An American Editor

June 24, 2011

Worth Noting: How Do the Nook and Kobo Touches Stack Up?

The Nook Touch, the newest reading device from Barnes & Noble, is a touchscreen device and sells for $139. The newest device from Kobo is the $129 Kobo eReader Touch, which also sports touchscreen technology. The big question is: How do the Nook Touch and Kobo Touch stack up against the Sonys and the Kindle 3?

As is always the case with technology, each has its pluses and minuses, and which plus or minus weighs more heavily depends on the individual user. The video reviews have already begun.

First up is a comparison of the Nook Touch to the Sony 350 (and essentially the Sony 650 and 950, too):

Second, is the Nook Touch vs. Kindle 3:

The Kobo Touch is the chief competitor to the Nook Touch. Here is a video review of the Kobo Touch.

As impressive as I find the Nook Touch and the Kobo Touch, I am still pleased that I bought a Sony 950, although to get the Sony features and larger size (the 950 is a 7-inch screen whereas the two Touches are 6-inch screens) I paid twice the price. For how I use my ereader device, however, neither the Nook Touch nor the Kobo Touch is up to par, and the Kindle 3 is simply far behind design-wise if you prefer, as I do, touchscreen technology to a physical keyboard that is omnipresent. (The screens of all the devices — Sony, Kobo, Nook, and Kindle — are similar as they all use the same eInk Pearl screen.)

However, if the factors bearing the greatest weight were price and “good enough,” there is no doubt I would buy either the Nook Touch or the new Kobo Touch. As between the two (and because I live in the United States), I am not sure. I certainly prefer the B&N eco system to the Kobo system, but Kobo has perhaps a better implementation. Because I am not interested in the “social” environment, I don’t consider that a plus or minus for the devices — just something for me to ignore.

For those of you who read this blog and who are deciding to buy one of the touchscreen devices — or are deciding not to buy one and go the Kindle route — what influenced your decision?

A couple of other things to note and consider: First, the touchscreen technology that the Sony, Kobo, and Nook are using is the same on all devices. Second, Amazon is usually a quick responder. I wonder what its response will be. And, finally, Sony has in the past announced new products in late August and made them available in October. Will Sony come up with something to shake things up again as it did last year with the combination of the Pearl screen and the infrared touchscreen?

4 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the post. I agree with you that Sony hardware is tops (pity about the software, but you can get around that with a free Calibre Library download). And, as a fiction editor myself, working at least 14×7 at a computer monitor, I don’t want the distraction of the much-lauded bells and whistles when I can snatch precious recreational reading time. And something to be kept in mind is Amazon Kindle’s pricing policy. In the US RRP is intact. In Canada and the UK, cover price is loaded by two bucks. Outside those regions (I’m home-based in the south of France), the loading is a penal $4. Also Kindle’s sales commission on book sales outside those favoured areas rises from 35% to 70%. Mind you, Sony takes a whopping 70% on sales anywhere, as far as I can see so far. Once again, the shopkeeper rules publishing. SEVENTY PERCENT for a sliver of space in a vastly overcrowded virtual shop window. That’s cricket? Neil

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    Comment by Neil Marr — June 24, 2011 @ 7:24 am | Reply

  2. Personally, I don’t miss the touch screen in reading. I like being able to read one-handed, either at home, with cat in lap, or on the subway, where I might be standing with one hand holding a railing and the other holding a Kindle. I do wish the Kindle had a better keyboard, either touch or physical. The current one sucks swamp water. I hear the new Nook had page forward/back buttons in the rim of the screen, but they take a lot of pressure to work. If they can make that work– one handed reading but a touch screen keyboard– that might be the best of both worlds.

    I am also incredibly lazy about buying books. I think it’s worth noting that one reason the Kindle caught on is that Amazon made it so dead easy to buy books.

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    Comment by carmen webster buxton — June 24, 2011 @ 7:45 am | Reply

    • FWIW, I often use just one hand with my Sony 950. A slight swipe of the thumb can change a page. It is very easy to use single handed.

      It is also easy to buy ebooks at the Sony store with the 950; a little more difficult with the 350 and 650. However, rumor has it that new Sony’s are on the way. Perhaps they all will be wireless.

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      Comment by americaneditor — June 24, 2011 @ 9:24 am | Reply

      • 1. Hopefully they won’t make everything wireless! The way PRS-350 is right now, this forces me to be (a) educated; (b) free.

        This means, I only buy e-books from Sony when they’re cheaper than those from BooksOnBoard, Kobo, and the many other offers that might be (use Inkmesh.com; Bookdepository.co.uk also features e-books not indexed by Inkmesh). I avoid _monopoly_ this way.

        Then, this reminds me that I _have_ to remove the DRM, so I can archive the ePub books on an external HDD and then I can transfer them at any moment. BTW, DRM-free e-books can be transferred easier with Calibre than with Sony’s shitty software.

        2. I am stunned that nobody seems to comment on the fact that Kobo Touch still doesn’t seem to have “Go To Page #” for the whole book. One can go to a page within the current _chapter_, which is ridiculous. Books have a single page numbering–per book, not per chapter. And bookmarks are put on page 177/432 and page 238/432, not on page 15/32 of Chapter 12 and page 11/26 of Chapter 17.

        Also, in Kobo Touch you still can’t have multiple bookmarks–only the last/current read page is automatically bookmarked.

        Too bad–Kobo means elegance. Yet this does not imply ergonomics.

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        Comment by Béranger — June 24, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply


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