Tuesday, December 07, 2010

eBook Reader #2: The Borders Kobo

I wasted no time getting my hands on the second eReader of the five I have the opportunity to test! This time I tried out the Borders Kobo.

It was easy to install - just hook up the device to a computer and the Borders Desktop software automatically prompts to install. It took quite a while - maybe a half hour - to finish installing, but required very little attention. Here is the pros and cons list for this device, as I see it:

-It is really easy to transfer an Overdrive title to the Kobo using Adobe Digital Editions. Just drag and drop from the library to the device. See the video below. I had no trouble the first time I tried this at all.

-It is also really easy to download a book from the Borders ebook store wirelessly. Connecting to my home wireless network was pretty self-explanatory, getting into the store only requires that you push the "store" button, finding a free title was as easy as choosing "free," and then you just choose a title and select "download." Any titles downloaded wirelessly automatically sync to the Borders Desktop software next time you connect with a cable.

-It's a very lightweight device. It was lighter even than the Sony eReader. I'm on the fence as to whether this is a pro or a con, actually. It almost felt so light as to be flimsy and cheap. The Sony eReader felt more solid. It's nice to have such a lightweight item in your purse, for sure, but I felt like I had to be extra careful with it so it wouldn't crack.

-I like the quilted back, too. (There's a picture below.) It feels good in your hands.

-I like the 100 classic books that come installed on the device. This gives newbies a way to play and practice before they spend any money on a book - and without having to figure out Project Gutenberg or a library download collection like Overdrive. You can get a feel for the device itself before you dive into the software and transferring parts.

-It has wi-fi so you can download a book without being tethered to a computer.

-It has a slot for an SD card for expanded memory.

That's about it. I'll be honest: I liked the Sony eReader better.

-While it really is easy to transfer titles downloaded from Overdrive to the device, I didn't realize at first that you had to use Adobe Digital Editions to do it. I wasted some time trying to figure out how to transfer an ePub book using the Borders Desktop software. To be fair, that might just be my own ignorance or I might have missed that in the instructions.

-It does not have a stylus or touchpad, so you can't turn pages with a finger swipe.

-It takes a while to get through menus when you have to scroll through every item until you highlight the one you want. It's much faster to tap the one you want immediately. That list of 100 classic titles can take a LONG time to browse through when you can only scroll five at a time.

-The wifi is great, but only if you are downloading a title directly from the Borders ebook store. There's no web browser and no support for mobile apps, so you can't download or transfer an Overdrive library collection title wirelessly. You can't get to the Overdrive site or the Overdrive mobile app to do it. In fact, any public wifi connection that requires you to open a browser to accept a policy or go through their web site to connect to ther network won't work because there's no web browser to go to the connection site.

-I really, really didn't like the navigation button. It has four arrows and a button in the middle to go up, down, sideways, etc. to go through the menu items on the device and to turn pages. It was awkwardly placed at the bottom, right-hand corner of the device, so you have to move your hand to find the right arrow to turn pages. It didn't feel right to hold the device and be able to keep your finger on that button.

-There is no dictionary feature to look up a word while you are reading, which the Sony eReader had.

-When you turn a page, the screen flashes and the text sort of "settles" on the next page. This was no better and no worse than the Sony, but still distracting.

-As you read a book, it tells you what page you're on...but not out of the whole number of pages in the book. It tells you what page you're on out of the number of pages in that particular chapter. The book I looked at had 52 pages in the first chapter, so when I was on page 23 it said "23 of 52." I had no way to calculate how far I really was getting through the whole book. While you are reading, you can't see how many chapters there are, how many total pages, what percentage of the way done you are, etc. without going to a different part of the book (ie. table of contents) or out of the book completely (ie. Home screen). The Home screen does say what percentage of the total book you've read.

That's it for this device! I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars. I'd like to give it 2 1/2 stars, but I will give it an extra half point for having wifi capability at all, which the Sony didn't.

Video of downloading an ePub title from Overdrive to Adobe Digital Editions and transferring it to the Kobo:

Video of returning a borrowed ePub title to Overdrive:

Picture of the Kobo while it is connected to the computer:

Picture of the Kobo menu:

Picture of a page of text from a book on the Kobo:

Quilted back of the Kobo:

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