Kobo Wireless eReader review

3 Jan 2012

Lightweight with a smart interface and store, but has too many flaws to trouble the award-winners

Price when reviewed: 
70(£90 inc VAT)
4

You shouldn’t judge an ebook reader by its cover, but first impressions of the Kobo Wireless eReader aren’t great. The off-white/grey colour scheme was last in fashion when the Berlin Wall collapsed, and the device itself feels cheap. But after a while it begins to grow on you.

Plasticky it may be, but the device weighs only 221g and is effortless to hold. The screen has poor contrast, but once you’ve got the font right it’s readable.

Kobo Wireless eReader

The interface is smartly designed. The “I’m Reading” section contains all the books you’re currently ploughing through, with an archive of Documents and Books including the 100 classics preloaded on the device. There’s also a News & Magazines section, although the Kobo store doesn’t currently offer periodicals in the UK.

That’s the store’s only real weakness, though. The Kobo store claims to hold more than two million titles, and contained around three-quarters of the bestsellers when we tested it, at prices only a little more expensive than the Kindle store.

As with the Kindle, books can be bought directly from the device. The PC/Mac desktop software also allows you to manage books on the device and read them on your PC.

Kobo Wireless eReader

Performance is lacklustre, though. Page turns feel sluggish, leaving you hanging for a second or so as you wait for the page to redraw. Although it’s only a fifth of a second slower than the Kindle Keyboard, it makes a difference.Panning through PDFs is even more tiresome.

The device's D-pad is the Kobo Wireless’ Achilles heel, however. Pages can only be flipped by pressing right on the pad; accidentally press down or up, and the font size changes. After only ten minutes we were hankering after the Kindle’s large buttons on either side of the display.

That doesn’t make the Kobo Wireless a terrible product, and the price isn’t bad either. But it’s no match for the best on the market.

Details

Price ex VAT £58
Price inc VAT £70
Overall rating 4
Performance 3
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 4

Screen

Screen size 6.0in
Resolution 600 x 800
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no
eBook screen-refresh time 1.2 seconds

Battery

Battery Life 10,000 page turns
Integrated memory 1.0GB
Memory-card type SDHC

Dimensions

Dimensions 120 x Unknown x 184mm (WDH)
Weight 221g

File format support

Plain text no
HTML no
RTF no
PDF yes
EPUB yes
BBeB no
AZW no
Microsoft Word no