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A Library in Your Hand

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Category: Hardware Published on Tuesday, 16 August 2011

New Kobo Touch Delivers more than 2 Million Books to Your Briefcase 

E-readers may not be able to compete against the onrush of tablet computers when it comes to computer emulation, but they do excel in performing one task -- delivering thousands of books and publications to us electronically.

As a dedicated Amazon Kindle user, I was skeptical when I was handed a new Kobo Touch E-Reader a couple of months ago. I now find myself using the Kobo more than the Kindle.

The new Kobo Touch ($129.99) is lighter and smaller than my Kindle, but the screen size is the same -- six inches. The difference is the absence of the keyboard and navigation keys the Kindle needs to do its thing. The Kobo uses a touch screen and virtual keyboard to perform most of its tasks including turning pages, ordering books and navigating your library.

The Kobo store offers about 2.4 million books and periodicals, including about a million free books. You can also download books from your public library using a PIN number that is on the back of most library cards. The books you "borrow" stay on the device for three weeks and then are "returned" to the library and are deleted from your bookshelf.

Like the Kindle, the Kobo Touch uses an E-Ink Pearl screen, which is non-reflective and easier to read under various conditions. But, since these screens aren't backlit, you will need an external light source, such as a portable or clip-on light, to read them.

Other key features of the Kobo include:

  • You can tap various sections of the screen to perform different functions: left for the previous page, center for a table of contents and right to turn to the next page.
  • You can turn pages by swiping your finger to the left or right.
  • You can purchase books instantly using the Kobo and a Wi-Fi network.
  • You can access the Internet using a browser that can be found on the settings page.
  • There are a few hidden games.
  • You can change the size and style of fonts and adjust line spacing and margins. In fact, the number of fonts are unlimited and you can choose from 25 font sizes.
  • You can read for more than a month on a single charge.
  • Books can be downloaded to the Kobo's 2GB internal storage or to a micro SD card, which can range from 4 to 32 GB.
  • You can track your personal reading statistics (books read, reading speed, etc.) and earn rewards through Kobo Reading Life.
  • The Kobo supports several languages including English, French, German, Spanish and Italian.

Unlike the Kindle, there's no audio, so it can't "read" audiobooks or other books and publications to you using a digitized voice.

Lastly, there has been much haranguing about Kobo's affiliation with the Border's Bookstore chain. Although Kobos were being sold by Borders, the Kobo Store is run independently from the financially-strapped company. In fact, the folks at Kobo have set up a way for Border's customers using the device to transfer their books to the Kobo library.

Check out Kobo's website at www.kobobooks.com for more information.

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