Forget the eReader market – the 7" Kobo Arc might have a literary bent, but this open Android 4.0 experience is at least the equal of the Google Nexus 7 and iPad Mini in terms of core performance and value.
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A fast processor, a nicely open Android experience and a clever layer of the Tapestries interface make using the Arc a pleasant experience and, app-wise, incredibly versatile.
The web concierge-style Discover feature won't be everyone's taste, but works well if trained using the Taste app.
Reading is smooth, comfortable and highly customisable, with an auto-sensor keeping brightness just about right, while the Arc even makes a play as an excellent tablet for games.
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The native Android browser is poor, which is a shame since jumping ship to Chrome means losing the option to 'pin' content to Tapestries, and the touchscreen isn't always as sensitive as it should be.
Our biggest criticism of the Arc is that it lacks the kind of hardware that would make it a truly serious contender in the tablet market; the no-show of Bluetooth, HDMI out and a microSD expansion slot takes away the kind of versatility all tablets need.
If you accept that Android tablets are more or less the same, it seems almost illogical to buy into a 'locked' ecosystem like the Kindle Fire or Nook when open platform tablets like the Arc exist.
Add to that a fast, fluid operation and some innovative 'Tapestry' tweaks to the Android GUI and we've got a great value 7-inch tablet, though the lack of Bluetooth, storage expansion and a HDMI output do limit it appeal as a do-it-all tablet.
The iPad Mini doesn't have much to worry about as it's a more encompassing tablet with more top end features, but the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD should take note given they both come from e-reading backgrounds.
Overall, if those 'missing' hardware options are irrelevant to you, we'd recommend the Kobo Arc as an impressive 'my first tablet'. However, overall the Kobo Arc is probably happiest being the e-reader-based tablet that offers by far the most freedom.