For a long time in Australia, Sony and Amazon have ruled the ebook reader roost. Now, though, there’s a new player – Kobo – and its Touch is an eye-opener.
It’s a lovely piece of hardware. Its E Ink screen is framed in bright, matte-white plastic and the rear is coated in a soft-to-the-touch “quilted” finish, which comes in a number of different colours.
It’s a minimalist design, and although not quite as light as the new Kindle or Sony reader, its 185g weight is hardly hefty. Inside, there’s 2GB storage, and a microSD slot provides expansion.
In terms of features it’s far from bare bones. It has a touchscreen and uses the same infrared technology as the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, so page turns are achieved with a light sweep of a digit. And it’s sensitive enough to make typing on the onscreen keyboard a relatively grumble-free experience.
There’s Wi-Fi support, which allows you to buy direct from the Kobo store. The screen is excellent: a 600 x 800 E Ink Pearl panel provides a contrast ratio that’s only a fraction behind the Kindle readers and makes it just as readable. Text can be displayed in seven different fonts, and in 30 sizes; line spacing, margins and justification are all adjustable. Page-turn speed is also good, at one second per page.
And it’s good at handling more complex documents. Multitouch isn’t supported, but heavy-duty PDF pages can be zoomed in and out with a slider control, and panning around with one finger works well. Its major weaknesses are its note-taking and highlighting facilities, which are basic.
Other than this relatively minor gripe, the Kobo Touch is outstanding. The hardware and store integration are excellent, as is the screen, and the price is quite reasonable. The Sony offers superior PDF handling and a better web browser, but the Kobo’s strong all-round showing makes it worthy of a recommendation too.