£100 inc VAT • From www.whsmith.co.uk
As its name suggests, the Kobo Glo eBook reader has an illuminated screen. Like Amazon’s Paperwhite, it uses integrated LEDs, and Kobo has also used the same touchscreen E Ink Pearl screen as Amazon’s device. This has a 1,024×768 resolution, which is up from the 800×600 screen of last year’s models.
Specification-wise, the two devices seem pretty well matched. The Kobo’s screen looks fantastic. Its high resolution makes text a little sharper than before, which allows you to use the smaller font sizes without straining your eyes. We really like the built-in light, too, as it means you can read in any condition.
The Glo’s light is brighter than the Paper white’s but is less well distributed, and there’s an obvious strip of light at the top where the LEDs are. With the light switched on, the Glo’s screen is easy to read, but the text looks a little more washed out.
Kobo’s interface is, for the most part, a pleasure to use. Its touchscreen is as responsive as you’ll get from an E Ink device. From the main screen, you can quickly select the book you want and tap it to open it. You can also buy books from your device when connected to a Wi-Fi network, although it isn’t quite as slick as on Amazon’s devices.
The Discover tab, which shows books you might be interested in, displays a carousel of book covers, but this isn’t particularly easy to navigate on an E Ink device, as the page takes a relatively long time to refresh.
While Amazon’s integrated store feature lets you view lists of books and browse through everything, the Kobo’s is simply a search box. If you want to buy a book, its easier to use the Kobo website and have it delivered to your device. Pretty much every book available on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list is also available from Kobo, with a couple of minor exceptions.
Once you’ve opened a book, you can turn pages by tapping on the right- or left-hand side of the screen or swiping a finger to turn forward or back. Page turns are smooth and quick at the default setting, which only refreshes the page completely every six page turns.
Tapping the screen once brings up a menu of options, including one for in-book navigation. Here you can search the book, look up words and see a table of contents. You have full control over how each book looks and a choice of nine fonts. You can also change the font size, line spacing, margins and – unlike on the Kindle – the text justification.
Kobo quotes the battery life as 70 hours of continuous reading with the light on and set to a brightness of around 15 to 20 per cent. This makes it hard to compare with the Kindle Paperwhite directly, as Amazon’s figures are quoted at a higher brightness level. Having tested both, however, we wouldn’t have thought you’d need to charge either device more than once every couple of weeks.
A key reason to buy a Kobo is for its format support and the fact that it doesn’t lock you into a particular store. While it’s easier and more convenient to buy books through Kobo, you can buy from anywhere (except Amazon, obviously) and add encrypted PDF and ePUB files to your reader via a USB connection and Adobe Digital Editions. It’s this freedom that appeals to many people who don’t want to be tied to Amazon. Its format support isn’t perfect, though – PDF support isn’t particularly good, as PDFs were slow to update and fiddly to use.
The Kobo Glo has 2GB of RAM, which seems to be the norm for eReaders, but there’s also a microSD card slot that takes up to 32GB cards. Given that you should be able to fit around 1,000 books into the standard memory, you probably won’t need a memory card, but it’s still a nice option.
There’s no 3G version of the Kobo Glo, but its built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi will be sufficient for most people. You can load your eReader with books before you go away or simply use a hotspot if you’re away and need a new one.
We really like the Kobo Glo. It’s fast and easy to use, and the shop and apps offer a similar experience to Amazon’s but with the added benefit that you can buy your eBooks from elsewhere. Even so, we prefer the Kindle Paperwhite because its light is more even, which helps boost contrast. We’re also happy with the Amazon store, which still has the widest range, and don’t mind not being able to buy books from elsewhere. If you want the freedom to buy books from wherever you want, Kobo’s Glo is an excellent alternative and well-priced. It wins a Best Buy award.
DISPLAY: 6in mono touchscreen
MEMORY CARD SUPPORT: Micro SD
EBOOK FORMATS: ePub, PDF, HTML, RTF, MOBI, TXT
IMAGE FORMATS: BMP, TIFF, JPEG
DIMENSIONS: 114x165x10mm, 184g
WARRANTY: One-year RTB
PART CODE: Glo