Kobo eReader Touch

Adam Turner
26 October, 2011
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Kobo eReader Touch

Kobo, www.kobobooks.com


Touchscreen; Wi-Fi


Stronger competitors in the industry

Australian pricing TBC


The Kobo relies on an e-Ink style display – which is cheaper, lighter, easier on the eyes, easier to read outdoors and less power-hungry than the LCD screens used on iGadgets.

The drawback is that e-Ink is only monochrome and isn’t backlit so you need light to read by – just like a real book.

Such ebook readers can run for several weeks on a charge, making them a tempting investment for commuters who want to read but are looking to conserve the battery on their smartphones.

The new third-generation Kobo eReader Touch retains the 6in display of its predecessors but is smaller and lighter, ditching most of the physical buttons in favour of a touchscreen display. You’re left with a lone iPhone- esque home button and a sliding power switch.

The Kobo eReader Touch features 1GB of onboard storage and comes with a USB cable but no AC charger. It features a micro-SD card slot for side- loading books, as well as a mini-USB port for charging and loading books from your computer.

Undeterred by the demise of launch partner Borders, which still has an online presence, Kobo is forging ahead in Australia and is striking deals with other bookstores. You can buy ebooks directly from Kobo via Wi-Fi, which is less cumbersome than on previous Kobos thanks to the touch- friendly onscreen keyboard.

You can also shop for ebooks via the website or Kobo desktop app (Mac and Windows), plus you’ll find iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Palm Pre apps. Kobo has removed the ability to purchase books directly via iOS apps, after Apple demanded a 30 percent cut of the sale, but you can still use mobile Safari.

The Kobo ecosystem isn’t quite as slick as that surrounding Amazon’s Kindle. The Kobo’s built-in store is painfully slow to load, and browsing for books can be slow going. Built-in Wi-Fi lets you remember which page you’re up to when you swap devices but, unfortunately, there isn’t a 3G-capable model.

Keep in mind the Wi-Fi-only Kindle is cheaper than this Wi-Fi-only Kobo, with new Kindle models expected soon.

The trade-off is that you can buy Adobe-protected ePub ebooks from almost any online store and copy them to the Kobo using Adobe Digital Editions. The ability to read books on multiple devices, including iGadgets, makes either Kobo or Kindle a more attractive option than Apple’s iBookstore.

Books purchased from Kobo can be downloaded from the website as Adobe ePub and transferred to other ebook readers (except the Kindle). You can also read them on iGadgets using apps such as Bluefire Reader.

In theory an ebook reader shouldn’t need a touchscreen, but the ability to turn pages with the flick of a finger is far less intrusive on the reading experience than pushing a button.

Even better, the new Kobo opens books faster and turns pages faster, thanks to extra grunt and the fact it now caches six pages at once. Previous Kobos saw the screen flicker with every page turn, but now this only occurs every sixth page turn – also helping create a more immersive reading experience. The touchscreen isn’t quite as sensitive as an iPhone, so you can’t get too lazy with your swipes.

Macworld Australia’s buying advice

If you’re a serious book reader, it’s worth investing in an e-Ink style ebook reader to complement your iGadgets. The Kobo eReader Touch is an impressive package, offering Kobo’s most immersive reading experience yet, although you should weigh it up against Amazon’s Kindle before taking the plunge.

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