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Kobo Glo HD Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Sharp backlit screen
  • Comfortable design

The Bad

  • Kindle Store still better
3.5

Kobo Glo HD review: This Kindle Voyage rival is a solid premium ebook reader, with a light-up screen, comfortable design and all of the features you’d expect. But the Kobo store still lags behind Amazon’s effort for choice and value.

The latest Kobo eReader is clearly gunning for the Amazon Kindle Voyage and Paperwhite, sporting a backlit 6-inch screen for night owls to get their read on. But is it a worthy alternative? Here’s our full Kobo Glo HD review.

Design

True, the Kobo Glo HD’s design is anything but revolutionary, but why mess around with something that works so well? This eReader sports the usual tablet-style build, with bezels that are thick enough to comfortably clutch without bulking up the device too much, plus a sunken screen that’s protected from drops and knocks when it’s sat in your bag.

These things are made to be held in one hand, leaving your other mitt free to hold your beer/scratch yourself on demand. The Kobo Glo HD is light enough so even a child can hold it for hours without tiring, with the textured, rubbery back giving it plenty of grip. You can turn pages with just a tap of your thumb on the screen, the same method used by pretty much every ebook reader these days, and as usual it works perfectly well.

You’ll find the power button up top, cwell out of the way to avoid accidental pushes. At the bottom there’s a micro USB port for charging, and that’s it – everything else is performed via the dinky touchscreen.

Sadly the Kobo Glo HD isn’t water resistant like Kobo’s last model, the Kobo H2O, so if you want to lose yourself in a sexy thriller while destressing in a soapy bath, you’re best off with the older effort.

Screen

The Glo HD’s 6-inch screen packs a mighty 1448×1072 resolution, giving around 300 pixels-per-inch. In simple speak, that means you can knock the font size down to practically 2 and still clearly read each word. If your eyesight is up to it, of course. That’s also great news for fans of graphic novels and anything else involving images, giving crisp, clear image reproduction (although all in black and white, of course).

The main feature of this eReader is its light-up ‘ComfortLight’ display, a feature also found on Amazon’s latest Kindles. It’s a refreshing feature that means you can stay up late reading pant-filling horror tales without disturbing your partner, plus it makes your books easier to read in bright daylight. You can adjust the screen’s brightness at any time just by tapping the top of the panel and using the handy slider, so you can knock it down to save battery life when you don’t need extra light.

After using the Kobo Glo HD for a few days, I can happily say that it’s a comfortable way to read for extended periods without straining your eyes and a worthy rival to the Kindle Voyage.

Features

Of course, in the glorious day of digital books, you no longer simply read something. Now you can get detailed stats on your reading habits, including how long you’ve been on the current chapter, predictions on how long until you finish the book and so on. You can also adjust a book’s formatting and font, get recommendations on similar books and even go behind the scenes with DVD-style bonus features.

The Kobo Glo HD boasts all of this as expected, and even rewards you with games console-style trophies based on your activities. For example, finishing your first book, using the built-in dictionary or powering through an epic like War & Peace all give you trophies to stroke your intellectual ego.

Kobo’s online store is nicely laid out, with access to the usual new and chart books as well as a decent search tool and category break-downs. These days it’s reasonably well stocked, with pretty much all of the big names you’d expect to see, but it’s still frequently and significantly more expensive than the Amazon Kindle Store. In fact, most of the books I searched for were a few pounds cheaper on Amazon than on the Kobo store.

That alone makes it difficult to recommend a Kobo device over a Kindle just yet, and while the Glo HD is £60 cheaper than the Voyage, it’s about the same cost as the Kindle Paperwhite which does much the same thing. The only real difference is screen resolution, but it’s not enough of a gap to recommend one over the other.

Performance and battery life

The Kobo Glo HD takes a little time to power up, usually around ten to fifteen seconds, which is marginally irritating but hardly a major complaint. Thankfully page turns are almost instant, so you won’t be screaming at the eReader to get a move on during particularly juicy passages.

Battery life obviously takes a hit with that backlit screen, so you can’t expect a month or two of life between charges unless you keep the ComfortLight feature switched off. However, even with it active I still made it through several days on one charge, reading for a couple of hours per day.

Verdict

For £109, the Kobo Glo HD offers a premium ebook reading experience easily matching the Kindle Voyage. The neat and tidy interface, backlit screen and comfortable reading experience all get a big thumbs up, but Kobo’s online store is still second place to Amazon’s. Here’s hoping that Kobo can start price matching soon, so its books are just as good value as its hardware.

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