The Kobo Glo is the firm’s first e-reader with a built-in light, and aims to go head to head with the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon and the Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight from US bookseller Barnes & Noble.
Design and build
The Kobo Glo doesn’t have a particularly attractive look from the front. We had the white version, with a ‘Pink Sunset’ back cover. You can also get the Glo in black, white with blue backing or white with silver backing. While we really liked the feel and look of the quilted hot pink back cover, from the front the device looks quite cheap with its white hard plastic covering and boxy shape. It also has quite sharp squared off edging, although we didn’t find this particularly uncomfortable to hold over long periods.
We think the design also makes the Glo feel fairly chunky in the hand, although it only measures 157x114x10mm and weighs in at 185g, comparing favourably to other e-readers on the market.
On the top of the Glo, there’s a switch you slide across to turn the device on or into sleep mode, and a light button, which you press down to switch it on or off. On the bottom of the device, there’s a micro USB slot for charging or transferring files, while on the left there’s a slot for an SD card for extra storage, something not offered by the rival Kindle.
We found the slide on/off power switch a bit hit and miss, and generally had to slide this across three or four times before it would start up. However, we liked the light button on the top of the device, and found this a really easy and reliable way of turning on the light. You’ll notice the light turns on and off in two stages, dimming slightly before switching off or on completely.
The Glo features a 6in E Ink XGA Pearl screen with 1,024x768 resolution, at 212 ppi. Kobo says its use of infrared touch technology means there's less material between readers and their books than on the Kindle Paperwhite, allowing for a clear, crisp display.
We were impressed with the display of the Glo. Text was certainly crisp and clear, with lots of pixels squeezed into every bit of the 6in screen, and remained so when we changed the font settings to the highest and lowest, although we noticed a little fuzziness when we had the light switched on to one of the brighter settings.
Kobo says the Glo is designed to direct light at the page, rather than a reader’s eyes to make for a more pleasant reading experience. We tend to like our screens to be nice and bright, so generally whack the brightness levels up to a high setting on any tablet, laptop or other device.
We were impressed with just how bright the Glo can go at its highest setting (pictured above), so anyone who does a lot of reading in dimly lit places, this is a great device for you. There are 11 light settings to choose from, with the lowest settings giving a very faint glow, right up to a torch-like blast of light for the highest. We noticed some light bleed round the edges of the display when it was on the lowest few settings, but this didn’t hamper our reading experience. We also didn’t notice any issues with the Glo and glare from the sun or indoor lights.