Tolino has issued three different generations of the Shine e-reader, which is their mid level device. This is the first model in the lineup that was designed by Kobo and the Shine 3 is basically the Kobo Clara HD shell and internals. It does have Tolino software and the Tolino bookstore, which is appealing to the German audience.
In late 2017 Kobo purchased the Tolino ecosystem from Deutsche Telekom. The deal gave Kobo full control over the hardware and software of the Tolino brand. The other members of the Tolino Alliance still sold ebooks via the Tolino Bookstore and sold Tolino e-readers in their retail locations.
The Tolino brand is distinctively German and appeals to anyone who speaks the language. Tolino e-readers are sold in Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.
You will not find Kobo e-readers sold in Germany anymore, this is because Kobo doesn’t want to compete against their own interests. This is good, because the only major brand that Tolino competes against, is Amazon.
The Shine 3 features a six inch capacitive touchscreen display with E Ink Carta HD and a resolution of 1448×1072 pixels and 300 dpi. The frontlit display and color temperature system allow customers to read in the dark and help mute the bright white screen with varying degrees of orange, to provide candlelight effect. Tolino bills their lighting system as “Smart Light.”
The lighting system has 8 white LED’s and 7 orange LED’s. If you turn both the front-lit display and the Smart Light on, all of the LEDS work in concert and it provides a really bright and vibrant reading experience. The Smart Light has an automatic setting that does not use an ambient light sensor, instead of relies on the time of day and your time zone to automatically configure itself. Auto brightness is optional and can be completely turned off, you don’t need to use it if you don’t want to.
Underneath the hood is a Freescale IMX6 Solo Lite 1GHZ processor, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. There is an additional 25GB of storage space available via the Tolino Cloud. The battery is 1500 mAh and the dimensions are 110x156x8.35 mm and it weighs 166g.
This e-reader is available now for €119 from Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel or ordered online.
Software and ebooks
The main home screen comprises of the books you have recently bought from the Tolino Bookstore or have side loaded. It normally shows just 3 titles and the bottom of the screen is devoted to titles in the bookstore or hyping up the Tolino Subscription system, Tolino Select.
If you touch the light setting on the top of the screen a little illumination button will appear on the screen. If you touch it, it will turn the front-light on or off. If you scroll downwards when this icon is on the screen, it will open up a mini-menu with a number of options. There is a scrollbar that will adjust the brightness of the screen and also another to turn on the color temperature system on/off.
The Shine 3 is basic. You have a few options on the main menu, that is located on the top left hand side of the screen. They are; bookstore, internet browser, settings, my account and information & Help.
The settings menu will likely be the first stop people make, since you have to establish a WIFi connection to setup your login/password to the Tolino bookstore. If you do not speak German, you can establish the language you speak, which will change the UI and all of the text on the screen. Available languages are English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch are all options available. There are also dictionaries available for each language option.
You are purchasing the Tolino Shine 3 because you want to read ebooks. One of the big selling points is that you are not locked into one specific ecosystem. When you initially setup the the e-reader and define what country you are living in you can establish what bookstore you want to do business with. There is an extensive list such as Thalia, Weltbild, IndieBook, Buch, Libris and many others. You can even log-out of one account and login to another, and buy books. Everything will be contained in your library menu. Icendentiy, the library menu is accessible on the main home screen.
When you are reading an ebook there are a few different menu options. You can rotate the screen from portrait mode to landscape. It does not have a gyroscope, so this system is software driven. You have a note, bookmarks, text options and lighting controls.
Text options would likely be one of the things people visit first, since most people have their own favorite font size or font type. Font size is controlled with a slider bar and there are a number of preloaded fonts, but others can be sideloaded in the main /font directly of the root. Of course there are other customization options such as alignment and margins.
The e-reading experience is standard fare if you have ever had a Tolino before, it is not breaking new ground with a new rendering engine. The e-reader currently supports a multitude of formats, such as Adobe DRM protected: ePUB, PDF; Unsecured: ePUB, PDF, TXT. Reading PDF files is not very good, as you can see from our review video.
The Tolino Shine 3 is comparable to the entry level Kindle, Kobo Clara HD or the Pocketbook HD 4. I would likely say to spend the extra money and buy the EPOS or the Vision 4 HD. These devices are waterproof and have bigger screens.
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 CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.