Friday, May 17, 2013

The Kobo Family

Way back when, when I got my first E-reader from Kobo, they only had the one model. Now, there are almost too many to count - especially when you add in all the colour options.

The earliest that I still see on the market on occasion is the Kobo Wi-Fi. This was the second Kobo E-reader I got, and as a basic model, it still does absolutely fine. If I remember correctly, it held up to a thousand books and the battery typically lasted about two weeks. I remember getting about three to five books read on it at a time. I know this one was on the market in mid-2011 because I wrote a post about it around then. This was the first Kobo to give more than simply a choice between black and white. There was the black, all-white, white and lavender, white and silver, white and baby blue, and I think, white with a grey backing. Navigation was done via the thumb-pad in the bottom right corner.

The next models on the market were the Kobo Vox and the Kobo Touch. Two completely different e-readers catering to a completely different audience set. The Kobo Touch was the next generation e-ink reader and the first of the new touch-screen readers Kobo released. The biggest additions this brought about were more control over the page appearance - not just font size, but multiple fonts, line spacing and margins were all adjustable. They also added the ability to touch a footnote and have the book take you to that point and then back to your original page again, which in my mind opened up a lot of non-fiction reading options, not to mention the ability to highlight and take notes on what you're reading. Kobo also improved the battery life dramatically.  As with the Wi-Fi, the Touch comes in several colour options, including pink, blue and white backs with a white front, and also an all black model.

The Kobo Vox is one I've written about quite a bit on All Booked Up. It was the first Kobo Tablet E-reader. As a result it has all of the positives and the negatives for the type. I have one though, and I quite like it, so in my mind given what it is, for a certain segment of the population, the Vox is ideal, and the shortcomings won't be as noticeable. Mainly the shortcomings are that the battery life is about seven or eight hours of use and that the tablet isn't the fastest one out there. On the positive side is the ease of being able to browse the internet via Wi-Fi, and get your e-mail, jot down a few notes or even play a few games. The Vox also retains the micro-SD card slot, which is one of the things I've used the most often with it. The Vox (and of course, the Arc) is ideal for someone who likes graphic novels, or for someone who likes to be able to do more than just read on a device. I have to say, this is the Kobo that I've found it easiest to load on library books for, and another neat feature was being able to install the Amazon Kindle app as well, giving me the best of both worlds - something that has since been made even easier.

Another first with the Kobo Glo: The first non-backlight built in light for reading. Also, the first to go completely to a touch screen with no navigation buttons. Two GB of storage allows for 30 thousand books, and there's a micro-SD card slot if you need more storage. The Glo also has a slightly faster processor than the Touch, making for a slightly faster reading experience. Not as dramatic a difference than there was between the Wi-Fi and the Touch, but a very nice update, and honestly, the one I recommend to anyone I know is going to be doing a lot of travel. The light is just too helpful I think. Adjustably bright, so useful in all kinds of reading situations from twilight to absolute middle of the night darkness. If I were going to buy another e-ink e-reader I think it would be a toss-up between this one and the Aura HD.

Along with the Glo, Kobo has come up with another bright idea: the pocket-sized Kobo, perfect for students, commuters and anyone who likes to snatch any stray moment to read: the Kobo Mini. With only a five inch screen, this one will literally fit in your pocket. On the other hand, this is a more basic model. All of the navigation features are there, but this Kobo has a slower processor than the Glo, which came out at the same time, matching the one in the Touch. The Mini is also lacking the ComfortLight of the Glo and the micro-SD card slot. For some, that doesn't matter - the smaller size is the big selling point. For me, I think those are the deal-breakers. I'm a fast enough reader that the thought of having less text on the page and having to turn the page more often would be an annoyance.

Kobo also has a new tablet e-reader out this year: the Arc. Like the Vox, it's running on the Android operating system. Unlike the Vox, however, this tablet doesn't have the micro-SD card slot - something I would miss greatly. I used it regularly for transferring books and other files to and from my e-reader. One nice change between the Vox and the Arc though is the choice in sizes. The Arc comes in 16, 32 and 64 GB sizes, so depending on what you're planning to do, there's going to be plenty of room to work with. Another improvement I can see right off is the dual front-facing speakers. Those should really improve the sound quality if you want to use this for something like NetFlix.

As I said with the Vox, I'd recommend this one primarily for those who want to read books that use plenty of colour, such as graphic novels and the like. I can see from the screen layout that this is geared more for multimedia use rather than for strict reading.

Kobo Aura HD - OnyxThe final and newest e-reader in the Kobo family is the Aura HD. I wrote a full post on it here earlier today, so I'll just summarise some of the points briefly here. Rather than the normal screen of 6 inches that the majority of the other e-ink/pearl readers listed here have, this one has a 6.8 inch screen, making it closer to a hardcover in size. Also, the Aura HD has at least twice the storage of the other e-readers at 4 GB of space. Finally, the ComfortLight has been improves somewhat so there's less bleeding at the edge of the screen. The only negative I've found so far is the removal of the "Free Books" category from the Kobo store menu. The books are still there to be found. You just have to know about them to be able to search by name, rather than being able to browse a list.

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