When Kobo launched its first ereader in 2010, they tried a bold tactic to get attention. The original Kobo cost $149, a far cheaper price than either the Nook or the Kindle. That Kobo model was also significantly less capable, but the price was enough of a threat that only a few months later both B&N and Amazon dropped the price of their ereaders as well (on the same day, in fact).
Now Kobo is trying the price gambit once again, only this time with an ereader that is in some ways better than its competition.
The Kobo Libra H2O (I got the name right, yes) is a smaller version of the Kobo Forma ereader that shipped last October. Sporting a 7″
Mobius Carta E-ink screen, the Libra H2O has essentially the same hardware as the Kobo Forma.
Edit: The screen isn’t Mobius (Kobo CS was wrong on that point).
It is a little thinner, though, than the Forma.
- Screen: 1680 x 1264 pixels, 300 dpi
- CPU: 1GHz single-core NXP i.MX 6SLL
- RAM: 512MB
- Storage: 8GB
- Frontlight: color-changing
- Waterproof: IPX8 (up to 60 minutes in 2 meters of water)
- Storage: 8GB
- Battery: 1.2 Ah
- Connectivity: Wifi
- Dimensions: 144 x 159 x 7.8 mm
- Weight: 192 grams
From what I have seen of the photos taken at the embargoed press briefing (I didn’t get an invite, and Kobo has yet to even send me the press release or any photos) the Libra really is a smaller Forma.
On the one hand that makes it a little boring, but on the other hand have you seen the price?
The Libra costs $169. That is $80 less than the Kindle Oasis for a device that is almost identical in all the important ways. (What’s more, the price differential is even worse in Canada, where the Libra H2O costs $199 and the Oasis costs $329.)
Sure, the Kindle Oasis has a dual-core CPU and a slight edge in platform features, but I’ve never noticed that the better CPU really impacted performance. And the few ways that the Oasis is better are not obvious to the average consumer, so the Libra H2O’s lower price really is a threat to the Oasis.
Kobo will accept pre-orders for the Libra on 10 September, and it will ship on the 17th. That leaves Amazon about two weeks to decide to reduce the price of the Kindle Oasis to $199 (it’s going to happen, trust me).