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Kobo’s $150 eReader: First hands-on

Kobo eReader first hands-on Photo: Fabrizio Pilato

This is it my fellow book worms, the newest contender on the ebook shelf. Up against Sony’s Reader, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon’s Kindle, we welcome the Kobo: with a slim stylish 6-inch E Ink display to read your ebooks on and at a price no one has yet to beat.

The first time I saw E Ink I thought it was amazing. It’s almost like looking at a photo copied piece of paper, but on an electronic device. You see, E Ink has a chillingly inanimate way about it. If an LCD were to be dead, E Ink could be an LCD’s resurrected zombie. Kind of there, but not all there. Just enough to keep it moving and always ready for something.

Kobo is starting off on the right foot.  With a major book chain behind them and a low price out the door, Kobo could make a name for themselves, and fast.

The Kobo is quite slim, it has a sturdy feel and a “quilted back.” Yah, quilted means diamonds, it’s made of that super soft smooth plastic that feels almost rubber. It has an SD expansion slot, 1GB of internal memory, and really flips through pages quite fast. You will have to wait until next month to get one, but Chapters Indigo is taking pre-orders at $150 a pop.

Here are some of our initial impressions:

  • The weight is perfect, not too light or heavy, easy to hold in one hand.
  • I wanted to bookmark a page, or flag it for later because of something I found interesting, but it doesn’t seem to be a feature in this version.
  • When you power down the Kobo, it shows the book cover of what you are currently reading. I thought this was a nice touch and gave it the “leave on a coffee table or anywhere feel.” As you would do with a regular book.
  • The “quilted back” is a really nice touch and does make it comfortable to hold. It’s a soft rubber/plastic type material that is super smooth, the quilts, or diamonds as I prefer to call them, give it a pillow-like effect.
  • Software still under development. No playing with KoboBooks.com just yet.
  • Browsing books by “Covers Only” mode is a bit slow and tedious.  Looks like it was setup to copy an iBooks shelf, interesting to see an E Ink display “flash” as it refreshes the screen twice before you.   I much prefer “Covers and Text” browsing, its quick and easier to tell what you are actually looking at.
  • The D-Pad blue navigation button is easy to use and very responsive.  Acts a bit strange in “Covers Only” mode.
  • 100 free titles are classics.  Agathie Christie, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, T.S. Elliot, Karl Marx to name a few.

Kobo eReader first hands-on Gallery

About Fabrizio Pilato

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