Kobo vs. Kindle
Popular book and entertainment retailer Borders was not going to get left in the dust by Barnes and Noble and Amazon–Borders has finally entered the eBook world with the Kobo.
Kobo’s biggest appeal when it debuted was its price–just $149, at the time about $50 less than the cheapest of the other big name eReaders. With the release of the new $149 Wi-Fi version of the Nook and the $139 Wi-Fi Kindle, that price advantage has disappeared.
As a Kindle owner, I am really attached to my Amazon device. I have my issues with the Kindle (no ability to read in the dark, screen’s still a little too small, etc.) but nothing that would keep me from recommending the device to my friends and family. When it came time to shop for an eBook reader for my grandmother, an avid reader in her 80s, I decided to shop around. I wasn’t so sure she’d be able to navigate a Kindle or a Nook.
Kobo Pros and Cons
The first device I looked at was the new Borders Kobo. I noticed in the ads I saw that the Kobo seemed to use a push-button interface rather than a touchscreen. I have enough trouble with touchscreens (if anyone ever invents something to keep my ear from dialing Pizza Hut I’ll be first in line to buy it) and I figured my grandma would have trouble with them too.
Here’s what I liked and didn’t like about the Kobo:
The Kobo is easy to hold and navigate with one hand. I sometimes find the ergonomics of my Kindle frustrating to say the least. I liked the way the Kobo felt in my hand and found it easy to use one-handed–the “quilted rubber” backing of the device is a smart addition, and makes the Kobo easy to hold on a lap.
The Kobo is pre-loaded with 100 classic books. Sure, you can get lots of classic titles free on the Kindle, but when I hand the Kobo to my grandma, she’ll see a huge list of titles ready to go and can learn how to use it without first having to learn how to download books.
The Kobo doesn’t handle PDF files well. I don’t think my grandmother will be doing much PDF viewing on her device, but if I were buying the Kobo for me, this would be a big problem.
The Kobo is not as easy to read as the Kindle. The Kobo’s display hurt my eyes a little, though I got used to it after a while. The background color is more “gray” than other eReaders I’ve used, making the text more difficult to distinguish from the background.
Overall, I think the Kobo is a decent device, one that my grandma loves to use (she’s learned to download books like a pro) but one that I couldn’t stand to have around. I need PDF files and other features native to the Kindle. If you’re looking for an old-fashioned eReader with few frills at a decent price, the Kobo isn’t a bad investment.