The Kobo Forma is the latest flagship e-reader and it became available last week. This new e-reader has a bold new design and can be considered the spiritual successor of the Kobo Aura One. The software and hardware brings a lot to the table and there is tons of interest from serious readers all over the world on this device. Will you buy it?
The Kobo Forma has a giant 8 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1440 × 1920 and 300 PPI. Many e-readers are using Carta HD or Mobius for the screens, but Kobo is using both. Now you might be wondering, how is this e-reader using two different screen technologies at the same time? The spec sheet for the Forma mentions that it uses both Mobius and Carta HD. Like most display technologies, E Ink displays use an active matrix thin film transistor (TFT) backplane. The TFT backplane is an array of transistors that are typically deposited on a piece of glass. These transistors control each pixel on the display. The layer on top of the TFT backplane determines the actual display type (e.g. E Ink, LCD, OLED, etc.). In the case of E Ink, this layer contains the actual ink particles that creates the image. The Carta technology is the latest version of this layer and determines the optical properties, such as contrast ratio. The Mobius technology replaces the glass TFT backplane with a flexible plastic TFT backplane. This plastic backplane is thinner, lighter and stronger than glass backplanes. This in turn enables Kobo Forma’s lightweight and ergonomic design. Kobo claims that by using Mobius the e-reader is 15% lighter than the Kobo Aura One and weighs 197g.
Underneath the hood is a Freescale/NXP IMX6 Solo Lite 1 GHZ processor. It has 512MB of RAM and has two different storage options, 8GB and 32GB. The 32GB version initially will only be available in Japan, but it should have wider availability in more markets next year. Choosing the right storage option is important, because the Forma does not have expandable storage via an SD card. It also has a power button and USB port for charging.
Kobo Forma employs a front-lit display and also a Comfortlight color temperature system, so you will be able to read at night. The device has both white and red LEDS on the bottom of the screen and project light upwards. There are 17 lights total for even light distribution across the screen. You can make the screen, cold, warm or white, which emulates a real book. The Forma is also waterproof with a certified IPX8 rating, so you will be able to use it at the beach in the bathtub and it can be completely submerged for up to 60 minutes.
One of the biggest aspects of the Forma that many people are not aware of, is that it has an gyroscope that automatically switches the orientation of the screen 360 degrees. This is great for people who are right or left-handed. It is also ideal for digital manga, which purists want the controls on the left side of the screen. You can read ebooks and PDF files in landscape or portrait mode and there is an option to lock the orientation, so the gyroscope is not always active.
Kobo Forma, with 8GB of storage, will be available in black and retails for $299.99 CAD, $279.99 USD, 279.99 Euro and 239.99 GBP at select retailers and at www.kobo.com. The device is available in select stores in the US, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Japan, and Spain; and as of October 30th in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey. Kobo Forma with 32GB of storage will be available in Japan. Kobo has announced that had a later date the Forma will be available globally, but there are dozens of localization issues to be worked out first. If you want to buy this device right now you can purchase it from the Good e-Reader Store.
What do you like about this device and are you interested in buying one?
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.