Australian based Kogan has developed its first fully touchscreen e-reader to compete against other devices in the market, such as the Kobo Touch. It seems to be solid, but is it a must buy?
The new Kogan Touch features a 6 inch e-ink touchscreen with an Epson Display Controller. The resolution is average to most new entrants to the market with 800×600 pixels and 16 levels of greyscale. It has a Arm 9 core Samsung processor and only has a woeful 64MB of RAM. The lack of RAM in the unit is disturbing because the average reader has 512MB.
It has enough internal memory to suit most casual users with 4GB. It is a pleasant surprise to have so much internal memory in a non-android tablet. The average reader normally has only 2 GB of internal memory. Of course, if 4 GB is not enough for your expansive library, you can enhance it up to 32 GB via the SD card.
There is no built in WIFI with the Kogan Touch, so you would have to purchase books via your PC and transfer them with Adobe Digital Editions. The lack of WIFI keeps the price down and since Kogan does not really have an ebook store you are free to shop at other retailers.
On the hardware port front it has a Mini USB port to transfer content from your PC to your reader. It also serves to charge your device. The battery life is indicitive to the general e-ink experience with 3 months of useage or 10,000 page turns. There is also a 3.5mm headphone jack in order to listen to audiobooks or music.
The device itself has 6 major buttons that you will use in your day to day life. It has a page turn button to go forward and backwards. There is also a Home Screen, Back, Settings, and a lock orientation button.
The Kogan Touch runs a Linux based operating system. The menu options are bare-bones with only a book reader, music player, and picture viewer.
It really shines as an ebook reader, which is the primary function. It currently has a number of supported formats such as PDF, CHM, EPUB, TXT, HTM, HTML, RTF, DJVU, DJV, IW44, IW4, FB2, OEB, PRC, MOBI, TCR, OPF. If English is not your primary language, the reader has support for English, Italian, French, Russian, Dutch, and German.
Since the reader does not have WIFI like we mentioned in the hardware overview of the Kogan Touch, you cannot physically buy books on it. That should not stop you from reading right away as the reader is bundled with over 1,000 free books in EPUB format.
In order to buy books you want to shop for them on your PC and then transfer them via Adobe Editions or Calibre. No word yet if there will be library support in Australia for the Kogan reader but since it runs EPUB for the supported format, I don’t see why not.
The organization of books is fairly solid with the ability to create collections and favourites. I really liked the search function that allowed you to look for a particular book.
Pictures on e-ink often have tremendous resolution and high contrast. It has direct support for JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG, and TIFF formats.
We mentioned audiobooks before and it’s always solid to have a device that allows you to listen to books or music. The Kogan Touchscreen Reader has the advantage over the Kobo Touch in the respect that it has support for MP3, WAV, APE, and FLAC codecs.
The Kogan Touch is a positive step forward for the company to offer a solid device at only $160 AUS. It is a drawback that you don’t have WIFI on it to let you browse the internet or buy books directly. They make up for it by the price and the battery life.
The low cost actually effects the overall quality of it. It is made of plastic that does not feel durable or of high quality design.
The lack of RAM really inhibits the responsiveness of doing common tasks. You often have a fair number of buttons you press and nothing really happens. When you utilize such aspects of the search function there is also LAG in the ability to use the onscreen keyboard.
I would not recommend this device mainly because of the better quality ones on the market right now and in the next few months. You might as well buy the Kobo Touch, Amazon Kindle WIFI, or the new Sony Reader WIFI available in October.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.