Sep 19, 2010

Black Kobo - A Review

Update 09/09/2014: This has been my most popular post, as of date.  So once you have finished reading this post you might like to read my follow-up post called 'Black Kobo, 4 Years On'.

Although it’s been a few months since there has been any activity on this blog, I haven't been idle, I've been reading, playing with a new toy.  Several months ago I acquired a black Kobo e-reader and have been actively using it.  While I have thoroughly enjoyed my acquisition there has been some frustrations.
The Pro’s:

This piece of technology is quite light and easy to hold, even over a long period of time. I actually prefer it over a book. It has a hard ‘quilted’ back which makes holding it comfortable compared to a Kindle. It was actually easier to read (than a book) while lying in bed as I was able to prop it up with a pillow and it didn’t snap shut like a paperback is want to.

You are able to change the font size so tired eyes are not straining while reading late at night.

100 free ‘classics’ come with it.

The e-Ink screen technology is nice to read, it does actually look like a piece of paper.

The user interface is quite simple and there are no complex bells and whistles to it. It is a basic reading device. You choose your book and start reading it, press a button and you turn the page. It remembers where you stopped reading and will return you to that spot when you next open the book.

The Con’s:

The user interface is quite simple, there are no facilities for note taking or quickly moving between pages. So it is great for reading a piece of fiction, biography or similar book where you progress through the book page by page from start to finish. You have two options to move through the book, page by page or chapter by chapter. It is not good if you want to read a text book where you need to refer to different pages and chapters, not flicking back and forth.

I noticed that the NIV Bible was one of the top sellers (along with a lot of erotica) on the Kobo linked bookstore which my reader uses, however I refrained from purchasing a Bible on the Kobo as the very nature of studying a Bible is to be able to jump from verses, chapter and book to other related verses, chapter and book to compare and there is no way to do this on the Kobo.

The easiest way to get your books on your Kobo is to use software specifically linked to the bookstore from which you purchased it, via a USB cable. This software is very buggy, even with a recent update, and really causes me problems.

The idea is that once you have loaded your books on the e-reader the PC software remembers the books are there, and the bookmarks for those books, and will only download any new book you have purchased since your last Sync. In my experience this is not so, every time I made a new purchase it wanted to download all the books on my account, not a problem when I had 2 or 3 books but once you have more than 4 it takes a long time. Several times this download didn’t work properly and really messed up the system. It refused to read the DRM so it couldn’t be unencrypted and I couldn’t read my books. I had to restore the factory default on the e-reader and uninstall and reinstall the PC software before I could read the books again. When I contacted the help desk concerning this problem I was told that problem didn’t exist and had been fixed in the latest update. Quite poor service I think especially considering that I experienced the problem even after downloading the latest update. Even when it worked properly it reset all the bookmarks and removed the cover images.

Me and My Black Kobo

Other things you should know.

After having that frustration, I was able to find that there are other ways of getting your e-books onto the Kobo e-reader but it means downloading several different apps off the internet.

The Kobo’s software is based on Reader Mobile technology by Adobe Systems so you can download and use Adobe Digital Editions software to load your books on the Kobo and circumvent the bookshop specific software.

A nice piece of software to have is Calibre. This is a free download and not only do you have a good amount of control over your eBook collection you can also set it up to download RSS feeds, newspaper articles and blogs etc which can be placed on your Kobo e-reader for later perusal. Calibre will also convert PDF books to an epub format so that the PDF books are easier to read. I highly recommend this piece of software and it will enhance your enjoyment of your Kobo e-reader.

There are also a few websites which let you download free e-books; Project Gutenberg is the best I have found so far.

All up I have really enjoyed using my Kobo to read with and would use it to read all my books if I could. However at the moment a lot of sci-fi books are still not available in epub format and the same with Theology, which is even further behind in that field.

One of my biggest gripes about currently available e-books is that a lot of them are just as expensive as a physical book. I can understand the fact that there are people who need to be paid for their work, and rightly so, but there is a big piece of the publishing process missing, the printing of the physical book, surely that constitutes a cut back in the price of the e-book.

Books which I have read on the Kobo so far:

* My notes: section before 'jump' was edited slightly on 09/09/2014, nothing after The Pros has been.