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Kobo Arc review

  • Kobo Arc
  • Kobo Arc
  • Kobo Arc

Verdict:

A competitively priced eBook reader tablet that rivals the Nexus 7 for flexibility

Review Date: 12 Jan 2013

Price when reviewed: £159

Supplier: http://www.whsmith.co.uk

Reviewed By: Jon Bray

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

Hot on the heels of the Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble Nook HD , Canadian bookseller Kobo is the latest to release a tablet-based eBook reader: the Kobo Arc.

The Kobo Arc is a 7in tablet running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. It has an IPS screen with a resolution of 800x1,280, matching the Kindle Fire HD’s resolution, and so is bright, sharp and colourful with exceptionally good viewing angles. It has a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM. You can but it with either 16GB (as reviewed here) or 32GB of storage, and the prices are £159 and £189 respectively, which isn’t bad. It’s 11.5mm thick and weighs 364g, which is lighter than the Kindle Fire HD, but still a little weighty for an eBook reader.

Kobo Arc

Sadly, there isn’t a 3G option, and you don’t get a microSD card slot for expanding the storage or an HDMI output, but other than these omissions, there’s nothing to complain about. The Kobo Arc plays 1080p video smoothly and demanding games look and feel spectacular. It also performs well in benchmarks, achieving 1,470ms in the SunSpider JavaScript test and nine hours and six minutes in our battery test. Neither result blows the competition out of the water (the Kindle Fire HD has longer battery life), but they’re not disastrously bad either.

There are some problems, though. The first is an annoying typing lag on the stock Android keyboard, but we easily resolved it by installing a more responsive alternative, such as Swiftkey. The second problem is more irritating: we found the Arc frequently dropped its connection to our Wi-Fi router, and this problem could only be resolved by switching it off and on again in the settings. We couldn’t get BBC iPlayer to work either, and the Arc also makes an intermittent, very faint fan-like noise, although this is only audible in quiet environments.

Kobo Arc

As with its main rivals, the Arc has a custom Android installation. The main home page scrolls continuously rather than in distinct page-like jumps. You can drop shortcuts and widgets on the home page, as with standard Android, and there are large boxes representing links to various themed subscreens dubbed ‘tapestries’ by Kobo. Essentially, these are glorified folders. Initially, you’re provided with Reading, Entertainment, Social and Browsing tapestries, but you can set up your own.

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