Canadian ebook specialist Kobo recently signed a UK exclusive deal with WH Smith to sell its two new models – the Kobo Wi Fi and the Kobo Touch. While the Wi Fi model comes with a wallet-friendly price tag of £89 that puts it head to head with the new Amazon Kindle, the Kobo Touch adds touchscreen capability along with an extra £20 to the price. We took the touch-control Kobo for a test run to find out how it would fare.
Kobo Touch – Build
Almost identical to the Kindle in size and shape, the Kobo sports a silky brushed rubber finish to add bit of grip for the more ham-fisted among you, while the raised, quilted finish on the back makes it even more comfy to hold - possibly even more so than an actual paper-based book.
Kobo Touch – Screen
Pages render very slightly slower than on the Kindle, although they’re certainly not sluggish enough to stop you from reading at normal pace. Text and images are just as clear as they are on the Kindle, but as with Amazon’s gadget, the screen isn’t as good as paper just yet.
Kobo Touch – Controls
Unlike the Kindle, the Kobo has done away with all physical controls - except for a solitary Home button and a power switch – in favour of touchscreen control, giving you more room to grip the gadget without knocking any buttons. Pages can be turned simply by tapping the left or right side of the screen, or by swiping across the display.
Kobo Touch – Storage
While the Kobo only has 2GB storage on board – only 1GB of which is actually available to you – the good news is that you can upgrade the memory to 32GB via the Micro SD card slot. This goes some way to making up for the fact that there’s no cloud storage.
Kobo Touch – Reading
An intuitive, albeit uninspiring interface makes downloading books a cinch, and unlike the Kindle, you’re not restricted to buying from just one site. Pressing the screen to turn the pages can sometimes affect your grip – not a problem for the Kindle and its side-mounted buttons.
Kobo Touch – Verdict
As neither the Amazon Kindle Fire nor Kindle Touch are available in the UK, the Kobo Touch certainly has an advantage over its main rival thanks to the inclusion of a touchscreen, although some of you may prefer to stick to side-mounted buttons.
The fact that the Touch also supports ‘open’ books is good news for those that don’t want to be tied into downloading books from one particular store, as is the case with the Kindle. The lack of buttons and the silky, textured finish on the back of the device mean that it not only sports a streamlined look, but is also very simple to use. In short, the Kobo Touch is a thoroughly decent budget ereader and a great alternative to the Kindle.