WH Smith has beaten Amazon to the punch in the UK, announcing that its Kobo Vox colour eReader-cum-tablet is now available in stores nationwide. This gives it the jump on Amazon's rival Kindle Fire tablet, which as of now is only available in the US.
The Vox mirrors the Kindle Fire in many respects, offering up a similar display and internal hardware. The screens used on both are seven-inch models and run at a resolution of 1024 x 600. Both also feature 8GB of internal storage, with more offered via add-in SD cards or cloud storage. They also each run the same version of the Android operating system, 2.3 Gingerbread.
However, there are some differences to set apart the two potential rivals. The Vox features access to the Android Market, offering a wide choice of apps for use. ZDNet quotes WH Smith as highlighting one particular application that lets you "read continuously across desktops, laptops, tablets, Android phones, iPhones, iPads, Blackberry and smartphones."
Despite being touted as a colour eReader, the Kobo Vox is also capable of many of the tasks of a tablet including basic internet access, streaming video and social networking. However, something that WH Smith is no doubt hoping will separate its relatively standard tablet from the others out there is the social reading aspect, known as Kobo Pulse. This allows interaction between other people reading the same book as the user, letting them comment, converse and share thoughts with one another as they read.
While there is no word yet on when Amazon's Kindle Fire will land in the UK, it's garnered a lot of interest from the world of technology - even if early reviews were mixed - with some people already predicting that it could sell as many as 12 million in 2012 alone.
As for success in the UK, it'll most likely come down to release date and pricing. If Amazon delays the launch of the Kindle Fire until several months into 2012, WH Smith's Kobo Vox will have a reasonable amount of time to flesh out its sales numbers. Of course, it does still have to compete with the ever-popular iPad 2 as well as any more discounted TouchPads that HP still has kicking around.
The Kobo Vox does have one thing on its side against the iPad 2, however: it costs a mere £169.99.