Product Type: Kobo Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
Newest Review: ... also available, although I chose not to purchase any additional accessories at the time. The Kobo didn't come with any detailed manual, wh... more
Sorry - not really a fan, but....
Member Name: BurberryJJ
Advantages: Undeniably convenient.
Disadvantages: Printed books are quite safe for the moment.
But, courtesy of a generous family and a birthday, I now have a Kobo Touch. And to be honest, I was thrilled with it. At first.
It's certainly handy. I have health problems and spend a lot of my time hanging around waiting on the convenience of the NHS. And that can be a very long time indeed on occasion. I'm accustomed to carrying a book at such times, and when travelling, and the Kobo is certainly convenient, being a bit more compact and of course offering a great deal more choice than a printed volume.
But frankly the experience quickly palled. Reading anything other than fiction is problematic - given the monochrome screen, any kind of illustrated non-fiction is usually a waste of time. The Kobo takes its time to start up, the software is slow and clunky, and on some ebooks trying to reformat pages doesn't work - you read them as they come or forget it. Page turning can sometimes be an infuriating experience of repeatedly tapping to no avail. In the 4 months I've had the Kobo, it's hung twice and had to be reset, losing existing books. Fortunately I always back up my books onto my PC hard disk
I was given a selection of books with the reader, but they're running out and I'm disinclined to buy more at the prices asked - not when I can often get a paperback from Amazon for much less.
One other annoyance - when I plug in my Kobo for charging, either via my PC or a (separately purchased) mains adaptor, that's all the Kobo does - charge itself. You can access it for sync or update via Kobo PC software or Calibre - but what you can't do is continue reading. If the Kobo is flat, you're through reading until it's recharged. Those accustomed to plugging in their mobile phones or laptops then continuing what they were doing might find this an odd situation. On the plus side, I'm impressed at how long the Kobo goes between charges.
Plus I've found the Kobo online experience less than thrilling. It's efficient enough - efficient that is at providing me with lists of (IMHO) expensive ebooks, and downloading onto my Kobo new and exciting 'recommendations' - most of which I've already told Kobo I'm not interested in. There doesn't seem any way of getting rid of these other than by replacing them with another list of equally unwelcome and irrelevant suggestions - on my Kobo every time I switch it on. Kobo really needs to be reminded that this is a paid-for device - i.e. to say it's my damned machine and not theirs.
On the plus side, the e-paper is a lot easier on my eyes than a computer screen. In fact, given it's (usually) possible to change font sizes, it can be rather better than a printed book on occasion. I'm not young and a PC monitor taxes my eyes after barely 15 minutes of reading text - I've yet to find my eyes tired reading the Kobo.
Crucially - I've installed Calibre on my PC and find it far more use than the Kobo website. The Kobo will read quite a few formats - epub is best, mobi is not too bad, pdfs are usually in my experience a disaster. Rtfs and text files are quite good within their natural limitations. However, if the Kobo encounters a 'faulty' epub (and don't ask me what that might entail) it doesn't just refuse it - it hangs and can't even be reset until the offending file has been removed via Calibre. The Kobo doesn't tell you which file is causing the problem. I have epub files that read perfectly well on every device except my Kobo. Unfortunately Calibre (insofar as my expertise goes so far), while a super piece of software, doesn't help in predicting these.
Despite all this, I wouldn't now actually part with my Kobo. While on occasions I find it infuriating, on others I've found myself very glad to have it about me. Allied with Calibre (a necessity IMHO) it does a fair enough job but certainly not a perfect one. But the fact is that, without being deliberate about it, I increasingly find myself carrying a paperback copy of a book I already have on the Kobo I've left at home - the reading experience is just so much easier.
The end result seems to be horses for courses. The Kobo is NOT my main reading source - but it's undeniably handy on occasion. I have friends who say the dedicated ebook reader has no future - it will all come down to tablets and smart phones. There was a time I'd have agreed with them. But my Kobo experience, if not exactly thrilling, suggests to me there is a future - especially for those, like me, who neither have nor desire a tablet or smart phone.
But we need better than the Kindle or Kobo. We need a slightly larger screen - not a lot, just a bit bigger. We need e-ink or similar to save on the eye strain (I do, anyway.) Colour of course (I understand this is coming soon.) We need a VERY flexible machine running - say- a small mainstream Linux so that the choice of reading software is down to the customer. And at the end of the day, the device has to be cheap - otherwise the comparison with the number of printed books we can buy for the same money becomes a deciding factor (currently, it's a LOT.)
And DRM free. I appreciate the problems of authors and I don't begrudge them their livings. But it's a new digital world and IMHO ebook DRM is more about propping up an obselescent and costly publishing infrastructure than about about authors' rights. The death struggle of monks with pens who can't grasp that the printing press has been invented.
So ... the Kobo. Damned with faint praise ... parson's egg ...call it what you will.
Am I happy to have a Kobo? Yes - on balance I still prefer it to the available alternatives.
Would I pay for another myself given my experience? Probably not. But I'm keeping an eye on the market...
Summary: A limited and limiting experience if you're used to good books.
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