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back to article Kobo Glo illuminated e-reader review

Kobo’s Glo is yet another of the current wave of e-readers with what amounts to a backlit screen. Yes, the light isn’t situated behind the screen, but let’s not split hairs. The system works by shining LED light through the screen and bouncing it back off a reflective layer toward the reader, but the effect is much the same. …

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Headmaster

Yes, the light isn’t situated behind the screen, but let’s not split hairs

But what's wrong with Kobo's description?

Built-in ComfortLight technology with micro-thin hard coating for durability and even light distribution.

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Meh

"Of course, the Amazon offering isn’t out yet, and won’t ship until 17 December."

Odd that I've had mine for weeks then.

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Anonymous Coward

Um

They're already in store in Waterstones, or they were when I was in Waterstones in the Trafford Centre the weekend before last.

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How is it with PDFs? Apparently the nook isn't so hot with them.

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I doubt any e-reader can work well with PDFs because e-ink displays don't have the density or aspect ratio to display the page legibly when zoomed out. So the page has to be zoomed in and you get clobbered by the slow re-render followed by the slow refresh rate. Stuff like grayscale levels and dithering would also interfere with the detail.

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Got lots of PDFs? Get a Sony

Sony readers come with a special version of Acrobat which is really good at reflowing PDFs to fit the viewport of the device. Head and shoulders above the competition and yet, depending, on the layout of the PDF still often unsatisfying in comparison with a dedicated e-book.

AFAIK the Kobo is one of the few readers that swings both ways and lets you reader both epub and mobi files at the same time. Would have been good to see that covered in the review,

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I might be more interested if we had decent colour e-ink screens by now. /offonatangent

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Anonymous Coward

Aww cute, you're still on picture-books :)

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Well

He may be looking forward to, y'know, "grown-up" picture books.

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Joke

Extra Features

I like the way it changes the case cover to cream when you put the light on. That could be a big selling point.

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FAIL

Resolution???

One obvious differentiator is the resolution - 758x1024 rather than 600x800 - and it isn't commented on at all !

As an owner of a 600x800 E-Ink reader (Sony, fwiw) and a retina iPad, I find it hard to go back to the reader even with the much better battery life and more appropriate size because the text is so jagged.

So reviewer - is the higher resolution any better?

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Re: Resolution???

My Kobo Touch has a resolution of 600x800 and the text isn't jagged. Perhaps the typeface used in your Sony is poorly designed. I have 8 typefaces to choose from with size varying from "too small to read" to "three words per line", all with smooth outlines.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Resolution???

>Is the higher resolution any better?

Not so you'd notice at a glance. Side by side with a Kindle 4, you can probably see a difference, but that can be as much your choice of font as anything else, and you'd have to be looking for the difference.

Using the Kobo on the Tube every morning, I didn't perceive a big improvement in resolution. This might annoy me if I were paying substantially more for the extra pixels, but you're not paying more.

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Stop

Amazon offering isn't out yet?

I bought mine from Waterstones two weeks ago... maybe you can't get it through Amazon, but it IS available, today.

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Obvious flaws

Ghosting and flash blacks. This presents an issue with looking at something like a Nexus 7 as an LCD-based reader...Which is worse: supposed eye fatigue (never had any myself I'll be honest) versus ghosting and blacking?

Personally I find the ghosting and blacking "amatuerish" and annoying (ghosting in particular), so Nexus 7 is still my preferred option for my forthcoming xmas present.

However, if the ghosting and blacking was fixable...?

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Re: Obvious flaws

I've been reading almost exclusively on eink for at least five years now and the flash-blacking is such a non-issue. I don't even see it. Ghosting is why I have a Sony (page refresh on every turn) over a Kindle (page refresh every six turns), although even that was minimal. Because eInk involves a physical motion inside each pixel it's unlikely these issues are going away soon. We're on generation 5 or 6 eInk now and it's getting better but is still a problem.

That said, I'll take such minor issues with eInk over reading on LCD any day. Just because your eyes have never felt tired reading onscreen, that doesn't mean you're not straining them more on LCD than eInk. I don't feel tired walking to the shops, but that doesn't mean driving isn't *less* tiring (although, bad example, walking to the shops is obviously better for me). I can feel my eyes relax when I put my screen down and pick my book up.

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Re: Obvious flaws

"I can feel my eyes relax when I put my screen down and pick my book up."

Agreed. I stare at a computer screen all day and definitely notice the difference between then reading a book/e-reader in the evening over reading something on my phone/tablet.

It's not so much that your (or mine, at least) eyes feel more tired reading on LCD, it's that they feel less tired when reading non-LCD stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Kobo could have the best eReader hardware in the world, but its a bit pointless because their eBooks are riddled with OCR errors. I bought a couple of books from Kobo and they are littered with OCR errors, and have never been so much as proof read once. Their customer service did not want to know.

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Bronze badge

OCR Errors

I've seen similar errors when reading older out of print books on the kindle.

It is annoying but it probably helps keep the cost down whilst they rapidly expand the library of available books.

It would be nice if there was some method for them to automatically accept, review and apply corrections.

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you do not need to activiate via a PC of use Kobo's software

> you’re forced to connect it to a computer onto which you’ve downloaded Kobo’s library software before you can use it.

No, you are not, I activiated one yesterday via WiFi and it worked perfectly, I've not got the Kobo library software installed at all (I'm using calibre).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: you do not need to activiate via a PC of use Kobo's software

that was pointed out to him on the Kobo Mini review as well but apparently it didn't sink in.

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A few points ...

"... you’re forced to connect it to a computer onto which you’ve downloaded Kobo’s library software before you can use it. This despite the fact that the Glo has single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi on board and could easily verify its activation that way."

I had mine up and running over Wi-Fi in a very short time, after I stopped making typing mistakes on the oh so slowly responsive on-screen keyboard. (Just learn to type slowly). I loaded up some 'test' e-books onto an SD card, plugged in it, powered it up and there they all were, ready to read. :) I'm sure I registered with Kobo over WiFi but it's not important for me so I can't remember properly.

It was the next day that I tried the Kobo PC app and Glo connection to a PC via USB. USB gives you direct access to the onboard storage and the plug-in SD card. The only reason I would use the Kobo PC app would be to buy books from Kobo, or try their freebies, because that's all it does for you.

I found .pdf files to be quite poorly presented, especially if they were scanned pdfs. Anything that relies on what is effectively a 'photographic' representation is bound to be poor compared to internal fonts.

The built in browser is stated as being 'beta' so in theory you can't complain about it. In practice, I was satisfied with it, except that the screen size, resolution and e-ink are not suitable for just about any website you might want to look at; but it does work.

I did some digging around in the internal sqlite database and found the storage location names. If you want to set up a local website (for whatever reason), you can set the browser home address to be:

file:///mnt/onboard/{dirpath}/{startfile}.htm or file:///mnt/sd/{dirpath}/{startfile}.htm

Note: the browser will not start unless WiFi is on, but you can turn WiFi off after the browser has started running. Also, if you load up some .htm files, they will all be listed in your Library which could be messy. I've tried 'hiding' them in LOST.DIR and tried other tricks I thought of, but nothing worked. All you can do is manually mark each one as 'read'.

I haven't tried file:///192.168.1.xx/{dirpath}/--- yet, but it should work because it works on my Android devices, so I'll give it a go soon.

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Anonymous Coward

Just call it "illuminated" FFS.

n/t

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Re: Just call it "illuminated" FFS.

Sidelit, perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

activ*** what? :(`

what do I need the activate it for? Soon I'll have to submit my fingerprints and whatnot to be able to just read a f... book! :(

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Anonymous Coward

These days I do not really see the point in these ereaders - may as well just buy either an iPad Mini or something like a Nexus 7 unless you ONLY ever want to read books. At least something like the iPad has iBooks, Kindle App etc. so you have more choice of ebook source and the battery does up to 10 hours before needing a charge - can't really see that's a big deal.

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Anonymous Coward

can't see the point...

I used to be the same. "Why get an e-book reader, why not read a real book or use a tablet.." etc.

And then somebody actually showed me the e-ink display on an early Kindle. It is just like reading a printed page (and nothing like reading from a computer screen - whatever the resolution). If I tried to read a book on an ipad, etc my eyes would get tired very quickly (and I don't want to spend MORE time looking at a comp. screen thanks).

I am now a convert, and happily carry around my kindle with a selection of books to read on the train/holiday/work etc. Which, as an avid book reader, I never expected to say.

Of course YMMV.

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JDX
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I'm a reader - I could read for hours at a time. As such, a dedicated device is WAY better.

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Anonymous Coward

iPad Mini please - colour (no it's not just for kids), interactive books, music, podcasts, video, email, web, games, other apps = no contest. £100 seems expensive - I could see the point if it were £40-50 but not at £100.

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But what about pop-up books? ;-P

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Some points

This is the Reg with a supposedly "techie" reader base, so:

1. You don't have to register it *at all*, if you don't want to (SQLitre is easy for the one liner you need to acheive this)

2. Battery life. Even with approx 1-2 hours use per day, and lets say , 2 hours per week with the light on, my Glo is at 25% charged, and I only charged it the night I bought it, 3.5 weeks ago. Try getting anywhere near that with an LCD (and on holiday, you might just not have easily available, a power supply at the right time).

3. Tablets and LCDs are nice for what they are good at, but IMHO are not a patch on eInk for reading. Eye strain on LCD, especially when reading in a dark room, I find quite uncomfortable. The Glo in the dark is nothing like that, and perfectly comfortable for me.

4. Page turns are quick and I can't say I've noticed the "all black" full page refresh, nor the ghosting or other problems, so am happy with the 6-page refresh.

As an aside, my 9y/o child also likes the included Chess, Sudoku and simple drawing software as well.

I've also had a play with the Paperwhite (3 weeks ago, in Waterstones), and thought it was very similar indeed to the Glo. It has a finer grained control of the light, and it's an advertisers wet dream, but I would say they are largely, the same. You can of course buy Amazon books if you don't want an alternative DRM encumbered Kobo book, but you would need to strip the Amazon DRM (which is something I would do regardless if I had a Kindle, for a useable long-term backup).

I choose to "sideload" books regardless (and would also, even if I had a Kindle), so that I am in control of my library, not the device manufacturer. +1 to Kobo for supporting epub (and Mobi) and -1 to Kindle for not supporting epub!

HTH!

Matt :)

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FAIL

The review lost all credibility on line one

Front/distributed side lighting is NOT "what amounts to" a backlit screen. The two are very, very different, and the Kobo Glo does not work in the way that the "reviewer" describes. There is no light shining through the screen (that would BE a backlight, by definition), but rather from the side.

A proper review would not have simply lumped "all such readers" into the same Ignorance Bin, but instead commented on whether or not the implementation on this device was better - or worse - than those others. From the photo it appears that the light on the Kobo Glo is less evenly distributed than on a PaperWhite, for example. Is that an artefact of the photography, or a genuine advantage of the Kindle technology ?

Similarly, the reviewer mentions only seemingly in passing that when the light is on, you give up part of your reader screen to an ever-present brightness slider, as if with the light on tinkering with the brightness is going to be something you will spend as much time doing as reading.

Is this merely an annoying UI choice, or does it reflect a more serious problem with needing to constantly vary brightness under different lighting conditions ?

Overall, a breathtakingly poor review.

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Re: The review lost all credibility on line one

'From the photo it appears that the light on the Kobo Glo is less evenly distributed than on a PaperWhite, for example. Is that an artefact of the photography, or a genuine advantage of the Kindle technology ?'

I've got the Glo, a colleague has the Paperwhite, we put them side by side and displaywise they are very similar. Both have a slightly darker band running along the bottom of the screen and in the ones we examined the Kindle seemed to be slightly more even horizontally than the Glo - but it was marginal. The Glo was much brighter on maximum illumination than the Paperwhite, but the contrast suffered.

I've been very happy with my Glo and I can't fault either the construction or comfort in use. For £99 it's a bargain.

Oh and another thing in their favour, the Kobo developers are active participants on the various eBook forums.

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Don't understand how people can read book on an LCD tablet display, e-ink is better in every respect. Just no way you can read on a tablet in anything like normal daylight, either the backlights are not strong enough, or the reflective surface means you spend most of the time staring at your own face (not pleasant, in my case...).

If I'm really desparate for a bit of late-night lit without distubing the Mrs. I can just about tolerate the iPad with white-on-black text on minimum brightness for 30 mins or so, but Kindle Keyboard with a little clip on light for blackout scenarios does me great.

Also 10 hours might be good for tablet, but e-ink battery is measured in days, not hours. I use my Kindle every day but only charge once a month.

Incidentally, e-pub, mobi, whatever. Calibre renders the original document format completely moot as it can convert from anything to anything seamlessly and allegedly can remove DRM in the process, but I'm sure I wouldn't know anything about that...

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"Don't understand how people can read book on an LCD tablet display, e-ink is better in every respect. Just no way you can read on a tablet in anything like normal daylight, either the backlights are not strong enough, or the reflective surface means you spend most of the time staring at your own face (not pleasant, in my case...)."

If you compare the two screen technologies side-by-side, there is no comparison! I can't beleive anyobdy who has done this would ever opt to use an LCD for reading for any length of period, and if it's dark, or very bright, forget it on an LCD! (it's possible, but it's not "nice")

"Also 10 hours might be good for tablet, but e-ink battery is measured in days, not hours. I use my Kindle every day but only charge once a month."

eInk devices (when not also being used for other stuff like listening to music, a la early Kindles), are measured in weeks, not days, or hours!

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