Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Kobo Vox, Android Tablet Designed for Reading

Kobo Vox

I’ve ordered this and it looks like I will be able to receive and review it before I get the Kindle Fire. The feature set of the $199 Kobo Vox is really good:

It has full open access to Android 2.3 and the Android Marketplace rather than the Amazon forked access. This means you could, if you wanted, download and use the Kindle Amazon app along with the nook App and Aldiko and any number of reading apps available on the Android platform.

It has WiFi and Micro USB, a 7″ AFFS+* multimedia display with a 1024×600 resolution.  The device ships with 8GB of memory and a SD slot.  It weighs about 14.2 ounces.   More tech specs here.  The processor is on the slow side: 800 Mhz; 512 RAM.

*Advanced Fringe Field Switching Technology, supposedly looks good outdoors as well as indoors.

So comparison:

Kindle Fire Kobo Vox Nook Color
Screen 7″ multi-touch display with IPS (in-plane switching) technology and anti-reflective treatment, 1024 x 600 pixel resolution at 169 ppi, 16 million colors 7″ AFFS+ multimedia display; 1024 x 600 resolution, Multi-touch screen with Anti-glare and exceptional +/- 89 viewing angle 7″ multi-touch display, 1024 x 600 delivering 169 pixels per inch (PPI)
Weight 14.6 ounces 14.2 ounces 15.8 ounces
Processor 1 GHz TI OMAP dual-core SoC, 512 RAM 800 Mhz; 512 RAM ARM Cortex-A8 processor running at 800 MHz, 512 RAM
Android OS Forked 2.3 “Gingerbread” Open 2.3 Forked Android 2.2 “Froyo”
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0 micro, does not support ad-hoc (peer to peer) networks Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n) and micro USB (also does not support ad-hoc wifi networks)
Audio 3.5 mm stereo audio jack, top-mounted stereo speakers. Built-in speaker and universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack Built-in mono speaker and universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack
Battery 7-8 hours 7 hours 8 hours
Internal Memory 8 GB 8 GB 8 GB, but only 5GB available for storage and 4GB of that is reserved for BN purchased content
External memory No, but free cloud storage for any AMZN purchases, 5 GB storage for personal documents 32 GB SD Memory Card 32 GB Micro SD Memory Card
Formats Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, non-DRM AAC, MP3, MIDI, OGG, WAV, MP4, VP8. Books: ePUB, including fixed layout and enhanced ePUB. Images: JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP Audio: MP3, AAC, .3gp, mp4, m4a, flac, ogg, wav, mid. Video Formats: 3gp, mp4, webm*It should be noted that because of the open access to the full Android marketplace, Kindle consumers can use the Vox by downloading the Kindle App EPUB (including Non or Adobe DRM), PDF; Other documents: XLS, DOC, PPT, PPS, TXT, DOCM, XLSM, PPTM, PPSX, PPSM, DOCX, XLX, PPTX; Graphics: JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP; Audio: MP3, MP4, AAC; Video: MP4
Avaiability U.S. only. Int’l version planned U.S ship date October 28, 2011. International shipping to begin soon thereafter. U.S. only.
Price $199 $199 $249

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Leah Hultenschmidt
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 09:53:55

    This is so helpful, Jane–thanks! Bummer there’s no .doc support on the Vox. Otherwise it looks pretty sweet. One thing I love about the Kindle is the email account that allows me to send myself attachments (super handy for manuscripts) without having to connect via USB. I use the Readdle app on my Touch and find that serves the same function–AND I can send those attachments. Maybe an Android app exists that can allow the possibility on the Vox as well.

  2. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:13:35

    @Leah Hultenschmidt: We’ll have to get Brian to test out some Word Doc apps but here is one for Android:

  3. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:18:07

    @Leah Hultenschmidt: Android has apps available like Quick Office, Documents To Go and ThinkFree Office (I’m sure there are others) that offer full .doc support. You could email something to your email account and open the attachment on an Android device.

    Will the Vox have access to these office apps? We don’t know yet, but probably at least one of them.

    As to the Vox having full Android market access I haven’t seen anything official to that effect yet and Kobo is making a big deal about access to 15,000 apps while the Android Market has over 200,000 (over 130,000 free) apps so it sounds like the Vox has some kind of third party market either something Kobo set up or one of the existing ones (last I remember Google doesn’t allow the 2.x OS’s access to the market when running on tablets). It’s possible I’m wrong, but haven’t seen anything yet (no press release or anything) that makes me think the Vox has Google’s Android Market on it.

  4. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:34:09

    @Brian I did get a confirmation that Kobo Vox has full access to the Android Marketplace. Unsure why they indicate it has only 15,000 apps.

  5. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 10:43:04

    @Jane: Well then that’s great, their wording just seemed a bit off.

  6. Amanda Bonilla
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:02:17

    Ooooh! This Kobo looks great! The features are really appealing, especially the fact that you can use other reading platforms, such as Nook. This is definitely going on my wish list!

  7. Jeannie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:26:53

    This is probably a stupid question but what are ad-hoc (peer to peer) networks?

  8. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:32:47

    @Jeannie it’s where a device like the Vox would get wifi connection from another device like a laptop or a phone instead of a router.

  9. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:38:50

    I’d be interested to see it compared to the Lenovo (which I pre-ordered). At this rate, I may end up returning the Kindle Fire that I also pre-ordered as a Christmas gift for my husband.

  10. Geert
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:40:40

    Tablets need specs like a camera and GPS to be allowed access to the Android Market. The Amazon appstore has about 15000 apps at the moment, and as the Vox will have open Android you will be able to install it. So I assume they are talking about the Amazon appstore, not the Android Market.

  11. Na
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:41:12

    The Kobo Vox looks great. I thought the Kindle Fire but was a shoo-in but it looks like I’ll need to take a closer look at this one. Hoping this one will be available to get an in-person, hands-on look soon as I’m not in the US.

  12. Suzie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:42:36

    I never figured to purchase a Kobo, but this is a clear winner among the three for me, just as I was deciding upon new e-readers after mine finally broke. Thanks for reviewing! Posted this on my facebook page.

  13. Jeannie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:49:47

    @Jane Thanks for the explanation, and I was afraid that’s what it meant. I live in the boonies and the only way we have Wifi at our house is by paying extra for it through our cell service. One phone becomes a wifi connection for up to five devices in the house. So if I’m understanding you it wouldn’t work with that, correct?

  14. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 11:55:00

    @Jeannie I think you can get a wireless router based on a cell phone signal like a mifi router or something like that. There might be apps for your cell phone as well. I’m not certain.

  15. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:10:31

    @Mireya: The Lenovo (assuming you mean the A1) has less built in storage in the base model 2GB vs the Vox’s 8GB (there is also the $249 16GB version of the A1), but a little bit faster processor and front & rear cameras.

    I just saw too that Lenovo has quietly raised the price on the 2GB model from $199 to $229…

  16. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:14:18

    @Jeannie: There are some apps that make a phone a true WiFi router as opposed to ad-hock (at least my Sprint Epic 4G has an app like that available), it just depends.

  17. Teresa
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:15:03

    Looking forward to your review, Jane…I’m considering a tablet purchase and while I’d LOVE an iPad, the price point on the Vox is much more reasonable and would give me basically what I want…plus, as a Canadian, I’d prefer to buy Canadian (well, Canadian made-in-China as opposed to US made-in-China *g*)

  18. Mireya
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:15:56

    Thank you, Brian. They better not charge me the new, increased price, because if this turns into a “bait and switch” situation, I’ll be returning it faster than I can say foul…

  19. Jeannie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:24:27

    @jane @Brian Okay, that is encouraging. I’ll check out the apps, perhaps talk to my cell provider about it. I really want the Kindle Fire I think, just because of both the price point and my insane, unexplainable devotion to Amazon. I’ve spent so much money on books for my Kindle, I feel like I should own part of the company. It’s good to know that more companies are offering similar devices at competitive prices. I just couldn’t justify paying the asking price for an iPad.

  20. Becca
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:26:10

    I’m looking at tablets, and so far the Vox sounds best. There are two features it’s missing, though- cameras and gps. I’d use it to help me find directions: can I do that through google maps without gps? and other than skype, what would I use cameras for?

  21. Kim
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:27:52

    Thanks for the review. I still haven’t decided which brand to buy. It seems like everyone has their favorite with Kindle and Nook Color leading the pack.

  22. Jeannie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:37:58

    @Becca If you’re looking for specific directions like from where you are to where you want to be, then yes, you have to have a gps locator. My phone has that and it asks me to turn on my gps when I ask for directions. BUT if you just want to see a generalized map of where something is located and the streets around it, then no. Hope I made some sense. I’m lost without a gps because I’m terrible with directions. I need landmarks or something to tell me to turn left in one mile.

  23. Dana
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:46:25

    So along with apps to support .doc usage, are there ones for pdfs? Sorry, just never done the whole app thing for unsupported file formats. Thanks!

  24. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 12:48:01

    @Dana: Yes, there are many apps that support regular PDF (ezPDF, Adobe Reader, etc) and both Aldiko and Mantano support DRM’d PDF too.

  25. Kathryn
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 15:54:17

    According to Indigo/Chapters (the Canadian bookstore chain that owns part of Kobo), the Vox will definitely be available in Canada. They are taking preorders, but I couldn’t find any mention of a shipping date. The price is the same as in the USA (which is a nice change since we usually pay more even for products made here — or made in China made here). So interesting although I still prefer e-ink for straight reading.

  26. iNooked
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 16:12:29

    @Jane: Jane, I’m able to connect the Nook Color to iPhone(3) Personal Hotspot. It works very well. I have not tried other phones. MMV

    The Kobo looks very nice. :)

  27. Brian
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 16:27:20

    @iNooked: The personal hotspot creates a regular wireless network (as opposed to ad-hoc) so should work with most/all WiFi devices as long as they support WPA/WPA2 encryption and as long as you have tethering/hotspot available on your cellular plan (most carriers offer this, but a few don’t).

  28. Valerie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 17:58:38

    it’s being realeased in Canada on Oct 28th, I don’t know if that’s the same for the US

    Kobo Link:
    Indigo/Chapters Link:

    I’ve been holding off on buying an e-reader and tablet. I can never justify the cost of a tablet but the e-readers never had enough “oumph” for the money. It was a toss up! The Kindle Fire is available to order but it’s coming from the US and I’d prefer something close by in case there’s warranty issues. I think the Vox has definitely won my vote. Merry Christmas to me =P

  29. Valerie
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 18:11:04

    Futureshop btw has a few different specs then the Kobo and Indigo/Chapters websites have. Different battery life, different document formats. It’s not very helpful…

  30. Cara
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 19:51:25

    Oh, man. Now, the Vox I could get behind if I had a spare couple hundred. Thanks for the specs!

  31. iNooked
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 22:32:43

    @Brian: I googled ‘ad hoc’ and see the difference now.

    Are there any ereaders (not tablets) that support ad hoc? And why would we want/need it on a ereader?

  32. Jane
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 22:38:33

    @iNooked I don’ t think so. The reason that ad hoc networks are nice is because, as the previous poster noted, sometimes the only connection you have is a cellphone connection and not every device can create a wireless hot spot, but many cellular devices can be used to create an adhoc network connection so that a wifi only reader can access the bookstore or dropbox to get a new book without having to find a free wifi hotspot around the city, or remote country areas.

  33. Tom
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 12:58:10

    Sorry to say this, but the Vox is AOA (also-ran on arrival). I won’t say dead because Kobo is still a cute brand. Pricing it the same as the Kindle Fire is just shooting yourself in the foot in slow motion…

    Fire: 1GHz dual core
    Vox: 800MHz single core

    Fire: complete ecosystem
    Vox: urm…

    Fire: free unlimited cloud storage
    Vox: urm……

    Fire: music and movie streaming
    Vox: urm………

    Also, I have an Android phone with full access to the Marketplace and I think it’s totally overrated. Sure it’s cool to have so many choices at first, but you quickly learn that having too many choices is not necessarily a good thing. Frankly, I’d rather have Amazon’s dedicated staff curate the quality apps, separating the cream from the crap, and only allowing the better apps into the Appstore (and even then, the Appstore has a gazillion apps I don’t personally care for). I’ll say this again: having access to the full Marketplace is overrated, especially for a device with low-end specs and no 3G, GPS, camera, or sensors to take advantage of by many of the more interesting apps in the Marketplace.

    I know the Fire is a turn-off for many people simply because it’s a closed garden like Apple and won’t support open ebook standards and alternative ebook software, but I have an inkling _most_ people will be just fine living inside this garden. Considering that Amazon has so much more to offer than Apple (like the biggest shopping mall on earth in, here’s the way I see it: Amazon is a closed amazon forest, whereas Apple is a closed apple garden.

    (No, I don’t work for Amazon, and I’m not even an affiliate, but I’m thinking about buying the Kindle Keyboard 3G.)

  34. Bob
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 01:03:16

    I’m new at this ……
    The Kobo website states that the VOX only supports the epub format…Confirmed with a phone call to Kobo!
    By reading some of Jane & Brian’s replys it seems that you will also be able to use doc, docx, txt, rtf and pdf, and mobi by downloading and using various apps. (or am I misreading?)
    Has anyone made up a list of – or know of other formats supported by the different apps. Such as djvu, htm/l, lit, or pdb.
    Thanks for reading

  35. Jane
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 12:39:22

    @Bob I think a lot of those (except maybe lit and pdb) are supported by apps in the android marketplace.

  36. Bob
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 20:00:41

    Many thanks Jane…Think I’ll be in for one…

  37. Roy
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 13:52:18

    Does the Vox have a microphone for skype use

  38. Bic
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 14:36:31

    Just an FYI for those who have been questioning the VOX app availability. Since the Kobo is an unlocked Android OS it has access to ALL android app sources; this includes the Android Market, the Amazon APPstore and Getjar, the Kobo appstore.

    The 15,000 apps they mention is the number of specially selected apps they have in GetJar. Those apps were selected because they work best on 7″ displays, they don’t require special hardware (cameras, gps, etc) and they’re free.

    Now that doesn’t mean every android app will work on the Vox (ones with hardware requirements being the most obvious) but you will at least have access to any app that’s out there.

  39. David
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 15:12:21

    @Tom: Amazon Apsstore is missing some key apps — Dropbox, for example. As far as streaming, why wouldn’t the Netflix app work on the Kobo?

  40. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Halloweenity Linkity Booity, plus GRL Swag Giveaway!
    Oct 28, 2011 @ 02:03:40

    […] If you want an Android tablet for reading, but think the Kindle Fire sounds too locked into Amazon, check out the Kobo Vox. […]

  41. Trevor
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 20:25:17


    Can someone else watch this cnet video review of the Kobo Vox and please explain what they say about apps and the Android Market? I don’t get it.

    @1:30 “There is no Android Market on the device. It is your own store and it just has free apps?”

    Kobo Guy replies “We have 15000 apps…you can get apps from anywhere else, sideload them…”

    He explain it’s open and you can even bring books from any other device on to the Vox. (So why not get apps from anywhere?)

    Then at 3:00 the cnet host asks about paid apps: “You guys are just doing free apps. Is that just a conscious decision…you can’t actually buy paid apps from any store?”

    Kobo Guy replies “it’s the way it is right now…people want free things…”

    The Kobo Guy seems a bit confused. And so am i.

    In summary, can I go to and buy apps and load them on there?

  42. Jane
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 20:37:30

    @Trevor: You can sideload the apps from the android marketplace. Brian is going to have a post about sideloading next week.

  43. Trevor
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 20:50:12

    Thanks for reply. I will look for sideloading post. But does that imply one cannot simply access that Android Market URL?

  44. Jane
    Oct 29, 2011 @ 20:52:50

    @Trevor: I don’t have a Vox, but I believe that you can’t access the android market but that you can download apps from say here: from your device or if you can’t get there from the Vox, you can download it, and then transfer it via the USB.

  45. Scott
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 19:28:26

    Just got my Vox.

    It does not support the Android Market App. Installing it prompts you to register the device, you tell it to do so, and it just returns you to the main screen.

    You have access to, which is a subset of mostly free apps you’d want from the Android Market (facebook, filemanagers, games), probably to ensure you’re installing things they have tested and know don’t cause any problems.

    If you’re buying it as an e-reader, the price and the fact that you can use any other book vendor’s app on your reader, instead of a walled garden, makes it still the best choice, as the features are very close. The Fire has a slightly faster processor, but 200MHz difference, you won’t miss it. Bright very sexy screen.

    Myself, I bought it as an entry-level tablet, and intend putting a custom firmware on it (allow it to tether to my smartphone for network access). I’m sure within a week, the eggheads will figure it out. It seems the only way it’s “locked down” is some of the symlinks in the OS filesystem have been modified to point elsewhere. Jailbreaking it should be trivial.

    But, I checked back to the product documentation, and it specifically has no reference to having full access to the entire Android Market, only the subset of 15000 apps. It is full Android though, with a few neutered file paths to keep most people from breaking it with 3rd party apps.

    Way better than the walled garden of the Kindle.

  46. Scott
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 19:29:35

    And yes, you can also sideload apps, or just connect the USB port to your computer, and drag the apk files onto the internal storage, then tap it to install using a filemanager app.

    Very cool little device.

  47. Scott
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 19:34:44

    Some comments suggest installing a few extra Google-provided apk’s and the Android Market app will function properly, the ones used by GoogleFrameWorkSerivce.

    I’ll let someone else verify the steps before I try it on mine, but it should work.

  48. Eric Hebert
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 07:01:58

    Just got my Vox a few days ago and I’ve got to say that it does NOT live up to expectations.

    I cannot download apps from the Android Marketplace (as advertised) but only from the “getjar” marketplace. So this whole cross platform hoo-ha is BS.

    Like any dedicated reader of ebooks will know – I’ve got accounts at ALL the major ebook vendors. All I wanted was one device that could read them all.

    Three days in with the device and already, I’m googling “Vox jailbreak”



  49. Vince
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 07:45:51

    The problem of downloading apps from Android Marketplace appears to me not restricted to just the Vox. A quick web search shows this to be a well discussed issue across many Android phones and tablets a fix for which is apparently not forthcoming from Google.

  50. Laurence Miller
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 19:21:55

    After downloading all the software still cannot discover how to download ebooks from my local library although I am able to download directly to my computer.

  51. Jane
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 19:28:40

    @Laurence Miller: Do you have a Vox? You will need to sideload an app like Aldiko.

  52. Eric Hebert
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 20:51:00

    Hey, I found some wonderful help regarding apps to add to the Vox.

    I was able to install the Kindle app and access my account.

    Try this link and see if it helps you too.

  53. SoConfused
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 01:44:01

    Ok now Im more confused then ever. I am waiting too get a heart transplant so I spend alot of time stuck in bed or in hospitals. So I have been wanting to get an e-reader/tablet that will allow me to get books to read without having to go to the book store I also want to be able to play games on it like angry birds, words with friends and so on, I would also like it for music and things like facebook and my yahoo email. earlier today I thought the kindel fire was the best then a friend told me about the kobo vox and I looked it up and thought that one was great esspecialy seeing as I can get it in pink. Then I read this page and all the comments and am now seriously confused on which one would be the best for me. abviously the price is the same for both so that is good. but I need one that is going to work great and work for a long time. I also want to make sure im not going to lose my books I buy so how do I save them so I dont lose my money after I read them. I have read the basic specs on both ereaders bbut from the comments here from my understanding there is gps and camaras on some…… so please help me which one should i get also does the kindel come in other colors then black. thank you so very very confused

  54. Jane
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 09:05:50

    @SoConfused: I know that Brian who reviewed the Vox here returned his Vox.

    The Vox does come in other colors and you probably can access facebook, angry birds and read your yahoo email. However, the Vox isn’t as easy to use as the Nook Tablet or the Kindle Fire.

    None of the reader tablets have GPS or a camera. You will have to go with a straight Android Tablet for something like that (i.e., the Samsung Galaxy Tab).

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