Sunday, 18 August 2013

Kobo Arc

Kobo Arc is the only premium eReader on the market. Designed for the discerning reader, Kobo Arc offers a completely immersive reading experience and the most paper-like E Ink display*. Get lost in your favourite eBooks thanks to Kobo Arc's advanced, high-resolution, extra-large screen and elegant, inspired design. For readers who want the best, Kobo Arc is your eReader of choice.

I was recently sent a Kobo Arc to review. I already have a different eBook reader which I use, although I still find myself reaching for the traditional paperback to curl up with at night and so was wondering how often I would actually use the Kobo Arc during my two week testing period. I found myself using the unit every night to check into social media sites before I read a few chapters of my book. It was a lot more convenient to use to do a little surfing or checking emails than using my laptop.
When I received the unit I was immediately surprised how light the unit was – it weighed little more than my own eBook readers, surprisingly a lot lighter than my husband’s tablet. It is very sleek in design, with inbuilt speakers. I was able to hold it comfortably in one hand (I have quite small hands). The screen is a reasonable size, larger than my existing reader, although smaller than many tablets – however when using the unit it was easy to hold, fitting in the palm of my hand and easy to hold between thumb and outstretched little finger. It would fit easily into everyday handbags or laptop cases, although I would have to use it within an additional cover/case to protect the screen from accidental damage.
When turning on the unit I was able to easily set it up for home Wi-Fi access, enabling me to access the Kobo bookstore to fill up the reader with newly released books at reasonable prices, however I did not see as many offers and cheap prices as on other eBook stores.  I have, in the past, bought a number of books from Amazon and was able to also download these to the reader using the Amazon Kindle App available from Play Store.  There is also a taste app which, through a number of trial book selections, will suggest future reading when looking for a next book to read.
Kobo Arc takes E Ink clarity to the next level. Clarity Screen+ delivers an incredibly crisp, clear reading experience because with a 1440 x 1080 resolution and 265 dpi, it's the best E Ink screen on the market.* Enjoy a completely glare-free eReading experience anytime, and rest assured that your eReader's screen is durable in the face of scratches and drops
Thanks to seamless page turns, automatic bookmarks, adjustable fonts, and text so razor sharp you can throw away your glasses, Kobo Arc offers an unrivalled reading experience.

I spent many evenings reading books on the unit. I found the screen easy to read and really liked the E ink display which was very clear and caused no eye strain or tiredness when reading for hours on end. It is also possible to select one of many different fonts to read a chosen book in, which I have not seen on other eReaders. It was easy to read in both sunshine and dull weather, with no glare on the screen from the sun or artificial lighting.
I also do a lot of cross stitch and I was able to email my working chart to the tablet and then read the pattern from there instead of having flimsy paper copies spread out on the settee. The charts were in both colour and black and white and were easy to read on the screen – I could also zoom in on complicated parts to ensure correct stitching.
Comfort Light is a breakthrough front-light that's perfect for reading in any lighting condition. The revolutionary Comfort Light is incredibly even and adjustable for a beautifully lit night-time reading experience. And because ComfortLight illuminates the page, rather than emitting light outward toward your eyes, you'll enjoy a truly comfortable read. 
I found that I was able to read easily during the evenings and did not need to turn on other lights when it went dark, therefore not disturbing others who were watching television while I was reading at night.
Quirky additions included giving how much of book had been read in both % and pages remaining, also there was a ‘reading time’ clock and time remaining clock shown on main screen for selected book.
I was also able to access Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter on the unit. There is a full QWERTY keyboard accessible via the touch screen and it was easy to both read and make posts/tweets.
Surfing the internet was also very easy – with websites loading quickly and it was easy to navigate around the sites.
My husband was able to use the unit to take photos and had a good time manipulating the photos using the software already installed. I must admit I didn’t realise that there was a camera on the Kobo and had not tried this, it was not clearly evident from the screens but once found it was easy to use and to post photos directly to twitter and/or Facebook. The clarity of the photographs was very clear.
I was also able to install apps on the unit for many of the current popular games: Candy Crush and Logo Quiz were two that I tried. It was easy to play both games and the graphics looked crisp and defined throughout.
One point which my husband made was that there were only two screens for adding short cuts etc – however with the making of Tapestries possible (see below) this enabled more ‘screens’ to be utilised.
Kobo Arc has staying power. Kobo Arc’s battery can stand up to 10 hours of reading or two weeks on standby. 
The Arc was charged from flat in about four hours and although the battery life is stated at up to ten hours reading time, this was greatly reduced when surfing the internet or playing games. However I was able to use the tablet for  a couple of hours surfing and then an hour or two’s reading before having to put it back on charge.

Kobo’s exclusive interface, Tapestries, allows you to organize your content thematically and pin media you find interesting into customized groups. Tapestries also figures out what you’re interested in, based on what you’ve pinned and collected, and suggests content that appeals to your personal interests.

I found this really useful. Very similar to Pinterest, I was able to surf online bookstores and websites and instantly save images or links as I wanted to one place. It was easy to set up individual Tapestries for all of my interests and pin media as I found it. It is also possible to have Tapestries within Tapestries, therefore meaning lots could be made and stored on the device, however this could become confusing if there were a number of Tapestries within Tapestries. If the unit was being used as a family device, it would have been useful if Tapestries could be password protected to stop youngsters accessing material not suitable for their young eyes.

Cinematic sound

Kobo’s built-in front-facing speakers direct sound toward your ears so you catch every last whisper with incredible clarity. Enhance the audio experience with SRS TruMedia™*, a feature-rich audio solution tuned specifically for tablet devices, so each sound cuts through the background din in full, rich volume. Surround yourself with sound in an incredible, cinematic headphone experience.

I found I was able to listen to music, enabling me to have music on the go, which was of good quality. I did not watch any movies on the device but watched short video clips which played clearly and also was of good quality.

In summary – I did like the device and I used it every night of the two weeks for which I had it on loan. It was nice to be able to check mail and social media sites without having to get the laptop and on a screen bigger than my Smartphone. I liked the size of the unit – it was lighter and smaller than my husband’s tablet, meaning I could hold it in one hand and curl up with it on the sofa for night time reading and I was very impressed with the display. My husband likes to watch movies etc at night and I was able to read without having to have any lights on, disturbing his viewing. However, I am unsure if I was choosing a unit to buy if it would be a Kobo – due to having bought many books in Kindle format and Kindle appear to have a larger selection of books available, and lots more special offers on price.
My children (aged 9 and 11) also had use of the device for a short time and were able to connect to the internet and play games on it with no problems incurred. It was just the right size for them to hold too. It would be a great device to keep in my handbag when I knew we were going to appointments or where they would be sat around waiting for some time. There was a selection of children’s books also available in the online store that would have been suitable for both ages.

I was offered the use of a Kobo Arc device for two weeks in return for an honest review. Thank you to Cherish PR for sending me the unit.

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