Kobo packs a punch
Chris Gardner looks at the Kobo, the electronic reader of choice for many New Zealanders.
First there were hardback books, then came smaller, lighter paperback books. That is the first thing that came into my mind when I unboxed the Kobo Mini eReader.
Kobo, which claims to have cornered about half of New Zealand's ebook market opposite Kindle, developed this $139.99 device to be the smallest and lightest fully featured ereader in the world.
It's got a 5-inch, no-glare display which is designed to emulate the print on paper feel of a paperback and it weighs only 134 grams. That makes it smaller than Apple's new iPad mini which has a 7.9-inch screen and is designed for more than just reading ebooks.
The Kobo Mini eReader is not much bigger than my smartphone to which I had to download the Kobo application and read my Kobo library from. But the Kobo Mini is far more functional than any smartphone application because it is a fully functional ereader and not another device trying to emulate an ereader.
The Kobo Mini has an 800 megahertz processor, which makes page turning smooth.
If the small form factor makes you worry that you won't be able to read what's on the screen, never fear, because it has seven font types and 24 font sizes so you can adjust it to your needs.
On top of that, you can adjust the weight (thickness) and sharpness of each font.
There's even a font called OpenDyslexic, designed to be easy on the dyslexic brain. It is wi-fi-capable and has 2 gigabytes of memory.
It comes in black and white and can be customised with ruby red, purple and teal backs.
Also new to the market is the Kobo Glo ($199.99). It has a faster 1GHz processor, which is just under half the power of many PCs, allowing a page turn in under half a second.
It also has a 6-inch high resolution Pearl E Ink XGA high resolution no-glare display with an integrated front light making reading in the dark no problem at all.
You can adjust the brightness with a slider which appears on the touchscreen and the Kobo Glo delivers an even light which Kobo has called the ComfortLight.
"The LED light is guided through a nano-printed fibre-optic film which evenly diffuses the light across the screen without compromising text clarity," the company says.
The Kobo Glo is also wi-fi capable and has 2GB of onboard storage but is also expandable to 32GB through its Micro SD port.
Both new Kobo models come with a USB cable to charge them from a computer and transfer books, or you can transfer reading material via the wi-fi.
I found both new models comparable to the Kobo Vox I tried five months ago, although they don't get as hot as that model which also has a web browser.
They all start with a multi-page guide that teaches the functions of the ereader.
Tap or swipe the sides of the screen to turn pages. to bring up the options menu, tap the centre of the screen.
Press and hold a word to see its definition. To install more dictionaries go to Settings. To select a passage, simply press, hold and drag. You can highlight and add notes.
To keep your library updated across devices, be sure to sync regularly: tap the menu in the top right corner and select sync.
To put your ereader to sleep temporarily, pull the power slider to the right and release it quickly. To power off for a longer period , slide and hold for a few seconds.
To turn on the light, press the button next to the power slider. Tap the light icon to adjust brightness. .