What if the Oasis, Amazon’s top-of-the-line ereader, sported an eight-inch screen, an inch bigger than the current seven inches?
Suppose the screen were more rugged or at least most likely so.
And let’s say the frontlighting could be a pinkish or reddish color easier on many eyes than the usual white. If nothing else, this could keep blue-light exposure down as bedtime approached.
Voila! You’d have the Forma, Kobo’s newly announced ereader. TeleRead’s Chris Meadows has received a review unit and will be posting his thoughts soon.
“Very impressed so far!” Chris says.
At $279.99 in the U.S., the Forma costs more than the Oasis, which sells from $249.99 up. Furthermore, the price doesn’t include a cover (available in black or plum).
But for some readers, the higher price may be worth it. For example, people in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand will be able to enjoy close OverDrive library integration with participating libraries. While you can read OverDrive books on an E Ink Kindle, you can’t download them directly.
Pre-ordering begins October 15 in Canada. The Forma will reach stores starting October 23. Read on for U.S. and more nonU.S. buying details. Here’s the related Kobo page for more information on ordering online or offline. Also see a detailed news release discussing such issues as water-proofing and the ComfortPro frontlight.
About the drop-proof or at least drop-resistant screen, Kobo says that the Forma “is the most durable eReader available with the introduction of Mobius® technology, which uses a flexible plastic layer within its display. This allows for an ultra-thin and lightweight device that provides a high degree of durability to withstand the pressures of daily use. Through impact testing, Kobo Forma has been shown to withstand drops of more than 2 meters, as well as more bends, twists, full handbags, and overloaded backpacks than any previous eReader.”
Like the Oasis and many other ereaders, the Forma lets you read in either the portrait or landscape mode, so, if you prefer the former, don’t let the pictures scare you off.
Here are the specifications from the Kobo site, followed by a Q&A with a Kobo PR person.
|Features:||Waterproof IPX8 – up to 60 mins in 2 metres of water|
|Screen:||8.0″ 300 PPI E Ink Carta display, 1440 × 1920 resolution|
|Size:||160 x 177.7 x 8.5 (thickness at gripping area) & 4.2 (thickness at the thinner side)|
|Front-light:||ComfortLight PRO – Adjustable colour temperature|
|Customizability:||TypeGenius: 11 different fonts and over 50 font styles
Exclusive font weight and sharpness settings
|Supported formats:||14 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR)|
|Connectivity:||Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Micro USB|
|Battery Life:||1200 mAh, weeks of battery life*|
|Languages:||English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, Japanese, Turkish|
|Other:||No advertising, no interruptions|
Kobo says that “at 197g,” the Forma is “almost 15% lighter than Kobo Aura One.” That’s just short of seven ounces, or about the same as a WiFi Oasis.
And now here’s our Q&A with Sinead McElhinney in Kobo PR.
TeleRead: So the Forma actually could be dropped on a hard concrete floor? That unbreakable? And is it absolutely safe in a crowded backpack? Just checking to be extra sure. Your release says, “Through impact testing, Kobo Forma has been shown to withstand drops of more than 2 meters, as well as more bends, twists, full handbags, and overloaded backpacks than any previous eReader.” But that’s not the same thing as saying the Forma is 100 percent safe.
Kobo: We have built our most durable eReader yet, meant to withstand daily use in a number of situations. That said, we advise customers to take care of their eReader like they would their other electronics.
TeleRead: What’s the RAM size?
Kobo: 512 MB RAM.
TeleRead: The CPU type and speed?
Kobo: NXP i.MX6 running at 1 GHz
TeleRead: Will page turning be noticeably faster than earlier Kobo models? Instantaneous?
Kobo: Page turn times improved significantly with Clara HD compared to earlier Kobo models. Kobo Forma matches or exceeds Clara HD in page turn times.
TeleRead: Battery life?
Kobo: The battery has been optimized to support the device’s thin design, and advanced front-light, which for Kobo Forma means weeks of reading, depending on usage, which varies per user. Readers can finish an entire book (or more) on one charge without having to worry about plugging it in.
TeleRead: What’s the screen contrast ratio (text to background)? How does it compare with previous Kobos? With the Oasis?
Kobo: Although we won’t comment on our competitor, we can tell you that the screen contrast ratio is comparable to other Kobo devices such as the Kobo Clara HD.
TeleRead: Does the Forma have BlueTooth, as the Oasis does? I don’t see a mention in the specs, but could that be a hidden feature?
Kobo: The Kobo Forma does not have BlueTooth.
TeleRead: Why didn’t the Forma offer audiobook capability? The Oasis has it. (Of course the Oasis lacks goodies like the Comfort Light Pro as well as, perhaps, the extent of your waterproofing. I appreciate the public library integration, too, and the larger screen.)
Kobo: Kobo’s focus is on the avid reader and we focused Kobo Forma’s design and features on that customer.
TeleRead: Separate page turning buttons or a rocker switch?
Kobo: Buttons are separate (physical connection between them is cosmetic).
TeleRead: Why no memory card slot? Because Kobo feels there’s already enough built-in memory?
Kobo: There is a 32 GB version of the Kobo Forma; it is initially available only in Japan but will be available in additional countries at a later date.
TeleRead: Is it possible that Kobo in the future could even offer text to speech? As with audiobook capability, this could help commuters and exercisers, not just people with disabilities. In Canada, the U.S. and many other countries, many ebook lovers really do spend a lot of time in their cars.
Kobo: We are always working on innovations. As of now, we would suggest audiobooks for those on the move who like to enjoy stories. [Audiobook information is here. Kobo recently announced Apple CarPlay capability.]
TeleRead: Will people be able to export highlights and notes, especially via email? The Oasis and other Kindles have that feature.
Kobo: Kobo Forma does not currently support exporting highlights and notes. However, we are currently exploring options to improve the note taking and highlighting user experience.
TeleRead: Will you add email export—not only to the Forma but also other Kobos? Aren’t you marketing to serious readers? I’m confident they’d really appreciate export capabilities. I certainly would.
Kobo: See above
TeleRead: Exactly where will the Forma be sold? Dates sold at various major outlets? Will Walmart be among the first stores? And will the Forma work with the Walmart online site? If not now, then in the future?
Kobo: Yes, Kobo Forma will be available on Walmart’s online store. Kobo Forma, with 8GB of storage, will be available in black and will retail for $299.99 CAD, $279.99 USD, 279.99 Euro and 239.99 GBP (MSRP) at select retailers and at http://www.kobo.com. Pre-orders begin October 15, and as of October 23, Kobo Forma will be available in stores and online in Canada, the US, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Japan, and Spain; and as of October 30 in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Sweden, and Turkey; early 2019 in Mexico. Kobo Forma with 32GB of storage will be available in Japan October 23, and will be available in other countries at a later date.
TeleRead: When will U.S. orders placed on October 16 arrive?
Kobo: I have received confirmation that the US orders placed on the 16th will arrive on the 23rd.
TeleRead: How much will the covers sell for, and when will they be available?
Kobo: The accessories sell for $59.99 CAD, the Kobo Forma accessory is available in two colours, pre-orders start Sept 15th.
TeleRead: Any third-party covers on the way? Details?
Kobo: Not at the moment.
Post updated October 7, 2018 with additional Q&A entries.
The madness continues. For some odd reason, the makers of epaper devices seem reluctant to add Bluetooth keyboard and mouse capabilities to their devices even though BT is probably built into their WiFi chips.
A BT keyboard would be marvelous for taking notes. A mouse would be even better. Its two buttons could be used to page forward and back, a benefit for everyone, particularly those with mobility issues.
I’m also really amazed that a device this expensive offers so little in extras. Others have mentioned the lack of support for BT headsets. I wonder why this one doesn’t include an FM radio. Broadcom added that ability to WiFi chips back about 2008. And unlike smartphones, an ereader has ample room for an antenna. It’d allow readers read with their favorite FM station playing in the background.
And yeah, text-to-speech matters. That ability is one reason I’ve not upgraded my ancient Kindle 3. It can do text-to-speech. This in innovation in reverse. I guess we could call that denovation.
I like a Text-To-Speech option but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. Waterproof is one of my biggest wishlist features, but on the other hand I’m not into Bluetooth and having headphone jacks can make waterproofing effective more difficult. When using Audio I mainly use my phone, or sometimes computer (with PocketCast Podcast Web App), so it would be rare for me to worry about.
Oasis promoted the Bluetooth but is headjack free, which I find irritating and believe is one culprit for their battery draining issues.
Kudos for the larger screen and easier library integration.
I just splurged on a Kobo Forma. Personally, I love Kobo’s OS better. I like how everything is arranged and the simplicity. I don’t mind not having the extras; I feel extras just distract from you actually getting a few good hours of reading anyway. I know when I’m on my phone or tablet, I never end up actually reading. I end up checking emails, texts, Facebook, news and a bunch of other things. The Kobo Forma is an expensive buy but definitely worth it. I had the Aura One and was perfectly happy with it too. I had returned it as I forgot to buy a warranty and was past the allotted period and intended to buy another Aura One but decided to try out the Forma too to get a feel of it. I decided to stick with the Forma as it’s newer, lighter, and has physical page turn buttons. Happy buyer.