Kobo Arc Review: Interesting Competitor For Kindle Fire
This holiday season has pretty much been dominated by iPad and Kindle Fire HD, but there's another player on the market that's pretty good and a good deal. The Kobo Arc is a pretty impressive little tablet that puts Kindle Fire HD and the Nook to the test.
The Kobo Arc is a tablet device meant to compete with the likes of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. eReader manufacturers have been making increasing efforts to crack into the tablet market, offering low-end, low-priced tablets that offer all the tablet essentials, plus support for the company’s own online book store.
The Arc is a new device from Kobo, and completes their new Kobo product range. It’s a development of the old Kobo Vox, released in 2011, which was an underwhelming device. So can Kobo make a big improvement on the Vox this time around, and make a product that might be worth buying? Let’s find out.
Key Specs For The Kobo Arc
Average Price: $249.99
Release Year: 2012
Screen Size: 7 inches
Screen Type: Color LCD
Weight: 12.8 oz
Storage Size: 16GB
Main eBook Format: ePub + Apps
Kobo Arc: The Pros
Tablet Features: The Kobo Arc has a full suite of tablet features, allowing you to do everything you’d expect. That includes watching streaming media online, viewing photos, watching movies, listening to music, playing games, browsing the web, downloading applications and more.
For those looking at the Arc primarily as an eReader, the tablet features are a great bonus that will add a lot to the value of the product and give you access to a whole new world of technology in addition to a portable ebook reader.
16GB And 32GB Storage Options: The Arc comes in two different versions, the 16GB version and the 32GB version. There are advantages to each. The main advantage of the 16GB version is that it’s cheaper than the 32GB version. It’s storage is still adequate for most needs, and certainly if you’re mainly planning to use the device as an eReader.
The 32GB option is more expensive, but gives you a lot of extra room to play around with. You could store 16 movies on the extra 16GB of space, all of which you could watch when on the go. There are lots of reasons why you might want more storage, but basically if you’re going to do a lot of downloading, the added storage capacity will be a big advantage.
7” Screen: The 7” screen size makes this tablet portable, and it fits nicely into the category for small tablets, the majority of which also have 7” screens. Of course, the small screen has limitations. For one thing, it’s not as nice to view movies on a screen of 7” as one of 10.1”. Photos, too, suffer from this, and the web browsing experience isn’t as good. But these are all trade-offs for something more portable.
For those looking at this tablet from an eReader perspective, it’s worth noting that this screen is similarly sized to the majority of eReaders, making that aspect of the reading experience very similar.
Supports Google Play: Unlike the competition from Kindle and Nook, the Kobo Arc offers full native support for Google Play. That means you can download any of the over 600,000 applications currently available on the Google Play service, giving you plenty of choice to do anything you could possible want with your tablet.
Tapestries Discovery Edition: A really nice new feature of the Kindle Arc’s Android-based operating system is the Tapestries concept. The Arc file system allows you to create “Tapestries” which are essentially like folders on a standard computer. However, within each tapestry you are able to pin anything you like from the full range of media – whether photo, video, music, web page etc.
You simply name the tapestry and then pin away, allowing you to collate all kinds of related media in one place. For example, if you’re a fan of basketball, you could name the tapestry “basketball” and inside that tapestry pin anything basketball related that you find while using the tablet. At a later point, you can view the tapestry and see all the bits of media you have pinned to the “basketball” tapestry.
Ice Cream Sandwich: For Android fans, it’s good to know that this tablet runs on the reliable and popular Ice Cream Sandwich Android operating system.
Good Video Quality: When playing movies on the tablet, images look crisp and clean. That’s great for all movie fans who enjoy watching their favourite movies on their tablets.
Speakers: The speakers on this tablet are front-facing, and offer plenty of volume. The front-facing position is superior to the positioning of the speakers on both the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire, giving you a better sound experience.
Kobo Reading Life And Pulse: As with the Kobo eReaders, this tablet includes Kobo Readling Life and Pulse features. Reading Life lets you integrate your reading life into the social media environment, giving you options such as the ability to automatically send passages which you highlight in eBooks to your Facebook page. The Pulse feature is also innovative, allowing you to chat with other people who are reading the same book as you. And to avoid any spoilers, you can also choose to limit discussion only to people who are at the same point in a book as you are.
Kobo Arc: The Cons
No Expandable Memory: A surprising omission from this device is the ability to expand storage space. More and more tablets are offering SD memory card slots that can allow for up to 32GB more storage space with the biggest memory cards. This means you’ll have to be more careful about managing storage space on the device, especially if you opt for the 16GB version.
Back Lit Display: For anyone looking at this tablet as a potential eReader, it’s important to note that this has a back lit display. That means that it looks just like a computer screen or any of the other tablets on the market: a bright light shining at your eyes.
It’s well known that these screens can cause eye strain if used for reading for lengthy periods of time. So if you’re an avid reader and plan on having lots of multi-hour reading sessions, you’d best stick to a traditional eReader.
Not As Powerful As Other Tablets: While this tablet is good enough, for any users who really make demanding use of their tablet by playing top-end games and doing lots of multi-tasking it might be better to look at something a little further up the price-range that offers more power.
Is The Kobo Arc Worth Buying?
While the Kobo Arc does have its limitations, it has lots of nice features and the innovative “Tapestries Discovery Edition” system. For those looking at this tablet primarily as an eReader, they’ll need to look elsewhere unless they’ll only be doing very light reading. However, as a tablet, the Arc is certainly worth considering – not least for its full access to the Google Play applications service. A worthy competitor to the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, this is a tablet that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Naturally, the best deal you’ll get is at Amazon for this one and you can check out their sales on them here.
For all tablets, we’ve also reviewed the Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Kindle Fire HD, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, Asus Google Nexus 7 and the Sony Reader. We also did a side by side comparison of the Kindle Fire HD versus the Apple iPad to give you an idea of the choices you have. It’s a big market out there for buyers now…just choose wisely and figure out exactly what you want your tablet to do for you.