Kobo Vox: A Review

Kobo, the company burst out of the Amazon Kindle’s shadow in 2010, has released a follow-up to its hugely popular (and affordable) e-reader. Quite expectedly, much was expected of the Kobo Vox from the minute it was first announced. And it does deliver, although a number of fans have been left wanting.

The Vox retains its minimalist design and shiny black exterior, with colour options for the quilted back panel including pink, blue, and lime green. But all that sleekness covers up its actual bulk–at over 400 grams, it’s more than twice as heavy as the eReader Touch. The makers also opted for a misty, dirt-prone and cheap-looking plastic screen that all but shows the LED diodes if you look close enough.

What it has going for it is the colour screen and a handful of added features that come in pretty handy. Each unit comes with several built-in apps, including Zinio, which allows you to subscribe to and read magazines, and PressReaders, which does the same for newspapers. There’s also a dictionary app as well as your usuals: Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, YouTube, and an internet browser.

Needless to say, there’s an e-library with a link to Kobo’s bookstore, as well as Reading Life. One cool feature is that you can select a quote you like from a book and share it with friends. And although it runs on Android, it doesn’t come with the official Market application, so you’ll have to buy your apps from a third-party platform, GetApps.

The Vox has stopped supporting comic book formats such as CBZ and CBR, which is strange considering the device has just come out in colour. PDF files, Adobe Digital Edition, and other third-party formats are also unsupported, although they were in the previous version. And since there’s no file manager feature, installing a separate e-reader would be rather complicated (although possible).

Overall, though, the Vox is a pretty good e-reader, and the colour viewer makes for a much better reading experience when it comes to magazines, children’s books, and comics if you can find a way to open them. You also get features on Reading Life that aren’t on the Touch, most notably Social Reading, where you can see readers’ comments and ratings. For its price, the Kobo Vox may be a bit steep considering it looks like a hasty release, but it may be worth waiting for some tweaks and upgrades down the line.

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