Books app.

Kobo has been developing their Windows Phone app for over six months. The main reason it took so long to get their app ready for prime time was the revision of their app for Windows 8. Kobo had originally developed their e-reading app for Windows when it was still in beta and many users were unhappy with the overall build quality. Kobo went back to the drawing board and took down their app until they were happy with the end result. They reissued it in March and promised that a Windows Phone edition was forthcoming, and now its publically available.

The Kobo Windows Phone app is quite solid, it allows users to tap into an ecosystem of over 4 million eBooks, kids books, comics and graphic novels. This app has a larger international footprint than Amazon, it will work in more countries to buy and read books.

Categories : E-Book News
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Kobo is discounting their entire lineup of tablets in preparation for Fathers Day. Customers in Canada will be able to save $30 off the Kobo Arc 7HD 16GB, $50 off the Kobo Arc 7 HD 32GB, and $100 off the Kobo Arc 10HD. The offer is available at Indigo, Chapters, Coles, Future Shop, Best Buy, Staples and The Source from May 28 – June 18.

When customers purchase one of these new tablets they will get six digital magazines for free via the Kobo Magazine Store.  These include -  Golf Digest (June), Wired (June), Popular Science Digest (June), Field & Stream (June), Men’s Fitness (June), The Hockey News (May).

Kobo tends to give discounts like this each major holiday, the last one was Mothers Day. The Canadian based company should be announcing their next generation hardware devices in October.

Categories : Tablet PC News
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Todd Humphrey the EVP of Business Development at Kobo Books has left the company. He worked for Kobo from 2010 to 2014, where was responsible for all worldwide business development activities for Kobo, including OEM’s, retailer’s and wireless providers.

Todd has joined former Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis in a new stealth startup called The Everlong Project. Not much is known about the company, but they seem to be involved in wearable technology in the health sector. On the companies official blog page they do illuminate a bit on what they are doing with the statement “IOT is going to revolutionize how we manage our health, but the real trick is not in all of the various data-emitting, wearable devices. As someone who once saw 100′s of eReaders at CES (what we affectionately called the eReader ghetto) and then saw that turn to dozens, then 3-4 and eventually…you know the drill. It’s not about the hardware, ultimately. It’s not even in the data. The data on its own will be almost useless. It’s in the services that use that data, and engage consumers, and keep them coming back. If there are any people out there who actually, regularly, use their FitBit dashboard, and find it indispensable….please let me know…”

Former CEO Michael Serbinis confirmed that Todd is actually the Co-Founder of the Everlong project by stating “Todd has joined as co-founder at the Everlong Project where we plan on building another great company.   As we are just rounding out Month 2, doubling our space, growing the team, and working toward launch – it’s great timing.”

We should be hearing more about the Everlong project when they formally announce their first product in early 2015.

Categories : Technology
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Kobo has been making e-readers since 2010 and diversified into tablets in 2011. Their earliest e-ink devices were fairly basic and through dedication to reading their latest models are very solid. Today, we look at the evolution of the Kobo brand and how their e-Readers have changed overtime.

The Kobo e-Reader

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The first Kobo e-Reader became available in Canada and the US on May 1 2010. It featured a 6 inch with a  resolution of 600 x 800 pixels. This translates to a display pixel density of 170 (dpi), which is quite impressive at the time. It did not have WIFI or a built in store. Customers were encouraged to load in their own books manually, which hampered its ability to compete against Amazon. The pricing strategy of the original Kobo, at USD$ 149, was to rival the Amazon Kindle, which was USD$ 110 more expensive.  However, in June 2010, just after the Kobo was released, Amazon dropped the price of the Kindle to USD$189.

Chapters Indigo was an early investor of Kobo, contributing close to $150 million to assist them in developing e-readers and an online bookstore.

The Kobo WIFI

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The Kobo WIFI edition was released on October 15th 2010. This was only a few months after the original Kobo e-Reader launched and the company had to bow to customer demands to buy eBooks right on the device.  It featured a slightly improved processor and support for a 32 GB SD Card. This marked the first time Kobo experimented with different colors, offering a white, black and lilac version with a quilted cover on the back.

The e-reader visually was a carbon copy of their first e-reader. It had a rather flimsy D-Pad that was used to navigate settings menus. It also had physical buttons all over the unit.  The addition of wireless internet access allowed people to buy books from Kobo directly, which simplified the process.

When I reviewed this unit the week it came out I summarized “The one drawback of this device, is that it feels sluggish and unresponsive when you are navigating all of the menus and eBook store. You might click down, and it won’t refresh for over 8 seconds. This makes it so you end up double clicking, then your e-reader will jump menu to menu or screen to screen. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of both iterations of the Kobo reader. For us, its a deal breaker.”

The Kobo Touch

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The Kobo Touch was released in June 2011 and was the first time a touchscreen was employed in a Kobo e-reader. The Touch had a resolution of 800×600, which was the exact same as prior models. When it came to interacting with the screen, things were slightly more robust with the inclusion of an e Ink Pearl display.

Aside from the touchscreen which was the major selling point of the Touch, a number of software improvements were quite evident.  Kobo really marketed their new social media platform called Reading life.  It allowed you to share book passages via Twitter and Facebook.  It also gives you statistics of your reading patterns, how much you read, how often, and how many books you have read. There was also a reward system where you earned badges and achievements for reading.

When the Touch first came out my summary of the hardware review stated “Kobo hit a homerun with the Kobo Touch due to the quality build design and the robust functionality! I had the original Kobo e-Reader and the Kobo Wireless. This model seriously puts those two to shame! The touchscreen display should be easier for your average user to wrap their heads around, since almost all hand held mobile devices are touch screen. I found the older Kobo models to have flimsy design and the DPAD was awful, not to mention you would hit a key and 12 seconds later the command would go through. I hardly experienced ANY LAG at all when using this e-reader extensively.

The Kobo Glo

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The Kobo GLO was released in September of 2012. This was the first e-reader that really really hit the mainstream. It surpassed their prior models in responsiveness and design. The big selling point was the illuminated display screen, which borrowed a page of the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight and the Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kobo Glo eliminated all physical buttons and relied in a capacitive touchscreen with a resolution  of 1024 x 758.. This marked the first major advancement in resolution, which really made text and PDF files look amazing. It was hampered a bit by the same processor  used on the Kobo Touch, a year prior. Kobo also amped up the processor, which raised it to 1 GHZ, over the 800 MHZ of the Touch model.

When this first came out, my review summarized “This e-reader feels like a modern device and has solid hardware. The back of the unit has a different quilted pattern than previous models. Advanced users may dig the fact that there is a ton of control over your reading experience and it allows you to load in your own fonts. The Kobo development team is also fairly active on the MobileRead forums and often directly answers questions and employs many people in testing out beta firmware builds. They also use this fiendishly obsessed e-Reader community to farm ideas on future features they might employ in automatic firmware updates.”

The Kobo Mini

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The Kobo Mini was originally launched the exact same day as the Kobo Glo at the first major unveiling Kobo produced in Toronto. In 2012 Kobo really stepped up their promotional and marketing campaign as the intention was to be the #2 ereader and eBook company in the world, next to Amazon.

The Mini bucked the trend of the standard six inch e-Reader and instead went with a more pocket friendly five inch model. It used e Ink Vizplex technology and had a resolution of  of 800×600 pixels. Underneath the hood was a 800 MHZ processor, which was the exact same as the Kobo Touch employed years prior.

The intention behind the Mini was to offer a cheap and cheerful device at $99 and was discounted heavily during its lifecycle to $29.99.  When the e-reader first came out I mentioned “It will be interesting to see how the market responds to a strongly marketed five inch ereader. For the last four years all of the major players have released six inch or larger e-readers. Other companies have released smaller models, but never saw any traction because of poor retail distribution channels and brand awareness. The Kobo Mini is one of the best bangs for your buck if you are on a budget and still want a fully featured e-reader. The company does a great job in appealing to international customers, something the other major players don’t do very well. Most lock you into specific regional variants of their stores and exclude anyone living outside a specific geographical region.”

Kobo Aura HD

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The new Kobo Aura HD e-reader.

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The Kobo Aura HD was billed as a limited edition e-reader that was released April 25th 2013.  It featured a 6.8 inch screen with a tremendous resolution  of 1440×1080 with 265 ppi. The front-lite technology also received an elevated boost and put Kobo on par with Kindle in terms of screen technology. 

The Aura HD was a runaway success and quickly accounted for 25% of Kobos international hardware sales. Readers loved the fact they had almost an extra inch to read their eBooks, magazines, newspapers or PDF content.

One of the best aspects of the Aura HD was the responsive main menu. The new screen has three main segments that displays icons for everything you have done in the last 12 processes. This gives you shortcuts to your most commonly accessed features, such as the web-browser, custom shelves, Reading Life, and ebooks. The Sync feature to fetch new content is now on the main screen, too, which is the only element that remains persistent. I actually like the more effective use of screen real estate. Rather than browsing four different sub-menus to access the internet browser, it will appear on your main screen if you have recently used it.

When this first came out, I mentioned during my review “When it comes to high resolution displays, customers often gravitate towards full color tablets instead of e-readers. This has been the growing trend in the last few years, and it’s completely amazing to see a brand stay loyal and committed to its e-ink line of devices. Simply put, the Kobo Aura HD has the highest resolution out of any six or seven inch tablet or e-reader in the world. If images and clarity of text matter to you, this is a must purchase.”

The AURA HD is still currently the flagship e-reader from Kobo and is currently my favorite dedicated e-reader on the market. It taps into an ecosystem of over 3 million eBooks and is relevant in every major country in the world. Simply put, this was the best, most complete product Kobo produced in their entire company history.

Kobo Aura

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Kobo Aura outdoor reading

In September 2013 Kobo released a six inch iteration  of the Kobo Aura. It featured a  6-inch e-ink ClarityScreen display with 1014×758 resolution, 16 level grey scale and a built-in LED front-light. It has 4 GB of storage, weighs 6.1 ounces, has 2 months of battery life, a Freescale i.MX507 1 GHz processor, and a microSD expansion slot.

Kobo employed a new PDF rendering engine in the Aura HD and the Aura. It allowed readers to have better navigation on the document by giving a small preview window to help keep you oriented.

When the Kobo Aura was released I stated “The Aura is amazing, one of the best e-readers ever released. One of the best features is the capacitive multi-touch display and the ability to really make reading shine. The screen is flush with the bezel and not sunken like every other e-reader currently on the market. The internet and PDF experience is the best you will get on a six inch device, trouncing Sony.”

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