It’s perhaps not the best timing, considering the debut of new Kindles from Amazon, but competitor Kobo has a trio of ebook readers on their way – including the Arc, its first Android-powered ‘multimedia tablet’.
The Kobo Arc will of course go head to head against Amazon’s second-gen Kindle Fire, which like the Arc sports a colour touchscreen and is powered by Google’s Android 4.0 operating system.
Slated to go on sale here in November, the Kobo Arc will be available in 16GB ($250), 32GB ($300) and 64GB ($350) versions.
The Arc runs a custom-developed ‘Tapestries’ interface which Kobo claims uses “an intelligent cross-media recommendations engine to respond to the user’s “pinned” content to recommend related videos, movies, books, webpages and other related content”.
The menu of content ranges from the obvious ebooks to videos and music, plus of course the full Internet capabilities baked into Android – as long as there’s a wireless hotspot handy, as the Arc includes wifi but no option for 3G.
Battery life is rated at up to 10 hours of continuous reading or video play and two weeks on standby.
You can also load up the Arc with apps from the Google Play store.
What about the more modest members of the new Kobo family?
With a $100 price tag and 5 inch screen, the Kobo Mini (above) hopes to be a near no-risk purchase that’ll slip easily into your suit pocket or compact carry bag once it goes on sale next month.
The 6” front-lit screen on the $160 Kobo Glo (below) offers soft, even and adjustable lighting so you can read books even in dim conditions, which is usually the end of the story for most ebook readers.
There’s a hookup to the Kobo eBookstore through WiFi and you’ll be able to choose from a pretty wild choice of colours when the Glo goes on sale next month.
The biggest plus for all the Kobo ereaders is that work with the standard EPUB format – consider it the MP3 of ebooks – which is growing in popularity due to its support on the iPad and other tablets.
Kindles, on the other hand, remain locked into Amazon’s proprietary KZW format, which in turn restricts you to buying your ebooks through Amazon.com.
For many business travellers that hardly rates as a deal-breaker, but there’s always something to be said for the ability to shop around on an open market.
For the latest news for business travellers and frequent flyers, follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.