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When you think of brand-name e-Readers, your mind immediately flashes to Amazon's Kindle, which has almost become synonymous with eReaders in the same way Hoover and Biro are synonymous of their products. Kobo is a relatively new brand, which have attempted to rival Amazon Kindle with their new range of eReaders, from a basic black + white version to their premium touch-screen colour edition.
My main reason behind purchasing the Kobo Vox was because I had seen a demo model in my local WH Smiths, who appear to be the primary stockists of the Kobo eReaders. The demo mode displayed some full-colour comic books on the small screen and acted as a comic-book reader, as opposed to plain text. Considering this was one of my main reasons for wanting an iPad, to find it in a machine for half the price (£169) was very tempting. I should point out that the Kobo is not a competitor for the iPad, even though it does have tablet-esque qualities.
The box includes a Kobo Vox tablet, a USB connector cable to transfer files from PC to Kobo and a mains charger cable. The Kobo has roughly 7 hours battery life, which is fairly short compared to that of the Kindle, but considering it has a brightly lit colour display, it seems more reasonable for the power drain on it. I find that using this on my commute, I have to charge the Kobo once every two or three days. Since I primarily use this as a comic-book reader, I don't mind the frequent battery charging, but those who intend to use it as a true eBook reader will probably find the constant battery drain to be frustrating compared to the Kindle's one month battery-life claims.
The Kobo itself is a nice sleek black framed touch-screen, which is 7” big and looks bright and easy to read, although it does suffer from the mirror effect if the sunlight is in the wrong place. This is something again that the Kindle doesn't seem to suffer from, so once again as an eBook Reader, the Kindle is more superior, but if you intend to use the Kobo's semi-tablet abilities, then you can overlook these faults.
The Kobo has a soft, quilted back that makes holding it feel comfortable. The box artwork displays coloured backs but these have yet to appear in the UK, as of writing. It does have a considerable weight behind it, but it doesn't really feel uncomfortable at any time.
One of the Kobo's selling points is that you can download one million books from their website – however, most of these books are either self-published authors, foreign language books or trial chapters for other books. I did manage to pick up a few classic books, such as The Three Musketeers and Don Quixote, so it wasn't too bad.
The Kobo seems to promote social reading, with several apps that post updates on your reading habits on Facebook, which is also accessible through the Kobo's Wi-Fi functions. This makes the reading more fun, as you can automatically share your progress in your books with your friends, which can inspire conversations and impromptu book clubs.
Another interesting use for the Kobo is that it can download illustrated children's books, making this more useful for families who want to teach their kids how to read. You can also download free apps, such as Angry Birds, so you could customise this to make it into a child-friendly eReader/Games machine since it seems more durable than an iPad would be.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend the Kobo Vox for those looking for a bog-standard eReader. The added functions of the Vox put a drain on the battery-life, as well as increasing the price. For anyone who wants an eReader with tablet elements, such as web browser, game apps and magazine viewers, then the Kobo Vox is perfect.
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