All Hands on Tech: Kobo Arc

There are so many different mobile devices on the market, it’s hard to know what one is best for you. If you’re been considering an e-reader, but want the extra functionality of a tablet, then take a look at the Kobo Arc.

Kobo made the Arc to compete with other e-reader titans that sell tablets. Amazon is selling the Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble offers the Nook. But those are hard to come by in Canada. The good news is the Arc is a great tablet alternative if you love reading.

E-books are front and centre on this device. The “Reading” section takes you to your own personal library. There’s also a lot of content discovery tools to help you explore the Kobo store. You can take a “Taste Profile” test to have Kobo recommend books you’re more likely to like. Suggestions are also made on the books in your library.

I found reading text comfortable on the device. It’s easy to hold in one hand and the screen is very high contrast. I added the OpenReader app to this section for reading comic books. Reading those was fun too. The touch screen makes it easy to pan around the page and the illustrations look great.

Kobo is known for making devices that will stand up to some abuse. The Arc is no different. Unlike other tablets I don’t feel like this is going to shatter if I drop it. It has a sturdy metal backing and the plastic is rock solid. I don’t think twice about throwing it into my gym bag .

You can also remove the backing to replace the battery. It’s easy to peel off, but a lot of catches ensure it won’t detach by accident.

Kobo’s customized Android to add its own flavor to the Arc. One unique feature is called Tapestries. They’re like folders where you can pin different pieces of content all related to one theme. I used a Tapestry to organize my trip to an IBM conference. In one screen, I can access my hotel’s Web page, a map of the jogging trail on site, the conference schedule PDF, the conference Web site, and an app made for the conference.

You can also do everything else a typical Android tablet would do. Download apps, watch videos, Skype, and e-mail.

Kobo’s content is pushed to you on the device’s home screen. This can be great if you want to discover new books to read. But sometimes I feel it gets in the way.

Kobo Arc costs $200 and is available at major retailers. It recently received an update to Android version 4.1.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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