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Kobo Vox 'Social eReader' to Battle Kindle Fire, Nook Color

The battle of the color eReaders is about to begin, and now there's a new contestant.

A three-way bare knuckler is underway in the 7-inch color eReader market. Kobo today unveiled its new $200 Kobo Vox, the company's first color eReader that matches up nicely (on paper, at least) with Amazon's $200 Kindle Fire, which starts shipping next month.

Both the Kobo Vox and Kindle Fire also must battle Barnes & Noble's popular Nook Color, currently priced at $250 and rumored to be getting an upgrade very, very soon.

Android-Powered

Kobo Vox runs a full version of Android 2.3, and has access to more than 15,000 free apps, the company says. Like the Kindle Fire and Nook Color, Vox is a multi-use slate, allowing users to browse the Web, check email, listen to music, watch movies, play games, and store photos.

Vox is the "world's first social eReader," Kobo claims, with deep hooks into Facebook Ticker and Timeline that allow users to interact with fellow readers on the world's largest social network. Vox also ties into other social services, including its parent's own Kobo Pulse.

Given Amazon's ongoing efforts to add social features to the Kindle, it's debatable whether Kobo's claim of social superiority is legit. We'll find out when these new eReaders ship.

Vox's multi-touch display has noteworthy specs for a 7-inch eReader, particularly its 1024-by-800 pixel resolution (vs. the Kindle Fire's 1024 x 600). Vox's AFFS+ display also has extra wide viewing angles, and is optimized for reading under sunny skies, Kobo says.

Again, it all sounds wonderful. We can't wait to compare the Kobo Vox side by side with the Kindle Fire and the (rumored) Nook Color 2--preferably on a sunny beach with Wi-Fi.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci at Today@PCWorld, Twitter (@jbertolucci) or jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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