Posted by: Phil | December 12, 2010

The new Kobo e-reader; a review.

About two weeks ago I bought something that just a year ago I would not have dreamed of buying, an e-reader or also called an electronic book. I love books and especially reading the classics, in English and in French. I had looked at other readers, most notably the Kindle from Amazon as well as the one from Sony. The Sony reader was pricey and I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that I did not know if I would like. The Kindle was similar in price to the Kobo but it had other problems or differences. For one, it does not read the universal format that most of the other readers can read, called the epub format. This is the new norm. The Kindle has more memory upfront but you cannot expand it while the Kobo can take an SD card and expand to 4000 books. The Kobo comes in four different colors, but I preferred mine to be black.

The Kobo is Canadian, and this appealed to me. It has 100 books that are classics pre-loaded. I deleted half of them right away as i did not like them, and this was easily done. It has wi-fi, but only directed towards the Kobo store. Frankly, the software for the Kobo is not the best. I downloaded a free one called Calibre that can not only keep books but as well, can transform books into the epub format. The reader does read pdf files, but then it must be held sideways. Not ideal.

The reader fits well in the hand, and the direction pad does the job. It does move slowly, from books to menu and to the myreading sections. Speed is not its best asset. Not enough flexibility in the system is my main beef with it.

One button serves as the power and sleep modes, and this created endless problems for me. Usually, keeping the finger three seconds on the button will turn the power off, but just putting it to sleep is harder. And it seems to go to sleep only in the book mode, not in the myreading mode. Strange.

I dislike the fact that in the book mode the books are always arranged as default according to title, instead of author. One has to choose this and the Kobo sadly never remembers. It does remember  where one stops in a book and when one returns it is at the exact location. But not always. I was returned once from page one and advanced to page 250.

Another good thing is that the characters on a page can be made to be bigger or smaller. One can also jump to another chapter easily, but only if the book in epub format had it in the beginning, and this changes from book to book. The reader can take an SD card and books can be read off that card, but the card must remain in the slot for it to read from it.

In short, I like the Kobo, as it is priced right and it is user-friendly. The wi-fi in my opinion is not important, especially as most of the classics can be obtained freely from numerous sites. One can buy ebooks easily through the Kobo software if needed. For Christmas, it would make a good gift for someone who likes to read and is not turned off by technology. I love my Kobo.


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