In the eInk ebook reader market, Amazon’s Kindle devices have always been top dog. However, Kobo as a brand has grown significantly in recent times, enjoying a strong retail presence in many high street chains. Whilst the core hardware and software is always slightly behind Amazon’s models, the Kobos have never been actively bad, and have usually been a little cheaper to boot. The latest version of the eInk Kobo adds a light function, just as Amazon’s new Paperwhite model does. True to form, the Kobo is not as good as the Paperwhite, however retailing at around $129 the price is more or less the same as the equivalent Amazon model, which for some will make it a significantly less tempting proposal.
First thing to consider is the “glo” function. This works exactly the same way as Nook Simple Touch with glow light, which is essentially a strip of LEDs at one end of the screen, to shine light across the screen so that it may be read in the dark. This works very well for it’s purpose, and gives a far more pleasant experience for long term reading than using a TFT or LED screen like those of an iPad or similar, which shine light directly into your eyes. However, the light is very clearly coming from one end of the screen and isn’t evenly distributed, having also has a slight blue green tinge to it. The standout feature of the Paperwhite is its patented glowing technology which illuminates the screen subtly and evenly. It’s not that the Kobo does this badly, but the Paperwhite does it significantly better.
Another advantage of the Paperwhite over the Kobo is simply the fact that it uses Kindle store. Amazon have by far the largest selection of books to purchase, especially when taking into account self-publishing and independent small publishers. Their store software is fast, smooth and efficient to use, whereas sometimes the Kobo store can feel sluggish and clunky, for example requiring you to subscribe to newspapers by paying online on a separate computer rather than from your device.
However, there are many reasons that some people prefer Kobo devices over those of Amazon, and for fans of the eInk Kobos, this is undisputedly the best yet. The processor is 200Mhz faster than the previous model, and this actually makes a very noticeable difference, making everything that little bit smoother. You get full wifi internet access and a pretty decent internet browser, which is a very nice feature uncommon to black and white eInk devices. You have an extra 1GB of built in storage this time round, and MicroSD cards can be used.
One of the best features is loading up many eBooks downloaded from different sites and stores, putting them on the card, and having the Kobo sort them automatically – pointedly the free and rival eBooks are treated and organised just the same as the ones you bought from Kobo directly. Amazon could certainly learn from this feature. Another advantage of the Kobo over Kindle is that there is no regional locking, so content can be bought and shared from any country or site, even when travelling abroad. The main store also makes it very easy to find and download free eBooks including public domain classics. Features like these which don’t seem centric on revenue streams are what make some users favor the Kobo over the Kindle range, and for those people, the new “Glo” is the best model yet.