Kobo Glo Review – The Best Front-light eReader Yet?

Believe it or not, Kobo’s eReaders are currently the top brand for eReaders in Europe, so they have to be doing something right. One of their latest eReaders is the Kobo Glo which goes head to head with the Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight and the Kindle Paperwhite. That is because it too offers a touchscreen experience with a front-light and Wi-Fi.

The Kobo Glo measures 4.5 x 6.2 x 0.39 inches and weighs 6.5 ounces. That makes it a bit smaller, thinner and lighter in size compared to the Paperwhite. Unfortunately its design is also boxier and less smooth to hold than its competitors. Also, while its design is solid, the build quality still doesn’t feel as good as the Paperwhite or Nook’s. That said, the Glo is the only one to offer a selection of color choices. So while the Kindle and Nook look drab in slate, the Kobo Glo is available in a choice of Black Night, Pink Sunset, Blue Moon, and Silver Star. Its back-plate also offers somewhat of a soft touch finish. Finally, we also appreciate that the device has a dedicated button for quickly turning the lighting system on and off.

The Kobo Glo packs in a 6-inch, 758 x 1024 E Ink Pearl display with a 212 pixels-per-inch resolution and it uses Kobo’s ComfortLight technology to illuminate its display. We find this display to offer the brightest light and most even lighting of all three illuminated eReaders on the market. There is no question that the Kobo Glo’s display is superior than the display found on the Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight. And when it comes to going toe-to-toe with the Kindle Paperwhite, the Kobo Glo offers a higher brightness setting and more even lighting. That said, the Paperwhite offers a darker contrast for text than the Glo does.

Personally, I prefer the Kobo Glo’s display because my eyes adjust best to its highest brightness setting and I even find the Paperwhite’s display to be too dim for my taste. But most will probably find the light on the Paperwhite to be adequate, so it’s really a matter of what’s more important to you for your e-reading experience – brightness and even backlighting, or an adequate amount of brightness complimented with a strong contrast. Text on the Glo is very sharp and the system offers 8 font styles and 24 font sizes to work with. By default, the device is also set to refresh every 6 seconds to help avoid ghosting.

The device comes with 2GB of memory, enough to hold about 1,000 books. Fortunately, a microSD card slot is also included, which is something that the Kindle lacks.

When it comes to the Kobo Glo’s user interface, it’s a pretty easy to use straight forward touch screen U.I. Extras include a web browser, a sketchpad app for drawing notes with your finger, and games like sudoku and chess, and there is also a built in dictionary that you can use while reading. And unfortunately, while Kobo offers an impressive catalog in its ebook store, we couldn’t help but notice that the Kindle store generally offered better pricing on best sellers than the Kobo store did.

Verdict

In two areas the Kobo Glo clearly outdoes its competitors. Firstly, it offers better and more even lighting than both the Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight, and the Paperwhite. It also offers a MicroSD card slot that the Kindle Paperwhite lacks. Does that mean the Kobo Glo is a superior choice? Unfortunately, its design is a bit lacking, since we wish the design for the Kobo Glo was more rounded and as ergonomic as its competitors. We also wish that its contrast was a bit better. That said you can’t go wrong with this device either as it’s definitely a solid alternative that can run with the big boys. The Kobo Glo retails for $129 at Best Buy.

The Good: Lighting is very bright and very evenly distributed, text is very sharp, ePub support, no ads, as lightweight as it gets for an eReader with a backlight, dedicated button for controlling the lighting system and battery is solid and on par with its competition.

The Bad:  No headphone jack, design isn’t very exciting, not the best build quality and not the most ergonomic to hold and does not beat the Kindle’s ebook pricing. No 3G option.