Should I get the new Kobo Touch?

I’ve been slowly accepting the whole ereader thing. Few years ago, when ebooks just started to gain popularity, I was a bit skeptical. I love the feeling of a physical book in my hands, and I love the way it looks on my bookshelf next to other favorites. Besides, ebooks look ugly, ignoring all notions of visual appeal. However, nowadays I am being tempted by new-comers like Kobo Touch, Nook Color, and iPad that seem to deliver a bit of a better experience with ebooks. At the moment I have about 350 books sitting in my iTunes library, waiting for the moment when I finally make up my mind about the ereader too buy.

What I really need from my ereader is customization. I need to be able to change ugly covers to the ones I like better. After all, I love a beautiful cover, and I like being organized. In my perfect world all books from a series or by the same author tend to have matching cover designs. In addition to that I need a way to group series and sort them by the order of release (not alphabetically, like iTunes does it now). This way I don’t have to search internet for the first title in a series before opening my ereader. Also, I need my device to support multiple languages and alphabets. I need my War and Peace in original!

When it comes to the display, I am torn between color and eInk technology. Color just looks great, and backlit screen allows for reading in the dark. On the other side, it drains the battery and is hard on the eyes. Kobo Touch is using eInk, which seems more practical. I also love the idea of Reading Life feature, which tracks your reading and awards fun badges for completing challenges. I am a stats junkie! Since I hate writing in my books, I find Kobo’s ability to highlight passages very useful. These notes are essential for any blogger, when writing down their thoughts after the book is long finished. Finally, the ability to carry thousands of books in one little package is just too tempting!

Decisions-decisions! So what should I do? Will Kobo Touch fulfill my expectations, or will it end up being a disappointment?

7 comments

  1. If you want a device strictly for e-reading and don’t care about color, e-mail, web browsing, music, and other multimedia experiences, then just go with an e-reader. The e-ink technology is far less demanding on the battery than on an iPad or Nook Color.

    I doubt that any e-reader out there will allow the customization you want.

    You also might want to research whether your books on iTunes will be transferrable to whatever e-reader you decide to get.

    For me, I was torn between what seem to be the “big three”–Kindle, Nook Simple Touch and Kobo Touch. I like Amazon, but I don’t like the fact that you can’t read any other books on the Kindle except books bought on Amazon. The Nook Simple Touch looks great, but then I found out that B&N has gotten pretty heavy-handed with their storage capacity in that they allow you only about 240 MB of space for non-B&N books; the majority of storage space on the device is reserved only for B&N books. That doesn’t sit well with me at all. I thought seriously about getting the original Nook. It has gone through several firmware updates since it came out, and overall it seems like a pretty solid device and is going for $119 now. In the end, though, I went with a Kobo Touch (don’t have it yet but reserved one at a local Borders). The Kobo may be a bit clunky in its software, but I like the fact that they haven’t monopolized the storage capacity for their own ebooks and that they support various ebook formats (EPUB, PDF, etc.).

  2. I also should point out that the original Nook has a replaceable battery.

  3. Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately in Canada, where I live, it is impossible to buy Nook (I know its pretty lame), otherwise I would go for the Nook Color in a heartbeat! When it comes to Kindle, I’ve never liked their restriction on book selection. I do like Kobo’s design and functionality, and I am the biggest stats nerd out there, so Reading Life feature is probably going to be my best friend. I am a bit disappointed with the ereaders that are on the market right now. I mean, we have the technology, and there’s so much potential, I just don’t understand why the manufacturers can’t make an ebook reader that can satisfy my needs. Perhaps sometime in the future…

    I am planning to pick up my Kobo Touch this week, so… keeping my fingers crossed! Now I just need to decide on color!

  4. Okay, I didn’t realize you were in Canada.

    I picked up my Kobo Touch last night and so far am pretty happy with it. Set-up had one snag, but a call to tech. support helped a lot, and the problem was actually quite simple. Maybe I can save you some time by giving you a tip on it. Go to kobosetup.com and download the kobo desktop app. The download button says “Download for PC” so I’m not sure if there is a version for Mac computers. You need to download the most recent version, otherwise your Kobo Touch won’t do anything when you plug it into your computer. So if you have an old version of the desktop app installed, uninstall it and download and install the latest version. Other than that, the instructions for setup are very simple.

    Once I got set up, Kobo sent me a $10 gift certificate for their book store.

    It also occurred to me that you might be interested in Calibre: http://calibre-ebook.com/ It’s free software (open source, I think) that lets you manage and organize your entire ebook collection, so it might provide the organizational capability you’re after. I think you can change info about book titles (e.g., listing last name of author first instead of first name). I’m new to it, so I’m not sure how well it works with iTunes. You can also use Calibre to put your books on your device. I moved several over to my Kobo Touch last night (EPUB format), and the process was easy and quick.

  5. So, I’ve been trying out my Kobo for the last week or so, and I must say it’s not bad at all. It still doesn’t organize my books the way Calibre does, but I can live with that. I love the fact that I can take hundreds of books on the go, and that I can sneak more reading into my daily routine. One problem I ran into was when I accidentally downloaded a .mobi extension file onto my Kobo. The screen got stuck at “Processing New Content” page for hours without letting me to connect it to the computer. After some tweaking though, I finally resolved the issue. Now I am extra careful with my downloads.

    Other thing that could be considered a negative is probably the speed of the device. It is still a bit laggy, and if you scroll too fast through your books, Kobo might freeze up a bit. Eink is great and I can read for hours without my eyes burning out. On the other hand, eink leaves traces of previous pages on the screan, and it takes a few refreshes to get rid of the “residue”. Overall, I do enjoy my purchase, and hopefully it will last me until something more advanced comes out.

    Oh yes, I almost forgot, but I too received a $10 gift card for Kobo bookstore, which I used immediately to purchase a book I couldn’t find anywhere else. Neat!

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