Kobo eReader Touch review

A real Kindle Touch rival - and this one's on sale in the UK

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Kobo ereader touch

The Kobo eReader Touch has a lot in common with the latest generation of Amazon Kindles. Like the Kindle Touch, the Kobo eReader Touch is built around a six-inch e-ink Pearl display offering month-long battery life. Like the Kindle Touch, there's a touchscreen instead of a physical keyboard and page forward/back buttons. And again like the Kindle Touch, its bezel is just thin enough to make it awkward to hold one-handed.

There are other similarities. Both the Kindle Touch and the Kobo eReader Touch have screens that don't fully refresh with each page turn. That speeds up the time between pages, but it can make the screen look grubby between full refreshes.

If that annoys you, the Kobo's settings enable you to increase the frequency of full page refreshes. The default is every sixth page turn, but you can make it happen with every page if you wish.

Kobo ereader touch

There are some important differences, however. The Kobo eReader Touch's 2GB of storage - of which around 1GB can be used for storing media - can be expanded via its microSD card slot, its user interface is much prettier than Amazon's rather functional effort, and you've got more control over the way text appears on the screen. There are seven fonts and 17 font sizes to choose from, although at smaller sizes some of the fonts are a little bit thin-looking to our eyes.

On the plus side, you can switch off text justification to keep the right margins ragged - something that makes reading less of a strain. You can also view PDFs without having to convert them first, although the zooming and panning you need to do inside PDFs may annoy some, and there's a fun sketchbook for scribbling and saving quick notes or drawings.

The Kobo eReader Touch looks and feels more expensive than it is, with a choice of black and white models boasting quilted backs in black, lilac, blue and silver.

Kobo ereader touch

The interface is much prettier than Amazon's more functional effort, and the screen in sleep mode displays the cover of the book you're currently reading, which is a nice touch. You can turn this off if you'd rather not broadcast your reading choices to all and sundry.

Where some ereaders are tied to single stores, the Kobo eReader Touch is more promiscuous. It supports ePub books, including Adobe DRMed ones, as well as TXT, HTML, RTF, MOBI, PDF and the comic book formats CBZ and CBR. That means you should be able to acquire books from most non-Amazon retailers (Amazon books are in its own proprietary format).

There's also a collection of apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Palm that enable you to sync titles and bookmarks between devices, and the Android and iOS apps support Reading Life, Kobo's awards scheme for readers. Reading Life comes in two forms: a set of statistics so you can see how much time you've spent reading, how much of your library you've still got to read and so on, and a set of Xbox Live-style awards for completing tasks such as finishing your first book.

Kobo ereader touch

It's all very impressive, but of course with ereaders content really is king. Does Kobo have the books you want? The answer is largely yes: when we searched for current bestsellers - the new Ian Rankin, Chris Brookmyre and Mark Billingham thrillers, the Steve Jobs biography and so on - the Kobo store had them at the same prices as Amazon's Kindle store.

If your tastes are less mainstream, however, it's worth checking whether Kobo has your favourites: for example, books by US humourist PJ O'Rourke weren't available in the UK store, and some of our searches for less well-known fiction writers were unsuccessful.