When summer comes and part of the attention goes to vacation, a lot of people think of ways to read on the beach or by the pool. Some people prefer to use the printed books, but when going far away the size of the luggage matters…and then the eBook reader comes to play.
Basically, the market is dominated by the Amazon Kindle, but there are other options on the market that are worthy of being considered.
I started my journey with ebook readers a while back with a Sony PRS-600, which I enjoyed a lot. I switched to PRS-650 later and when Sony decided to leave the market, I had to decide … I decided for Kobo because it supported the ePub open format basically.
In time, I changed two Kobo devices, the regular geek upgrades, and I admired their sturdiness and build quality – I started with Kobo Glo and it was amazing. Nowadays I use an Kobo Aura One, a very good device and alternate that with …a Kindle Paperwhite from 2019.
That allows me a quick comparison between the devices and their ecosystems. Maybe some people need to choose and this comparison will come handy.
For me, what’s important when taking the decision:
- Screen quality and resolution (300ppi is better, though 167ppi could be acceptable under certain circumstances)
- Light quality – is it even, is it adaptive?
- Dictionary (maybe that’s just me, but it’s pretty important for reading new books)
- Books availability and easy of access
- Other functions and integration
Shortly said: Kobo wins when hardware counts, Kindle is better with it’s ecosystem.
More elaborated: For the same price, Kobo offers generally more, with adaptive lighting being part of Kobo’s features for entry level devices whereas Kindle offers that only with their higher end devices. Until I tried the Kobo Aura One, I didn’t considered the light color too much, but since I usually read during evenings I came to love the orange candlelight of Kobo.
The Kindle Paperwhite is a very nice device, but not without flows – and I don’t mean the color of the light but actually the placement and use of the on/off button – I had several occasions when I started the ebook reader without noticing it by clicking the button and doing some changes in the configuration. Kobo had a slide and hold move for the on/off button (or long push) which made this accidents less probable.
Kindle has a far better dictionary (I only tested the English one), this being one of the weak points for Kobo at least for non native English speakers when reading modern literature.
In terms of ecosystem, Amazon wins because of the diversity, book availability, the integration with Audible (at least for ebook readers with Bluetooth capability). With Kindle unlimited, you have access to a wide variety of books, with a monthly subscription. Kobo started their Plus offering now in Canada at a similar price (9.99USD), but for me in Romania that doesn’t make too much of a difference since it will take a while (if ever) to rollout this feature in Romania.
The devices can be easier purchased from Amazon since Kobo is not sending their readers to Romania, even though their content is available for purchase in Romania. The OverDrive option is available for both kind of devices, but still that doesn’t make too much of a difference since OverDrive is not available for Romanian users. Kobo Audiobooks are a nice option for Audible, but their title selection is not yet at Audible’s level.
Amazon offers with it’s ecosystem the advantage of using the family concept, which offers access to your library to all the members of your family. I don’t know if such a concept is implemented in Kobo, but definitely the Kindle approach is nice and appealing.
Kobo offers better reading stats and overall a better library management capability, more flexibility with fonts and sizes – you won’t feel that much of a difference if you’re not completely a geek with different priorities in your evaluation.
In terms of size, weight or build quality, I’d say that generally I prefer the Kobo – and I’m not comparing now the Paperwhite with Aura One, but Glo or Aura HD.
In conclusion – if you’re not afraid to jump into Amazon’s world, they have a very nice ecosystem and proper integration that you’ll appreciate. The devices are more then decent, but the difference comes from the ecosystem.
For the free world, ePub and all, Kobo is a excellent choice, with great hardware and a polished firmware.
Enjoy your reading and choose your preferred device, the books will make you happy!