Kobo Glo illuminated e-reader review
Read between the covers - and under them
Kobo’s Glo is yet another of the current wave of e-readers with what amounts to a backlit screen.
Yes, the light isn’t situated behind the screen, but let’s not split hairs. The system works by shining LED light through the screen and bouncing it back off a reflective layer toward the reader, but the effect is much the same.
Moody blue: Kobo's Glo glows with a azure light
The screen in question is a 6in, 758 x 1024 E Ink Pearl so the Glo’s light-off text quality is as good as any rival e-reader based on the same technology. Kobo sent me a review sample with a white bezel which does the screen no favours. Its brightness in comparison with the display only serves emphasise the e-ink panel’s inherent greyness.
I’d recommend a darker bezel for that reason alone, but I also think the smooth, white plastic of the review unit gives it a rather cheap feel, as does its 0.5mm-thick, flat sides. The Glo isn’t uncomfortable to hold, and the rear panel has a pleasant matte touch, but overall it feels like a low-cost, no-name reader of the kind coming out of China a few years back. It doesn’t have the same quality feel as Amazon’s Kindle or Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-readers, let alone Sony’s Reader.
It works just as well with the 'backlight' off
The device seems solid enough, mind. And its software isn’t bad, though as I pointed out in my write up of the Kobo Mini, you’re forced to connect it to a computer onto which you’ve downloaded Kobo’s library software before you can use it. This despite the fact that the Glo has single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi on board and could easily verify its activation that way.
Unlike the Mini, the Glo’s 2GB of storage - only 1GB is reserved for books - can be expanded with Micro SD cards. Charging and sideloading content all take place through a micro USB port.
The Glo's flat-edge design makes room for a light trigger and a power slider
The Glo’s lighting system is triggered with a button on top of the device, next to the power slider. Like other such systems, it’s capable of pumping out a lot of light - you’ll almost certainly want to tap the screen’s light icon - always present when the light is on - to adjust the brightness downward.
Next page: Reading in the dark
Aww cute, you're still on picture-books :)
Re: Obvious flaws
I've been reading almost exclusively on eink for at least five years now and the flash-blacking is such a non-issue. I don't even see it. Ghosting is why I have a Sony (page refresh on every turn) over a Kindle (page refresh every six turns), although even that was minimal. Because eInk involves a physical motion inside each pixel it's unlikely these issues are going away soon. We're on generation 5 or 6 eInk now and it's getting better but is still a problem.
That said, I'll take such minor issues with eInk over reading on LCD any day. Just because your eyes have never felt tired reading onscreen, that doesn't mean you're not straining them more on LCD than eInk. I don't feel tired walking to the shops, but that doesn't mean driving isn't *less* tiring (although, bad example, walking to the shops is obviously better for me). I can feel my eyes relax when I put my screen down and pick my book up.
This is the Reg with a supposedly "techie" reader base, so:
1. You don't have to register it *at all*, if you don't want to (SQLitre is easy for the one liner you need to acheive this)
2. Battery life. Even with approx 1-2 hours use per day, and lets say , 2 hours per week with the light on, my Glo is at 25% charged, and I only charged it the night I bought it, 3.5 weeks ago. Try getting anywhere near that with an LCD (and on holiday, you might just not have easily available, a power supply at the right time).
3. Tablets and LCDs are nice for what they are good at, but IMHO are not a patch on eInk for reading. Eye strain on LCD, especially when reading in a dark room, I find quite uncomfortable. The Glo in the dark is nothing like that, and perfectly comfortable for me.
4. Page turns are quick and I can't say I've noticed the "all black" full page refresh, nor the ghosting or other problems, so am happy with the 6-page refresh.
As an aside, my 9y/o child also likes the included Chess, Sudoku and simple drawing software as well.
I've also had a play with the Paperwhite (3 weeks ago, in Waterstones), and thought it was very similar indeed to the Glo. It has a finer grained control of the light, and it's an advertisers wet dream, but I would say they are largely, the same. You can of course buy Amazon books if you don't want an alternative DRM encumbered Kobo book, but you would need to strip the Amazon DRM (which is something I would do regardless if I had a Kindle, for a useable long-term backup).
I choose to "sideload" books regardless (and would also, even if I had a Kindle), so that I am in control of my library, not the device manufacturer. +1 to Kobo for supporting epub (and Mobi) and -1 to Kindle for not supporting epub!
>Is the higher resolution any better?
Not so you'd notice at a glance. Side by side with a Kindle 4, you can probably see a difference, but that can be as much your choice of font as anything else, and you'd have to be looking for the difference.
Using the Kobo on the Tube every morning, I didn't perceive a big improvement in resolution. This might annoy me if I were paying substantially more for the extra pixels, but you're not paying more.
I'm a reader - I could read for hours at a time. As such, a dedicated device is WAY better.