The Arc can play movies and music, but it's books that it's most concerned with. We've got no arguments with the way it presents its three million title+ Kobo Store library, with useful collections (such as Best of 2012: Fiction, Non-fiction Bestsellers & endless genres) provided alongside a simple title search option.
Reading Life, which collects data on your reading speed and progress through the books on your own device, is an acquired taste, though personally we found the 'time remaining' calculation for each book useful (if occasionally underlining just how time-consuming reading really is; Last Of The Mohicans apparently takes 41 hours, 25 minutes to read. Blimey).
It's a similar system to the one found on Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite, (and now the Kindle Touch too) where it also polarises opinion. However we think such data is great where it wasn't available before... and you can always turn it off.
SimpleTurn – page turns – is smooth, while there are myriad tweaks to fonts and spacing, while PDFs can be zoomed-in and out of dynamically.
While reading it's also possible to read comments left by others about particular passages or pages, though the feeling of community is slight indeed.
What the Arc doesn't do, when compared with the various Kindles, is enable the emailing of PDFs or e-books and kick-start a cloud sync.
Instead all files have to be manually transferred using the microUSB cable. However, the fact that the Kindle app can be downloaded and used freely on the Arc technically makes Amazon's tablet redundant in a sense, although the online retailer would probably argue it's giving content in a very different way.
Although the Arc does support EPUB books from any source (and it's possible to download then from Kobo's Store), the process is rather manual.
Not only is it necessary to hook-up the Arc to a PC or Mac, but from within the Library app it's then crucial to choose Import Content. The Arc then scans its own storage for files it can render, imports them, then deletes the originals.
As well as ePUB books, the Arc supports a fine collection of audio files, including lossless FLAC, OGG and WAV formats as well as the more common MP3, M4A and WMA. Video-wise the Arc copes with just MP4 and AVI files, with which you can fill the 32GB or 16GB variants as you wish. Sadly it's not possible to play music while reading.
Apps and Games
Accessible in a grid from the home page, the transition between pages of apps and widgets (clocks, bookmarks and links to apps you've left open) is smooth, while the likes of Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps are there by default, as is the excellent PressReader for newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
Apps for Kindle and Nook can be downloaded and easily pinned to the home page; it's even possible to replace, or relegate, the Kobo Store app.
The Arc also makes a good gaming platform. We downloaded the Angry Birds Star Wars app and found the Arc to be quick enough, while Drop proved the speed and accuracy of its accelerometer.
We were shown the 'Google Play Store has stopped' message a few too many times, usually when we were quickly downloading, opening and closing different games from Google Play. This isn't something we usually see on today's top-end tablets, and shows the rather meagre workings of the Arc's innards.