Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kobo - my first experience with a full-sized eReader

One of the cool things about working in an agency with a consumer practice is some of the fun stuff that shows up in the office – often ahead of it being available in stores.

Kobo eReader is one of those items – it’s the new eBook reader being launched into the Canadian marketplace by Chapters • Indigo next month, just in time for Mother’s Day. When I saw a Kobo eReader box in the office, I asked if I could borrow one for a review because I really wanted to try one.

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  1. I'd love to try a Kobo to see if the e-reader technology has improved. I tried a Kindle last month - granted it was a year old (so newer models might be better) - and I was really underwhelmed. I like to read with really high contrast, ie. black type on white is ideal. With the Kindle is was like black on grey. Also, the font size seemed to arbitrarily set a limit that was still not sufficient for people with visual disabilities. Trying to find a range of books (or any) in large print is next to impossible - so I thought these e-book reader companies would capitalize on that (literally - there's definitely money to made from people who need this feature).

    The user experience was otherwise okay. I like the ability to add notes as I have never been able to bring myself to vandalize my own books by scribbling notes in the margins or highlighting.

    I'm certainly running out of room in our house to store print books. As it is all pulp fiction we buy are given to Goodwill after reading as we have no room to store them.

    But price is the big stumbling block for me (once readability improves, that is). E-books are roughly the same price or maybe $1 or $2 cheaper. But with print I have something I can share with friends and don't have to worry about the format becoming obsolete (like all our VHS movies).

    Most importantly, considering my propensity to spill coffee, drop and lose thing, my accidents are not such a big deal when it's a $10 book vs. $150 e-reader.

    I don't want to sound like a luddite curmudgeon or print fetishist, more like a poor-sighted cheapskate.

  2. Glen, you're far from being a luddite. You make some very good points about some of the challenges with eReaders in general.

    The Kobo does have a good range of font sizes (I think there are 6) and you can choose between serif and sans serif. I'm not sure it offers the amount of contrast you prefer - that might be hard on the eyes when reading an entire book on the screen.

    As the lower-end entry in the eReader world, Kobo doesn't offer all the bells and whistles of some of the higher-end eReaders but it does allow people on tighter budgets a nice alternative - one that would probably satisfy most of my needs (although a note feature would be great for business books, cookbooks and textbooks).

    An eReader would definitely solve your storage problems.



  3. Glen, I'm as intrigued by iPad as any one who uses other Apple productions but after reading this article in today's Globe, I'm not so sure about using it or an eReader with a bright screen as a replacement for bedtime reading. Are you?

  4. patlaj8:29 pm

    Hi Eden,

    I've been thinking about the Sony PRS300 (which is currently $179 at Best Buy) and the Kobo.

    I'd put lots of different documents on it, including long web pages, Word docs, text files etc. So the fact that the Sony reader supports text and Doc natively is appealing (otherwise I'd have to have some sort of conversion workflow).

    Two questions for you:

    1. How easy is it to skip to a particular page? The CBC review suggested that you can't skip pages, which would be really annoying if you were trying to read a reference doc or manual.

    2. How do PDFs render? I have a few books that are PDFs, and since text probably doesn't just reflow to fit the screen I'm wondering how usable it is.



  5. Patrick, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. You asked some great questions. Although I didn't spend a lot of time checking for a page skip feature, I don't recall anything that was intuitive with respect to skipping pages but I can check.

    I believe you'll need to convert pdfs with an application like Adobe Digital Editions in order to be able to view them on the Kobo eReader. I'll see if there's one in the office and I'll test it out for you. With other smartphone readers, I've found pdfs render just as well as any eBooks but I can't speak specifically to the Kobo eReader.


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  7. Never thought of e-Readers or iPads keeping people awake because of their use of projected light. Does seem that whenever I turn on my PC before bed to do something quick that I then become more wakeful and end up on the computer for an hour or three. I do like that Kindle uses reflected light, like books, which is a good selling point.

    All this discussion of them has made me really want one now!


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