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Kobo Touch eReader Review

Design - Weight and Dimensions

Dimensions: 4.5 in X 6.5 in x 0.4 in
Weight: 6.5 ounces
Color: Available in silver, black, blue, and lilac colors

Kobo has been one of the leading affordable eReader devices since it officially launched its brand as a strong competitor to the higher-priced Amazon Kindle device. In its latest iteration, the company drops the physical keyboard and gives the updated Kobo eReader a smaller and slimmer profile. Additionally, the Kobo eReader Touch is available in four colors -- two more than its predecessors. At just 6.5 ounces, it's roughly the same weight as a decently long book, and quite comfortable to hold for extended periods of reading.

Display - Resolution and Reflectiveness

Display Type: 6 inch monochrome eInk display with Pearl technology
Resolution: 800 x 600
Color Depth: 16-bit monochrome with 16 levels of gray

The current trend in the eReader marketplace is to drop familiar and popular monochrome displays for more tablet-like full color LCD panels. This can be seen in both the Amazon Kindle's latest version as well as the latest iteration of Barnes & Noble's Nook Color eReader. But Kobo has decided to buck that trend with the release of its Kobo Touch by including the traditional eInk screen in monochrome. It's sure to be a hit with consumers who prefer the no-refresh, no-backlight experience of a monochromatic eReader, and it'll certainly meet with satisfied consumers who are looking to avoid eye strain and the resulting headaches after long bouts of electronic reading.

The display does come with 16 gray levels, which is a quadrupling of its earlier models' display technology. That means images displayed on the Kobo Touch will look less grainy and more robust -- it's great news for those who display photos on their slim eReader tablets.

User-friendliness and Interface - Touchscreen vs Keyboard

While Kobo has decided to buck the color LCD panel trend, they have not decided to completely stare down the latest developments in eReading. Many competing devices have dropped their physical QWERTY keyboards in favor of touchscreen solutions that allow the device to shrink in size while increasing in capacity. Such is the case with the Kobo Touch eReader. It ships with no physical keyboard, and instead includes a touch-capacitive screen with a contextual on-screen keyboard. That means lighter weight, less buttons, and a smaller form factor -- an overall win for those who prefer smaller devices to larger ones.

Those who can't quite get the hang of increasingly popular touchscreen operation, however, will not consider this move a victory. On-screen keyboards can be tough to master for those who are not used to the swiping, fingertip-requiring gestures these devices demand. For those users, the Kobo Touch will be a challenging uphill climb after it comes out of the box; however, it's a relatively easy skill to master and a few hours of dedication will prove worth the time and effort.

Memory - Internal and External Storage

Flash Memory: 2GB of internal flash storage capacity
Flash Cards: Supports up to 32GB removable media via standard SD cards

Many higher-end eReaders currently ship with around 4 gigabytes of internal storage, but the Kobo Touch cuts this in half and includes just 2 gigabytes on-board. That would normally be a deal breaker for most consumers; however, the Kobo Touch does offer the ability to expand its storage by up to 32GB using the same removable SD flash media that is commonplace in cameras and digital video recorders.

Formats - Doc, PDF, ePub and Third-party DRMs

Supported Text Formats: EPUB, PDF, MOBI, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR
Supported Image Formats: JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF

The Kobo Touch eReader supports many of the most popular file formats for eReading, including Adobe's popular PDF format, the EPUB file format used in many independent digital bookstores, and the MOBI format that is also quite common. In addition to those file formats, customers will enjoy being able to read plain TXT and RTF files -- produced on their computer or elsewhere -- as well as HTML files and the popular CBZ and CBR digital comic book formats.

Image support on the Kobo Touch is equally robust, with the company supporting the four major image file formats in addition to its rare support of TIFF files. The average consumer will be quite pleased with the wide range of options available to them through the device's included image viewing application.

Web-browsing and Applications

Kobo's latest eReader comes bundled with its own web browser, which can be used to both view and download HTML files for reading purposes. Users will also enjoy being able to browse the "real" internet using this included browser. Additionally, the device comes with an image viewing application, a video player, a dictionary, and -- as a potentially huge bonus feature -- a pre-installed Sudoku game. For those who like a few distractions between chapters, the Kobo Touch is a solid choice.

Battery-Life

The Kobo Touch has a battery that is estimated to last up to one month for traditional reading applications, though this battery life will decrease relative to how much the wireless internet capability is utilized. For regular eReader applications, though, this a terrific amount of battery life.

Pricing

The Kobo Touch eReader is available for $129.99 through the company's online and offline sales affiliates, including popular electronics stores like Best Buy.

Additional Features and Accessories

It's a straightforward and basic device, but the Kobo Touch's inclusion of Sudoko might be an additional feature worth noting. And, like all of its predecessors, this particular eReader is well-served by an accessories market that produces a wide range of covers, cases, and screen protectors to ensure its longevity.

The Bottom Line

The Kobo is, and perhaps always has been, the best lower-priced alternative to high-end eReaders like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. The Kobo Touch is no exception to this rule, and provides a really great bang for the buck. It's affordable, straightforward, and packed with just the right features for even the most seasoned eReader users.

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