Since April I’ve been playing with Kobo’s latest pure-play ebook reader, the Kobo Glo HD which hits the UK on June 1st with a suggested retail price of £109.
When we caught up with the Kobo team back in April, they explained how the thinking behind the Glo HD was to make ereading as simple and enjoyable as possible both for existing ebook fans and, more importantly, the legions of book lovers who’ve so far turned their noses up at reading on a screen.
Central to this was refining the ebook experience to eliminate everything that techie types and early adopters are prepared to put up with but which might distract more casual buyers.
So the Glo HD has been designed to be light (180g), soft to the touch and simple to use.
Unlike some previous models which required hooking up to a PC or Mac before they could be used, the Glo HD can be set-up from the device simply by entering your WiFi and, if you have one, existing Kobo bookstore account details.
If you’re new to Kobo you can easily create a new account straight from the device and, if you get stuck, call a freephone concierge service where an advisor will help you set the device up and even recommend some books you might like.
Kobo have also endowed the Glo HD with a 1GHz processor which is fast enough to ensure that page turns are now pretty much instantaneous, 4GB of storage which is enough to hold a couple of thousands books and up to 2 months battery life based on around 30 minutes of use each day.
There’s also the mandatory WiFi connectivity, backlight and built-in bookstore.
But what really makes the Glo HD impressive is its screen – a 6” Carta E Ink touchscreen which boasts a pixels per inch (ppi) count of 300 and screen resolution of 1448 x 1072.
This is the highest quality E Ink screen available on a consumer device and the first to truly deliver on long made promises of an ‘as good as paper’ experience.
The display is so good that, regardless of your chosen font and font size, you’re pretty much guaranteed virtual pages of crisp, smooth words with no rough or jagged edges to distract you as you read.
Kobo’s decision to use this screen over the older Pearl version is another sign of its efforts to address things that non-ebook readers say they don’t like about the format.
Short of infusing the Glo HD’s soft, rubberised rear case with that mythical and undefinable ‘smell of paper’ it’s hard to see what more the firm could have done to won over the naysayers.
Amazon’s Kindle Voyage is the only other ereader to include the Carta screen and yet, despite carrying a far less wallet-friendly price of £169, comes with the same processor, storage and battery life as the Glo HD.
Unless you’re already hooked into the Kindle’s eco-system, there’s no reason to buy Amazon’s more expensive offering over the Glo HD.
Our unit has been carried around London loose in a rucksack and unthinkingly shoved into jacket pockets for the past couple of months without showing any signs of damage or wear and tear. However the rear casing does easily pick up greasy fingerprints and its textured, rubberised nature makes it less easy to wipe clean.
But overall the Glo HD’s simplicity of use, combined with the new help desk, makes it an ideal gift for less tech savvy relatives and friends while the screen makes it a great upgrade for existing Kobo users and an ideal first buy for ebook newcomers.
Taking its speedy page turns, simple set-up, high quality display and pricing into account, Kobo Glo HD is currently the best value ebook reader your money can buy.