Digital bookseller Kobo has unveiled its next-generation Android tablet, the Kobo Arc. It’s a 7 inch tablet with a 1280 x 800 pixel IPS display and a dual core processor, which makes the Kobo Arc a big step up from its predecessor, the Kobo Vox.
Kobo is also throwing in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich software, along with software for reading books, surfing the web, playing games, or playing music and movies. It’s expected to launch soon with a starting price of $200.
Kobo also introduced two new eReaders today, the Kobo Glo and Kobo Mini.
The announcement comes just hours before Amazon is set to unveil its next-generation tablets and eReaders. It’s kind of hard to beat Amazon on price or specs… but there’s one area where the Kobo stands out: The Kobo Arc features support for the Google Play Store.
That means it’s simple to download any of the hundreds of thousands of apps available from Google’s app and media stores. Amazon’s Kindle tablets are tied to Amazon’s own app, music, book, and movie stores.
Of course, Kobo is hoping that you’ll download books from its own book store — after all, why else would you buy a Kobo Arc or any other Kobo hardware?
The tablet looks pretty good on paper. It has a 1.5 GHz TI OMAP 4470 dual core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage (or 16GB for the $250 model), and provides 10 hours of reading time.
Update: Kobo has announced that the tablet will instead ship with 16GB to 64GB of storage, with prices ranging from $200 to $300.
It has a 1.3MP front-facing camera, measures 7.4″ x 4.7″x 0.5″ and weighs 12.8 ounces. If it had come out six months ago, it would have been a tough tablet to beat. But at this point, I can’t think of any reason to buy the Kobo Arc over the similarly priced Google Nexus 7 which has a faster processor and newer Android 4.1 software.
I guess if you’re already a Kobo customer and have a lot of content purchased from the company’s bookstores, you can take advantage of the custom user interface which emphasizes content from your Kobo library and other sources. But you could also just install the Kobo app on a Nexus 7 or most other tablets.