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Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)

  also known as Zed
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Tuesday, 15 January 2013, 06:59

Kobo glo

So i was a bit bored so I went and got a kobo glo today - although there's nothing wrong with my kobo touch and I use it all the time, I though the light might be handy. And besides it isn't very expensive. Actually I got two, as i'm going to give one to my luddite sister who is in to reading books but otherwise wouldn't bother with such a machine.

I'm still going through the 'something happened to your network' errors whilst configuring it using the kobo setup software inside wine, but at least it appears to be working ... It did the upgrade now it's just syncing some books or something. Oh I can just skip that.

So I finally got to try the backlight after all that - the one in the shop (officeworks - bloody useless for customer service but it's close to me, although they only had black, or black) wasn't configured so just showed the setup screen. Looks like it's supposed to I guess, I will have to wait until I read tonight. If anything there is a slight bright line across the very top and slight dark line across the bottom but the whole text area is nice and even. The higher resolution vs the kobo touch is noticeable too, and now it's about the limit of my tired eyes.

The hardware looks nice as always - but it's a pity the software still has issues. Although the lack of the re-assuring home button is ... well, not as re-assuring as it is having one on the kobo touch. And the soft quilted back isn't as soft in it's quilting as the touch is. As to the software, the i/o code needs to be multithreaded or something so it's more responsive to clicks, and other annoying things. Like setting the font waits for the whole document to be reformatted before refreshing. And it still takes FOREVER to close a text file down (sometimes ... garbage collection is a massive massive win).

Speaking of fonts, Times New Roman has vanished! Only left with Georgia as a remotely decent serif font - which is just not good enough. I tried some of the 'fattened' ones on the mobileread forums but ended up with DejaVu Sans Serif for now - the descenders are a bit squat and the serif's aren't pointy enough but otherwise it seems ok. Unfortunately the font fine-tuning which I used on the touch doesn't work on third-part fonts but i'm happy enough with the weight as it is.

Anyway, this frees up my kobo touch for just hacking on, although I don't have any immediate plans for doing so. Whilst I have some holidays left I need to get some shit organised around the yard, well if i don't get too lazy ...

Update: Well I 'upgraded' to the latest firmware, and it's pretty fucked. Dropped linux filesystem support - well that's not the end of the world. But text files always open blank until you change the font settings. And they are excruciatingly slow to close or to suspend - it takes 25 seconds to suspend when reading one text file, which is about how long it takes to 'close' a text file as well. The touch with it's older firmware is pretty fast.

The hardware is mostly excellent, why is it so let down by shitty software?

So maybe it wont be that long before i'm hacking on it after-all ...

Update: So after having it for 6 weeks, here's a little update.

I did a factory reset to restore the original firmware it came with and bypassed the "must be logged in to use" mis-feature, and just load books using usb mass-storage or the sd-card. This makes it a pretty usable reading device, although without connecting to kobo I don't get a dictionary - but I can live without that even though it would be nice to have.

I've warmed to DejaVu Serif (extended version of Bitstream Vera Serif) and actually prefer now it to the Times New Roman on the touch (I never quite liked Times New Roman before, a little too thin). It just has a nice weight and horizontal density and good readability on the e-ink screen. The higher resolution of the glo is definitely noticeable compared to the touch too.

The backlight is really useful, allows me to read anywhere without any extra bits or reaching to turn off lights. I like the way the on/off button for the light works - unobtrusive and easy to access. As mentioned in some reviews I read, it would be nice if it was a touch dimmer at it's lowest setting for reading in a completely dark situation, but it's still comfortable enough as it is.

The battery life is definitely better than the kobo touch was which seemed to drain fairly fast in suspend mode, although i've been reading more epub's which seem to use orders of magnitude less cpu resources than text files.

The touch responsiveness is "adequate". It still seems to miss touches sometimes or get ones I didn't intend at others if my fingers are near the edge of the screen, but it's a minor annoyance. I'm not a 'skim reader', so any delay from a wrong page isn't the end of the world.

My sister is also really happy with the one I bought her, for the convenience and backlight, and also having access to old editions of classics which are hard to find in the cultural backwater where she lives.

The only thing I can say I really miss is the soft-quilted back cover! The touch is definitely nicer to hold with the raised diamond pattern versus the flat one. It's a feature I would never have thought to be quite so important but it was one of the first things my sister mentioned when I showed it to her and I would have to agree it is noticeable.

Although I wish they would improve the software, it works fine as a novel reader and I would get another one. Although I can't see needing one until the battery dies it's inevitable non-removable death. The support for standard formats and the ability to use it without any "desktop software" is a real winner for me. I just wish it came like that and didn't need poking at first.

Tagged kobo.
Kobo stuff | A/V sync II
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