Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Techy Tuesday: Kobo Touch Review

I've had the Kobo Touch for just over a week now and have read a few books on it.  I figured that is a decent little trial period and it's time to do a little review.  I've also linked to some other reviews at the end so you can see what other's thought of it.

Overall, I'm really happy with the device so far.  As I said last week, there were a few adjustments I had to make to MYSELF to get used to using it, but it is a really user friendly little device.  A good option for someone buying their first eReader.

While I spent the first 4 days with a defective Kobo - the replacement has impressed me even more.   I think the issues that I experienced with the first device should in no way be a reflection on the device as a whole.   From what I've been reading - my replacement reader is far closer to the experience most are having with theirs.

Screen

The device uses an infrared touchscreen which means you should be able to operate it with bare hands, gloved fingers, a stylus or pen etc...I'm sure this is true, I'm still adjusting to touching the screen at all.  The touch sensitivity is pretty goo, though.  I usually just tap the screen with my thumb then I'm ready to turn the page, since that's what feels more natural (coming from a reader with physical buttons).  The finger swipe just doesn't feel that natural to me.  Maybe it is more natural for people coming from an iPod Touch or iPad.

Fingerprints aren't an issue.   I am super picky about that and, while I'm reading, I don't even see them. I have taken to wiping the screen with a microfibre cloth before I go to bed so they won't build up.  Takes about a second and takes care of it.   For those of you who might be hesitating because of the touchscreen - remember I was the biggest opponent to a touch screen reader, but this has impressed me.

Other areas of the menu are very responsive to the touch.  The keyboard is impressively snappy.  You can type fairly quickly on it and the "keys" are large enough that you can use the pads of your fingers without accidently choosing the wrong letter.

The biggest gripe I am hearing around the blogosphere is that the screen only does a partial refresh and then only fully refreshes every 6 turns.  This will sometimes leave "ghosting" of the text on the screen.  On my first device - this was EXTREMELY noticable.  On the replacement - I don't see it at all.   The partial refresh does alow for faster page turns and I think it gives a bit truer feel of reading a traditional book.

Menus

All in all, it's a pretty basic menu structure.  The home screen shows the covers of the five books you accessed most recently.   From that home screen, you can navigate to your library , the online Kobo store, Reading Life, settings, sync, etc.  It's easy.  A monkey could probably do it with ease. 

There aren't many options for sorting your library.  You are pretty much restricted to Author and Title.  There is an option to create a shortlist of books, but now way to create subsections within the library.  Not a big issue for me right now, since I have only been reading the books that loaded from my Kobo library.   Once I start adding additional books I can see this becoming more of an issue.  On my Sony, I tended to keep several subsections to hold specific books that I would keep on there at all times.  This is something I have seen a fair bit of dissent about and I could see them correcting it in a future firmware update.

File Types

EPUB and PDF have been widely touted for this reader...here's the comprehensive list, though
Books: EPUB, PDF and MOBI
Documents: PDF
Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF
Text: TXT, HTML and RTF
Comic Books: CBZ and CBR

I like that it reads pretty much any format.  The mobi was a nice surprise, though, because I have heard through the grapevine that this means it will read Kindle files (not all of them...but if a book doesn't offer a preview, you should be able to change the file extension to .mobi and read it on a Kobo.  Don't quote me - I haven't tried it yet)

Ultimately, for me, the Kobo is a good choice for someone looking to replace a Sony because all of the same file types are readable.

Store

It is ridiculously easy to buy books from the Kobo Store.  Luckily for me (and my Visa), I need to be on a local wireless to do it.  Here's hoping I never learn how to tether my blackberry.

When buying a book, the device accesses your account, just like it would anywhere else. your store credits still apply.  youc an still use a gift card. 

Charging

The Kobo Touch only comes with a USB to micro USB cable for both loading books and charging the device.   I hate charging anything on my laptop, though, so I did a little bit of digging and found a forum post where a Kobo employee said their unofficial stand on wall chargers is that the blackberry charger works and is used around their office with great success...but you didn't hear it from them.  I got a chuckle. I have charged mine with my Blackberry charger and it works great - takes about 3 hours to fully charge.


I can't speak to battery life quite yet since I haven't had it long enough yet to see it drain.   My replacement Kobo was about 3/4 full of juice when I took itout of the box and it is around half now.  That is representative of 4 days of reading.  I try to keep the wifi shut off (well, in airplane mode) except when I'm syncing it or buying a new book.

Last Thoughts

For now the verdict is a big Thumbs up.  I'm pretty happy with the Kobo Touch.  If for nothing else, it is great to have a fun new toy.   The price point (under $150) makes it much more affordable than my Sony was 3 years ago (at over $300).  Also - Kobo is a Canadian company who is striving to be the leader in ereading.   I'm always willing to buy Canadian (yes, I know it's not made here, but it was conceived here) and I think it's a smart choice for longevity because the Touch will read multiple file types - meaning your library can be moved to another device down the road ifyou need it to.


Other Reviews:

Goodereader.com: http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/review-of-the-kobo-touch-e-reader/
CNET: http://reviews.cnet.com/e-book-readers/kobo-touch-black/4505-3508_7-34746372.html

2 comments:

  1. Awesome review! Because it works with gloves etc. does that mean it will work through my trusty ziploc bag? I always toss my sony into medium bag when I'm camping or at the beach to keep it free of dirt, sand and sunscreen.

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  2. Just for you - I tried it out...I didn't have a big ziploc, though, so I had to test it with a smaller one. It is a bit flaky under the plastic. Doesn't pick up the touches very well. I think the plastic distorts how the screen "feels" the touches. (See how technical I can get LOL). For example - I would tap to turn a page and it would act as though I had touched the centre third of the screen which activates a little menu along the bottom. I don't know if it will work at the "beach or camping" (*scoff* I know where you really read :P) like this...but I will try to find a big ziploc tomorrow and test it that way for you :)

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