Review of the Kobo Wireless e-Reader

Kobo wireless ereader

The Kobo Wireless WIFI ebook reader just came out today and Good e-Reader has the full hands-on review of the new flagship electronic reader by Kobo.

The Kobo Wireless e-reader is a giant leap forward by Kobo in comparison to their original Kobo E-Reader that came out earlier this year. The new model has wireless internet access that allows you to shop at the Kobo eBook store, and comes with new features such as a built in Websters Dictionary.

The Hardware

The Kobo Wireless has 16 levels of grayscale and a screen resolution of 600×800 pixels and also packs a 6 inch e-ink screen. The original Kobo has only 8 levels of greyscale. So you will find more contrast and higher resolution to display cover art, and eBooks will be more vibrant. You will also notice page turn speeds have been increased over the original Kobo, pages turn about 2x faster with a upgraded internal processor.

It comes integrated with about 1 Gigabyte of internal storage and you can increase it via SD Card to about 4 GB.

One of the best new hardware features is the new Wireless connectivity with WiFi 802.11 b/g. It will allow you to shop or update their library on the go, and receive wireless deliveries of newspapers. Kobo includes wireless support for home networks, free networks and commercial hotspots, like those in public places or coffee shops. If your wireless network is encrypted with WEP you can enter numbers and letters via the on-screen keyboard.

Finally, let’s take a look at battery life. If you have Wireless turned off, it will last around 2 weeks, or over 10,000 page turns.

eBooks and media delivery

The Kobo wireless is a giant leap forward in intergrating Kobo’s existing eBook store with their e-reader. In order to start purchasing eBooks from Kobo, you first need to register an account. You cannot register an account on the device itself, so you will need access to a computer, laptop etc. Once you register your account and enter it into your Kobo, you can begin to access ebooks and magazines.

The Best Kobo ebook format currently is ePub, so you do not HAVE to purchase your ebooks from Kobo, you can use Adobe Digital Editions for DRM content or use Windows Explorer to copy non-DRM books to your device. eBooks have 5 different font settings so you can increase, or decrease the size of the words displayed on the screen.

The Kobo version of their store on the Kobo Wireless is very simple to use, they have various genre categories to let you browse for content. They have their top 50 list, as well as browse by categories and bestsellers.

One of the great leaps forwards is being about to subscribe to have your local newspaper be delivered by your Kobo. You can take out a free subscription at first to get a feel for how the media is presented. We had access to the Canadian version of the Kobo, so we could get newspapers such as the Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette and over 8 other newspapers. The Trial is free, then it costs around $14.99 a month to keep on subscribing.

What makes newspapers great on the Kobo is they have a dedicated menu category devoted to it on your device. So not only can you organize your pure ebook library, you can then have a separate menu category devoted to your one, or many, newspaper subscriptions.

The Kobo Wireless also comes with an integrated Websters Dictionary. The Dictionary is accessible only when you have an ebook open, and then click on the MENU function. You can then click on any word displayed on the current page via your D-PAD and get a full description of it.

Our Views

There is subtle differences with the new Kobo, firstly it comes with 4 different colors, Onyx, Silver, White and Lilac. The Logo on the Kobo changed to one solid color, and also the DPAD and power button colors have also changed to be the color of the e-reader your purchase. It still mantains the diamond grip on the back of the device, to make it fit more firmly in your hands.

We really liked the page turn speed right out of the book! Having used extensively the original Kobo, we found Pages do indeed turn allot faster. This is super important when you are immersed in a book, and the slow page turns will almost take you out of your head space, making you frustrated.

Being able to Shop on the device, is also one of the best reasons to upgrade to the Kobo Wireless. Kobo boasts a library of over 2.2 million ebooks, and it is important for your users to buy directly from you on their e-reader, where there is no other options to purchase ebooks directly on your reader. If you look at say the Sony PRS-350 or new PRS-650 you cannot buy ebooks on the ebook readers themselves. You have to purchase ebooks from Sony online, where their are more Stores offering discounted books and give you more options.

Kobo is a strong emerging brand in a very short period of time. They really just came out of nowhere, offering 2 new e-readers, and a huge ebook store, that they are affillited with the Borders database of ebooks. Dispite this, they have tons of Apps available for the iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, the PC and more!

The one drawback of this device, is that it feels sluggish and unresponsive when you are navigating all menus and store. You might click down, and it won’t refresh for over 8 seconds. This makes it so you end up double clicking, then your e-reader will jump menu to menu or screen to screen. This is one of the most frustrating aspects of both iterations of the Kobo reader. For us, its a deal breaker.

The Kobo certainly has competition with the new Amazon Kindle Graphite WIFI and the Barnes and Noble Nook WIFI in terms of overall price. Certainly if you look at features and device responsiveness both the Kindle and Nook win.

Kobo is available in more retail locations then their competition. If you live outside of the USA, e-Reader accessibility plummets. Very few retail outlets carry much of any selection of electronic reader. The Kobo is available in all Chapters/Indigo locations, as well as Whitcoulls. It has a strong retail presence in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

If you were an original Kobo e-Reader convert, or if you got frustrated with the device, the new one certainly elevates most of the more frustrating elements of the first version. Its a decent e-reader at a solid price point $159 to $199 and with their large store, their will be no lack of ebooks to read.

If you live outside of the USA and want to purchase the new Kobo Wireless, check out our retail partner Shop e-Readers! They have the black and white ones in stock, and offer low international shipping with lots of options! You are not forced to pay for a courier with them.

If you want to see our Hands on Video review of the new Kobo Wireless, click HERE.

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Michael Kozlowski (5212 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

  • aaron

    i heard the dictionary can only be used with ebooks purchased through kobo, is this true?

  • Troy

    How do PDF format books look on the Kobo wireless whilst in landscape mode? I was in a Borders today and none of the the 100 free books that come freely on it are in PDF format.

  • karen

    that is correct.

  • hecatom

    Seems like a nice little gadget.

  • Emeralds42

    This product sucks!!! I had it for 5 hours (it has only been on once for about 10 minutes) and the screen is scrambled. What a disappointing Christmas present!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tanis142

    I’d like to correct the statement about the sony readers, you do not have to buy books from the sony online store to be able to put them on the sony readers; in fact, the sony reader supports a very wide range of formats.

  • Nathan

    So far, so good. Have only attempted to read the existing books and enable the wireless radio. Would like to see a means of bringing in RSS feeds or browsing web sites (i.e. Google Reader).

  • Anonymous

    I’m starting to see the Kobo more and more which makes sense…once people find out about this easy-to-use reader, they will be buying it up. It also has space for an extra card to expand your memory – you don’t have to buy a new ereader like with some brands. I’ve had no problems with my Kobo and I love the convenience of having it with me everywhere. What a price, and with WiFi? I’m thrilled! It supports ePub, PDF, and Adobe DRM! ~Kobo Community Manager

  • Landon

    i download my pdf file ebooks straight to my Archos tablet with a website called

    a friend of mine has a Kobo and doesnt like it because he cant use these pdf files on his ereader

    its a shame !

  • Lindavgn

    but if it was FIFTY dollars would it be worth it?

  • Ysil69

    The kobo itself is awesome. Easy to use, basic functioning ereader. The durability of the product is shoddy though. Merely putting pressure between your thumb and a matress while switching positions will crack the screen and earn you a “that’s to bad” from kobo.

  • Bnbpuffinburger

    does it light up to read in the dark or will i still need a book light?

  • Danniz28

    Can you download from you library like you could the older lookbook?  I had one for one day and it blew up and now that model no longer on the market.  I want another but they tell me some will not let you download from the library. I want something easy but that will last.  I don’t need all the bells and whistles just and easy to use e-reader.

  • Marabeth

    This makes the Kobo a terrible product.  they have no support as to use the dictionary with the open format epubs.  Kindle is a much better product.  any book converted to .mobi format works on their dictionary.  All in all I am very upset about this after purchasing an ereader for my 10 year old who now has to stop what she is doing and use a separate book.  

  • Marabeth

    am very uspet about Kobos lack of support. Kobo advertised a great
    Dictionary that is embedded with the Kobo E reader. It was also
    advertised that the Kobo ereader works with open format .epub files.
    Kobo e reader does not support .epub to work with the embeddd dictionary
    and there is no way to use epubs with the dictionary unless they are
    from Kobo directly. Also supervisor Chris Id 20908 has no help and no
    one else at Kobo can help. I am very upset and will be purchasing a
    kindle to replace my kobo. It is a shame because that is my only
    complaint but it makes the Kobo not a usable product.

  • Kelly

    I bought a kobo wifi in January 2011 read a bout 4 books on it then the screen developed a ghost image. A replacement was sent to me in April (takes about three weeks from Canada to Australia) I have read about 5 books on it an now the top half of the screen is scrambled.
    I’ll be looking at a Kindle for my next ereader

  • Granny

    i have no idea how to use my kobo. never had any instructions with it. I’am electronic’s dumb!!!!