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Kobo Arc review

E-reader specialist adds tablet features
Fri Jan 25 2013, 12:22

Product Kobo Arc
Website Kobo
Specifications 7in 1280x800 resolution IPS touchscreen display at 215ppi, 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, 16GB/32GB internal storage, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, microUSB port, 3.5mm universal headphone jack, front-facing camera, 10 hours of battery life, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, 189x120x11.5mm, 364g
Price £159 for 16GB, £189 for 32GB


THE KOBO ARC is the e-reader specialist's push into the mini tablet market to compete with similar sized models from Apple, Google and Amazon. Kobo is hoping to win over tablet buyers with its novel approach of "discovering" rather than searching for content, so we were interested to have a go with the 7in Kobo Arc to see if it can compete with the giant brands.

Kobo Arc back

Design and build
The Kobo Arc has a sturdy feel to it, but is far from the sleek design of the iPad. Measuring 189x120x11.5mm, it is similar in size to the Google Nexus 7, although slightly thicker and shorter. The glass screen that Kobo describes as "ultra-durable" is surrounded by a plastic edging, which houses two speakers at the bottom and the camera at the top. The back covering, also plastic, is softer to the touch and has the same diamond design as the Kobo Glo. As with Kobo's e-readers, the Arc has a similar boxy shape and squared off edging, although we didn't find this particularly uncomfortable to hold over long periods.

The mini tablet weighs 364g, compared to 395g for the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Although not as feather-light as the iPad Mini at 308g, the Kobo Arc is certainly light enough to use for sustained periods.

The Kobo Arc has fairly streamlined controls and ports, with a power on/off button on the top, headphone jack and volume up/down on the right side and the microUSB port on the bottom.

Screen
The Kobo Arc has a 7in multi-touch IPS display at 1280x800 resolution and 215ppi. Kobo boasts that the Arc displays 16.4 million colours and offers extra wide 89 degree viewing angles.

Kobo Arc The INQUIRERThe screen wasn't the highest quality for a tablet. While it was bright, text, images and icons weren't always sharp and well-defined. Watching a video on the Kobo Arc and comparing it to the screen on an iPad Mini, the Kobo image was noticeably lower in quality, with the blacks on the Apple tablet being a lot deeper and the colours much more vibrant.

Performance
The Kobo Arc performed well in most tasks. With a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, it is designed to support up to HD 1080p video playback and 3D games.

Video playback and games ran smoothly with no buffering and the sound from the dual front-facing speakers was clear and could be cranked up to a decent volume.

Apps and websites were speedy to open and load, the display was pretty speedy to rotate between portrait and landscape mode, and text resized while zooming in, unlike the experience we found with the Kindle Fire HD, where this process took a few seconds when zooming in or out on webpages.

Next: Set-up and operating system

 

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