Monday, 16 January 2012

The Kobo Vox

Grab a cup, she's a long one. If you're from Australia or New Zealand and are tossing up between a Kobo, a Kindle or a Sony e-reader, you may want to have a thorough read through this. Mind though,  I am no technical expert, so if you're looking for in-depth tech specs, you can find the basics on the Kobo site. If you're looking for brand comparisons, I found some here and here.

First impressions
I received my Kobo Vox as a Christmas present (thanks ma!), so you can imagine how excited I was. My first thought upon opening the box was, "Wow, that's pretty," (I am a girl after all).

My second reaction as soon as I lifted it out of the box was, "Wow, that's heavy," and yes, I was quite disappointed. This is part of the reason why I'm writing this review. None of the reviews I looked through prior to its release highlighted the fact that Kobo Vox is particularly hefty. It weighs 403g (14.2oz/.89lb), compared to the Kobo Wifi which is 221g. So what, you ask? It gets a little tiring on your wrist if you're reading for a few hours. Not ideal if you have tendonitis. Which I don't. But still.

to give you an idea of the size

the signature quilted back
Aside from the weight though, I'm pretty happy with everything else. The size of the Kobo Vox is better compared to that of its original predecessor - which was slightly thinner, but quite large width and length wise. The Kobo Vox still has the signature quilted back, which makes gripping the e-reader easier. I found it was more comfortable to hold, compared to the first Sony e-readers. So I guess it kind of makes up for the weight.

And then I switched it on.
I'm notorious for my impatience. It's all about instant gratification for me. It has to be NOW. If you're the same as me and are thinking of purchasing a Kobo Vox, be warned. Set a reserve of at least 20 minutes of patience, otherwise you'll end up throwing the blasted thing against the wall. You can skip the rest of this paragraph if you wish, but if you'd like to know what you're in for, read on: 6 minutes of update downloading, a restart without warning, then a warning that the device was going to restart, another 3 minute software update, then another restart that took 2 minutes long, firmware installation which asked me to restart again, e-reader powers down and took 1 minute to do so - but wait because it switched itself back on, checked again for updates, date & time setup, pick your country - took me 4 tries because it kept picking a different country for me, and then the Kobo account set up = 20 minutes of my life gone.

I'm not selling this to you, am I? Well, now comes the best bits.

Android Power
It's like having 3 e-readers in one. You can download the Kindle and Sony applications and have the best of the proverbial ereader world.

Also, an interesting fact that doesn't seem to be widely known. I just found out yesterday that there are restrictions for downloading majority of titles from the Kindle store. Yes, like DVD regions. A resounding "WHAT THE F*$%!!!" was heard throughout our house. Apparently it's not Amazon's fault, but each country's laws, as they're trying to protect book sellers. So basically, NZ and Australia can be considered as something akin to blackholes of the digital reading universe. No, we cannot participate in the fabulous $US 0.99 deals that America are snapping up via Kindle. Grumbles galore. However, just switch your Kindle store settings to your country and you can still purchase ebooks from Amazon.

Anyway, being Android powered, it means you can also download loads of other apps. Which I'm not going to go into further detail.

Reminiscent of iPhone
What fun! The display rotates too. So whichever way you feel comfortable, you can flip your screen portrait or landscape and the display follows suit. And yes, you can lock the rotation as well.

You can also scroll through the main display left to right and add actual widgets or shortcuts on your 'desktop' for easier access.

Stats Galore
I found it interesting to know that on average, it takes me roughly 4 hours to read each book, and that I normally read for about 15 minutes at a time, and I turn roughly 21 pages each session. Neat huh? It's also telling me now that I've taken 5 hours and 56 minutes to read through 80% of Changeless by Gail Carriger, and that I've turned 511 pages so far. Loads of useless info, but fun nevertheless. Oh, and there's awards you can win for reading! How cute is that?

You can store how much!?
Internal memory is 8gb. That's about 5,000 books plus thousands upon thousands of songs! There's a slot for an external sd card, but with that much space, who needs an external slot? Well, unless you want to watch movies on your reader too I guess.

However, the battery life sucks.
Up to 7 hours as opposed to the 10 days of the first Kobo ereaders. So I end up recharging mine every 2 days because I read a lot. So good enough for one long-haul flight I guess, but not much more.

What's that word?
You can highlight words to look it up in the built-in dictionary, and also highlight phrases and make your own annotations. Handy for book reviews!

Daytime, nighttime and inbetween
You can change the settings from daylight mode to nighttime for easier reading in the dark, as well as sepia mode for goodness knows what.

Though I may have whinged considerably throughout this post, I'm still happy with my ereader. A few reviews have mentioned that loading time takes a while for Kobo Vox, but I've never had that problem. It's very user friendly (I haven't had to look at the included user manual at all), handsome to look at despite its weight, and even though I've had it for nearly a month, I'm still discovering little things to appreciate about it.

If you've got any questions at all, please feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.


  1. Wow!! It looks like just an Ipad, only that I think it's cheaper :D Thank you so much for this review about Kobo Vox, because I want to replace my old e-reader and I search opinions about this interesting device. I read great things about it, so I think I'll buy one. Next month I'll travel to Canada and I want to take with me and read my favorite books. :D

    1. Hi, thanks for reading my review.

      Yeah I was originally tossing up between an iPad and an ereader, but I was only really after an ereader, not a tablet. And ended up with one that's pretty much a tablet anyway. And yes, Kobo Vox is much cheaper. Apple iPads retail from NZ $1,100 here and the Kobo Vox is NZ$400.

  2. 99c for e-books in America? I've looked on the iBooks (Aus) store on my phone, and they sell books for between $6 - $12, which is much cheaper than the average paperback price in the shops, but I mean come on... you can buy a book with free shipping for $10 from Book Depository!

    UUUGGGHHHH We get so RIPPED OFF in the Southern Hemisphere. I can (grudgingly) understand (some) price differences when there is an actual physical product, but an e-book which you just download from a server online? That's so ridiculous!!!
    *rant over*

    haha... that being said, I love this post. I've been looking at e-readers lately, after many moons of defiantly saying that I'd never use one. I too have been deliberating between the likes of a kindle/kobo or an iPad... they just seem so convenient (i.e. No more sore shoulders from having 2 or 3 books stashed in your handbag!) :)

    1. Hi Orly, I was completely the same about a year or so back. I was thinking that I'd never ever want an ereader because I prefer the actual paperback/hardback book much more. However I started thinking of the need for more space, and the need to cut back on spending as well. Since ebooks are nearly 30-100% cheaper (I cannot get over how many free books there are out there!) than the tangible book, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.

      So far I've found that I actually don't mind reading off a tablet so much. Plus there hasn't been any incidences where I'm reading while lying down, drop the book and frantically try and find where the heck I was before my attack of clumsiness. Plus I think I'm less likely to actually drop the ereader on my face. Well, fingers crossed anyway.

  3. It looks snazzy but I still haven't been able to get into these things... I can't believe how heavy it is! Thanks for the review Toni, it's highlighted things that I'm not aware of so it's been very helpful should I ever go to purchase one of these things!

    Megan @ Storybook Love Affair

    1. Hi Megan, yeah I'm still not a happy chappy about the weight of the ereader, but there are a few out there that aren't as hefty. :)

  4. didn't sell me...I think I'll stick with my nook!

    xoxoxo - Melissa @ Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Fair enough Melissa! If I lived in the US I think I would have gone for a Kindle Fire. Which is, unfortunately, not available to us here in New Zealand. *sigh*

  5. A very comprehensive review, Toni. I haven't thought of doing a similar thing for my Kindle. Like Melissa, I think I'll stick to my Kindle, thank you very much. There's always the pros and cons in a reading device. It's really up to the consumer based on his/her wants. If I am living in the US, I would have hoarded lots of $0.99 great ebooks. In the Philippines, there is what seems to be called "wireless delivery". So for $0.99 books, the charge in the Philippines is $2.99, others $1.99. Guess we can't have everything, huh? :-) -nancy

  6. Great feature Toni! I got a Kindle for Christmas and I love it. I am now happy reading both e-books and ordinary paper books! :)