Reading in the dark
Under ordinary lighting, the Glo’s screen takes on a pale blue cast rather than the usual grey, hence Amazon’s decision to call its version “Paperwhite”. I’m not convinced it makes for any improvement unless you’re using the light to compensate for too little lighting or too much. Upping the brightness can cut through some bright overhead lighting.
Worse, perhaps, the light makes the E Ink screen’s page turn ‘blackout’ much more intrusive than it usually is. Maybe that’s why the Kobo software limits full screen refreshes every six page turns. The downside: this leads to broken characters and ghosting. I turned it from the default to a refresh with every page turn but, as I say, this makes the refresh more in-your-face when the light is on.
With 'backlight' illumination (top) and without (bottom)
The Glo is touch-sensitive. There are no physical page turn buttons, and screen itself doesn’t detect taps - they’re spotted by sensors mounting in the thick bezel. So you can use the end of a pencil or any other stylus as well as fingertips.
Touch is said by e-reader makers with touch-enabled e-readers to be more “natural” than buttons, but I’m not convinced. Tap a screen or tap a button - what’s the difference? Touch does let you swipe, but that’s a poor mimic of turning a physical page. But it is unquestionably better than selecting an on-screen keyboard’s keys with a five-way nav button.
The Glo's illumination runs from just noticeable (top) to very bright (bottom) - but look at the ghosting
I shouldn’t harp on about touchscreen e-readers. They’re all as bad in this respect, and the Glo is no worse than the rest. Its light is as good as theirs too. The only reason I’d select, say, a Kindle Paperwhite or Nook SimpleTouch Glowlight over the Kobo is that their more curvaceous cases are more pleasant to hold.
Of course, the Amazon offering isn’t out yet, and won’t ship until 17 December. The Nook is available, for the same £109 as the Kindle. It would be my choice - it’s worth the extra tenner over the £100 Glo for the better quality casing. And it supports the same ePub and DRM formats as the Glo.
The Glo isn’t a bad e-reader, and Kobo has an impressively well-stocked e-book shop ready to fill it. Its UI is up to the job. But though e-readers are now as cheap as chips, they don’t have to feel like they cost almost nothing to make. Unfortunately, the Glo does. So does Kobo’s Mini, but its unique 5in size offers some compensation. Not so the Glo, which delivers the same features as a host of rival e-readers but in a less attractive outfit. ®
More E-reader Reviews
Apple iPad Mini
Kobo Glo illuminated e-reader review
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.