Books written by Ray Sullivan

Monday, 2 April 2012

Can Kobo Touch the Kindle?

Amazon have announced the release of the Kindle Touch, which will be released in the UK at the end of April.  OK, it's not the Kindle Fire we were led to believe would be launched over here in January, but it's a positive move towards that launch.  In essence, it differs from the basic Kindle in having a touch screen, making selections easier and more intuitive.  Pages are turned by touching or swiping the screen, much like using a smart phone or iPad.

I'm guessing, but I expect this to become the base Kindle model in short order.  It is being pitched at £109 which seems a little steep given that it's just a basic eReader, albeit one with a touch screen.  For comparison, Play are selling the Kobo Touch, a not dissimilar device for £89.99 and throwing in a free 4Gb micro SD card.  WH Smith are selling it for £79.99, but without a free micro SD card.  Perhaps Amazon are hoping to leverage the equity in the Kindle brand, which must count for something. 

Personally I would suggest that anyone prepared to pay £109 for a monochrome eReader might want to consider saving up another £40 and buying the Kobo Vox mini tablet - full colour, true Internet access and capable of playing movies and music as well as being a cracking eReader.  Alternatively pop along to your nearest WH Smith and take a look at the Kobo Touch, because it's likely that it satisfies the same needs for £30 less.  And it's available right now!

So, are the devices truly equivalent?  Well I would have scored any Amazon device extra points until recently due to their whispersync service that ensures that you can access the same point in any book you're reading on any device you access it on - your Kindle, smart phone, PC etc.  However Kobo are now offering a free service that lets you do the same thing on their devices - I haven't tested this yet so can't comment on how effective it is, but I aim to check it out real soon.

However there is one feature that Amazon are touting that may be interesting, if it works.  They've named it X Ray and claim that it helps you get to the bones of a book.  They claim it helps you find every passage in a book that references an idea, fictional character, historical figure or person.  It's not clear yet how they get this information prepared and ordered, or how complete it is.  I sure hope they don't expect authors to do the leg-work.  As far as I can tell, X Ray is only available on the Touch version, so we'll have to wait until the end of April to get reports on it.  My question, however, is this:  Is X Ray really worth an extra £30?

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