The latest Kobo eReader is really a tablet computer, and is full of fancy tricks, Chris Gardner writes.
You've got to hand it to Kobo. Every new eReader the Toronto headquartered company releases is better than the last and the Kobo Arc has taken the company's eReaders to the next level.
When I took it out of the box the first thing I thought was that I had been sent an Apple iPad Mini by mistake.
Its 7 inch 12800 x 800 pixel high definition screen is marginally smaller than the iPad Mini's 7.8 inch and it weighs a meagre 364g compared to the 312g WiFi + Cellular offering from Apple.
The Kobo Arc charges via a USB cable from the mains socket. A couple of hours gives a full charge and delivers 10 hours of reading time or two weeks on standby.
I found plugging it into a computer gives a nominal charge but it's hardly worth it since a day plugged in hardly touched the battery.
Setting up the Kobo Arc following the charge takes minutes.
You connect it to a WiFi signal, sign in with your Kobo account and quickly boot to where you are prompted, by the Kobo app, to complete a quick survey about the books that you like to read.
Its Kobo app reads ePUB and enhanced ePUB books.
Like the iPad Mini this little wafer of tricks is a tablet computer, rather than just an eReader.
It has a 1.5 GHz dual core central processing unit and 1 GB of Ram and I found no lag in turning pages, or launching other applications.
Google's Android 4.0 operating system includes an overlay Kobo calls tapestries which groups apps and content together, making it easy to see all your books, for example, in one place. The social media tapestry is good at delivering all your social media updates in the same place in a way not done since Microsoft introduced a similar function in Windows Phone 7 in 2010. There's also web page tapestries and you can easily create your own to suit your own needs.
The Kobo Arc will recommend content based on your choices.
And if it's too cluttered you can remove them.
Because it's an Android tablet the Kobo Arc will run thousands of apps from the Google Play store.
So you can add PDF readers and even download the Kindle app if you want to read books from the competition.
Such basics as Skype come pre-installed and work well with the built in 720p HD front-facing camera (1.3 MP).
The built in music app works well with the built-in dual front-facing speakers. The quality is acceptable playing MP3 files ripped at 192 kilobytes per second. It will also play MP#, AAC, AAC+, .3gp, mp4, m4a, flac, ogg, wav and mid sound files.
The photos app displays JPG, PNG, GIF and BMP files.
The specs say the Kobo Arc supports video formats 3gp, mp4, webm, H.263, H.264 and VP8 but I could find no pre-installed app for watching videos. I downloaded a range of apps to play some video I dragged and dropped from my Windows 8 PC.
VLC, which was my favourite, was pixelated when the original video was not so I tried an assortment of others and it worked fine.
If you want a tablet for content consumption the Kobo Arc is a great option, but I wouldn't dream of trying to word process on it.
There's a 16GB option for $329.99, a 32GB model for $399.99 and a 64GB model for $499.99.
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