Kobo Vox Review – Full Hands On
Oct
27

Kobo Vox Review – Full Hands On

By

Kobo will be releasing their first tablet dubbed “Vox” this Friday at Chapters/Indigo locations and from their website in the USA. It will be competitively priced at $199 vs. the Kindle Fire. We just got back from Toronto, where we were at the Kobo HQ and got a full hands on review a few days before it officially comes out!

Hardware

The Kobo Vox features a 7 inch capacitive multi-touchscreen display with a resolution of 1025×600. The colors absolutely pop on this unit and the entire interface of the new apps the company released are optimized to fit the screen. Many of the apps, books, and menus maintained Landscape/Portrait orientations, but the main screen did not switch.

It has 8 GB of internal memory and you can expand it up to 32 GB via the MicroSD card. This seems like a fine amount of space to store your video, audio, and books. Most Kobo devices just have a simple drive that you insert your card into. It does not have a protective clasp made of rubber or anything else so dust does not get into it. I wish they would have thought about that small level of protection, because people frequently take their device out on holidays, exposing it to all different kinds of elements.

Things move fast with the 800 MHZ CPU processor and 512 MB of RAM. Scrolling through various menus was very snappy and apps seemed to load fairly quickly. I did notice graphics intensive books, such as graphic novels, comics, and PDF files sometimes took a while to load up. When they did load, page turn speed was fast.

Let’s take a look at the form factor and the physical buttons on the unit. At the top there is a speaker on the right hand side. It is a single mono speaker and does emit fair quality music or audio books when turned to maximum. You might want to take advantage of the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the bottom. There is a single press down power button and not the slider variant you see packaged with most e-readers and tablets.

On the right hand side of the unit is your volume button to physically adjust it. On the left hand side there is a microSD port and button includes Micro USB to charge the unit and facilitate a data connection.

The front of the unit sports physical home touch panels for the standard Android fair. You have the options for Back, Settings, and Home. I like these sorts of buttons on the unit because frequently tablets are made to be purely software driven. If things start to slow down or crash altogether you have to physically reboot it. Some of the nagging problems are solved with physical buttons to press.

The back of the unit is fairly clean and simplistic. You are greeted with the standard quilted background that is popular with the Kobo Touch and WIFI. The quilt on the Vox honestly looks more polished and does not look cheap. It does not seem to be made of the same material as the ones found on the e-ink variants.

The Kobo Vox feels slick in your hands and really reminded me of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab that was released last year. That is a good thing, it was my favorite Android device of 2010. It quickly went from landscape to portrait mode and the hardware made menus load fairly quick.

Software

The Kobo Vox runs the Google Android 2.3 operating system and the GUI is not as evident as with the Nook Color. The user interface on on the Nook Color is heavily modified and if you were not a huge tech user, you would never even know it was Android. Honestly, I did not really notice any kind of unique GUI or UI at all, so Android users will feel right at home.

Kobo has packaged very unique programs with the Vox and one that stands out is “Kobo Pulse.” Pulse was initially unveiled at the big Facebook Developer conference a few weeks ago. The CEO disclosed the company was working on a new social media tool and briefly described how it worked. There were no visuals or images and the project mainly just sounded good on paper. Now, however, we got a chance to use it, and let us say Kobo Pulse is AMAZING!! It combines elements from Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. Want to know how it works?

You purchase a book from Kobo and there is a little red pulse at the bottom of the page. The size of the pulse is determinate on how many people have purchased the book. The pulse appearing as you shop for books includes an option to just shut it off, if you don’t care or don’t want to use the feature, but I fail to see why you would. Once you open the pulse you are presented with a really solid one page social media screen.

At the top it shows you how many times the book has been read, the number of user comments, likes and dislikes. This gives you a short list of how popular the book is and how active the community chatting about it is. It also gives you the number of people who are currently reading the book. As an example, I used the new Steve Jobs book and 341 people were currently reading it as part of the internal beta testing team. I can imagine that when this goes live, this number will go into the thousands.

After all of the statistics are presented to you, there are a series of profile pictures. This would be your avatar found in your Facebook or Twitter account. You do have to connect with one of those social media services using the app to be able to comment and partake in the commenting. Speaking of commenting, users are given a very Youtube-esque commenting field. You can write a few brief lines of text and vote up/down peoples replies. This will ensure the best comments are ranked higher then trolls baiting people. Kobo told us that they are trying to get users to police themselves and that the moderation team would be very small. Likely the official Kobo moderators would only check out the most popular books or on a case by case basis if a number of users complain. The company also told us that they are making sure privacy concerns are being adhered to. There will be options to opt your profile out, so you would appear as a generic avatar and people who not have direct access to your social media account.

Pulse feels edgy and is the number one selling point on the Vox. It is the most unique and excellent example of social media found in any e-reader or tablet. Most other readers like the Kindle or Nook only allow you to share particular passages or quotes with Facebook or Twitter. Sure it’s fine to update your status with some profound revelation, but I can honestly say I have NEVER done it. Most of my friends are tired of people waxing philosophical or spamming. The beauty of pulse is that it allows you to be social by reading a book. Often my friends and I do not have the same taste in books, if we do, we often are not reading the same book at the same time. Pulse allows you to connect with other users in real time and chat about the book, its characters, or whatever you want. It brings the community aspect found in Youtube comments and integrates that with reading.

Kobo has told us that pulse will be implemented in their entire product line of readers, such as the Kobo Touch and Kobo WIFI. They are also updating their iOS, Android, Blackberry, and other programs to make this feature compatible across all platforms. They are big on this and it’s something that has been in development for six months.

A core Kobo staple found in their apps and Touch Reader is Reading Life. This was a new program they developed last year that allows you to check out your overall statistics for reading. You can track how long it takes you to read a book to how many books you have read total. They blend in an Xbox version of awards and achievements. There is a myriad of options and they look great in high resolution and in full color.

The main homescreen is a compilation of the last four books you have read with quick links on the bottom to Reading Life, Pulse, the store, and your library.

Your library has a standard shelf that has all of the books you have purchased and bookmarks appear on the ones you are currently reading. When you exit a book you can pick off exactly where you left off. There is also the ability to organize collections and even load in your own books with the MicroSD cable. The device natively reads EPUB files, but you can really load in any format you want with the 10,000 applications found with Getjar.

Applications are easy to install with Getjar. Kobo basically filtered a ton of bad apps or ones that did not look good on a seven inch screen. They organized them in a more intuitive way and gives you options to download and install. When we spoke with the CEO of Kobo he mentioned that it is very important to the company not to have a closed ecosystem. You have the ability to sideload in your own applications or alternative markets. There is no restrictions on what you can load on the device.

Let’s talk content! The main Kobo bookstore received an update for the Vox that allows you to purchase cook books, kids books, graphic novels, and comic books! The kids books are something that parents worldwide will enjoy. There is a ‘read to me’ feature that narrates the book to your kid. You do have the option to turn it off if you don’t want to utilize it, or if it gets old quick.

I checked out a few book that were loaded on the device and it supports full pinching and zooming on all of the kids books. Some of the books had hidden text on the page, so you had to pinch and zoom to find clues. Colors were really vibrant with the high resolution screen and the books looked great in portrait/landscape mode. Some of the books took a while to initially load, but once they did, page turn speed was very quick and there was no lag at all when you zoomed in and out.

Similarly, you have the options to buy comics and graphic novels. There was an Archie comic loaded on the device and it had elements from popular Android Comic Book readers. You could double tap and it would zoom in on a specific panel, hit it again and it would go to the next panel. There were settings to even set the timer on the panel scrolling so you did not even need to touch the screen after the set time had passed. There is no a huge selection of content yet for both comics and kids books, but Kobo said in the coming weeks we should see a drastic increase in books available.

As always, you have full access to all of the 2.3 million books that Kobo offers under their ecosystem. You can find popular bestsellers and on the front page a number of lists with a books that are popular at that time. Obviously, the Steve Jobs book was the number one seller already.

The reading experience overall is excellent! Kobo did a great job utilizing the full color screen for new content not previously offered. It feels like the Nook Color situation where they could present so many more options and really get kids into the reading aspect. I can see the Vox being very popular with parents who want to foster their love of reading with their little ones. Since the entire line of Kobo e-readers are internationally friendly, I think it has more reach with its kids line of books then the Nook Color does. I think this will eventually attract more publishers and independent authors to submit content. There is no word yet on how authors can submit their content directly to Kobo to be in their new sections of the store. Maybe Smashwords will come to the rescue and give new features to submit it.

There are some 3rd party applications installed by default on the device like Zinio, Rdio, and newspapers from Pressreader. Many other Android tablets come with some or all of these programs, but Kobo manages to give you content right away. Zinio is contributing 12 totally free, full featured magazines to get you into their stable of magazines. I use Zinio on my Apple iPad and there were tons of scrolling issues. Some magazines had you swipe down to continue the news item and some you had to scroll. It lacked in consistency which alienated some of the users that found the entire process convoluted. The magazines we checked out with the Zinio app on Kobo felt more refined. The other apps also give you a bunch of free content to get you in the door. If you want to take out subscriptions you can deal directly with them instead of going through Kobo.

The internet experience on this device was average and depending on your local wireless connection could warrant you some high speed. I found webpages loaded up reasonably quickly. I was able to watch embedded Youtube videos and Flash content.  There were not a ton of settings with the default web browser other than bookmarking.

In the end, Vox on a pure software side feels like the standard Android 2.3 tablet. This is good in a way that you can easily update the operating system or load in your own applications. It feels familiar, but it’s really the Kobo custom applications that make the unit shine. I am in love with Pulse and Reading Life is consistently a perennial favorite of mine. The home screen is unique and well laid out and gives you options to load in widgets or live wall papers. Internet is fast and robust and watching Youtube Videos and multimedia content is lush.

Our Thoughts

I had the Kobo Vox in my hands for about a solid hour and a half today and it is one of my favorite devices of the year. Kobo is a great company that is doing two things right; branching out internationally and developing social media. Living in Canada, sometimes we get the short end of the stick (same with Australia). Many companies simply focus on the USA market as a means to the end. It is expensive for new companies to compete in the USA market because of the expectations of low cost, high-end devices. Internationally, the quality of e-readers and tablets are overpriced and under performing. Considering Canada is a very high-tech nation, the only e-readers commonly available are Sony, Amazon Keyboard, Kobo, Pandigital, and Aluratek. In many cases, the newest models are not commonly available and most companies do not bother. Kobo is doing the right thing by focusing on markets often neglected by other companies. They have opened up markets in the last year with Australia, New Zealand, UK, France, Germany, and Spain. They find retail partners to carry their devices and buy books directly from Kobo. They have special versions of their store in foreign language markets that puts the emphasis on homegrown authors and also independents.

There are really no e-reader companies that focus on the social media elements like Kobo, and they are in a class of their own. All you need is their official app in most cases to take advantage of it and they don’t mandate you buy their dedicated reader to take part. Reading Life is not only seen on Kobo products, but is a built in element to Samsung’s entire line of tablets and smartphones.

Kobo Pulse continues to expand on the social media approach and makes books less of a solitary activity and more fun. I can see this catching on big time.

What does the company have planned in the near future? We talked about a bunch of things Kobo has in the pipe. One feature being released soon is audio narration in books. If you are listening to the book walking your dog or commuting and pause it, then you can open it on your e-reader and it will automatically be synced to where you left off. They have a ton of content partners lined up, but we can’t talk about it for now. Needless to say, it’s going to really open up the amount of books and other media you can get.

The Kobo Vox is simply a great social experience and that is what separates it from the Pandigital Novels and Aluratek Readers of the world. Most tablets being billed as e-reders often rely on 3rd parties to provide all of the content. They may preload the Amazon Android app and say, “Look! It’s an e-reader!” It really isn’t in almost all cases, it is a thinly veiled attempt to peddle a low quality tablet for the purposes of reading. Normally, people then install Angry Birds and Facebook and that’s all they do.

The Kobo Vox is a dedicated reader first and foremost. The company has the competitive advantage of offering their own hardware and content distribution system. It allows you to freely participate in their ecosystem without locking you into it exclusively. I love the freedom associated with dealing with their hardware because I can use Adobe Digital Editions and just borrow books from the library or buy them via other stores.

Rating: 8/10

Update: Oct 28 2011 –  Have a Vox?  We compiled a list of the essential applications you will want on it! Adobe Flash, Kindle Reader, Nook Reader, and other app stores. Check it out HERE.

Update 2: Many people have been asking about the new screen Kobo is using on their Vox. It is a AFFS display which is being billed as Anti-Glare! When we were in Toronto it was raining like crazy and we could not test it out in direct light. The one thing I can say is the screen pops, and I found it way better then resistive screens found in lower-end tablets. The big thing I noticed was that the resolution was tremendous and even with lots of overhead light there was little to no glare at all.

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Michael Kozlowski (4355 Posts)

Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


  • Zabet

    Are there any plans to make features like bookmarking across devices and pulse available on side-loaded books as well?

  • Steph S.

    Great review, but I do take a bit of an exception to the stereotyping that mothers are the only one concerned or who read to their children. As a father of a two year old, I love reading with my daughter, and I’ve even bought a couple of books on my kobo specifically for her. In this day and age, more fathers are taking a much more active role in their children’s development, and suggesting only mothers will be happy with this product when it comes to children’s books is a bit archaic. Cheers!

  • IronMac

    Ok, what about that ugly PDF of the Globe and Mail? hehehe

  • guest

    I agree with you that Kobo has the best reading experience, the addition of the social aspect is essential to keeping it alive. But this is being touted as more than an e-reader and there is no mention of how this device works with apps, web navigation, mail, etc??? It seems like the review above is only half a review….

  • Snowbird

    I agree with the previous review.  I would like to know more about speed of internet access and speed of access to my hotmail email account.  Also, doe anyone know if the KOBO VOX will support the KINDLE APP for Android.  It could be useful because Amazon books are often cheaper than KOBO books

  • Tess

    Interesting review, but I’d still like to know how it also works as a tablet…can you do anything  else in FB? Surf the internet other than FB and Twitter? How do you type? I assume there’s an onscreen keypad and not a stylus?

  • IronMac

    Wouldn’t the speed of your Internet access be dependent on your connection to the Internet? I mean, in some hotels I certainly don’t expect my web browsing experience to be the same as I have here at home.

  • Anonymous

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether this device does (or can) run Google’s Marketplace.

    This article keeps that confusion alive by dancing around the issue but never addressing it directly.  And I’m surprised – it sounds like you had access to the device itself and to Kobo people who you could have asked.

  • http://www.peerpress.net/ kosmonaut

    Can you expand a bit on this statement, “There was an Archie comic loaded on the device and it had elements from popular Android Comic Book readers.”

    Did the Kobo Vox have other comic book reader apps or are you talking about comic book content acquired through the Kobo app?

  • Snowbird

    I know it would be but for a given Wi-Fi network speed, would the KOBO web site access be almost as fast as a PC connected to the same network.  I also read in the KOBO VOX User Guide that it will not be possible to read Amazon Kindle books on the KOBO.  If that’s the case, KOBO just lost a potential customer:  ME

  • Anonymous

    Sounds ok – the lack of cameras kinda sucks though. 

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Yes it works as a full android tablet, install apps, flash, watch videos, surf the web, check out the new video we just added, shows the entire device in action.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Check out the video we just added. There is only so much you can say about the apps, because only kobo apps and a bunch of social stuff was the only things pre-loaded. Also offical partner apps were also shown like zinio.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Check out the full video. It shows a better portrayal of the newspaper experience.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    I would prob say no, because the books have to be tracked through the kobo ecosystem in order for all of the data to be picked up. We will let you know tommorow.

  • Vpweithers

    people will use their phone for that

  • Vpweithers

    relax, he most likely meant to include fathers too

  • Vpweithers

    I would like to see the annotations and word look up features demonstrated.

  • Kevin

    Great review.  Thanks.  My concern is about the display when used as a reader.  I thought the idea of the “e ink” display was to make long reading sessions easier on the eyes.  Would people looking to use this only as a reader still be better off to go for the Touch?

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    This is a great device to read outdoors because of the same tech they use in the screens as air pilots use on their instruments. Its also good with a wide array of apps and multimedia consumpion. If you just want a simple reader thats easy on the eyes get the Touch.

    Kobo told us that the Touch will get Kobo Pulse in a few weeks

  • Snowbird

    A software called “Epubor Kindle DRM Removal” claim it can convert Amazon Kindle eBooks to PDF (see link: http://www.epubor.com/kindle-drm-removal.html You then use the PDF2EPUB Converter software (see link: http://www.epubor.com/pdf2epub-converter.html ] to convert the PDF to an EPUB book readable by the KOBO VOX. Is this true?
    Is it true??? I have many KINDLE books but I want to buy a KOBO VOX and transfer those KINDLE books on the new VOX

  • Paola

    Thank you so much for the in-depth review. I know that you mentioned it supports flash…does that include all flash content? Specifically, was it tested out on a network site like ctv for example that airs on-line tv episodes? This is kind of a deal-breaker for us as to whether or not we keep the one we pre-ordered or move on to a pricier tablet. Unfortunately I couldn’t get an answer on this from Kobo directly. Thanks so much :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.dube Ray Dube

    Interesting, if I heard correctly, you can get the full Android Marketplace for the Kobo Vox.

    Which means….  You can install the Kindle reader on your Vox..   Interesting.  :-)

  • Alyssa Bender

    I’m curious…Do Reading Life stats & Pulse work with borrowed library books?

  • Noodle Roni

    Google around for apprentice alf’s blog, locate the DRM tools for Calibre, and directly convert from Amazon format to epub usng Calibre with the DRM plugins installed.  I have not used the epubor tool, but I’ve found PDF to epub conversion to be dodgy at best.  I manage my own content so that my ebooks, regardless of vendor, are available across devices. 

  • Noodle Roni

    Does this device support landscape reading for grown-ups books?  The Nook Color was supposed to , but BN quietly killed references to it in the NC marketing material as of May.  Since the Fire does not (apparently) support landscape for real books either, if the Vox does that’s a very important feature to differentiate it.

    Also, is the speaker front-facing?  The rear-facing speaker on the NC is not only very quiet but all-too-often muffled by whatever case you have the device in. 

  • Snowbird

    I did the same with GOOGLE but I am looking for someone who has had practical experience with the two software packages mentioned above

  • Guest

    My guess would be that it can’t access Google’s marketplace. When playing for 5 minutes in the store, I tried pointing the web browser to speedtest.net (the wifi speed seemed pretty slow and I wanted to check it out). The web site gave an error attempting to access a link to the Android app store (my guess is that speedtest.net detected that I was running on an Android device and it tried to redirect me to their app in the Android store. I think this is going to be a huge issue for use of the Kobo Vox as a general purpose tablet. It looks like the apps you download are going to be restricted to the Kobo Marketplace (or at least that’s what I guess, and what the local salesperson I talked to, seemed to indicate, although Chapters salespeople aren’t very knowledgeable on the product yet)

  • Millerpat1

    can’t you download kindle for android and then put your kindle books on there?  I do that on my phone ….then I can read them on my phone….I can read any book on my phone with the different apps….if this has android on it, then we should be able to do the same….

  • Snowbird

    Do you know for sure that it works??  In the KOBO VOX User Guide, it says that KOBO VOX does not support reading of other e-reader books.  Maybe they mean it doesn’t support in native mode but would through the Kindle App.  I would really like to know for sure.

  • Millerpat1

    We will just have to wait and see the actual thing…but as I said, if it is android, it should work with kindle for android as I have on my phone…but we will have to wait and see…that is one thing I would want to make sure of also.    I have kindle on pc and have books there that I would like to use on another reader….I have used calibre and all that stuff and even bought a software program to convert the book but it didn’t do it right and I have only part of the book…….

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hi Guys!

    We had our hands on the Kobo Vox today in our studio for 5 hours. We installed the Amazon App Store, The Amazon Kindle Android App, Nook Android App, Sony Reader App for android, Droid Comic Viewer and tons of apps such as Flash 10.3, Dolphin HD and many more!! Check out our recent post here for direct downloads and a list of essential apps http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

    We also just filmed new videos on unboxing, review, app reviews and comparison vs the Nook Color.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hey Guys!! Updates Galore.

    Have a Vox and Want the Amazon Kindle Android App? What about the Amazon Android App Store? Alkdiko reader? FB READER? What about Adobe Flash and other essential apps? Download them right to your new gadget by checking out our recent post here – http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

    We got the Vox in our studio today and filmed MASSIVE videos, way more coming in the next few hours.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    The Vox does not support the Android Market! All other markets work, we made a new post giving you direct download links to all the mainstream and independent reading apps to install right on your vox.

    http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Vox only supports EPUB right out of the box. You can install 3rd party apps like Kindle, Nook, Sony or Aldiko and others! You can load in your own books you downloaded from the internet or purchased from other stores. 

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Hey. Well we don’t mean to alienate any dads! We attended a few e-reader conferences lately and statistically 75% of all Nook Color owners are female and 45% of them read books to their kids on it. Fairly striking figures. We’re not anti-dads at Good e-Reader by any means!!

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Yes all books with the Kobo App can be read in landscape mode.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Pulse does not work with books you load in yourself. We loaded in a ton of books to check it out.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    You have to load in Flash Yourself, it does not support it right out of the Box. You can download it to your Kobo in our new post here http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erin-Wilcott/888860330 Erin Wilcott

    Had a look at it at Chapters tonight.  Love that it is backlit – huge selling feature for this night reader.  I could not however get the dictionary function (which previous kobos have) to work while in the text of a kobo book.  The clerk couldn’t figure it out either and thought that perhaps it no longer has a dictionary function because it comes loaded with Merriam Webster app.  Hoping you can shed some light on this as having a dictionary definition at my fingertips is one of my favourite things about ereading.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/aacc33 Ace Up

    I went to Best Buy today 10-28-11 (release date), and called Fry’s, and the employees there had never even heard of the Kobo Vox, much less had any in stock on it’s publicized released date. When I stayed on them they checked in the computers to learn that none of their other stores had them either, and that they were on back haul. If you’re gonna publicize and market a product, shouldn’t you make sure the shelves are stocked to get the most from your marketing. I was pretty pissed tbh.

  • r3d0x

     The speaker is placed on the top right of the frame — should be loud and clear if it’s not covered by a kobo vox case (… in the works?)

  • obokee

    Michael,
    just received my new Kobo Touch last weekend as as b’day gift. I have been reading like a mad man. I love it. I have zero regrets in getting the Touch over the new Vox. Woo hoo for those for whom the Vox brings happy extras – as for me, a dedicated eReader is what I wanted and that comes in the Touch.

    However, I do find the Pulse program of interest and have contacted Kobo a number of times (including before I received my Touch) to ask if Pulse will be included for Kobo Touch in a WiFi download or firmware update. Kobo has not responded at all. I also tried asking via their FaceBook Page. Silence. So, do you or any of your informed readers know if Pulse will be coming to Kobo Touch?

    Thanks.

  • Seth Harman

    I picked up a Vox earlier today from Future Shop and, unfortunately, I’ll likely be returning it. It’s not just laggy, it’s painfully laggy. There’s no question the CPU in the device is underpowered for what they’re trying to do with it so I guess we now know why Amazon went with a dual-core processor in the Fire. I can also tell you the idea of the Vox being “open” is specious at best. First of all, you can’t actually install the Android market. You can side load the market app but there’s no way to actually make it work and, in fact, you’ll get regular alert windows telling you it’s crashed even when you aren’t using it. You can install the Kindle app but it closes as soon as you open it (possibly blacklisted in the operating system?). The included Scrabble game is slow to the point of annoyance and you can forget about installing anything like Plants versus Zombies or Fruit Ninja; I tried them both, they’re basically unplayable due to the slow speed. And yes the UI on the Vox supports gadgets but, again, the more you enable the slower the interface gets. After I experienced all of this I decided to do a factory reset on the device to see if maybe that would clear things up. I can’t actually find a way to do a factory reset which is pretty surprising. If anyone has any idea how to do a factory reset please post it here, I’d like to try it to see if the makes a difference and, if not, I’d still like to wipe the device before I return it. It’s sad, I really wanted to like this device.

    Edit: I called Kobo. The ractory reset is lurking inside the Settings inside “Privacy”. Weird.

  • Michael Bennett

    Any idea if they will update it to Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0)? I know Honeycomb (tablet version) wasn’t open sourced so they couldn’t use that, ICS is going to be open source and is designed for phones and tablets (including 7″ devices) so it should be pretty light and would theoretically not be an issue.

  • BobBob

    “Kobo has packaged very unique programs with the Vox”.  Unique means one of a kind.  There is no such thing as grades of uniqueness. Something is either unique, or it is not. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.dube Ray Dube

    But the ceo clearly said:

    “They can go get the Android Marketplace” at 23:27 of the video…

  • http://twitter.com/LomaxDavid David Lomax

    This is a great review.  Thanks for the great level of detail and the on-point comparisons with other readers.  I was planning on waiting, but I think you’ve sold me on this one.

  • Millerpat1

    I would not buy it now after watching QVC….they are selling NEXTBOOK 8″ ereader with android…camera….slot for a card….for $199….better deal….turn on tv….or go to their web site

  • Millerpat1

    that’s HSN that is selling the NEXTBOOK TABLET 8″  ….and that good stuff…better than the KOBO VOX and same price,,,

  • GoodEReaderFan

    I had an opportunity yesterday to try out the Kobo Vox at a Chapters/Indigo store and was pleasantly surprised on how the Vox’s default browser handled playing a Youtube high definition video.  I really had not expected the Vox to be able to play the video without any lag … took me aback ;-)
    The video(s) I used are ones that I know will push a device’s processor and have seen it lag when played on a number of other tablets, ereaders, and netbooks in various stores, so when they played well on the Vox I am now even more curious about the Vox as a potential purchase.  It may be going on my Christmas list.
    I would like to see what the Vox can do with another video player that can handle other video formats (those not listed in the Vox specifications) to see if it can handle them or if the Vox is really limited to what the specifications states.
    It is an ereader after all … but my hope is that it will be able to take a little step further for multimedia as well :-)
    Thanks Good e-Reader for all of your work!  Keep it up!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/ray.dube Ray Dube

    Funny, when I first mentioned this hear, I was greeted with, “The Vox does not support the Android Market! All other markets work, we
    made a new post giving you direct download links to all the mainstream
    and independent reading apps to install right on your vox.”

    Now you’re saying it does?  Make up my mind!  :)

    –edit–
    Ok, now I’m truly confused, the CEO said yes to the android market,but your test says no.. :(

  • Tony51

    This question from a neo-Luddite:

    How exactly does one load/download movies onto a Kobo Vox?

    By the way, by “neo-Luddite” I mean, in this case, one who has zero interest in Facebook or other “social” sites, and thinks Twitter is fr twits.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    It does not support the official Google Android Market but is bundled with Getjar. It kind of sucks, you prob want to install the Amazon App Market for a wide selection of apps.

  • obokee

    Ray Dube,
    at least you received a reply of some kind. I wrote days ago and have received only silence. It’s OK though because in the meantime I ferreted out an information source that was helpful.

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    It can’t access the official Android Market, only Getjar and other app stores like Amazon, Andappstore, etc. Check out our list of supported market and esential apps here http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

  • Rissa_389

    If you are looking for a tablet, you will be highly disappointed. If you are looking for an e-reader, you will be highly amazed!

  • Batmaniak

    About to get my 3rd one. The interface is complete garbage and the thing can’t even start, never mind connect. It works until the factory charge dies, then its a brick

  • Batmaniak

    The CEO is clearly lying

  • Ereader

    According to the Kobo website, Vox is NOT compatible with Adobe Digital Editions.  The reviewer needs to get the facts correct before publishing.

  • Scarlet

    I’m from Canada and going to the States for Thanksgiving..thinking of buying  the Kobo Vox..would there be  problem for use & downloading in Canada…Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13610316 Jessika Trepanier

    I’d like to know what you think of Battery Life – I have heard it does not last nearly as long as other Ereaders and it is one of the major cons of getting this one. 

  • Sukie

    I  ordered my Vox from Best Buy online at the end of Oct.

  • marsbar@telus.net

    K – I bought the Kobo Vox on the 2nd.  Yes I can go on the FB and comment or like friends status and a few other basics of FB but I can not play scrabble or lexulous, I can not see who else is online  . . .  My HTC phone is more sophisticated.  The Kobo is a reader first, not a tablet.  I wish I would have invested in a tablet and uploaded a free reader than bought a reader that has some very basic social apps.
     

  • Hopper11

    Sounds excellent.  Now all I need is a Kobo that can tell when I fall asleep, which I always do, when I’m listening to  books when I go to bed, so that when I go back the next night, it just picks up when I snoozed off.

  • Mitch R.

    Here I sit listening to some great Classical music as I type my full endorsement of the Kobo Vox!  I purchased mine from Best Buy on the 28th of October, unboxed, ran the setup routine, and after a hassle-free find of my Wi-Fi…was fully up and running in 15 minutes. I am perplexed by the problems some are entering here regarding their Vox. Truly!  Was I blessed?  I dunno…
     
    1. No screen bleed around the edges.
    2. No issue with screen wake up whether Wi-Fi is engaged or not, whether it is plugged into the mains or not.  (I do though, always wait one minute or more before any wake-up attempt, and perhaps that is what is needed for no issues in this regard).
    3. Someone said that the Vox does not support x.wma music files. That is not accurate. My entire collection is Windows Media Audio format files..and they are loaded and playing away as I type this sentence.  Just wanted other readers to know. It supports all major formats right out of the first firmware update via your initial setup. I am listening through high-end headphones, and the balance between treble, mid-range, and bass is most pleasing. The Vox has adequate volume to make you need to turn it down to a comfortable level. Surfing or reading my newspaper subscriptions is truly enhanced when doing so with music!
     
    The reading experience is first rate. For most generic reading environments, I have engaged the AUTO BRIGHT that adjusts the screen brightness via the embedded light level sensor. For night reading, I usually come off AUTO and adjust manually to my personal preferences. I also do use the night mode when my spouse is sleeping and I have no lights on in the bedroom. I find that the Night Mode does allow you to read in a totally darkened environment.  Wonderful…she gets to sleep..and I can still read and enjoy.  A great feature!
     
    The texts are crisp, the screen and colour saturation it displays is beautiful…YouTube vids and downloaded movies have a fully saturated depth-of-colour, with great detail still coming off of a 7 inch screen.  All this for  $199.99?   Thank you, Kobo!  (large grin)!
     
    My mini review is that for a dedicated colour eReader that also has main-line (plus) Tablet functions and user experience, this Kobo Vox has absolutely MORE than met my expectations, and am simply thrilled with the unit.
     
    It takes time to update the USER (smile) as well as the Vox to get it to a level of User Custom Layout and personal spec’s. But having taken that few hours or days…it is rewarded with such a sweet and satisfying operation and experience.  I can only wait for and expect firmware improvements and tweaks from the Kobo Development Team in the ongoing weeks and months since RTM.
     
    I have seen a particularly harsh review of the Kobo Vox (won’t mention the site…perhaps most already know…) with in my personal opinion, the reviewer didn’t have a clue in the scope and setup of the unit. I feel he has a done a terrible disservice to the eReader community. I fear that some are going to be swayed from even checking the unit out for themselves..and what a crime that would be. But..that will happen, and sadly so. (did he even read the O.M. to find out the proper use of features and setup?!?!) in his unboxing and usage review.  He showed truly Type A personality impatience with the unit, and seemed to not even let the set-up routine complete without constant demand input from the reviewer’s fingers taps!  Anybody would know to leave ANY type of computer apparatus totally alone whilst in the process of firmware/software/driver update. This from a reviewer?  I dismissed the trashing review on that basis alone, quite frankly.
     
    To end here…..a final note of Thumb’s Up to Kobo for a fine product…a remarkable price point for features and quality…and here’s to the Development Team in the coming months to make this a truly fine purchase, beyond what it is already at product release.
     
    My two, or possibly three cents… 
     
    Cheers!

  • Millerpat1

    Are you able to download the kindle app?

  • Mitch R.

    Yes…I have the Kindle, B and N…all of them. I have had no problems downloading and installing any of the recommended apps from Good eReader. I have the Vox… ADE enabled as well, through one of the apps that allows it, and have one of the books that I couldn’t get now fully available on its shelf.  Truly…am having a ball with the unit. I hope others get their Vox birth pangs figured out.

  • Pb

    Does anyone know how to add (public) library books to the kobo vox? I was able to do it with the old kobo via adobe digital editions, but that doesn’t seem to work with the vox.
    Thanks!

  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader
  • http://goodereader.com/blog/ Good E-Reader

    Yes, you can install the Overdrive application and borrow/read your  books right on the app. We have the download and tutorial available here http://goodereader.com/blog/electronic-readers/essential-kobo-vox-apps-and-tools/

  • Pb

    Hi,
    Have you been able to add (public) library ebooks to your vox? Any suggestions?
    Thanks!

  • Glencroft

    I am loving mine, until this morning when I purchased and downloaded an instructional book and the images are showing up as ? marks???!!! All other images are fine and I have had no problems with the Vox.  Wish there was a better FAQ area on kobo, where you might be able to find help more easily. 

  • gera

    Why I’m returning My
    Kobo
    I was delighted when I read about the
    Kobo Vox. l travel a lot and appreciate the portabilty of an e-reader. I was
    attracted to a unit with colour so that I could read magazines. I also wanted
    to be able to download CBC Podcasts and programs (through iTunes) so I could
    listen to programs when I’m in a plane. Being able to get email and browse the
    internet are a basic neccesity. I have a 2nd Generation Kindle but the Vox
    appeared to offer everything I needed as well as being available in Canada- unlike Kindle Fire.  All the positive reviews sealed the deal so I
    decided to switch brands and purchase a Kobo Vox. I was absolutely delighted
    with the Kobo as an e-reader. My satisfaction began to errode on the second day
    when I began to prepare for a trip by attempting to launch apps and magazines.
    My first Vox had to be returned for
    an exchange as it kept displaying error annuncements that flashed off and on
    before I was able to read them. The
    exchange was smooth and I appreciated the Kobo assist on the phone and at the
    Chapters Store.

    Unfortunately things didn’t improve
    with the second Vox.

    I’m returning my Vox
    because-

    *When I travelled from Victoria to
    Chicago from Nov. 4-9 the Kobo couldn’t make any wifi connections in any
    airports or hotels. I had NO internet connections on the Kobo for the entire
    trip. I was unable to check news or download any books. Ironically I ended up
    using the experimental browser feature on my Kindle to check email. The Kindle
    connected to wifi consistently.

    *I tried to load itunes to
    cummulate a collection of CBC programes but after several frustrating hours I
    gave up.

    * The selection of magazines
    available is extremely limited and does not include the publications that I
    usually purchase. (ie- Vanity Fair)

    *Installing apps and having them
    launch is a frustrating exercise that doesn’t seem to work on a consistent
    basis.

    I know that the product is new and
    fixes will gradually become available but I’m not a techie by nature – I’m busy and need to be able to
    use my e-reader out of the box, not seek out patches, downloads  and fixes. 

  • Mitch R.

    Yes, no problem with OVERDRIVE.   Just find your library…connect, type in your library card PIN…and have at it.  Right now, I have about 50 books (free as well as purchased) on my Vox.  Another tip…when at home, just use an extension cord along with your Vox charger, and keep your Vox plugged in as you would your laptop as you use it to surf or read. There’s no reason to tap into your battery life cycles.  That way, the reader will always have a full charge ready for when you need a truly out-of-home mobile usage. If at home…use the wall socket!  Your Kobo Vox’s battery will not be in any risk of an over-charged condition. There is circuitry within the Vox that monitors and shuts off the charging cycle whether plugged into the mains or not, when the battery has reached a fully charged condition.

  • Pb

    THANK YOU!!!

  • Guest2

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE JUST CLARIFY IF PDFs ACTUALLY WORK? Do you need an app or does it not support it? And by work I mean, do I have to convert them (I would prefer not to)? If no conversion is required, are there lagging, glitching issues when viewing pdfs?

    I have been searching for the answer all over the internet but no one gives a straight response.

    CAN YOU WATCH AVI’s too?

    PLEASE SOMEONE RESPOND WITH A DEFINITIVE ANSWER WHO HAS ACTUALLY EXPERIENCED USING THIS DEVICE!!

  • Frank Wishart

    Thanks for the well thought out review. I picked up my Kobo Vox this past week as a Christmas gift and wont be able to use it until then unfortunately. Out of all of the reviews I have seen on the Vox this was by far the most helpful. 

  • Mitch R.

    Hello Frank,

    Since having purchased my unit on Oct. 28th/11, I have spent the days searching out all the app’s that I would want upon it. Found all to date!

    I have not had one single problem with my Vox.  Truthfully…not one.  My personal M. O. is to keep the Vox plugged in (with a three foot extension cord…) while I am using it in the house.  No matter where, it gets plugged in, with the result of no battery usage. If going out of the house for a Tim’s…lol…the battery is ready to hit the road for the day!  Again, no problems of any kind with being plugged in whilst in use. If I am not going to be using it for a day or longer…I do in fact unplug it from the wall. The charging circuit than can rest and last. It doesn’t need to be plugged in 24/7 to fit my M.O.

    I have probably sold a dozen of these things…whereby people watch me using it…(Starbuck’s, Tim’s, bookstore’s…parks, etc) and can’t help but notice my intense interaction and the many smiles as I whip around the app’s and functions. Read a book, take a pause, kick into the mags, newspapers….start surfing…all of it!  I have had absolutely no trouble whatsoever in connecting to the Net pretty much anywhere I park my behind. You would not believe how many persons have totally open and unsecured Wi-Fi.  Even when I can hook up with a coffee shop (that has an open hot spot for customers), you can still poll on the Vox and due to its sensitivity….still pick up about three or four private unsecured and secured possible Wi-Fi hits. The unit is very sensitive. To give you an example….I was about a half mile from a known hot spot source inside a factory that has this for their employees in the lunch room.  Believe it or not…there I was happily surfing away….at a Tim’s whilst hooked into that hot spot deep inside that half-mile away factory!  Frank…this unit for $199.99…..ROCKS!  Finally, there is not one person observing me, and doing the over-my-shoulder peek at the unit that does’n’t say that the screen output is drop-dead-gorgeous. Not one…and most run out of the place to pick one up…LOLOLOL.   Have fun with yours!

    Cheers,

    Mitch R.

  • Mitch R.

    You’re most welcome. Enjoy your Vox to the max! 

    Mitch R.

  • Mitch R.

    I see that I had a couple of typo’s after having sent the post. Please just do a mental correction…as you can’t edit after you send.  Thanks.

    Mitch R.

  • Brian

    I have downloaded a book from my local library onto my desk.  I have tried Adobe Digital Edition but this will not recognize my Vox.  I have downloaded Overdrive but that does not have the book in it to download.  I have Overdrive downloaded on my Vox but that does not do anything.  Is there anyway of getting the book form my laptop to my Vox? and some people are saying that ADE is not compatible with the Vox and some are saying it is. Is there a right answer? 

  • Slbrydges

    I have not been successful downaaod from Overdrive on my Vox, (did it all the time on my touch) I even purchased a micro SD card since it would not go directly to my Vox.  On my PC the card will show the library downloads on the card  but when inserted into the VOX  displays empty.  Today my vox won’t turn on and I have never been able to use it while plugged in!  Even with these recentt issues I am a big fan.  Ay idea what I might be doing wrong?

  • Mitch R.

    You might wish to then query Kobo about using the Overdrive app on their reader.  As for not being able to use the Vox while plugged in…this should not in any way (being plugged in) interfere with your operating the Vox.  I have been doing it from purchase-day one.  I think you might have a corrupted firmware in operation…and would suggest you contact a kobo rep to have them run you through a reapplication of the initial set-up routine.  I don’t know for sure if just running the set-up again, would in fact overwrite your present firmware EPROM. That…you’d have to ask a Kobo tech in-the-know.

    Hope you get it all sorted out.  I am most satisfied with mine to date in all its applications, eReader and economical Tablet mode.

  • Cypher369

    how to fix the I gotta yellow light, blank screen and holding the power button for 10 secs to reset does not work issue.  Pop the cover off the back, disconnect the battery, reconnect it, hold the power button till it comes back on, got apps, setting and update the firmware, the yellow light should begone or turn green if plugged in charger.  U should be good to go after that. 

  • Jeff Goldstein

    Kobo appears to have the WORST customer service I have seen in years. They were down for over a week where certain platforms such as the BlackBerry Playbook was not able to access any of the ebooks, existing purchases and the like.  

    They did not even acknowledge an issue on their website.. 

    There is a reason why Amazon is the king – Customer support. as far as Kobo I would go somewhere else.

  • Steve Briggs

    Has anyone tried swapping the internal 8Gig SD card for a larger (say 32Gig) one? You’d have to copy the original’s files onto the new card first, of course…

  • Anonymous

    I downloaded the Overdrive app which allows me to keep using my library
    to download ebooks.  The cool part is that it goes right to the Kobo
    rather than having to go to my laptop to ADE and then my Kobo (I have
    the original Kobo).  Yay!

    I have a bunch of epubs in Calibre that I copied to my Vox.  I can see that they are on my Vox (through Windows
    Explorer and Calibre) but I can’t actually access them on my Vox.  
    Help!

  • Pb

    Has anyone been able to use the calendar that comes preloaded on the vox? I get an error whenever I try to sign in. Alternately, is there a good calendar app that will work on the vox? I looked in get apps but I can’t seem to find anything.
    Thanks!

  • Mitch R.

    Tap the Library app on your Vox home screen, and then tap the lower MIDDLE icon button. That will bring up options on the bottom of your screen. On the top right, you will see an option to IMPORT. Tap that…and then follow the instructions. The Vox will find your Calibre downloads and with you checking and or unchecking the ‘finds’…will then import them/it into your main Library.  Easy as pie!

  • Jeff Goldstein

    What a piece of trash. With the Amazon Fire or B&B Nook tablet or even the BB Playbook (which will be $200 next week) why would anyone buy this garbage. It’s slow, poor screen, no flash support, crap apps and thats just the start.. Do your self a favor and forget this toy.

  • Solsimpson68

    I have had the Kobo Vox for almost 3 weeks but I have only been able to read from it for a few days.  The first problem was that I couldn’t download the Owner’s Manual.  I was not the only one but within a week, Kobo seemed to have fixed the glitch.  I am not technologically savy and have had a difficult time with this thing.  Now, I cannot access the books that I have downloaded due to a problem connecting to the “Kobo Server”.  The help line eventually told me that they were updating their website which was affecting my app “Library”; sounded like nonsense to me but I waited the 2 days like they said-still nothing.  I called again and this time they had no idea what I was talking about!  There were no updates to their website and this guy couldn’t even help me except to get me to clear all of my data!  He said he’d email me within 2 days to give me an answer and…of course nothing!  I will give it one more day, but I am returning this thing tomorrow.  I was sooo pleased with being able to read on the go.  What a disappointment!
    SS

  • Navoi

    “Things move fast with the 800 MHZ CPU processor and 512 MB of RAM. Scrolling through various menus was very snappy and apps seemed to load fairly quickly. “Mine has crashed many times on simple tasks like ereading and browsing, I’m returning it tomorrow because of its ridiculous sluggish behavior. Its screen is barely responsive, plenty of bloatware, doesn’t wake up from sleep half the time and it bleeds light. Buggy machine, I regret buying it. 

  • http://twitter.com/Tech_Gone_Wild Ezekiel Carsella

    I would like this a bit more than my Skypad Alpha

  • Guest

    I just want to say thank you to Good ereader. After serveral hours of desperately surfing the kobo site and trying just to figure out how to load a book – this site has helped immensely. I had the Vox all boxed up and ready to  go back to the store with intentions of downgrading to the Kobo touch and this site has helped soooo much. I really hope Kobo has offered a huge cheque for saving so much of their business!

  • Mumsews

    As I understand it, iTunes only works on Apples.  You will need an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (maybe a classic) to listen to podcasts from iTunes.

  • Jeanette M

    Ive just bought my Kobo Vox and I can’t watch a single video on youtube. All I get is a message saying “Cannot play video, sorry, this video cannot be played”  I thought as the app for youtube was there Id be able to watch whatever video I wanted. Im very angry.

  • Pb

    Sometimes I can download library books on overdrive, but sometimes I get Error contacting Adobe License Service. (error code 1069)

    Any idea how I can fix it?

  • Susan

    Nice video content… This sold the device for me for this christmas, its going to my 16 year old, who asked for an iPod touch lol…but this outshines it by far I think!

  • rosie

    This company (Kobo) has no technical support (customer support says they will send an email to tech support who will get back to you who knows when), customer support knew less than I did as I had at least I had read the manual. (no kidding, her English was very poor, she did not know the device nor the manual and admitted it).  Nothing works: can’t download my email account etc. but the worst problem is that I cannot find any place that sells audio books online for the Kobo hat can be downloaded over the net . If Chapters can do that I connot see how on their website.It looks like this device came onto the market to parnter with Chapters and neither company was really ready.  Why would Kobo advertise this device as one that can read to you when there is no way to buy audio books?  I can see why a really good company audio book company like Audible hasn’t associated themselves with Kobo.  Don’t buy a Kobo ereader!

  • Karen Duke73

    My calendar doesn’t work either, i contacted kobo,but as yet still waiting for a reply. This is the second vox that ive had in in four days as my first was faulty too. Did you ever get a reply?

  • Josie Marrella

    Why won’t my adobe digital editons on my mac register my kobo vox when i connect them together?

  • Millerpat1

    I don’t have a mac but I have a pc.  Every once in a while mind don’t connect right away.  I pull the USB cable and then hook it again….after a couple of times it shows up in the list…..

  • Pamnorena

    Thank you for the information on library books, apps and the Vox. I am now able to enjoy free books from the library. However the top half of my Kobo Vox screen now has a light blue background! I can read the print but it is a bit distracting having a half blue, half white screen. Has anyone had this problem? Kobo are slow to help-in other words, they haven’t got back to me.

  • Ris Kentb

    I am trying to log in using my Kobo arc for the first time at the Library.
    1) Selected the WiFi and logged in but got the message “unable to update” — Error #7

  • Wordsmith

    Re the Scrabble version on Vox. What kind of dictionary doesn’t contain eden, satan and squaw? Is this political correctness gone completely mad and/or has the Christian right taken over Mirriam-Webster? The version on Vox should be called Frustration not Scrabble. It’s ridiculous and annoying. Who are these people who are tinkering with MY language in this ridiculous way?

  • sexy kitten book review

    this was pulled out of future shops due to it shutting down or pulling errors or in my case shutting down while reading and not turning on for hours but when you are a book reviewer that just cant happen in my life.