Kobo Touch Edition – Full Review

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Kobo Touch eReader Review

kobo_ereader_touch_edition

Pictured above, the Kobo Touch Edition

Company Overview

Headquartered in Toronto (Canada), Kobo was founded in 2009 with the aim of entering the eReader market which seemed to be dominated by the Amazon Kindle, Sony and the Nook by Barnes&Noble at the time. Around a year after Kobo announced their first eReader, the Kobo Touch was revealed to the public on May 23, 2011.

System Specifications

The new Kobo was quite an improvement over its predecessor, utilizing a 6-inch E-ink touch screen, having reduced weight at the same time increasing overall storage capacity.

Available Colors Lilac, Blue, Silver and Black
Wireless Connectivity 802.11b/g/n
Processor Freescale 508 Processor
Device Size 114mm X 165mm (4.5 in. X 6.5 in.)
Device Depth 10mm (0.4 in.)
Weight 185g (6.5 oz.)
Diagonal Display Size 6″ Pearl high contrast E Ink display
Screen Grey-Scale 16 Level
Storage 2GB – 1GB is available to store content (over 1,000 eBooks)
Memory Expansion Up to 30,000 eBooks with a 32 GB SD Memory Card
Connectivity USB, Wi Fi
Battery Life 1 month (Dependent on individual usage. Actual results may vary.)
Supported File Formats Books: EPUB, PDF and MOBI
Documents: PDF
Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF
Text: TXT, HTML and RTF
Comic Books: CBZ and CBR
Pre-Loaded eBooks 15 Hand-Selected Free Previews
Fonts 7 Font Styles, 17 Available Sizes
Software New & Improved Free Kobo Desktop Software

Software Overview

The only software associated with the Kobo Touch in terms of installation is the Kobo Desktop Software which is used to setup the eReader and associate it with your Kobo user account. The application also lets you build your own digital library and shop for eBooks on your Mac or PC.

awardsUnlike the previous Kobo, the Kobo Wi Fi, the Touch edition also comes with a beta browser that might’ve been Kobo’s way of experimenting to provide the users with a proper browser in their next Kobo model, which came out to be Kobo Vox. General public feedback has shown the browser to be a little tricky and sluggish at times, but after all it is meant to be a basic web browser and was more of a side-feature to their product.

Reading life, a social networking-like nifty tool, is also part of the reader. It tracks your reading stats in detail, letting you know when your prime reading times are as well recording your reading speed and average time spent per books. On top of this, readers also earn awards on completing certain tasks on the reader in the form of badges, in a sense encouraging you to spend more time reading.

Kobo, like the Barnes&Noble and Amazon, also offers apps for the iOS, Android, Blackberry and even WebOS so you can easily sync your Kobo library across any of these devices; however, you cannot sync eBooks you externally added onto your Kobo eReader aka. which were not bought from the Kobo store.

There are also quite a few neat extras hiding in the Touch, one of them being a pre-loaded Sudoku game under the settings menu on the 4th page of the ‘About Kobo Touch’ option. One of the names under the ‘Special Thanks To’ credits on the last page has a smaller font compared to the others, tapping it starts the game! A sketchbook is also included where you can scribble notes and save them to your library.

Physical Interface

As previously stated in the system specifications, the Kobo Touch has a crisp 6-inch E-ink Pearl display using 16 levels of grey. What E-ink really does is create a contrast ratio that resembles that of a paperback book, even letting you read the text and graphics in direct sunlight.

On top of the 1GB storage space for content, the Touch also has a slot for expandable storage on its left side; users can insert up to 32GB MicroSDHC cards into the slot, allowing you to store approximately 30,000 books on your device (sounds like enough content for an average user).

Like the Nook from Barnes&Noble, the Kobo makes use of the same Neonode’s zForce infrared touch technology. Due to Kobo making the move to a touch screen interface, it was able to make the device much smaller in size and reduce the weight at the same time. As Kobo puts it:

The Kobo Touch eReader has just one button, making navigation easy. Books don’t have keyboards – neither should your eReader.”

Communication/Network Capabilities

Arguably the most convenient feature of eReaders like the Kobo Touch is the fact that you could be anywhere at all and as long as you have WiFi you’d be able to download books onto your account. Add the fact that it supports all current wireless standards as well as 802.11n which is not fully finalized. It provides the user with peace of mind knowing that their investment will not get outdated anytime soon as far as network capabilities go.home

Users also have the option to load external content such as PDF files or e-pub (extension .epub) files and transfer them to their kobo reader via the Micro-USB-to-USB port at the bottom of the Kobo Touch.

Considered to be a downside by most users, the Kobo doesn’t seem to have PC-free operation like the Amazon Kindle. However, once your kobo account is setup you’re able to sync your library with devices such as your iPhone, Android or Blackberry phone or even desktops or tablets.

Graphical Interface

The home screen, as seen in the image above, is the starting point for any user of the Touch. It provides you with covers of up to 5 publications that you were previously in the midst of reading, be it books, newspapers, magazines or documents. The top menu links to the library, Kobo’s store and the Reading Life section which tracks your reading history. Battery life is visible on the top-left with the wireless signal strength on the top-right of the screen. Along the bottom of the screen are three icons, directing you to the user guide, settings or the sync option for the Kobo library.

home-updated

Around the end of December 2011, Kobo released an update to its interface for the Kobo Touch, as seen in the image on the right. The new interface aimed to further simplify the menus and add book recommendations to the home screen at the same time. A consolidated ‘Home’ tab would now be the center point, which could be tapped to link to the store, library, reading life and all other options which were previously in the bottom panel. Additionally, a cloud icon was added on the top-right to improve the syncing process. Kobo also claimed to have improved on the page-turning speed and the search functions.

Kobo originally offered 2 font styles and 17 font sizes when the Touch was launched, which were then increased to 7 font styles and 25 font sizes. A tap at the bottom of the screen allows you to change the font options.

Functionality/User Experience

Overall, the Kobo Touch received positive feedback from the eReader community and has enjoyed its success in the market; though, there are several issues still at hand.

market-share

People have complained about how turning pages on a touch screen feels more laboring in contrast to having physical buttons to flip pages. The Kobo Touch also lacks organizational features for those who have a huge collection of books, as the favorite function seems to be the only organizational feature. Another common issue with the device is that echoes of previous pages are often visible after flipping a page, and it still remains an issue even after the update.

In conclusion, even though the Kobo Touch lacks audio functionality, text-to-speech features and may not have the smoothest touch screen, it’s still a worthy competitor and a great alternative to the pricier Kindle, Nook and Sony eReaders out there.

Bibliography

“E Ink Pearl Imaging Film”. Eink. < http://www.eink.com/display_products_pearl.html>

EPUB. Wikipedia. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EPUB >

Bittner, Anna. “Kobo Touch v1.9.16 & Kobo Desktop v2.1.6 updates are now available!” 23 December, 2011. 8 February, 2012. < http://blog.kobobooks.com/kobo-touch-v1-9-16-kobo-desktop-v2-1-6-updates-are-now-available >

Mitchell, Bradley. “Wireless Standards – 802.11b 802.11a 802.11g and 802.11n”. About.com. 8 February 2012. < http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/wireless80211/a/aa80211standard.htm >

“Kobo Touch eReader” Overview. Kobo. Web. 8 February 2012. < http://www.kobobooks.com/touch >

“Kobo Touch eReader” Features (all subcatgeories). Kobo. Web. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.kobobooks.com/touch_features >

“Kobo Touch eReader” Compare. Kobo. Web. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.kobobooks.com/touch_compare >

“Kobo Touch eReader” Technical Specifications. Kobo. Web. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.kobobooks.com/touch_tech  >

“Track Your Stats”. Discover your reading life. Kobo. Web. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.kobobooks.com/readinglife_awards#section:trackYourStats >

Hall, Chris. “Kobo eReader Touch Edition review”. Pocket-lint. 25 November 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.pocket-lint.com/review/5653/kobo-ereader-touch-edition-review >

Carnoy, David. “Kobo eReader Touch Edition”. CNET. 3 October 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://reviews.cnet.com/e-book-readers/kobo-ereader-touch-edition/4505-3508_7-34746371.html >

Warman, Matt. “Kobo eReader Touch review”.  24 November 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/reviews/8911014/Kobo-eReader-Touch-review.html >

Barry de la Rosa. “Kobo eReader Touch review”. 12 November 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/ereaders/1288279/kobo-ereader-touch >

Joanna. “Review: Kobo Touch – a solid entry-level reader”. June 12, 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.teleread.com/paul-biba/review-kobo-touch-a-solid-entry-level-reader/ >

J. Perenson, Melissa. “Kobo eReader Touch Edition: Inexpensive Touchscreen E-Reader Makes Few Concessions”. 13 June 2011. 8 February 2012.
<http://www.pcworld.com/article/230233/kobo_ereader_touch_edition_inexpensive_touchscreen_ereader_makes_few_concessions.html >

Pollicino, Joe. “Kobo eReader Touch does more than words, handles Sudoku and web browsing on the side (video)”. 14 June 2011. 8 February 2012.
< http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/14/kobo-ereader-touch-does-more-than-words-handles-sudoku-and-web/ >

Kobo eReader. Wikipedia. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobo_eReader >

Image sources (in order from top)

Kobo eReader touch. Product Image.
<http://zapp1.staticworld.net/reviews/graphics/products/uploaded/kobo_ereader_touch_edition_918849_g2.jpg >

Kobo eReader awards. Product image.
< http://www.the-ebook-reader.com/images/kobo-touch.jpg >

Kobo Touch Wi-FI. Product feature.
< http://ecimages.kobobooks.com/Merchandising.ashx?Resource=kobo_touch_new_design-2.jpg >

Kobo. Logo image.
< http://saltyink.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/kobo_logo_cmyk_highres.jpg >

Kobo home screen. Product image.
< http://ak.buy.com/PI/0/500/222197404.jpg >

Kobo updated interface. Product image.
< http://blog.kobobooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Trilogy_Recommedations_02_111214_EDITED.jpg >

Kobo market share. Table/chart.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobo_Inc. >

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About Aamir Raza

VFX enthusiast and Digital Media Artist living in Toronto. // www.digitaleffectx.wordpress.com

Posted on February 15, 2012, in Interactivity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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