Kobo eReader Touch

Although the Kobo eReader Touch is missing features we think would make it better yet, it remains one of the best E Ink options available in Australia.


9.5
CNET Rating
5.2
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia's Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.


The e-reader market is growing exponentially, and it's safe to say that newcomer Kobo is adept at keeping up. Although its first offering only arrived last year, it is now releasing the third iteration of its Kobo eReader, and the advancement on the previous model is fantastic.

Design

The Kobo Touch is smaller and lighter again than the Wireless, making it the most compact (if not the lightest) six-inch reader on the market. It's done this by minimising the number of buttons on the device; now there is only one, a single bar for home button placed at the bottom of the device. Even the side buttons are gone, and the power button is a discreet silver slider set in the top edge.

The face of the device, in hard matt plastic, is clean and unadorned apart from a small Kobo logo, and it's available in both black and white. Kobo's signature quilted back is still there, set into the back rather than wrapping around, and you can get your white reader with a silver, lilac or blue back; for the first time, the black reader has a black back.

A micro-USB port for charging and data transfer is on the bottom of the e-reader, and a micro-SD slot is in the left side. A tiny charge indicator light is nestled near the power button on the top, which isn't very convenient for a quick glance, but at least it's there.

Features

Like all Kobo e-readers, the eReader Touch is light on additional features, choosing to focus on reading. The Kobo eReader is still what it has always been: a single-purpose, single-minded device.

This is not a bad thing; concentrating on one purpose can deliver a very well thought-out product, and that is what we have here.

As enhancements to the reading experience, the Kobo eReader Touch has a built-in dictionary; a range of viewing options, including font type and size, and line and margin spacing; page numbering and a new go-to page feature; landscape orientation for PDFs; and the ability to mark a book as read.

There is also a web browser, although it's still being tweaked; we couldn't get it to go directly to URLs typed in the address bar. It would only recognise links typed into the Google search engine home page, although we did manage to access web mail in that fashion.

Still notably absent is multiple bookmarking, although buried in the settings menu, you can find Kobo's experimental "sketchbook" if you feel the need to jot down a note or smiley face or two. This Kobo also allows highlighting — although you can highlight passages by pressing and holding a word, then dragging the marker to your chosen end point.

A store link, available on Wi-Fi, is also included; tapping "Store" on the e-reader's home screen will take you directly to the Kobo store.

Probably the most notable thing is Kobo's new social application for reading. Called Reading Life, it integrates a couple of fun features into your reading; namely, awards in the form of badges and the ability to share your badges on Facebook. These can be for achievements such as reading at certain times of the day, the number of books added to your Kobo library, and the number of books read.

You can also check out your stats. This screen tells you how far you are in your current book and how long it has taken you to read it, as well as a bunch of overall stats, such as how much of your library you have managed to get through, how many books you have finished and how many hours you have spent reading on your Kobo.

If you don't care for the occasional pop up on the bottom of your screen while you are engrossed in a book, you can turn these off from the advanced options menu.

Reading Life on the Kobo eReader Touch doesn't offer as many options as it does on, say, a PC or smartphone application; you can't, for example "meet" the characters in books via Reading Life's Check In or share passages of your book, but it does emphasise Kobo's philosophy that reading should be, overall, a fun experience ... and we're completely on board with that.

Performance

From the instant you turn it on, the Kobo eReader Touch is head and shoulders above the Wireless, and probably the most user-friendly e-reader interface we've encountered. Although it looks different, it's super-easy to navigate, and the home screen manages to package all the information in a light-hearted fashion while keeping it easy to find, displayed on what is easily one of the crispest E Ink displays on the market. Four book covers are displayed in the middle of the screen, and menu options at the top take you either to your library, the Kobo ebook store or Reading Life. Icons at the bottom of the screen take you to settings, a help page or allow you to sync your Kobo to a Kobo account.

As all nav buttons have been removed, this all takes place using the Kobo's infrared touchscreen, and it's the best such we've seen so far. The device boasts an 800MHz processor (compared to the 532MHz processor found inside the Kindle and the Kobo Wireless), so it's a lot zippier; it responds quick-smart to taps, and tapped items are highlighted immediately even if the e-reader has to think for a moment, so you know straight away not to try tapping again.

Of course, that powerful processor also means that the Kobo's boot time is about as quick as it gets — we timed it at 23 seconds from pushing the power button to having an ebook open and ready to go. Of course, you can also set the e-reader never to turn off; from sleep to reading is only a hair's breadth from turning a page, and turning a page is a blink.

And never fear that the Touch's battery can't handle being in constant sleep; we had it either on or sleeping for three and a half weeks straight before the battery needed a charge. It's not quite the month of battery life claimed, but it's the longest battery life we've seen in an e-reader so far.

Even better, unlike previous Kobo e-readers, when the battery puttered to a halt, the e-reader managed to remember the last page open — which means no more having to wade forward through an entire book to finish the last four pages.

Navigating the store (a direct link to the Kobo store, rather than the Borders store on the Kobo Wireless) is likewise a pleasant experience. It takes a minute to get itself going, but once you're in, it's fast and easy to navigate, with a bunch of different browsing options to help you find a book quickly and easily: you can search by genre and bestseller; check out the free books available; browse through the bookstore's top picks; "cheap reads" for the budget-conscious; and there's even a "hidden gems" section, for great titles that seem to have been overlooked.

If you have a specific title in mind, the search engine is easy to use as well. Because the processor is so fast, the text input isn't nearly as laborious as we've seen on previous e-readers, and a predictive list allows you to quickly find an author or title without having to tap out the entire search term. 3G would have been a nice addition, but the experience is still more enjoyable than trying to navigate Amazon on a Kindle.

Conclusion

Although the price wasn't as low as we were hoping, the price for the Kobo eReader Touch is still OK — for AU$179, which matches Sony's new reader, you can get your hands on some pretty snazzy E Ink touchscreen reader tech, with an actively enjoyable reading experience attached. It is missing some features of the Sony that would have made it a more closely matched competitor — audio support and PDF reflow — but, with its superior user interface and faster performance compared to the Sony PRS-T1, it does remain one of the best E Ink options available in Australia.

The Kobo eReader Touch is available from 30 November through the Borders website or in-store at Collins bookstores, JB Hi-Fi and Officeworks.

Editor's note: finding out where to get tech support for your Kobo e-reader can be an annoying process, since the information isn't readily available. For 24/7 technical support for your Kobo eReader, iPad, iPhone or Borders desktop application please call the 1800 number below.

(Please note that this phone number is not for any queries relating to an order for physical books or the status of your Kobo eReader order or if you need to contact a store.)

Freecall: 1800 064 011



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MarcoRodriguez posted a comment   
Australia

Does anyone know how effective it is at making notes on PDFs?

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Honestly, if you want something that can handle PDFs well, either grab a Sony reader or an iPad Mini.

 

MarcoRodriguez posted a reply   
Australia

In your review of the Sony reader PRS-T2, you said that it was really bad for reviewing PDFs with embedded images, which I definitely want to do. Do you know if it has been fixed between when that review was written and now?

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

I'm not entirely sure, but Sony has applied a few software fixes between then and now. The reason I recommend Sony over Kobo for PDFs is that the Sony Readers reflow PDFs, while with Kobo readers you have to zoom and scroll, which is a little annoying. However, if your usage is going to be image-heavy, possibly the Kobo Glo or HD Kobo Arc would be a better choice for you.

karenloves2read
3
Rating
 

"Let Down by Unreliability"

karenloves2read posted a review   

The Good:Great size and weight and superior e-ink quality

The Bad:Poor battery life, frequently freezes, slow to respond, expensive books

I received my first Kobo on Christmas day 2011 but within 8 months it failed during a software update. JB HiFi were fantastic in replacing it immediately however I am now experiencing problems with the replacement unit. Initially I could go for about 4 weeks before having to recharge the device but now it does not hold the charge beyond 5 days, requiring me to have to recharge it every few days. It will freeze for no apparent reason, requiring me to have to turn it off and back on again to continue reading; and the screen is often slow to turn the page and will then skip ahead or backwards several pages.

In addition, the Kobo site is expensive, there is no way to identify books that you have already purchased when browsing the site and it requires you to pay for one book at a time instead of saving them in a cart an paying at the end.

If it wasn't for these issues I would rate this device very highly as it is fantastic to read, it's a great size and weight and the E-ink display is perfect. Unfortunately it is let down by its unreliability.

 

BenA3 posted a reply   

One of the benefits of using a Kobo product, is that you can use many other retailers eBook stores, because of its abilities to handle many file types, such as .ePub. So you're not limited to the Kobo store, theres still a digital page for Angus

 

BenA3 posted a reply   

I can't delete my own comment, or edit it. That is worse than the problem I was trying to explain haha.

 

WendyB2 posted a comment   

I loved my kobo touch when I go it, but after 2 months it wont recharge. Angus and Robertson only offer 14 day warrenty so I have to go through Kobo in the USA. A month has gone by with lots of phone calls and emails and still nothing. The service if there is a problem is CRAP.

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Wendy,

Did you try the number above? I tried it out myself (undercover secret agent-style) and had stellar service, with a replacement unit within a week.

 

AlexandraW posted a reply   

Hi Wendy, the new consumer protection laws should force A

 

AlexandraW posted a reply   

Sorry, my comment got cut off - the new consumer protection laws should force A&R to fix or replace the product. Contact your state's Department of Fair Trading for advice.

angee_apple
10
Rating
 

"Everything you need in portable book"

angee_apple posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Easy to use, Kobo bookstore is great, very nice looking

The Bad:Nothing so far

This e-reader is everything you would want in a simple, easy-to-use portable book. It responds well to touch, it's easy to navigate around and there's no messing around. It's simple and does exactly what you want it for - it's something to read hundreds of books on whenever wherever. The ink screen is lovely and the design is very nice. It doesn't have all those super added on features that so many e-readers have which are really unnecessary, it's simply a book. The Kobo bookstore has a great range and is very quick on releases too, has a fantastic range of Australian authors which I am very impressed with. I did a lot of research before choosing which e-reader to go with, and was stuck deciding between the Kobo and the Sony Reader. I am extremely happy with my decision and can't keep my hands off my kobo! My reading as gone through the roof :-) Love it!

 

GrantB1 posted a comment   

I'm thinking of buying a kobo touch ereader for my daughter. Will she be able to purchase ebooks from any site - eg Borders, Angus

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Grant!

Here's a handy guide I prepared earlier :)

http://www.cnet.com.au/ask-us-where-to-get-ebooks-339313078.htm

Cheers!

Michelle

 

GrantB1 posted a reply   

Thank you very helpful
Grant

 

MichelleE posted a comment   

I have several electronic textbooks in pdf format stored on my computer, can I add these to a kobo touch?

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Michelle,

Yes you can, but it's not the best device for reading them. I go into why here; scroll down to the section titled "PDF handling":

http://www.cnet.com.au/what-to-look-for-in-an-e-reader-339316831.htm

 

MichelleA1 posted a comment   

I am looking into getting a Kobo to take on a trip to France. (Getting more than one Kobo actually) I have 3 kids at home and want to be able to FB them when I have access to the internet. Can I do that with a Kobo? It looks like I can I think....I just want to be sure. I like the idea that I can get a book and share it with my family. Thanks!

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Michelle!

As long as you have Wi-Fi available, you can use the Kobo to share books and Reading Life awards to Facebook, but anything more than that might be a bit annoying. The Kobo Touch does have a rudimentary browser, but it's not ~great~.

Nevertheless, yes, it can be done :)

SumanS
3
Rating
 

"problems with my ereader - screen frozen"

SumanS posted a review   
Australia

The Good:it is easy to use but seems very fragile - on/off switch has stopped working in one month

The Bad:on/off switch has stopped working in one month

Hi

I bought a KOBO touch ereader and in just 1 month the on/off switch can not be used. The screen also freezes and the ereader is not usable.

Can anybody help??
Suman

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Suman,

It sounds as though it's broken.

First things first. Turn the device over. You'll see a tiny hole in the back. Insert the end of a paper clip into that hole and push it in a just a little to reset the device.

If that doesn't work, call Kobo tech support on 1800 064 011 - they will arrange a replacement unit for you.

Michelle

 

SumanS posted a reply   
Australia

Thanks Michelle for your response. I am unable to contact Kobo tech support on 1800064011 - I am not sure what are the business hours for them. I have tried calling this number during day as well as night time and the message is to contact them during the business hours. Do you know there business hours.

thanks

 

britt43 posted a comment   
Australia

Hi Michelle,

I bought a Kobo after my Kindle was stolen and I am really regretting it.

The second time I tried to load books onto my KT through Calibre, after ejecting it (have tried via Finder, Kobo Desktop and Calibre) it gets frozen at a certain percentage (currently 24%). It know does this every single time.

I have tried EVERYTHING that I have found suggested on blogs etc (seems as though I am not the only person with this problem)... Soft reset, factory reset, one book at a time, ejecting via different programs as mentioned above, deleting the Calibre files on the Kobo, ADE (complete waste of time as it just kept crashing). NOTHING IS WORKING.

Furthermore, I can see in Finder that there are 35 books on the KT, however only 18 are actually showing up on the KT when it is disconnected from my Mac.

I have tried contacting Kobo but so far, no good. I did buy it through Borders and this is my last ditch effort before asking for a refund because I will not repurchase a Kobo Touch if this glitch cannot be resolved.

Any suggestions? It's so incredibly frustrating since my Kindle 3 Keyboard was brilliant and I never had a single issue.

Thank you,

Britt

 

Michelle Starr posted a reply   
Australia

Hi Britt,

Have you tried ejecting by dragging the Kobo drive onto the Mac eject button? I use Windows, and never eject by any other method than via the system tray, and I've never had a problem.

Also, what did Kobo tell you? Is your device firmware up-to-date? And do the books have DRM applied?

Michelle

liam77
1
Rating
 

"beware of borders and Kobo"

liam77 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:When it worked it was great

The Bad:dealling with boarders

Don't buy a Kobo especially from boarders they have the worst customer service, I have been waiting for my replacement Kobo touch for a month it takes 2 or 3 days to get an email and that's if they decide to respond.


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User Reviews / Comments  Kobo eReader Touch

  • MarcoRodriguez

    MarcoRodriguez

    "Does anyone know how effective it is at making notes on PDFs?"

  • karenloves2read

    karenloves2read

    Rating3

    "I received my first Kobo on Christmas day 2011 but within 8 months it failed during a software update. JB HiFi were fantastic in replacing it immediately however I am now experiencing problems with..."

  • WendyB2

    WendyB2

    "I loved my kobo touch when I go it, but after 2 months it wont recharge. Angus and Robertson only offer 14 day warrenty so I have to go through Kobo in the USA. A month has gone by with lots of p..."

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