Kobo Vox e-book reader

December 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews

 

The move away from e-ink eReaders is gaining momentum, but with the Amazon Kindle Fire at one end and the Apple iPad 2 at the other we really could do with more competition. Sadly, despite Kobo’s powerful online eBook presence, this isn’t it…

Update 07/12/2011: Now also read my thoughts on the Kobo Vox for TrustedReviews.

Kobo Vox e-book reader review

01 December 11

Wired Rating

3/10

Wired: Essentially a very cheap Android tablet with access to millions of e-books, many of which are free

Tired: Second rate build materials, a shockingly poor display, wearying performance and unresponsive navigation

Price: £169.99

Why do you want an e-book reader? It sounds like a trick question, but your answer is vital. If you said “to read books” look no further than traditional monochrome e-ink readers such as theAmazon Kindle. If you said “to read books and…” the Kobo Vox is aimed at you.

Designed to go head-to-head with Amazon‘s much-hyped Kindle Fire, the Kobo Vox is part of a new wave of e-book readers aimed at people who find reading isn’t enough. Consequently these devices are hybrids that keep e-books and e-book purchasing at their core, but add aspects of tablet functionality such as app stores and multimedia playback while keeping the price low. On paper this sounds like the best of both worlds. The trouble is we’re not dealing with paper anymore.

Design
This material difference becomes apparent before the Vox is switched on. At 192.2 x 129.5mm the Vox has a conveniently small footprint, but at 13.4mm deep it is almost twice as thick as both a standard Kindle (fourth generation) and the iPad 2. At 400g it is also more than twice the weight of the Kindle, two thirds the weight of an iPad 2 and actually heavier than Samsung’s 345g Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus Android tablet.

In all fairness to Kobo, the Vox is essentially a stripped down tablet and it runsAndroid 2.3 “Gingerbread” so these figures shouldn’t be surprising. What does surprise is how disappointing the Vox is in hand, with lacklustre build materials and poor-feeling construction. The exterior of the Vox is a mess of unflattering plastics. The facia is reflective piano black, the screen itself is plastic not glass and lacks an oil-resistant layer to ward off fingerprints. The sides switch to a matt black finish with a plastic power button and volume rocker — both painted silver to look like metal — while the rear changes again to a rubber textured diamond pattern. Superficially the pattern itself is pleasant on the eyes but much as the facia picks up every fingerprint, the rear shows off every bump, scuff or scratch which doesn’t bode well for its long term durability. Unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg. Continue reading

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