Kobo Glo Review

August 5, 2012
  • Design
  • Display
  • Performance
  • Features
  • Value

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Similar to the Kindle Paperwhite design, Kobo has gone for a very minimalistic design and has done away with any buttons on the front. I kind of wished the Glo (and Paperwhite) left the Home button in tact like the Nook has. There are just 2 buttons on the unit, both of which are situated on the top of the unit – a power button and a button for the light, the other functions are performed via the touchscreen.

One of the main features on the back of the Kobo Glo is the detachable quilted backing which allows you to do color changes. The colors available are: Black Night, Pink Sunset, Blue Moon and Silver Star. Along the side is a Micro SD slot for expandable memory (up to 32GB).  Finally, along the bottom is micro USB port for charging and connecting to your PC or laptop.

The bezel of the Glo is slightly smaller than on the Kobo Touch making it shorter and a little bit narrower as well as being thinner than it’s predecessor. The unit itself measures 4.5 x 6.2 inches tall, 4.5 inches across, 0.4 inches thick and weighs in at 6.5 oz which is lighter than the Kobo Touch.

Display

Like most of the eReaders on the market today the Kobo Glo has the same size 6 inch screen.  Kobo like it competitors has  significantly increased the resolution from it’s older model – the Kobo Touch which was 600 x 800 to 1024 x 768, with 212 pixels-per-inch resolution and uses the new eInk anti-reflective Pearl XGA screen.

Of course the key feature of the Glo is the integrated light which is activated via a button on the top of the device. The Kobo Glo uses 4 lights embedded in the bottom of the display to shine light up and illuminate the screen. The brightness is controlled via an on-screen slider along the bottom of the screen. Compared with Kindle Paperwhite and Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight, the Kobo Glo is the brightest when turned up fully, but I found the Paperwhite to be slightly whiter.

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Features

When powering on the unit you have the books you have downloaded on the home screen. It features the five most read books in your collection. There are 3 menus on the home screen: Library which contains your collection of downloaded Books which you can sort alphabetically, by title, or by author name, News & Magazines and Previews; Find Books which has topics such as Similar Books, Recommended for You, Reading Lists and also Free Books. Kobo has over 1.5 million free books which is currently the largest amount of Free Books from any eReader company. Finally you have Reading Life which is similar to Wish List. Reading Life shows you how long you have been reading, the number of books read, number of pages read, percentage of your library read  and you can also earn trophies for your activity.

After selecting a book if you tap at the bottom of the screen you bring up the options. One clever trick is that if you are reading the same book on another Kobo device such as the Kobo Touch or Arc it will automatically update the Glo on the fly and open the book at where you left reading it. The options you get after click the bottom of the screen are the Table of Contents, Annotations, Search in Book, Definition and Translate Word. You can also get a definition of the word by similar holding your finger on the word for a couple seconds.

The font options are one of it’s strong points with a large amount of fonts to choose from with the usual font size, line spacing, margin and justification. The advanced option also allows you to change the weight and sharpness which is a new feature on the Kobo Glo (also available to the Kobo Touch via the new firmware) and has window at the bottom which shows you how the new settings make the text look compared to what it looks like before the changes. The final option is the wrench symbol which allows you to Sync Book Activity, Post to Facebook Wall, Add to Shelf, mark as Finished and some more Reading Settings.

Kobo Glo FeaturesTurning pages of books is performed by either swiping or tap the left or right side of the screen. A bar along the bottom allows you to go to whichever page you want. Pressing at the bottom of the screen will open up your options. The first book icon when pressed will bring up: Table of Contents, Annotations, Search in Book, Definition and Translate Word. The next icon brings back the page slider. The 3rd icon brings up: Add to Shelf, Mark as Finished and Reader Settings. Under Reader Settings you will find page turning options and also how often you want the screen to refresh (6 pages is the default). As well as being able to read eBooks, you can also read pdfs. Reading pdfs on an eReader isn’t always ideal as to get the whole page on the screen, the text has to be shrunk right down. Luckily there’s a zoom function. There’s also a legend in the top left hand corner which is like ‘picture-in-picture’ so you can see where on the page you are while using your finger to move around the page and lag is minimal.

Finally, you have Extras which is accessible via the settings. here you will find 2 games – chess and sudoku as well as sketchpad which allows you to use the touch screen to make notes and draw pictures. At the bottom of the page is a web browser. Like most eReaders the web browsing experience isn’t that great. The page refreshes quite a lot when scrolling and the images aren’t perfect. To zoom you use the slider on the bottom.

Unfortunately, like most of the latest eReaders there is no sound. This of course means no audio books which I think is a shame.

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Battery & Memory

Kobo state a battery life of one month based on reading for 30 minutes each day and that is with the light on or off and that is with Wi-Fi turned off. This is around half of that of the Kindle Paperwhite and Nook with Glowlight. The real battery drainer is the Wi-Fi and not the built in light.

Memory wise it has the same 2GB (1GB available for storage – enough for about 1000 eBooks) as the Paperwhite and Glowlight. Unlike the Paperwhite (but like the Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight) it has a micro SD slot for up to 32GB of expanadable memory.

Connectivity

The Kobo Glo is a Wi-Fi only device like the majority of eReaders today (with the exception of the Kindle Paperwhite which also offers a more expensive 3G option) which means to download a book on the fly you’ll need to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Luckily there are no shortage of those now, plus you can also download books or files by connecting it to a PC or laptop with an internet connection.

Pricing

The official price for the Kobo Glo is $129 from Kobo or through Rakuten which now owns Kobo, Buy.com and many other e-commerce sites. You can also purchase it from Amazon and the cheapest price I could find it on there was $126.

Verdict

The Kobo Glo is another very good eReader from Kobo and sits between the Kobo Touch and Kobo Aura. It features a higher screen resolution than the Kobo Touch and a front-light which the Touch doesn’t have. It features the same resolution as the more expensive Kobo Aura, but the light on the Aura is whiter and brighter and it has twice the memory. Apart from that in general reading terms it compares very well to the Aura.

Compared to the Kindle Paperwhite , again the front-light on the Paperwhite is whiter and brighter than the Glo, but in everyday reading there is very little to choose between the two as both have similar screens with the same resolution. Feature wise the Paperwhite  is ahead here. So while the front-light isn’t as good as the Kindle Paperwhite 2 or Kobo Aura, the Glo is still a decent eReader with clear crisp text and reasonable performance.

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