The Kobo Arc is a decent addition to the 7in tablet stable, with its nippy performance and some unique and useful features, although lacking the branding power of its rivals.
Speedy performance, Tapestries feature, cheap
Uninspiring design, lack of cloud storage, no iPlayer support
£ 159 for 16GB
Product: Kobo Arc
Screen: 7in 1280x800 resolution IPS touchscreen display at 215ppi
Processor: 1.5Ghz dual-core processor
Storage: 16/32GB internal storage
Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
I/O: microUSB, 3.5mm universal headphone jack
Battery: 10 hours of battery life quoted
OS: Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Price: £159 for 16GB, £189 for 32GB
The Kobo Arc is the e-reader specialist’s push into the mini tablet space, hoping 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 Arc and see if it can compete with the brand giants.
Design and build
The Kobo Arc has a sturdy feel to it, but is far from the sleek design of the iPad. Measuring in at 189x120x11.5mm, it is similar in size to the Google Nexus 7, although slightly thicker and shorter. The glass screen, which 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 touch and has the same diamond design as the Kobo Glo. As with the 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 Arc weighs in at 364g, compared to 395g for the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Although not as feather-light as the iPad Mini at 308g, the Arc is certainly light enough to use for sustained periods.
The Kobo Arc has is fairly streamlined for ports, with a power on/off button on the top, headphone jack and volume up/down on the right side and micro USB on the bottom.
The Kobo Arc has a 7in multi-touch IPS display, at 1280x800 resolution or 215 pixels per inch. Kobo boasts that the Arc displays 16.4 million colours and offers extra wide viewing angles at 89 degrees.
The 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 Arc and comparing it to the screen on an iPad Mini, the Kobo version was noticeably lower in quality, with the blacks on the Apple tablet being a lot richer and the colours a lot more vibrant.
The Kobo Arc performed well in most tasks. Running a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1GB RAM, the Arc is designed to support up to 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 can be cranked up to a decent volume.
Apps and web sites were speedy to open and load, the display was pretty snappy when rotating 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 web pages.
Next: Set-up and operating system.