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When our fearless leader Laura, knowing that I was an unabashed fan of Kobo, found herself with a Kobo Touch Edition sitting on her desk dying to be reviewed, she kindly dropped it into a courier pack for me so I could experience what reading on a Kobo device was like. I’ve had a few hours to set it up, load it with books, and do a little reading, so now is a perfect time for you to read my first impressions of the device.
Before I delve into my first impressions, I need to set the stage for you a little. First off, my wife’s best friend was asking about Kobo readers recently and I suggested—without ever having really used one—that she’ll probably like it and to make sure she got the new Touch Edition. My wife’s friend also happens to be here visiting and brought her new Kobo with her. So I have had a chance to use one a little bit before today.
Also you need to know that my comparisons are going to be based on reading ebooks on my iPad. I haven’t really used a Sony, Kindle, or Nook reader so I can’t compare them.
Finally, as you already know, I am both a huge fan of what Kobo is doing and ebooks in general.
So on with the review.
The Touch Edition is the latest generation in the Kobo line. The first product didn’t have wifi, and used physical buttons to turn pages and such. The second version added wifi but kept the buttons for turning pages. This third generation only has buttons for power and home, the rest is all touch screen controlled.
In the box (which could be a tad smaller for environment’s sake, but the packaging isn’t excessive by any stretch) you have the reader, the USB charging and connecting cable, and a single page of instructions.
I admit, that while I did read the instructions, I a) didn’t ensure the USB cable was 100% seated in my Mac and b) should really have downloaded a fresh copy of the Kobo desktop app first. Since I did neither of those, the set up took longer than the 5 minutes it could have. Still, once I had the latest Kobo software, the cables all nice and snug, and signed in, it took only a few minutes to have my ereader loaded with all the Kobo books I already bought.
As a very nice bonus, when you get your Kobo set up you get $10 to use in the Kobo store for books. Which is awesome, since it let me get Book 4 of the Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones).
For using the device, I think Kobo needs to do a much better job of getting WiFi set up. I forced the set up (which seems to be the only way to do it) by asking the device to sync my Kobo account. On my wife’s friend’s Kobo I fired off the built-in web browser. Granted, either way you see the list of access points, pick one, enter your password and you’re done. The APs you use are stored for you (as would be expected). As for speed of updates, I have to say that the Kobo device beats the iPad app handily. Man the books load fast, it’s truly amazing how fast the books stream down to you on the device.
The display, as you would also expect, is nice, easy to read, eInk. Even though the Kobo reader is half the size (and a fraction of the weight) of my iPad, I found reading pages on it very comfortable.
The one negative I do have to levy against the screen is the flicker between screens and pages. I believe this is just one of those things that is almost inherent to eInk, but it’s still a little distracting.
For a couple other tech details, while syncing via USB isn’t really needed, charging is and the USB cable is a non-standard one. I wish Kobo would have used just a regular old, boring mini USB so we wouldn’t need to carry yet another cable with us (and a niche one at that). Also while you can add more books and storage via SD card, it’s microSD. Yeah like thumbnail size. I know these are great in phones, but honestly I think they are too small for practical use (unless you’re a spy I guess).
In the year+ I’ve had my iPad I’ve read a good many books and I hadn’t really started to notice the heft of an iPad until recently. Yeah, reading for a few hours every night does get tiring on the wrists! Thus far, the Kobo just light as a feather. I know it’s rather geeky, but it’s almost like the small PADDS from Star Trek. Small, light and designed for reading. My iPad is awesome (heck, I’m writing this post on it), but as an ereader it isn’t perfect. I did a little glare test and you can see exactly the problem that the Kindle commercials were showing.
Yep, those devices were right next to each other on the porch rail. All the editing I did in Camera+ was to do the “Auto” tune on each of them. Sure you can make out some of the words on the iPad, but I think the cloud reflection is much cooler. The Kobo, yep, bright sun, no problems (as expected).
In the next while I’m going to do is read books and PDFs and see what it’s like to have a dedicated ereader. My first impressions right now point to me liking it very, very much.