Kobo Vox review
It's not really an eReader, but a cheap Android tablet that suffers from a slow processor and unresponsive touchscreen
Review Date: 16 Jan 2012
Price when reviewed: £170
Reviewed By: David Ludlow
Kobo has set itself up as the biggest rival to Amazon for eBooks, with its own range of rather good eReaders (such as the Kobo eReader Touch), its own store and even a range of apps so that you can continue reading your books on any device. It's no surprise, then, that in the wake of the Amazon Kindle Fire, Kobo has its own competitor, the Vox tablet.
Nominally sold as an eReader, the description is a bit misleading, as what you're really getting is an Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) tablet. This is the same tack as used by Amazon for the Kindle Fire and makes some sense. After all, why write your own operating system if there's already a perfectly good one available?
Where Amazon has largely rewritten the Android interface, Kobo has decided to leave it pretty much alone for the Vox. The lock screen with its slide-to-unlock bar is a minor update, but once you get to the home screen it's familiar Android.
The one main difference to regular Android is a large Kobo widget that dominates the first Home Screen, showing you your recently read books. This widget has been written to take advantage of the Kobo's 1,024x600 resolution and fits in the middle of the screen; other standard Android widgets were designed for lower resolution phone screens and are often awkward to position.
Tapping a book in the widget opens it in the Kobo App, which is same standard Android version you can get for any tablet or phone running Google's operating system. It automatically downloads books to your tablet (there's 8GB of internal memory and you can insert a Micro SDHC card of up to 32GB) and lets you continue reading from where you left off on any other Kobo-supported device, including the eReaders.
Kobo has opted for a Fringe Field Switching (FFS+) screen, which it claims is better under bright light. It's certainly well-viewable under most conditions, although you still wouldn't want to use in bright sunlight.
The screen is just as viewable in portrait and landscape modes, which is good as a lot of cheap tablets tend to suffer in one orientation. That said, viewing angles were fairly tight and you'll need to be face on to the screen to get the best image. Give that this is a small tablet, this isn't too much of a restriction. Contrast is excellent, with black text on a white background really standing out. Colours tended to veer towards the realistic rather than being bright and vibrant.
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