In its initial launch, the Kobo Touch eBook reader has been touted as the ‘David’ in a market consisted of ‘Goliaths’. This may not be surprising with Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Amazon in the competition. In spite of this, the eBook reader is still among the excellent choices in its line of products. Apparently, Barnes & Noble introduced a new gadget a day after Kobo, and the device, despite the company’s pure intentions, appeared much like the eBook reader Touch version.
Nook’s new reader was ahead of Kobo’s device, becoming a decent competitor to the latest release of Amazon. With the market controlled by the Kindle, many may suspect the capability of the David to compete, not to mention being identical to the other giant, Nook.
The eBook reader and Nook’s new launch seem duplicates of the other at first glance, and it is not surprising that one may reach for one but grab the other. The Kobo Touch eBook reader is relatively smaller than the Kindle 3, which holds a keyboard consuming extra space. Being pocket-friendly adds to the selling point of the eBook reader, at one-sevenths of an inch slender and half an inch narrower than the new Nook. With its latticed back and small size, the eBook reader offers quite some grip. The device offers two buttons: the sliding ‘power’ and silver ‘home’ button. For convenience’s sake, these pair could’ve been infused into one, but it doesn’t diminish its market value in the slightest.
Those used to the Kindle and Nook may miss these readers with their physical buttons for turning pages, which the Kobo Touch eBook reader lacks. Its zForce infrared touchscreen comes quite responsive, but is not as precise as the physical buttons. The most irritable people may actually be annoyed at some point with the Kobo Touch eBook reader’s touchscreen, as there is a chance to turn pages to the left while turning to the right, so despite its compact form, one may likely require one hand for turning pages in each direction.
Both the Kobo Touch eBook reader and the Nook hold an on-board storage of 2GB, which is only half the capacity of the Kindle’s latest eBook reader. On the bright side, Kobo’s device offers an expandable memory through microSD of up to 32GB, a great feature for reading a whole lot of eBooks. Battery life is said to last for a full month, as compared to two months for the Kindle and Nook. However, this doesn’t appear much of a concern, since you’ll only realize that the battery’s empty after using it for so long without knowing when it was actually charged.
The 800MHz Freescale i.MX508 processor of the Kobo Touch reader matches that of the Nook, and speed is evidently faster than the Kindle when quickly turning through pages. The Kobo is offered in Wi-Fi-only, but this won’t be a problem by downloading eBooks beforehand, especially before long travels.
It’s safe to say that the e-ink display of the Kobo Touch eBook reader serves as the industry standard with its level of clarity and battery consumption. However, its lack of color and slow refresh rate may not appeal to the more discriminating tastes, especially comic fans.
Since its primary function is for reading books, the essence of the Kobo Touch eBook reader is its simplicity. With the home page being the hub, images of recent purchases could be seen at the center, and buttons for the library are located on the top, along with the Reading Life app and the Kobo store. Located at the bottom are help, settings, and a cloud icon synchronizing reader information over Wi-Fi with a single touch.
While social functionality lacks in the eBook reader, the Reading Life service makes you compete with yourself through reading, as the app presents reading stats, as well as several ‘awards’ for finishing an eBook and other mini-achievements. Though a fun feature, its intentions of motivating may likely be disregarded by a serious reader.
The built-in store provides several categories to help you get started, such as Oprah Book Club picks, NYT Bestsellers, and a few freebies, some of which are classics. Since the eBook reader lacks the usual physical buttons, a virtual keyboard is provided, but somewhat lags due to the zForce touchscreen.
The Kobo Touch seems to have a beta web browser kept in the Settings tab. The browser is a nice addition but still has performance issues that may be resolved in a possible successor of the eBook reader.
One could also read PDF’s through the reader by connecting to a PC. Its PDF display functionality sets itself apart from the competition with its zoom feature that also allows panning across files. Scanning and zooming, however, may come a bit tedious with some lags.
Dedicated readers may find the Kobo Touch a good option with its simplicity and compact built. It’s also cheaper by $10 than the Kindle Wi-Fi and the Nook, at $129. The biggest downside to the eBook reader, however, is the software’s slight sluggishness to the Nook because of the lack of physical buttons for page turning. Kobo’s release could’ve been a good contender in the market, but with the release of Barnes & Noble, it proves to be a rather inferior choice for an eBook reader.