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Review: Kobo Glo

January 9, 2016
Kobo Glo

I have found more and more people are asking about ebook readers online lately.  Most are not that familiar with or comfortable with tech but want to jump into the world of ebooks.

There are a few things to consider when jumping in:

  1. are you going to buy ebooks, borrow them from the library, or read free content?
  2. what hardware would work for you… computer, tablet, high end ebook reader or basic eInk ebook reader

These two questions are as important as each other.  Using the right tool to get your books is just as important as finding the right hardware to read on.  I normally recommend to friends who are unfamiliar with ebook readers to go to Indigo/Chapters in Canada.  For most people looking to buy their first book reader, this is the best way to get familiar with the market.  The Kobo app is user friendly and they have lots of choices of Kobo’s in the store, but most importantly the staff at Indigo seem to be the most skilled in helping you pick the hardware that works for you.  With that said there is really nothing wrong with Amazon.com’s offerings.  The Kindle app and devices are no worse or better than Kobo, however Kobo has one distinct advantage, you get a live person in a store to talk to one on one to help make your decision.  I also do not recommend people try just reading ebooks off an existing tablet as a trial.  Some people dislike reading on a tablet screen and really like eInk, so a test of both tablet and eInk are needed to really see if you like the ebook format.

So lets talk hardware first.  There are a number of offerings from Kobo, Kindle and other third party hardware makers.

  1. Basic eInk: eInk devices have a distinct advantage over other ebook readers in that eInk itself looks very much like real paper, this is good for eye strain, allows the books to be read outdoors, even in direct sunlight and eInk itself uses so little battery life that you can go weeks to a month on a single charge.  You can get them in different sizes like a pocket size for portability and you can get things like covers to protect them.
  2. Backlight eInk: these devices have all the advantages of a basic eInk reader but also have a low power backlight behind the iInk that allows you to read in all the same places but also allows low light or night time reading with no lights needed and no glare of a bright screen while your partner is trying to sleep
  3. Color ebook: these readers are basically Android tablets that have been modified to look more like a ebook reader.  They have the advantage of being color which improves reading of books that contain pictures.  They also allow you to install apps to do other things like Facebook.  However these devices use LCD/LED screens which means they are very bright for nigh time use, are very difficult to read outdoors, especially in the sun and have battery life measured in hours instead of weeks.
  4. Tablets: many tablets like iPads and Android devices allow you to read books on them.  They tend to have all the features of a Color ebook reader but with a little more flexibility to do more.   All that is needed is to install an ebook reader app on them.
  5. PC or Laptop: they have all the same features as a Tablet and all that is needed is to download and install an ebook app.

Now lets talk about getting books to read.

  1. the easiest way to start reading on any platform is to download the Kobo or Kindle apps to your device.  Their apps are available on just about any computer, tablet, ebook platform.  Most of the books offered must be purchased but the advantage of using these apps is the ability to switch between devices and each device knows where you left off on the other device.
  2. Overdrive is an option for borrowing books and it is the North American standard for borrowing from your library.  All that is required is for you to install the Overdrive app on your computer (for eInk book readers) or directly on the color ebook readers and tablets to borrow from your library.  As with borrowing a real book, you only get a set amount of time to read it and the book will self destruct after a defined borrowing period.  It is worth noting that the Kindle mobi ebook format is not yet supported in Overdrive in Canada, so using Overdrive on a eInk Kindle will likely not be an option in Canada for now.
  3. Calibre is an option for managing free books.  It is a really easy to use app that will allow you to sync books to any device.  There are many sites that allow you to download royalty free books or any copyrighted book over about 70 years old (varies by country).  Project Gutenberg is one of the more popular sites to find free ebooks, but there are many others as well.

My personal recommendation is the Kobo Glo, although there are many other options depending on your preference.  I like the Kobo Glo as you can get good in store support from Indigo, it is eInk so it has long battery life and is easy to read at the beach, it has a backlit screen so you can read at night without disturbing your partner.  The combination of the Kobo app allows lots of choices of books to buy, the Overdrive app to borrow and Calibre to load free books gives lots of options for reading.

Kobo Glo on Amazon.com

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