Kobo has its work lower out for it. The digital bookshop firm reentered the US market this yr, teaming up with Walmart to promote Kobo e-readers, the tens of millions of books in its e-book library, and a brand new audiobook subscription service. The Rakuten-owned firm faces stiff competitors not simply from Amazon, the reigning e-reader and e-book king, but additionally the looming actuality that e-reader know-how hasn’t modified drastically sufficient to propel constant gross sales development in recent times.
However Kobo is satisfied that it could actually thrive within the US by providing aggressive e-readers that characteristic no advertisements and by utilizing Walmart’s bodily and on-line attain to introduce e-books and audiobooks to new clients. To do that efficiently, Kobo wants a number of issues: stable e-readers at numerous worth factors, an unlimited e-book and audiobook library with offers and incentives that create loyal clients, and, hopefully, distinctive options that Amazon does not have.
We examined out the $279 Kobo Forma, one of many firm’s latest e-readers and its competitor for Amazon’s $249 Kindle Oasis. It is decked out with all of Kobo’s superior e-reader options—an Eight-inch 300ppi E Ink show, a water-resistant design, and nil commercials, to call a number of—and as a complete, the Forma dutifully showcases what Kobo can add to the US e-book market.
In the event you’ve seen the Kindle Oasis, you recognize what the Kobo Forma appears to be like like. Kobo adopted what has come to be the usual “premium e-reader” design for the Forma, that includes a big E Ink show with a large facet chin adorned with page-turn buttons. The Forma sports activities an Eight-inch 300ppi display screen, making it barely bigger than the 7-inch 300ppi display screen on the Oasis. Coming from a Kindle Paperwhite, the Forma’s dimension required an adjustment for me. It felt noticeably bigger in my hand, and holding it by its facet chin with simply my proper hand felt alien at first. I usually maintain my Paperwhite with each arms, gripping it by its chunky black bezels.
Specs in contrast: 2018 Kobo Forma vs Kindle Oasis
Eight-inch 300ppi E Ink, with ComfortLight front-light (adjustable shade temp)
7-inch 300ppi E Ink, 10 entrance lighting LEDs, adaptive gentle sensor
Web page-turn buttons
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi. microUSB (charging)
Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, non-compulsory mobile, microUSB (charging)
Champagne gold, Graphite
6.2×6.9×Zero.33 inches, 6.9 ounces
6.three×5.6×Zero.13-Zero.33 inches, 6.Eight ounces
Supported file varieties
EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR
EPUB, AZW, AZW1, TPZ, MOBI, PRC, PDF, DOC, HTM, HTML, RTF, MP3, AAX, Audible Format four
However as soon as I received used to it, the Forma’s design made it comfy and extra handy to carry because it freed up my left hand. The page-turn buttons complement the design, permitting you to flip pages with out touching the E Ink show.
Very similar to the Oasis, the Forma adjusts to the orientation by which you maintain it, so each right- and left-handed customers can grip the facet chin comfortably. You possibly can even maintain it so the chin is on the backside and the contents shift to panorama mode. However the most effective characteristic about that is that the Forma’s page-turn buttons robotically alter to suit your orientation. Which means the right button all the time turns the web page ahead, whereas the opposite all the time goes again a web page.
The touchscreen is the Forma’s principal attraction, and Kobo did not add every other design flare to the gadget. Gentle-touch black plastic makes up its again, and solely the ability button and the microUSB port adorn the widest edge on the facet chin. Whereas I want Kobo put a USB-C port on the Forma, microUSB appears to be the charging port of alternative for many e-readers (if solely because of the “If it ain’t damaged, do not repair it” mantra). Like Kindles, the Forma boasts a weeks-long battery life—my evaluate unit fell to about 75 % battery life after every week of on-and-off use.
Regardless of the inclusion of the microUSB port, the Forma is IPX8 waterproof identical to the Oasis. Amazon simply introduced that characteristic to its $129 Paperwhite, however Kobo’s related $129 Clara HD does not have a water-resistant design. Nevertheless, these on the lookout for a extra inexpensive, waterproof Kobo gadget have the $179 Aura H2O to think about.
A bevy of entrance lights (11 chilly LEDs and 10 heat LEDs) illuminate the touchscreen in darkish environments, and the Forma additionally has a Pure Mild characteristic that robotically adjusts the sunshine’s temperature primarily based on the time of day. By default, the entrance gentle is white with a blue hue, however adjusting Pure Mild settings brings in additional orange gentle that is simpler on the eyes. If the automated setting is turned on, the Forma will alter the quantity of orange gentle current with none prompting from you. The customizable bedtime setting additionally tells the Forma when to bump up the orange gentle within the night to stop further blue gentle from having a deleterious impact in your eyes and thoughts earlier than sleep.
The Forma’s Pure Mild setting is very similar to Night time Shift on iOS gadgets and Night time Mode on Android gadgets, and it really works with the E Ink know-how of the touchscreen to make the studying expertise fairly comfy always of the day. Kindle gadgets can not alter for orange gentle, however the Oasis has an ambient gentle sensor, so it could actually alter brightness robotically relying on the obtainable gentle within the room.
New Kindle Oasis fashions even have Audible integration, however the Forma does not have the flexibility to play audiobooks. To assist these bigger information, the Oasis is available in a 32GB storage mannequin. The Forma does not want that a lot area, so it is solely obtainable in an 8GB mannequin (which needs to be completely high quality even for these with large e-book libraries).
Whereas it is a perk to have the ability to hold your whole digital e-book library on one gadget, I did not discover every other benefits to listening to audiobooks on a Paperwhite that weren’t already obtainable in Audible’s cellular app. Additionally, Kindle restricts audiobook downloads to Amazon-owned titles, so you may’t outfit the Oasis or the Paperwhite with audiobooks borrowed out of your native library.