Kobo Touch eReader

I wanted to buy an ebook reader for a while. I researched the pros and cons of the Kindle, Nook and Kobo quite a bit already. I have been hold off for waiting the price to come down. Out of my surprise, Pat bought me an ebook reader as my first father’s day gift. The Kobo Touch is on sales on father’s day for only $89, which is a very good deal.

Although the Kobo suppose to be my father’s day gift, Pat use it more often than me. When you are holding a baby, your activities are very limited. You cannot effectively surf the web or do any activities that require lots of hand movements. Pretty much the only activities available are watching TV, playing the smartphone and reading a book. The ebook reader is light and easier to flip pages than a real book. It is perfect to use when the baby is sleeping on you.

The Kobo uses the same 6″ E-Ink display as Kindle and Nook. The color of the screen looks like cheap paperback novels, but it is much easier to your eyes than traditional LCD screens. It claims 3 months battery life, but you will only get 3 months if you switch off the Wi-Fi. I found the Wi-Fi drain a lot of battery and it is pretty useless, unless you buy books from the kobo website. Amazon or B&N suppose to have a bigger selection of ebooks and better eco-system, but I found the Kobo store and its Chapters integration is good enough. We are able to find the baby books we want to buy. It comes with 2GB internal memory and a micro SD card slot, which is more than enough.

One thing I like about Kobo is it runs on a custom version of Linux. It is better than the striped down version of Android used by Kindle and Nook. It does not have any other features. It has a web browser, but it is barely usable. The Kobo comes with built in bookmark, highlight and annotation functions. User can use the on screen keyboard to type notes or share a paragraph on facebook. The on screen keyboard is too slow to make it useful, but the highlight function is quite handy. I am not planning to share anything on facebook or twitter, so I don’t care about the sharing feature.

There are some short coming of Kobo. It does not support Chinese out of the box. Installing Chinese font is pretty easy, just copy the TTF file over USB cable. The touch screen driver can crash if you press the the screen too quickly and the touch input is dead, you have to reboot the Kobo to bring it back up. The page refresh is a bit annoying but you will get use to it after awhile. There is no Wi-Fi sync between my computer and the Kobo, I can only load epub files using the USB cable. The Kobo desktop software is more like a store front for Kobo book store than a useful library management software. But it does not matter, just like everyone else, I use Calire to manage my ebooks. Calibre has a built in mini web server, so in theory I can download epub files over Wi-Fi using the Kobo browser, but I haven’t try it yet. I read from online review that Kobo suppose to have the better PDF support than Kindle and Nook. Yet in my opinion the PDF viewer in Kobo sucks. Yes, it can render the file correctly, it does not allow me to flip to next page when I am zooming in. It is better to convert the pdf file into epub using Calibre and load the epub file into Kobo.

In summary, Kobo is a single function device, it is pretty good at reading epub ebooks, but don’t expect it to do anything else.

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