I’ve been in the market for a new ereader for about six months. I have a Sony Reader Touch PRS-505, and while I was happy with it for awhile, I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with it as of late. I’ve had my eye on the Kobo Touch for some time, and when I heard that they were on sale at closing Borders stores for 30% off of their list price of $129.99, I was even more intrigued. I took the plunge and purchased a Kobo Touch this weekend, and wrote up my thoughts on the device for those of you considering purchasing one.
One of my main complains about my previous ereader was the poor contrast. Happily, this isn’t a problem at all with the Kobo Touch! I was really surprised by how great the contrast on the device is - I could even read in very low light. The surface is also completely non-reflective, so it is easy to read in direct light or sunlight.
Anyone who is familiar with e-ink screens knows about the “flash” that occurs when you turn the page of an ebook. Kobo has minimized that issue - pages turn cleanly and quickly, and what’s more, you can choose how many pages the Kobo will turn before the screen fully refreshes.
Size & Construction
As you can see in the picture above, the Kobo Touch has a very small profile. It is slim and light and easily fits in the palm of one hand (and my hand is small!) I love how portable it is - the picture below is of the Kobo Touch next to a standard trade paperback size book. As you can see, the Kobo is actually smaller.
The device is well-constructed and doesn’t look cheap. The material the case is made of is soft to the touch, and the back of the reader has a nice quilted look. It’s just a small detail, but it’s a nice touch.
The Kobo Touch supports many different file formats, which makes it incredibly versatile. Most of my books are in unprotected and Adobe Digital Editions protected ePub and PDF, and the Kobo is compatible with both of these formats. The reader also plays nicely with Adobe Digital Editions - I had no problem authorizing the device through the program and was able to immediately transfer library books and NetGalley review copies to the Kobo Touch.
List of supported formats (from Kobo.com): EPUB, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR
The Kobo Touch comes with a cord to hook the device up to your computer, which is fine except for all those times I would rather have a wall charger, especially if I’m traveling without a laptop. Well, great news: the Kobo Touch is compatible with an USB charger. Just plug the cord into any USB port, whether on a computer or a wall charger (the iPod/iPad wall chargers come to mind) and you will be able to charge your Kobo.
If you are reading an ePub, the Kobo Touch gives you several wonderful options in order to customize the text fully. I have the choice of seven different fonts and can also manipulate the font size, line spacing, margins, and justification. I probably will never use all of the options, but I love the fact that so much thought went into the reading experience.
Stats and Social Features
One of the features on the Kobo Touch is “Reading Life” and for those of us obsessed with stats, this is great! I’ve posted a snapshot below of my current stats, just so you can see what it measures.
On the Kobo app for my iPhone and iPad, there are additional social features where I can share my stats with my friends.
The Kobo Touch has 1 GB of onboard memory - enough for thousands of ebooks. What’s more, it has a micro-SD card slot, which means if I somehow fill up the internal memory, I can buy a card and start filling that up with books as well!
I enjoy being able to access the Kobo Store from any Wi-Fi connection. It means I’ll never run out of books to read!
Reading PDFs is a big issue for me, and while the experience on the Kobo is better than on many other ereaders, it’s just not good enough. The Kobo does not support PDF Reflow (which is where the text of your PDF will be reorganized the more you zoom in), and though it’s an imperfect tool at best, it’s something I would have liked to have seen on the Kobo Touch.
While zooming in on PDFs on the Kobo Touch is very good, it’s not practical to read that way. It requires an inordinate amount of dragging to turn the page and is just very frustrating. What I would love is if you could set a zoom level for a certain book, and then read it that way, but that option isn’t available right now for this device. As a result, I will continue to read PDFs on my iPad.
While I am thrilled that I have the Kobo app on my phone and iPad, it’s not really much use to me right now. First, it is not compatible with Adobe Digital Editions (though the actual reader device IS - I don’t want to confuse anyone). Second, it doesn’t sync the book on my Kobo Touch I’m reading across devices. Third, it will only scan Facebook, not Twitter, for possible Kobo friends, which is just useless for me.
While I do love the touch screen and it is extremely responsive, I would love a “page forward” button in addition to the physical home button. This is a very minor quibble, and I’m sure it will go away once I become more used to the device.
I’ve noticed that the outer casing of the device shows fingerprints. Not a big deal, but it will annoy my anal retentive self from time to time.
The Kobo software seems to be pretty much useless if you aren’t loading books directly from the Kobo Store. Luckily, I was always planning on using Calibre, an ebook management program that can be used across multiple devices, and it works beautifully with the Kobo Touch.
All in all, I am very happy with my Kobo Touch purchase. While I wish it handled PDFs better, I do realize that is a fault of the PDF format and not really of the reader. My other issues with it are extremely minor. Overall, I think it was a great value and I’m excited to start reading ebooks more regularly again.
If you have any questions about the Kobo Touch, I am happy to answer them. Please keep in mind that I can’t answer any device specific information (for example, I know a lot of people have questions about Nook ebook compatibility, and since I don’t have a Nook, I can’t help you!), but I’ll answer what I can!