What’s on the Kobo this week?

I haven’t mention my Kobo in a while. I use it every day. Last week I plowed through several short stories by Anton Chekhov. I found The Witch to be best so far and The Beggar is a close second.

There are dozens more of Chekhov’s short works but before I burn out with classics, I purchased AGAINST A DIAMOND SKY. This is a collection of short stories taking place within the shared universe of Orion’s Arm. With stories by Michele Dutcher, Steve Bowers, Graham Hopgood, and Darren Ryding I should have my sci-fi fix satisfied.

The book retails for $5.00 USD for the pdf and is also available in soft cover from Amazon.com.

Good night and happy reading.

Kobo update provides new functions

Last semester, I started taking Spanish. I found that my bad high school Spanish was in no way improved with age. I jumped on the net and found a few books in Spanish from Project Gutenberg. I found my old Spanish to English dictionary and wished that I could somehow load it to my Kobo. After a while, my wishes faded as the course sped up.

The semester ended and Christmas rolled around. My Kobo updated itself and it was much improved for it. Today while registering for classes, I tinkered with my Kobo and found the highlight and look up features smoother than I remembered.

Even better, there were more choices.

And best of all, it has four language dictionaries for translation on top of the English dictionary.

Excellent! Ausgezeichnet! ¬°Excelente! and even Ottimo!

Deleting Preview Books On Kobo

Deleting preview books on the Kobo is simple with the right tools. In this case, Calibre is the right tool.

If you do not already have this Swiss Army Knife of the e-book world, get it. Do not read or do anything until you have it.

Once you have it, plug-in the Kobo (or any other device) and open the software. Select “Device”. BTW Preview books shouldn’t be on a card in the Kobo. Search for preview in the menu bar.

Highlight the titles and delete. Wait for the job to finish.

Done! Aren’t you glad you downloaded Calibre?

Kobo Review

The Kobo Touch was release in mid-2011 with wifi, a standard mini-USB port, SD micro card slot and of course, a touch screen. The Touch is one of the lightest e-readers on the market at 7 ounces. The product has a quilted back, a feature that seemed cheap to me – like fake leather seats. However after many hours of use, the purpose became clear. The quilted surface provides a grip, something that is missing in most e-readers. The device has only two buttons, home and off. The off switch is dual purpose, a quick slide for sleep and a slide and hold for off.

The onboard memory is roughly 2 GB and holds more than a dozen preview books. I didn’t explore these title in-depth, not one of them suited my reading tastes so I deleted them. I journeyed to Project Gutenberg for all of my reading needs.

Initially the Kobo’s interface seemed very clunky, every press of the screen caused a slight delay. But the features provided were incredibly useful: books can be added to a “shortlist” or deleted from the device, dictionary access inside of books, pages can be rotated, zoomed, the text shrunk or enlarged and a link to Facebook.com. The Kobo team really made all the right moves with the user interface.

A recent update solved the speed issues and enhanced functionality. A clock was added to the front page of the device, moving it from a hard to find control panel. A sketch program updated to “Sketchbook”, a Sudoku game installed and the web browser joins the other software under “Extras”. All of these programs are labelled “unsupported” but they all function very well.

The 1.9.16 update cleaned up the machine. The home page has the last 5 books accessed from the library. A new drop down list shows ads for featured book available in the store, but can show New Releases or up to 5 books from your Shortlist.

Under the home menu the following options are available:

Store – As advertised, it is a store front for the Kobo.
Library – An alphabetical listing of all of your books. It can also be viewed by Title, file type, author and recent reads. A search option is available.
Reading Life – A list of built-in encouragements to continue reading. Not terribly useful but really fun.
Settings – Everything you need to tweak the Kobo. The last menu choice is Extras which includes Sketchbook, a web browser and Sudoku.
Help – A more than adequate selection of help files.
Sync – Allow you to sync your library over wifi. Very nice.

The Kobo can read ePub, HTML, TXT, PDF, Jpeg, Tiff, PNG, GIF and BMP files. This list is great, but remember each file has its own limitations. I find that PDF works on most phones, computers, e-readers, etc. but does not delivery a good e-reader experience. There is a difference between zooming in and changing text size. The Kobo handles PDF’s well, but when zooming navigation becomes cluttered. A window opens on the upper left, a menu appears on the bottom of the screen and two turn page buttons appear on the left and right side. Not the best experience, but it works. If you have another choice, use it.

One glitch has softened my enthusiasm for the Kobo. The last update knocked out my wifi. I can only connect to open networks. For obvious reasons, I don’t have one of those. This disables many of the bells and whistles of Facebook and store connectivity. Granted, I suggest turning the wifi off for day-to-day use, but it is annoying. The Kobo website does not cover this issue; perhaps this a minor update glitch. Kobo’s tech support is easy to find on the web and they even have a Facebook page.

I fired off a quick email this afternoon. This is a Canadian holiday, so I don’t expect a response today. Since this is also the day after Christmas, I think I can forgive them for making me wait until about mid-January. I will let you know if they can beat my expectations. No wifi isn’t a killer.

At the end of the day, the Kobo is a good all round e-reader. The slick interface and good case design earn it an B+ in my book. I can knock off the + due to the Christmas week update killing my wifi, rounding the final grade to an B. There is every possibility that Kobo Inc will recover the + with some tech support wizardry.

Good Reading folks.

Kindle Review

My wife received a Kindle for Christmas. She had shown some jealously when I bought my Kobo so I knew she needed one of these e-readers.

The Kindle is less than six ounces, sports a 6″ screen, a standard mini USB port and a micro SD card port. It has “only” 2 GB of memory; I understand this is a downgrade from other Kindle products, but 2 GB is huge for e-books.

The frame of the device is plastic while the smooth front and back are metal. The Kindle has a solid feel to it despite its light weight. Buttons are well spaced and crisp in function.

After a few minutes of holding the Kindle, I discover it should be cradled in the palm of your hand, your thumb over the page button and your fingers on the opposite side also rest the page forward and back button. An alternate method is to place a corner of the Kindle in the center of your palm and rest your thumb on the page forward button. The buttons are firm and have a downward action. This prevents accidental page turns. The other six buttons are at the bottom of the product, safely out of reach and are unnecessary for reading.

The other six buttons are:

Power – On/sleep or a long press for “off.”
Back – Takes you back one screen, moving seamlessly from books, to home and through setting pages.
Home – As labeled, takes you home.
Settings – Calls up useful features appropriate to the screen viewed. Can be used to search for text in books or search for wifi on the home page.
Keyboard – Calls up an on-screen keyboard.
Select and directional pad – Just like a Nintendo controller.

The home page is clean, there are only two possible functions on this screen: Books and Battery life. The battery meter is on all screens, which is a nice touch. Pressing the Setting button calls up Wifi controls, the store, change font size, search and Settings, Screen Rotation and an experiential web browser.

Text is clear and sharp and if you don’t like the size, you can easily change it. The bookmark feature is handy but the Notes are better. Simply use the directional pad to navigate to line of the text, then hit the keyboard button. Typing is difficult with the directional pad, but easy enough to get in a few words. The notes and bookmark features are rolled together so you don’t lose your notes on a random page. Very nice.

The Kindle only supports 4 file types: AZW, TXT, PDF and MOBI. This is more than adequate for reading, but leaves out the possibility of personal pictures and such. I did not have time to test a PDF, but I find that the format does not give the best reading experience.

Something is horribly wrong with my wife’s Kindle.** It does not display ads as it should. I don’t know why. Instead it displays pleasant images of pencils, books and typewriters. My wife hates the pictures and I completely fail to see why. Well, every product has a glitch or two.

I give the Kindle an A. It performs very well and is a dream to set up. I can’t find a single fault with the device, although I doubt that anyone will use the keyboard function for more than a few words. All and all, it is an excellent experience.

Read on.

**Updated – It appears nothing is wrong with the device, offers only appear after a download from Amazon.com. Silly me.