Kobo brings its first color devices to the e-reader market

Kobo brings its first color devices to the e-reader market

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Something to look forward to: While color e-readers are nothing new at this point, major e-reader companies mostly sell monochromatic devices and Android-based tablets that are ill-conceived for a comfortable reading experience. Canadian company Kobo is now trying to disrupt this sad state of affairs.

On April 30, Kobo will start shipping its new color e-reader models: the $150 Kobo Clara Colour, and the $220 Kobo Libra Colour. Both devices employ the same E Ink Kaleido 3 display technology, while specs, storage capacity and feature availability differ. The Toronto-based company promises the same, improved reading experience on either model, with a full color screen and “shooting hues” specifically designed for readers.

The original Kobo eReader was released in 2010 as a minimalist, economic alternative to the more expensive e-book readers available at the time. Now, Rakuten Kobo Inc. is trying to seize new market opportunities while other major e-reader companies (including Amazon) are still selling exclusively black-and-white, yet pricey, reading devices.

The Kobo Clara Colour e-reader has a 6-inch, glare-free touch display, supports highlighting and “color-coding” book passages with the touch of a finger, and is fully waterproof (IPX8). The included 16GB storage is good enough to archive 12,000 books, Kobo says, while connectivity options include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 5, and USB-C. The device uses a dual-core processor, aiming to ensure a pleasant reading experience..

The higher-end Kobo Libra Colour model employs the same basic E Ink technology and dual-core CPU, with a larger touch screen (7″) and support for a Kobo Stylus, which is sold separately. The e-reader also includes physical buttons to turn pages, while storage goes up to 32GB or 24,000 books. Kobo is also refreshing its previous black-and-white e-reader, which is now called the Kobo Clara BW, with a suggested price of $130.

The E Ink Kaleido 3 technology employed in Kobo’s new color e-readers can show 4,096 colors and more saturated hues compared to the previous generation Kaleido Plus. Color images have a resolution of 150 PPI, while black-and-white content is still sharper at 300 PPI. Despite entering the color e-reader market, Kobo is still promising the same week-long battery life and glare-free reading experience.

According to Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn, the Kobo Libra Colour and Kobo Clara Colour are the first affordable color e-readers from a global ebook platform. Color e-ink technology should enrich users’ reading experience, Tamblyn said, while keeping the same daylight readability and battery longevity that still make E Ink screens the best solution for readers in a world full of LCD/OLED-based smartphones and tablets.

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