Let the tablet wars begin. Two new e-tablets are set to arrive and shake up the techy bookworm market, namely the Kobo Vox eReader and the Kindle Fire. The two Android-based touchscreen tablets have the same price point, are like fraternal twins in terms of specs, and their respective launch dates will fall within 2 weeks of each other. However, there are some discernible differences, so consumers will have to research and reflect upon what features are more intriguing to them. One thing’s for sure. With their $200 sticker price, they’re both poised to capture a healthy chunk of business from the more expensive tablet pioneers, such as Apple iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy, and HP Touchpad.
Kobo Vox Features:
- Processor: Freescale, iMX51; ARM Cortex A-8; 800 Mhz; Offers faster overall system performance and improved power management.
- Storage: 8GB of onboard storage, RAM: 512MB
- Operating System: Android OS v2.3; Full open access, Add additional storage: Expandable with Micro SD card (32 GB)
- File Types; Books: ePub including fixed layout & enhanced. Images: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP. Audio: MP3, AAC, 3gp, mp4, m4a, flac, ogg, wav, mid. Video: 3go, mp4, webm
- Built-in Wi Fi: access with unlimited free access to Bell’s Wi-Fi network. Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB support.
- Audio: Built-in speaker and universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack.
- Micro USB connector: Connect to PC for easy synching.
- 7″ display, 1024 x 600; anti-glare screen resolution; 400 brightness Multi-touch screen.
- Pick up where you left off: automatically bookmark pages.
- Size: 192.4 mm X 128.4 mm, Slim: 13.4 mm, Weight: 402.5g
- Battery Life: Up to 7 hours with Wi Fi on
- Touch Sensor: Home, Back, Menu
Kindle Fire Features:
- Display 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors.
- Size (in inches) 7.5″ x 4.7″ x 0.45″ (190 mm x 120 mm x 11.4 mm).
- Weight 14.6 ounces (413 grams).
- System Requirements None, because it’s wireless and doesn’t require a computer.
- On-device Storage 8GB internal (approximately 6GB available for user content). That’s enough for 80 apps, plus 10 movies or 800 songs or 6,000 books.
- Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
- Battery Life Up to 8 hours of continuous reading or 7.5 hours of video playback, with wireless off. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as web browsing and downloading content.
- Charge Time Fully charges in approximately 4 hours via included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via USB.
- Wi-Fi Connectivity Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, or enterprise networks with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
- USB Port USB 2.0 (micro-B connector)
- Audio 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers.
- Content Formats Supported Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8.
- Documentation Quick Start Guide (included in box); Kindle User’s Guide (pre-installed on device)
- Warranty and Service 1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Kindle is subject to the terms found here.
- Included in the Box Kindle Fire device, U.S. power adapter (supports 100-240V), and Quick Start Guide.
Canada is often times last when it comes to getting the latest and greatest electronics. While the Kindle Fire is set to initially launch in the US, the Kobo Vox (born in Toronto) gives Canada first dibs on the Vox, two weeks before Fire hits its U.S. release date. Meanwhile, the Vox will concurrently be released at American electronics retailers such as Fry’s and Best Buy.
In addition to the basic black, the Vox offers some contemporary colors that frame the touchscreen; hot pink, ice blue and lime green. Vox also has a nice “soft-touch, quilted” design along its back. The Fire only comes in black, but don’t worry. Like smart phones and notebooks, there will probably be a gazillion baubles and accessories out to personalize your tablet.
Kobo has taken notes on how popular social networking has become and has incorporated that culture into an online bookclub-ish feature called the Kobo Pulse. It allows the reader to access other readers’ immediate thoughts on a certain page or chapter via Facebook or Twitter. It’s clever how Kobo christened the feature the “Pulse”, because the reader can see how much action the page is getting in terms of buzz, just by looking at size and color intensity of the pulse button. The reader can click on the button to engage in the free-for-all, adding his/her own thoughts – or just choose to eavesdrop, or ignore. Pretty neat, but if you’re easily distracted like me, finishing a book will take two years as opposed to the usual one. It’s amazing how bookworms, who were once revered as an introverted species, are now finding friends in the world.
Beyond providing books to read, both tablets will help get your hands (eyes?) on the latest magazines, newspapers, movies, apps, games, music, and email. As for storage, both devices have 8GB. However, the Fire stores Amazon digital material for free in the ethereal “cloud”, therefore freeing up internal storage space. It boasts a speedy 1GHz dual-core processor, and we all have the need for speed. The Vox puts out 800 MHz. But how many pounds of torque?
Just like cars, the best way to know which one is superior is to take them both on a test drive. The Kobo Vox is available for pre-order at Indigo and is on backorder at Best Buy, among other outlets. Vox’s official launch date is October 28. The Kindle Fire is available for pre-order and is slated for November 15 in the US through Amazon.com.