Kobo are one of the main players in the e-reader market, and while they can’t claim the same market recognition as Amazon’s Kindle, the brand is a successful (if not quiet) achiever.
The Kobo Clara HD is a 6-inch screen that is a remarkably “familiar” feeling device because (let’s be honest) there’s only so much you can do with the form factor and expected functionality of an eReader. So getting to know the device wasn’t a hassle, nor was understanding the Kobo store for book purchase.
Setting up the Kobo Clara HD was really simple, so simple in fact that it took less than 4 minutes. Once the device is on, you simply need to connect to Wi-Fi, add your account and you’re done. The menu system is simple to navigate through as well, so the initial impression is very good.
If you don’t yet have an account it’s also very simple to do, as you would expect – follow the bouncing ball either on the device or via the web interface.
The experience with the Kobo Clara HD was excellent in all areas from the setup, the hardware is really easy to use with excellent build quality, reading is easy on your eyes and the store experience is simple and predictable while offering a vast range of books.
The hardware is well designed and allows single handed use for a large number of users. The battery life is outstanding, lasting weeks between charges and (conveniently for Android users) charges relatively quickly from a microUSB cable.
Where I found the Kobo stands out against the other market leaders is the screen backlight. Where others on the market have a white light, the Kobo transitions near seamlessly from white to a gentle orange which is said to assist with sleeping patterns by removing the blue light which stimulates brain activity.
On the surface, I thought that was a bit strange… But boy did it make a difference when reading right before bed!
The other joy of having an eReader in your electronic arsenal is the physical size and weight means it can be dropped in a bag, slipped into your jacket or even your back pocket; so much so that I found myself (dependant on where I was going) leaving my tablet at home and taking the Kobo as an alternative, which had a really positive effect of me reading more!
eReaders are of a size that makes them not only convenient to carry but very, very easy to do so and you’ll find times to carry it where you may have previously just fiddled with your phone.
As already mentioned, the store is a really simple and predictable experience. There are (as you would expect) specials on the front page, or the ability to search for anything you like including genre, keywords, author or specific titles.
In the limited time and sample set I looked into, some books are significantly more expensive than on the Kindle store. This could be for a number of reasons including licensing agreements, specific publishers being awkward or the reality (I suspect) is that Kobo simply don’t have the buying power that the player in this space does: Amazon.
We recently reviewed three of the Amazon Kindle options available and to be honest there really isn’t a lot different to choose between Kobo and Kindle. The stores are both really simple to navigate, the book prices are similar and the hardware (ergonomically) is also very similar. The Kobo has a really nice selling point in its light ambiance as the evening draws to an end which I found to assist in getting to sleep after having a bit of a read in bed at the end of the day.
If I had to really “pick” and find a fault (aside from the earlier mentioned cost of some books) with the device itself, the lack of an included cover to protect the screen would be it — minor right?
It comes down to the big question: Would I buy one?
The Kobo Clara HD is available now in Myer, JB Hifi and Angus & Robertson for $179.00 or via the Kobo Website.