Review - Kobo Vox eReader

Kobo Vox eReader
Kobo Vox eReader

Kobo Vox eReader

(Kobo, $359 at Whitcoulls)

I usually hate being proved wrong, but was glad to have been in the case of the Kobo Vox eReader.

I once swore an allegiance to the good, old-fashioned book, when the early eReaders threatened to take them away from me.

Before I was a teenager it wasn't unusual to find me with my nose in a book, sometimes as old as Sir Richard Worsley's 1782 edition of The History of the Isle of Wight.

But Google's latest eReader has convinced me that, for now at least, there's room in the world for old paper books and new digital ebooks. And some of those ebooks are new and easy to download.

Imagine my delight when, having charged the Kobo Vox for a couple of hours and updated the Android 2.3 operating system, via a wi-fi internet connection, I was able to download some equally ancient tomes to my virtual bookshelf for free.

A minor complaint is that these old books have been scanned to the Kobo marketplace by optical character recognition software, which doesn't always get it right. The odd letter I, for example, is wrongly rendered as the number 1. But if you can get past that, the free service can't be faulted for historical tomes.

If you want modern books you'll have to pay for most of them. There are more than 2.5 million titles available on the Kobo and a million of them are free, which means you will never be short of reading material. The Steve Jobs biography, which is sourced from the real book and is free of typos, is $24.99 rather than about twice that price.

The marketplace also includes 400,000 New Zealand titles.

The lime green review unit I was sent wouldn't have been my first choice for colour – black would – but there're also pink and blue for the rest of the family.

The full colour 7-inch 1024x600 touch screen makes this eReader stand out from the competitors that use eInk technology, which attempts to mimic real black ink on white paper. I wasn't that impressed by an early version of this eInk technology, but my mind is open.

So the Kobo Vox does a great job with full-colour book covers and is still easy on the eyes.The Kobo Vox has 8GB of onboard storage and an expandable Micro SD storage slot – although I couldn't get a third part SD card I had to work with this device.

Claims of a seven-hour battery life confused me, however. With it on, and on standby, the Kobo Vox lasted days rather than hours. If I dived into reading it was less, at about half a day.

Recharging is a little more complicated than other tablet-style computers, whether they be straight Android tablets like the Motorola Xoom or one of Apple's iPad iterations. While the Kobo Vox has a USB lead that connects it to a PC for file transfers, it will recharge only from the wall socket. This means you have to carry an electrical plug around if you want to take the charger with you, rather than a much smaller and more portable USB cable. But that's a minor quibble as most of the time you'll leave the cable at home.

A major plus of this device is its web browser which enables you to browse the internet over a wi-fi connection – there's no 3G connection – and a variety of apps including GMail and other email.

Want to visit Kobo's book store on your computer, tablet or smartphone? Visit and download the appropriate application. Nearly everything is there.

Waikato Times