Kobo eReader Touch review
An intuitive touch-based interface, rich text-formatting options and social networking features make the Kobo eReader Touch a great alternative to the Kindle
Review Date: 12 Nov 2011
Price when reviewed: £110
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
Kobo's book store, eReaders and mobile phone apps form the best alternative to the Amazon Kindle's ecosystem. The Kobo eReader Touch isn't simply the Kobo Wireless eReader with a touchscreen, though, the hardware is very different.
The most obvious change is the lack of buttons - there's a single button underneath the screen that takes you back to the Home page, but otherwise everything's done by touch. Although it has the same 6in screen and 600x800 resolution, the eReader Touch is much smaller than the Wireless eReader. A microSDHC card slot replaces the SD card slot on the larger device, and there's a microUSB port instead of a miniUSB port. This is a good choice considering the EU's move to microUSB as the standard for charging mobile devices.
The eReader Touch can be stocked with eBooks via USB or Wi-Fi, although to load other files you'll need to use Windows Explorer and find the attached drive. Unlike the Wireless eReader, the Touch supports text, HTML, Rich Text Format and MOBI eBook files. It even reads Amazon's AZW files - although not those with DRM protection, just the ones downloaded from the Gutenberg Project. We found HTML files caused some slow-downs, but otherwise all our test files loaded correctly.
The Home screen displays the covers of recently opened books. This works for formats such as ePub that have a cover image attached, but our HTML eBooks just displayed a generic book icon. A menu at the top of page links to your library, the store and Kobo's Reading Life section, which is a social networking add-on that lets you unlock achievements, much like a game.
Reading books on the eReader Touch is one of the best eBook experiences we've had. Not only are page turns snappy, but you can either swipe to turn or just tap on one side of the page. Tapping in the middle of the page brings up a menu which you can customise. It's possible to make either the left or right side areas larger, which would suit left- or right-handers who want to hold the device on one side only.
Not only can you change text size, but you can also change the font face (there's a choice of seven fonts, both serif and sans serif), line spacing, margin size and justification. Jumping pages is achieved via a slider, with arrows for fine adjustment and an undo button so you can go back to the page you were reading.
You can use the menu to look up or translate words, but it's easier to simply long-press on a word, which brings up draggable bounding boxes so you can select a phrase. Sadly, this doesn't work in all eBook formats. Closing a book adds a bookmark, but you have to press the sync button on the home page to synchronise your bookmarks with your other devices.
Considering all its features, including social networking and a more intuitive touch interface, the Kobo eReader Touch is worth the extra £20 over its sibling, but it's worth noting that Amazon will shortly launch the Amazon Kindle Touch, so you may want to wait and find out how much it will cost. However, if you don't want to be tied into Amazon's system, it's the best-value alternative, and wins a Best Buy award.
They've missed the market by being too late on the scene. What would draw people to an alternative service is cheaper downloads, but that isn't happening.
A Kindle account can be shared by 6 devices and there's a great Kindle App for PCs, tablets and Smartphones too. So the whole family can share an account simultaneously. Soon we will be able to 'lend' books to other users. Kobo is dead before it arrives.
By terry46 on 21 Nov 2011
Trying to decide what reader to go for.
Kobo has apps for smartphones etc so same as kindle, Sharing an account with my family? Apart from being able to borrow my wifes device why would I want that? Can't imagine wanting to read any of her books!
Pricing seems pretty standard but if I buy a kobo book it is an open system so in the future I can get a sony, or someone else. If I buy a Kindle it is always going to have to be Kindle
By DrJbug on 26 Dec 2011
After 2 months use...
This reader is rubbish. It is miserably slow. It can take minutes for a single page to turn. I even went to the effort of optimising a book by decompiling it, editing to to perfect xhtml, re-zipping it and validating against an epub validator. the resultant perfect book was still pretty slow to navigate around. I wouldn't give this reader a single star.
By mark4asp on 7 Mar 2012
@mark4asp : learn to tie your shoe laces first
"It can take minutes for a single page to turn..." REALLY?
Have you thought that just maybe, before boasting about your prowess in 'decompling' and whatnot, you might just suspect something else was amiss if it takes 'minutes' for a page-turn? You don't have a flicker of suspicion, if it really took 'minutes' to turn a page, that other reviewers might have mentioned the fact? Or maybe they never bothered to turn the page before completing their review?
By dalerm on 29 Oct 2012
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