Kobo Glo HD

Posted in Action / Culture / Technology / Reviews on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 by Joel Höglund

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With the invention of electronic paper and E Ink, reading on a screen has become just as comfortable as reading on plain paper. Regardless of model and brand, I'd recommend anyone who enjoys reading to at least try out an eBook reader. Although the feel of real paper and the possibility to quickly thumb through a book or magazine is usually preferable, an eReader has some other charateristic qualities.

The first and most obvious is the ability to store thousands of books in one single device, which fits in your palm. You shouldn't necessarily think of it as a replacement to a solid and well filled book case, but for example when traveling, quick and light-weight access to a couple books can be a perfect substitute.

Another important advantage of an eReader is the ability to download books that are hard to find in your local stores or that even are out of print. There is a large archive of free eBooks that are in public domain or released for free of other reasons. At the end of this review you'll find some links to some good web sites where you can find free eBooks legally. Also, depending on where you live you might have access to eBooks through your library, even though they are likely to have some sort of time limit where they stop working after a month or so. This limit is quite easy to remove, but I assume it's not completely legal to do so.

One would think that having your reading experience depend on a battery-powered device might prove irritating, but actually the battery life is surprisingly good and can be measured in weeks rather than hours. I never even think about charging my Kobo, as it gets charged enough when I transfer new eBooks through my computer. Even with the backlight activated, the battery lasts at least a couple of weeks, reading perhaps half an hour a day.

That brings us to the next positive point in this review: the backlight. Not every eReader has a backlight, so my advice is that you check especially for this, because it is a life-saver. The Kobo Glo HD for example has an adjustable lighting, making it possible to read anywhere in partial or complete darkness without the need of any other light source. You may not realise how useful this is until you try it.

Another advantage especially for the elderly, is the ability to enlarge the font size, which potentially could be of enormous help for someone with far-sightedness.

Now, to a significant drawback. My first eReader was a Sony PRS-T3, which is now discontinued. Less than a month after my purchase, I found the screen frozen with some weird lines running both horizontally and vertically. As I hadn't done any obvious violence to it or dropped it from any heights, I sent it back to the seller in the hope that my warranty would cover it. To my surprise, the damage was not covered by warranty, and I learned further that a common problem with E Ink screens are that they are very sensitive to pressure damage. Since then I have bought a total of four eReaders of which sure enough three now have suffered the same terrible fate of a broken screen. However, I have now owned my Kobo Glo HD for about six months and I'm happy to report that I haven't managed to destroy it yet. It might be luck, but I actually think it feels sturdier than my previous models.

The above points are by and large common to all eReaders. As this is a review of the Kobo Glo HD, let us also look closer at some of its specific qualities.

The backlight, as we've already discussed above, works like a charm on the Kobo.

All Kobo devices support Epub files, which is the most commonly used format for eBooks. The main competitor Kindle, sold by Amazon has by and large the same features as the Kobo, but lacks support for the ePub format. This is a minor point, since it is usually possible to convert between the different formats, but I assume there could be some trouble with DRM protection.

Just as Amazon, Kobo also has their own Bookstore, although you are not restricted to it. Using a Wifi-connection you can access the storefront through the device, which works well, but it is a little slow to navigate. Myself, I haven't bought any book through it, but I would probably not have done that on any other device either.

Kobo is partnering with Pocket, which is an app that lets you save articles in your browser on a cell phone or computer, to read it later on your Kobo. If your device is connected to a Wifi network, it will automatically sync with your Pocket account and store the articles on the eReader, ready for you to read at any time. Myself I don't really use it that much, but I can see how it could be useful.

The only real drawback of the Kobo Glo HD is when reading PDF documents. Although the high definition screen (300 ppi) makes it sharper, the screen is usually to small to fit a page and be able to read it without zooming. Zooming is very much possible of course, but also quite slow, and it gets stale very quickly when you have to zoom in and pan to the right place for every page. Apparently some eReaders have a function called PDF Reflow, which re-renders the text to fit the page with a chosen font size. I have not tried it though.

Overall, I recommend an eReader for everyone. The amount of free eBooks available on the internet will more than make up for the price. The Kobo Glo HD has so far been the best eReader that I've tried, but if you are an avid Amazon user, you might prefer the Kindle instead.

Last updated on Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rating:

Pros

  • Backlight
  • Sturdier screen
  • Support for Epub format

Cons

  • No PDF reflow

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