Kobo Vox Review: A Brick Short of the Bridge Between Tablets and eReaders

22/05/2012 11:54 BST | Updated 21/07/2012 10:12 BST


The Vox eReader is an attempt by kobo to bridge the gap between e-readers and tablets, but there are a few bricks missing in this bridge...

There is little doubt that the Kobo was designed and marketed with women in mind -- and with good reason too since 61 percent of e-Reader owners, and 43 percent of tablet owners are women.

On the style side the Vox really appeals. I could see the woman opposite me on the train eyeing it with envy, and then looking down disappointingly at her dull, grey Kindle with its dull, grey screen.

It feels nice to hold - and it feels nice to be envied.

However, what the woman sat opposite me doesn't know is that I am the envious one. At least she is reading on her grey Kindle - I'm still sat waiting for my book to load up. The device itself is unsatisfactorily slow, the touch screen unresponsive at times, and its battery life is disappointingly short (at realistically about five hours - not the seven hours Kobo claim).

So if you want to use the Vox for a 10-minute read, it's too slow, and if you want to use it to on a long flight, it will struggle to last.

Despite a relatively poor product in comparison to Kindles same-priced color eReader the Fire, Kobo have had surprising sales success thanks to some useful partnerships.

In Canada, Kobo is the eReader market leader with a 45 percent market share.

This success has no doubt been assisted by their strategic partnership with high street book-store chain Chapters, a strategy which has been mirrored in the UK through a partnership with WHSmith.

When it comes to deciding which electronic devices to buy, about 32% of women - compared to 26% of men - said ease of use was most important.

Kobo have taken this on board as these partnerships allow women to engage with the product in stores within 'kobo centres' - a strategy which has proven results in Apple's success, and also catches us when we are already in the mood to buy books - clever.

It is clear that Kobo's engaging marketing strategy appeals to women, and the Vox's features on paper make it a great in-between of e-readers and tablets - colour screen, apps, ability to browse the web...

But in reality the kobo has restricted itself as its slow speed makes it a brick short of the bridge between tablets and e-readers.

The kobo is available from WHSmith for £150