The new Kobo Nia is an eReader that gives Amazon’s entry-level Kindle a run for its money.

Priced at $100, the Kobo Nia costs $10 more than a Kindle. But it also has twice as much storage, a higher-resolution display, and Kobo also doesn’t put ads on the lock screen, which certainly helps level the playing field. You’d have to pay $110 for a Kindle without ads.

Kobo Nia

The Kobo Nia features a 6 inch, 1024 x 758 pixel E Ink Carta display with 212 pixels per inch and a frontlight with adjustable brightness.

Other features include 8GB of storage, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, a 1,000 mAh battery, and a micro USB port.

While the $120 Kobo Clara HD offers a 300 ppi display and a frontlight with adjustable color temperature for $20 more, the new Kobo Nia seems to offer pretty good bang for the buck for an entry-level device.

It’s true that Amazon’s entry-level Kindle is a little cheaper if you don’t mind the lock screen ads, but the Kindle has just a 167 ppi display and 4GB of storage. One feature it does have going for it is the inclusion of Bluetooth audio support, which you can use to listen to audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible.

If you don’t care about audiobooks though, the Kobo Nia certainly looks like it offers decent bang for the buck in terms of hardware. But things get a lot more complicated when you consider the software ecosystem.

Amazon’s Kindle devices are designed to let you read eBooks in Amazon’s proprietary AZW format, although it also supports the older MOBI file format and has some support for PDF documents.

Kobo, like most other companies in the eReader space, supports EPUB, MOBI, PDF, HTML, TXT, and other formats including CBZ, CBR, and image formats including JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP.

On the one hand, that means if you’ve never purchased a Kindle eBook, you get better support for various standards if you go with a Kobo device. On the other hand, if you ever have purchased Kindle content, you’re kind of locked into Amazon’s ecosystem unless you want to lose your old books (or enter the legally grey area of DRM removal). And since Amazon is the dominant player in the eBook space in many parts of the world, a lot of folks probably are already locked in.

As a Kindle users, I also have to say that Amazon’s send-to-Kindle by eMail service makes it easy to load up my devices with eBooks that I didn’t buy from Amazon, and company’s sync services are pretty great for keeping your place in an eBook when switching between a Kindle, smartphone, or other devices. Whispersync for Voice can also keep your place synchronized if you’re going back and forth between reading an eBook and listening to the Audible audiobook version of the same title.

Still, it’s nice to see some competition in the entry-level eReader space.

Kobo Nia press release

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  1. In the past, I’ve avoided the Kindle eReaders due to the lack of a lit display, at least on the reasonably priced models. It’s cheaper to buy a Fire tablet with normal back lit LCD display and run the Kindle eBook app instead.

  2. The Nia is now the cheapest ebook reader you can get with on-device public library integration. It’s good news