Review: Light-weight Kobo focuses on the basics
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Let’s start with the pros of Whitcoulls’ recently launched e-reader device, the Kobo. Weighing in at 221 grams, it is surprisingly light. It will definitely fit in your bag or even in biggish pockets, making it perfect for reading anywhere — at home, in cafés or while travelling. The Kobo is powered with USB and has a great battery life — up to two weeks, or around 8000 page turns, according to Whitcoulls.
I found it quite comfortable to read from. The Kobo uses e-ink technology, with a background similar to the look of recycled paper, rather than a back-lit one. This gives the screen a high contrast appearance and keeps power consumption low. It features a six-inch display screen with the choice of five font sizes.
The Kobo has a quilted, slightly rubbery back that I liked and it sits nicely in your hands when reading. This turned out to be a matter of taste, though. My colleague across the partition immediately took a dislike to the back of the device, saying it looked like a bad velvet couch from the 1970s.
Now for the cons. Operation-wise, the Kobo is somewhat disappointing, at least to tech geeks. It does not have the touch-screen technology we have almost learnt to expect. Instead, it has a four-way directional pad for navigation located at the bottom right-hand corner. It also has Home, Menu, Display and Back buttons on the left-hand edge of the device.
One annoying aspect in its operation is that with each page turn the screen flicks to negative before going back to normal.
On the whole, the Kobo feels like something from the last decade. But, in its defence, it is not trying to be the latest whizz-bang device. It doesn’t have wi-fi, a camera and a built-in coffee cup holder. This is a basic device focused on one thing – being a good e-reader. And I think it serves that purpose quite well.
The Kobo has 1GB of storage, allowing it to hold up to 1000 eBooks. If that is not enough for you, a memory card expands this to 5000 books. The Kobo also comes preloaded with 100 public domain books and it supports the industry standards ePub and PDF.
To coincide with the launch, Whitcoulls recently made an eBook online service available that has more than two million titles to choose from.
Customers can download eBooks directly from Whitcoulls’ website to their iPhones, BlackBerrys, Android smartphones, PCs, laptops — and soon, iPads — or their dedicated e-reading devices, such as the Kobo.
The Kobo retails for $295 at some Whitcoulls stores and online. New Zealand is only the fourth country in the world where the device has been launched; it is also available in Canada, the US and Australia.
Posted by Lachlan at 12:16:09 on June 19, 2010
If they want us to adopt, don';t they need to egt their total UX right from the technology, all the things martins says in the first comment and an attractive price structre cosidering we pay for the electricity to read the books?
You caould say this saves the trees and the environment from pulp and paper and ink maufacturing, but whose looking at the environment in relation to electricity creation - windfarms (not anton Olivers favourite thing) and the possibility of nuclear power to cope with general demand... another plugged in toy.
Can you get all these books on offer from Amazon and read on an iPhone and reduce your aparatus collection? (yes it's a different UX mainly due to size.. was size mentioned... does size matter.. yes it does! It always has ;-)
Do you buy these instore, or online, do the have an online special?
Who know,s and who can be bothered looking it up.
Posted by soap byte at 21:27:14 on June 17, 2010
eBooks cost in the range from free to much too expensive. The "average cost" will depend on where you purchase them from and how much you pay.
There are numerous sources of legal and free good quality eBooks.
There are some enlightened publishers who charge only paperback price or less.
There are also plenty of publishers who charge Hardcover prices.
There are also of course places where you can get pirated eBooks.
Price doesn't always reflect quality.
Some publishers and Authors find that giving away free eBooks helps their sales of dead tree editions.
I gather that for SF authors at an eBook friendly publisher of dead tree editions and eBooks, 90% of the Authors Royalty income still comes from the paper books.
For midlist authors (who lack a famous name) the promotional aspect of eBook give aways (and perhaps even piracy) is said to increase rather than reduce incomes.
A few links
The best all purpose eBook Free Software
seems to support Kobo
32,000 free eBooks
A Great Commercial SF eBook retailer (mostly from the publisher Baen)
with lots of eBooks at good prices,
and also a Free Library to get you hooked on the first book in each series.
Posted by Martin at 0:12:24 on June 18, 2010
I note that the same OEM hardware (with slight modifications) packaged in slightly different looking cases is available from several manufacturers.
The software of course varies.
I would have expected a review to comment on the features (or lack of) in this readers software.
Something that the review doesn't mention is what DRM and non DRM eBook formats are supported by the software on this reader.
If the above table is correct, the Kobo seems to lack support for text and html.
The reviever notes the black screen flash when changing page. This is common to all eInk devices, and is required to achieve an optimum display.
With time I gather that many people seem to grow accustomed to it, and hardly notice the flash.
Some eBook Readers using the same hardware (such as the Bookeen Cybook) have a option in the software to turn on and off the screen blanking between page turns, which results in a slight accumulated blur over lots of page turns.
Posted by Martin at 13:41:05 on June 17, 2010