No eReader maker worth its salt can fail to have a device in its portfolio which lights up for night reading. We’ve already looked at the Nook Simple Touch GlowLight, and the Kindle Paperwhite and now we come to Kobo’s simply named Glo. See eReader reviews.

Most eReaders provide access to an online store and in this case it’s a Wi-Fi only service. It's very similar to the way you buy books on a Kindle, being both easy and fast. The selection of books isn't quite on a par with Amazon's offering, but it's certainly not bad at all.


Kobo Glo eReader review

You can also transfer books via USB if you want, and supported formats include the popular ePUB. If you fill the 1GB of internal storage there’s a microSD slot for adding more, but this should be enough for most people. Take a look at Amazon Kindle 5 (2012) review.

Kobo partners with WH Smith for in-store hardware sales, so you'll have no trouble buying a Glo on the High Street. Kobo provides software for iOS, BlackBerry, Windows and Mac.

You can choose from a selection of colours including black, blue, pink and silver – something Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite and Barnes & Noble's Nook GlowLight don’t offer. And at £99, the Glo is £10 cheaper than both the Kindle and Nook. It's light at 185g, and comfortable to hold. It’s odd and irritating that the sliding power switch delivers a little ‘ping’ every time it’s used, but it's a minor grumble.

Kobo Glo colours

There are 24 font sizes and ten fonts including OpenDyslexic said to be better for those with dyslexia. That’s a better choice than on the Kindle or Nook and the 768x1024 pixel screen is sharp. Even small font sizes read easily and graphics render well. Visit Kobo Touch review.

As you'd expect, the Glo has a touchscreen. It's easy to use, with light taps required to turn pages and the full menu accessible by tapping the bottom of the screen. The touchscreen makes it a lot easier to use the store than a non-touchscreen eReader. See also Group test: what's the best eReader?

The screen light is toggled by a button on the top edge of the Kobo Glo, its brightness controlled by a slider that’s easily called up by tapping the bottom of the reading screen. It’s a gentle, even light with no bleed (where it appears much lighter at the edge), that’s comfortable to use for long reading spells.

Kobo Glo in hand

Kobo offers ‘performance’ and social features on its readers. On the former side, a ‘reading life’ area of the device delivers stats like how much of a book you have read and how many pages you’ve turned, and provides awards. Whoever thought gamification would come to reading? It's not new with the Glo, though - Kobo has always adopted this approach.

When it comes to the social features, you can squirt information about your current reading direct to Facebook. It's not a feature we imagine many people will use, but it's there if you want it.

Kobo says the battery will last for a month if you don't use the light or Wi-Fi. If you do, you can expect to be recharging after a week or so, depending on how much you use those power-sapping features.

Here's a second opinion on the Kobo Glo by our colleague Campbell Simpson from PC World Australia:

Kobo’s Glo is the company’s first eReader with integrated ComfortLight front-lighting, letting you use the screen in the dark without a bulky external LED lamp. It’s a very refined and exceedingly simple device, coming as close to a seamless book-buying and reading experience as any other eReader we’ve used. 

Kobo Glo: Design, features and setup

At first glance, the Kobo Glo looks just like any other eReader, with a minimal screen-and-bezel design that’s nearly identical to the Amazon Kindle, and competing Kindle Paperwhite. Our test Glo came in the black finish, but blue, pink, and silver colours are also available. 

The centimetre-thick bezel is finished in a soft-touch rubberised plastic, with the thicker lower bezel displaying a silver-white Kobo logo. Similarly, the back of the Glo is rubberised plastic with a quilted-cut pattern and a Kobo logo. 

On the bottom you’ll find a microUSB connector, with a microSD card slot on the tablet’s lower left corner. The sliding power switch is on the Glo’s top right, and next to it is a button to toggle the ComfortLight screen lighting. 

Being a touchscreen eReader, the Glo has no physical buttons beyond the two we just mentioned. The interface is driven by finger-taps on different parts of the screen — tap either side of the page in reading mode to go forwards or backwards, or hit the centre segment of the screen to bring up a menu from which you can change backlight brightness, visit the home screen or change text settings.

Setting up the Kobo for the first time is simple — you need to make a Kobo account, and assign a credit card if you want to make any purchases. This is a simple task but since the Glo isn’t quite as responsive as a tablet or smartphone (by virtue of its e-ink display), it takes a little while to input all your details. Once you’ve set up an account, you’re good to go — the rest of the Kobo Glo experience is a relatively seamless series of finding books on the Kobo Store and reading them.

Kobo Glo: Performance, books and reading

The Kobo Glo is one of the fastest, most responsive eReaders we’ve used. Whereas the older Kogan eBook reader was slow to respond to inputs, sometimes taking up to five seconds to respond to a command and for the screen to refresh, the Kobo Glo is near-instantaneous. Even typing commands on the integrated keyboard — which we used to join a Wi-Fi network and enter credit card details — shows feedback in around a third of a second.

The range of books on the Kobo book-store isn’t quite as extensive as Amazon offers on its Kindle book-store. This is just a function of Amazon’s wider market reach, and its longer time in the market, but it does mean there may be the occasional book you can’t get on a Kobo reader that you can on a Kindle. Similarly, in our quick checking the prices on Amazon books were generally slightly cheaper than the prices of Kobo books — but all are extremely affordable when compared to physical copies, with all the shipping or shopping that they require.

You can set a wide range of fonts and text sizes on the Kobo Glo, and other features like margin sizes can be similarly adjusted. The default font and text size is perfectly readable, but we made the text slightly smaller for the majority of our reading to fit more on a page.

The ComfortLight system is genuinely useful, and well worth the Kobo Glo’s extra price over a lesser-featured eBook reader. We used it in dim light, in bright daylight, in a dark room at night — it really does help light up the screen even in difficult conditions. The overall contrast between the text and the screen itself is somewhat lessened, but this isn’t a problem unless you’re already reading on a particularly obtuse viewing angle or if you’ve got an overwhemingly powerful light shining onto the screen already.

We did notice that it’s easy to forget to turn the Wi-Fi off after you’re finished using it. Wi-Fi is used for buying books and syncing them with Kobo Everywhere (the cloud service that tracks your progress and buying habits), so if you do forget to turn it off it’ll have an impact on battery life. This, and the ComfortLight system, does affect the battery life, making the Kobo Glo more prone to running out of power than a regular eReader.

In our two weeks of testing we accidentally left on the Wi-Fi a couple of times, once causing the Kobo Glo to run out of power. This can be avoided with a small amount of care, and in any case the battery charges very quickly and has an appreciably long life with careful use of Wi-Fi and the Glo light — one month with no Wi-Fi or Glo, and 70 hours continuous use with the ComfortLight switched on, so real-world usage should be somewhere in between.

Kobo Glo: Conclusion

The Kobo Glo is an appreciably fast, simple, well-featured eReader. The ComfortLight is a definite advantage over other simpler eReaders, and works well without being too imposing a presence on battery life.

Kobo Glo: Specs

  • Display: 6" E Ink XGA screen with 768x1024 resolution
  • 16 level greyscale
  • Light: Built-in ComfortLight technology
  • Screen: Non-glass touchscreen for glare-free, fingerprint-resistant reading
  • Storage: 2GB (1GB available for books)
  • Option to expand to 32GB with a micro SD card
  • Buttons: Power on/off
  • Light on/off
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and micro USB
  • Dimensions: 114 x 158 x 10 mm
  • Weight: 185 g
  • Battery: 1-month battery life (up to 70 hours of continuous usage with ComfortLight on at 15-20% brightness)
  • Display: 6" E Ink XGA screen with 768x1024 resolution
  • 16 level greyscale
  • Light: Built-in ComfortLight technology
  • Screen: Non-glass touchscreen for glare-free, fingerprint-resistant reading
  • Storage: 2GB (1GB available for books)
  • Option to expand to 32GB with a micro SD card
  • Buttons: Power on/off
  • Light on/off
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and micro USB
  • Dimensions: 114 x 158 x 10 mm
  • Weight: 185 g
  • Battery: 1-month battery life (up to 70 hours of continuous usage with ComfortLight on at 15-20% brightness)

OUR VERDICT

The Kobo Glo is an incredibly simple device, matching Amazon’s Kindle in its user-friendliness and gradual learning curve. It makes finding and buying books nearly seamless, although Amazon still has a slight edge in pricing and range of books. The Glo is almost as refined as is possible for a touchscreen e-reader.

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