Good e-Reader is live at the Kobo launch event today, in which the company is expanding their tablet line with the unveiling of the Kobo Arc 7 HD. This new device brings next generation screen technology, and packages it unlike any other device on the market. The core focus is, of course, the e-Reading experience, which refines book discovery.
The Kobo Arc HD features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels. It currently has over 323 PPI and will play back videos in pure 1080p. This is quite an upgrade in screen technology over the original Arc, which only had 1280 x 800 HD resolution and 215 PPI.
Underneath the hood is an Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor that is running a very solid 1.7 GHZ. There is also 1 GB of RAM and 16/32 GB variants for storage space. There is no expandable storage with this model, so make sure you buy the one that suits your needs.
One thing Kobo has added to the Arc HD is the inclusion of a Micro HDMI port. This will allow you to hook it up to your television or projector. This is very useful, as not many e-reading focused tablets even bother with HDMI. Other ports include Micro USB, 3.5 mm headphone jack, front facing 1.3 MP camera and a rear facing speaker. The speaker is actually positioned right at the top of the device, and looks to be creeping to the top of bezel.
The hardware feels very slick and polished and is a tremendous upgrade from the original Kobo Arc in every way. The HD moniker is very relevant and it destroys the current Kindle Fire HD 7 that has an aging 1280×800 resolution.
The Kobo Arc 7 HD is running on the Google Android operating system and is running version 4.2.2. This brings it very up to date in terms of it being a current and relevant device. It also is officially Google Certified, which means you will have all of the normal Google apps loaded on it, such as Maps, Gmail, Google+, and much more.
The one thing Kobo has done with this device is refine the entire Tapestries UI they had on prior models of the Arc. They have gone with an entirely new home screen, which is basically your library shelf with social media buttons. If you swipe to the right, you will view your collections. Collections comprise of videos, audiobooks, website links, and anything app specific you want to throw in there. It goes beyond simply adding books you have purchased and putting it on a custom shelf.
Kobo Pulse remains front and center, which gives a chatting area within eBooks for people to rate and review them. Pulse is a fairly cool innovation that has been around for quite a while. You can see how many people have read or are in the process of reading the same book as you. There are options to turn off spoilers, so you won’t see comments from people who are further ahead in the book than you are.
Kobo has also unveiled a new digital magazine section that should go live in the next few weeks. This expands on their previous newspaper offerings and they seemed to have signed some deals with major publishers. This rounds out their portfolio of 3.4 million eBooks, newspapers, and now, magazines. They have signed publishers such as Conde Nast, Hearst and myriad of others. When it launches this October, we will likely see close to a thousand magazines.
Magazines are a big deal and were one of the most requested additions to a bright Kobo ecosystem. The magazines that are available are optimized for the 7 inch HD screen and will give you the same quality as their printed counterparts.
Readers can organize and create their own collections, which are very handy on a tablet geared towards reading. They have really revised the way users can organize them while maintaining the spirit of a home library shelf, with the books stacked side by side. On the spine of the book is the book currently being read on that specific shelf, as well as the name of the collection.
Have you ever been really distracted on reading on your tablet, due to Facebook, Twitter, Gaming or other instant notifications popping up? Kobo has solved this by Reading Mode. You can in one fell swoop disable all of those pesky things that detract from the reading experience.
The Kobo Arc 7 HD redefines what a 7 inch tablet can bring to the table. This device will certainly have the power to play any game or app you can throw at it, but this is focused on reading. Kobo has done an amazing job with their kids store, magazines, readers first, reading mode and discovery. They have produced a fine piece of hardware but went to town on designing software and an overall user experience that makes sense.
The exact pricing is $199.99 16GB/$249.99 32GB (US & Canada), €199.99 16GB/€249.99 32GB (EU), £159.99 16GB/£189.99 32GB (UK), $279.95 16GB/$329.95 32GB (Australia), $349.00 16GB/$399.00 32GB (New Zealand)
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.