January 5, 2012

Kobo Vox E-Reader, great color eReader for Canadians and non-US readers on a budget!

I recently got the Kobo Vox which is Chapters Indigo newest digital color ereader from Best Buy Canada during the Boxing week sale, and saved 20 dollars on it, so I only paid 179.99 Canadian for it. I been using the Kobo Vox for a few weeks, and I am very satisfied with the Kobo Vox as a eReader, web browsing tablet, video and music player since it is so affordable for a eReader tablet, but can do so much things well instead of poorly like most cheaper Tablets and eReaders. The Kobo Vox is the only Google Android color eReader I can find for under 200 dollars with a high resolution screen, decent performance, good reliability, and well built according to reviews I read on Bestbuy.ca, Futureshop.ca, and other Canadian stores. Canada sadly does not have faster eReaders like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook Color Tablet with dual core CPU and faster video chips.

The Kobo Vox is a great eBook reader, and can be a good introductory multimedia Tablet for someone who does not need a microphone, cameras, Full USB 2.0 ports, and wireless Bluetooth connectivity, and more advance features on more expensive Tablets made by Apple, BlackBerry, Motorolla, Dell, Acer, etc, but still want to read ebooks, play non-3D games, watch videos, browse the web, check e-mail, open PDFs, and use simple apps like Address book, music, video, photo viewer, calculator, and notepad.

It is one of the most fastest eReaders you can buy within Canada, and other countries which does not have the Kindle Fire, or Nook Tablet, but has the Kobo Vox. The Vox user experience is also pretty good since it rarely crashes, or freezes when I use it, but bigger files and websites with flash just takes a few more seconds to load compared to the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, and more expensive tablets.

Making a Kobo account, and updating the Kobo vox is also very easy. However, you need to have wireless internet, or use someone else's Wireless internet to setup a Kobo account, and update to the latest firmware for your Kobo Vox. You just follow the instructions on the screen, and use the  on screen keyboard on the Kobo vox to type in your information like e-mail, and make a password for your Kobo account, and let your ereader update to the latest version.
The bundled Instructional paper pamphlet for setting up your Vox is also very easy to follow since it has pictures along with step by step instructions, and there is also a digital version of your Instruction manual on your VOX which is easy to follow.

I like the Kobo Vox bright screen the most, and the touch screen is also pretty responsive for an inexpensive 7 inch multi-touch FFS+ multimedia display capacitive touch screen eReader. I find reading the text on the screen very clear even when near a bright window. The viewing angles are also pretty good. The resolution for the screen is also pretty good at 1024 x 600 which is a lot higher then other eReaders and Tablets for under 200 dollars in Canada. The Screen also has an anti-glare coating on the screen which is optimised for outdoor reading. It is also the same coating which fighter jets use for their displays. I can also read in complete darkness since the Kobo Vox has a backlight which illuminate the Vox's screen, and it is very easy to adjust the brightness of the Vox in the settings in books, or the Vox's home screen settings. The screen is also very smooth on the vox, so you can easily glide your fingers on the Vox to change pages, and launch + control apps on it. You can use two fingers at once to type, and zoom-in because the Vox's screen is a multi-touch display meaning the Vox can sense more then one finger on the screen. A multi touch display is useful for typing, playing games, and zooming in and out of a webpage with 2 or more fingers. The Capacitive touch screen is also pretty sensitive compared to resistive touch screen. I can type, and click on links on websites by gently typing on the touch screen.

The default Google Android Onscreen Keyboard for the Vox built-in to the eReaders Operating System to enter text is easy to use with two thumbs, or just one finger. It is very responsive and accurate for an onscreen keyboard when using it for entering text into e-mails, and other websites, and apps which has text entry.

You can use the keyboard in vertical, and horizontal mode. Vertical has more screen space while horizontal mode has bigger buttons, and larger text boxes.

There is also auto correct and suggestion for the keyboard which can make typing faster on a touch based keyboard.

If you do not like the onscreen keyboard, you can search getjar to download a 3rd party on screen keyboard for Android. SlideIT is a pretty good keyboard you can get at GetJar.

I also like that the Vox has physical home, back, settings, and ON/Off button on the Tablet rather then On Screen Display buttons since this makes it easier to use, and simpler to close applications by using the buttons. The Home, Settings, and Back buttons are also flat, and embedded in the Vox's Bezel, so they take up less space, and you are less likely to accidental press them.

The buttons on the Vox are also very easy to press, and are made of solid metallic like material which does not scratch or dent easily. I can turn on, and adjust the volume by lightly pressing on the buttons.

 The Speaker on the Vox not very loud, but good enough to listen to music, and audio in a quiet room with not a lot of background noise. You can also plug in stereo headphones or portable stereo speakers which uses a 3.5 mm audio jack to listen to louder audio on the Vox in Stereo instead of mono on the Vox.

The volume up and down rocker controls is also very easy to use to adjust the volume level of the Vox.

Downloading free eBooks, or buying paid ebooks from the Kobo online store is also very easy with the Kobo App which comes pre-installed in the Kobo. If you read a lot of free books which you can download with the Kobo App from Kobo store, you'll save a lot of money and time compared to buying the paperback versions of the book at an actual book store.  Plus, eBooks read in the Vox automatically bookmarks your page, so you won't have to remember the last page you read, and what page to turn to. Everytime, you open the book, the Kobo reading app will automatically turn to the last page read.

There is also an App called Overdrive which you can install on your Vox which let you borrow eBooks books from your local library for free. I also believe you can install the Amazon Kindle, and Barnes and Noble App onto your Vox, so you can download read books you bought from Amazon or Barnes and Noble eBooks on your Vox by installing the Kindle and B&N APP for Google Android on your vox.

There are also some audio books/text to speech books which you can buy with the Vox.

The Vox comes bundled with a Franklin Children's, desert cook book, and lonely Planet Europe eBook when you finish setting up the Vox.

The Kobo Vox is also very light, so you can comfortably hold your eBook with just one hand, and the back has a quilted rubber texture, so it is easy to hold because rubber is more grippy like a tire to a road, so it will be less likely to slip out of your hand like smooth metal, or glass surfaces. The rubber texture also does not scratch or scratch your table like metal, plastic, or glass backs since rubber is soft.The Vox is made of solid plastic, but not the cheap kind you find in toys. The plastic seem pretty high quality because it does not make screechy sounds when being held with my hand. It is also very light, so I can hold it for a few hours, and my hand is not tired from holding the Vox.

The User Interface for the Kobo Vox is also pretty nice since it uses the default Android user interface, so it is easy to customise the design with animated wall paper, your own wall paper, widgets, icons, bookmarks, custom launchers, and other android home screen objects by downloading apps, or following guides for Google Android which you can easily find online by searching YouTube, or Google Search.

The performance of the Kobo Vox is also decent since I can watch full-screen YouTube videos on the Vox with the Kobo Vox Android browser, and the videos run very smoothly. It has a 800 MHz single core CPU and 512 MB of RAM, and should be fast enough for web browsing, reading, casual gaming and watching videos.

A 800MHz single core CPU and 512 MB of RAM may sound a bit slow, but it is fast enough for eBooks, web browsing, standard quality videos, many casual games like Scrabble, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, etc, basic apps like Media Player, PDF, photo viewing, and music.

The Google Android operating system based on Linux which the Vox uses does not need an anti-virus, firewall, computer security and eReader maintenance software running in the background like a desktop, and laptop computer, so the Vox's OS uses a lot less RAM, and CPU cycles when ON compared to a Windows 7 computers, so 800MHz and 512MB is enough performance for most tasks ,except for 3D tablet gaming and heavy multi-tasking, which you usually do not do on an eReader or Tablet because of smaller screens, and eReaders are designed for eBook reading and media consumption not creation like video editing, advance photo editing, etc. When I use the Task manager, it only says 40-50MBs of RAM are being used, so I still have hundreds of MBs of free RAM for opening apps. Google Android Gingerbread uses RAM and CPU resources very efficiently in my experience.

An eReader and most small tablets also are not designed for 3D gaming or Multi-tasking because of the small screen space, and lack of keyboard, buttons, mice and joysticks.

eReaders and small Tablets are designed mainly for reading, video, music, writing quick notes, and web browsing on a smaller touch screen device.

One advantages of a slower CPU, and less RAM is better battery life since slower devices with less RAM don't use up as much battery power as quickly, so you don't have to charge it as often. Slower devices also don't generate as much heat, so they are more comfortable to hold compared to a laptop which is faster, but gets hot, or overheats if you have poor ventilation and is heavy to hold.

You'll also save some money on your electricity bill if you mainly use your Vox for reading, videos, and other tasks like e-mail since eReaders use very little power compared to desktop and laptop computers which uses more power because of mechanical hard drive, faster CPU and RAM, bigger LCD or Tube display, cooling fans, bigger speakers, keyboard, mouse, and other things plug into your computer which can use 60 Watts more or less compared to eReaders which uses very little Watts of electricity like 3W or less. If you charge your Kobo Vox at school, work, or public places with freely available electricity with your power adapter, you won't even have to pay for your Vox's power consumption.

The Kobo Vox also is auto updating, so over time as new features and software upgrades which are available for the Vox, it will auto update to the latest stable version of the Vox's software without the need to use a computer to update the software.

The Vox also turns on, and awake from sleep in only a few seconds when you press the power button. You need to hold the power button for about 3 seconds to turn it ON from OFF. Kobo did this to prevent you from accidently turning on your ereader while in your purse, or bag, or by just touching the button. Waking from sleep only takes about 1-2 seconds, and you need to swipe the unlock button to unlock the screen when you turn it on, or awake from sleep, so you won't launch app by accident which can drain your battery life when open. You can also password protect your Kobo Vox to protect your privacy if you only want yourself and people with your pin using using your Vox.

Web browsing on the vox is pretty fast with the bundled browser, and can the Wireless 802.11B/G/N adapter built-in to the Vox is fast, and connects to my home wireless signal very quickly, and does not drop the signal.

Maxthon Mobile Browser for Android, Dolphin HD, Opera Mobile and Opera Mini web browsers have a nicer user interface, and seems a little bit faster for browsing multiple websites at the same time because they support tabs.

Opera Mini is best since it can compress images to load faster on slow wireless connections.

Kobo also released a update on December 2011 which improve the performance, stability, and battery life for the Vox.

The reading experience on it is also pretty good since I can change the font, brightness, and size of the font very easily in the settings for the eBook reader program on the Vox.

The Kobo eReader program is also pretty good since all I have to do is tap the screen to turn the page, and I can read a book in landscape and portrait mode.

Zooming in on pages are also simple by pinching the screen inwards to zoom in, and pinching the screen outwards to zoom out.

The Kobo eBook store has millions of paid and free color eBooks for you to buy, or download for free. You can also use the Kobo Vox to subscribe to color magazines, and newspapers which are delivered to you by using the internet.

The GetJar Apps store also has over 15000 Free Apps for the Kobo Vox which you can download and install with the Vox by downloading and installing APK files from GetJar, and opening the APK files from the Vox once the APK file is downloaded. If you live in the US, you can also use the Amazon App Store to download and install free Apps, or buy paid apps to install. It is also possible to side load apps via a USB cable connected to your Vox, or from a MicroSD card with APK Apps on it.

If you live in the US, you can also download the Amazon App Store, and use your Vox to download free and buy paid downloadable apps, but you can't use the Amazon App Store if you are not living in the US.

 You can also install Adobe Flash Player with the Adobe Flash player APK Android installer file on the VOX for viewing flash video and apps on websites. But, viewing flash video, and apps can be slower compared to just going to a website which uses WebM videos, MP4 videos, Javascript, HTML5, and Java Apps with the default Kobo Vox browser or installed on the Vox drive.

It is not a big deal that Flash is slower on the Vox since YouTube, Dailymotion, and other popular video sharing sites now support Mobile video like WebM, MP4, HTML5, etc which run a lot smoother, and loads better then Flash video, and using Flash apps on a website is not very usable since most of the Apps were designed to work with a faster computer with a keyboard, and mice not a small touch screen device. It is best to look for Apps like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, etc which were designed to work well with Google Android touch screen devices rather then playing Apps and Games which were designed mainly for desktop and laptop computers.

Gmail, Google Docs, cloud computing apps like Evernote, Onlive, Dropbox, ZoHo office, and other online web browser app based websites and services can let you do an unlimited amount of tasks on your eReader and tablet device's web browser when you are connected to the internet via Wi-Fi broadband internet.

The Kobo Vox also automatically downloads eBooks which you have bought from the Kobo eBook store. The device comes with 8GB of internal storage, and has a microSD card slot for adding up to 32GB additional storage space by using a microSD memory card for installing more eBooks apps/programs on your Vox, storing more pictures, video, and music files. You can also carry an extra microSD card which you loaded with more files since it is very easily to remove and insert the microSD card into the Kobo Vox MicroSD slot.

The ability to add storage with a MicroSD memory card to the Vox is one advantage the Vox has over the Amazon Kindle Fire which has no MicroSD card slot since it means you can side load APK files into the KOBO vox from a microSD card installed on your Google Android phone with support from the Google Android Marketplace, and load them onto your Vox with only the GetJar marketplace. You can also copy the APK files which you downloaded from Getjar from your Vox to your MicroSD card slot, and use the MicroSD card to load APK files to your phone to install apps on your Android phone. You can also use the MicroSD card to carry more books, and media files for offline viewing, so you can save battery life by turning off the Wi-Fi on the Vox, and using your files loaded on your Vox's memory for entertainment, and reading.

The Vox also comes with a bundled USB cable for easily connecting your Vox to your laptop or desktop computer to move files to and from your home computer via USB.

The Vox supports a lot of popular File Extension formats which it can open.

Document formats : Adobe DRM; ePub; PDF; Kobo
Image Formats: JPEG; PNG; GIF; BMP
Audio Music Formats: MP3; AAC; .3GP; MP4; M4A; FLAC; OGG; WAV; MID
Video formats: 3GP; MP4; WEBM

The Kobo Vox also supports .APK Android programs since the KOBO Vox is based on Google Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread which is one of the most popular smartphone and tablet operating systems, so it is also easy to get free support from websites, forums and blogs for the Kobo Vox or Google Gingerbread if you have questions which the Help pamphlet for the Kobo vox did not answer. It also does not use a custom user interface like the Amazon Kindle, so if you use a Android smart phone, you'll know how to use the user interface on the Vox since it is the same user interface as your phone.

If you mainly plan on using the Kobo Vox for browsing the web, opening a few standard quality videos and music files, as a eBook reader, audio books, and playing a few games and apps, the 8GB should be good enough for many users.

The Kobo Vox battery life last about 4 hours for me when I use it to browse the web, and watch YouTube video.

If you turn off Wi-Fi, turn down brightness, and use the Kobo Vox mostly as a color e-reader it should last about 7 hours more or less according to the manual.

I like the Kobo Vox Charger for its eReader since it is small, and compact, and charges the Vox in only a few hours instead of overnight like some batteries.

Unfortunately, you can't use the Bundled USB cable for charging your Vox via USB, but it is not a big deal since the charger for the Vox is not that big, and is easy to carry in a small purse, or bag. The USB port and charger plug which plug into the USB is also a very good tight fit, so you can attach it, and it will stay in place, and won't unattached because you moved the cable.

The Vox also tracks your reading stats like minutes read, pages read with Reading Life which also give you digital badges/rewards, and you can also talk about your favorite books, pages within the book with the Kobo eReader Pulse social media feature, and share your comments on Facebook or within the book. Kobo also comes bundled with the YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook shortcut icons for quickly going online to chat with friends with Kobo Vox's bundled browser.
The Kobo Vox is one of the best Android eReader tablet devices you can get for 199.99 or less in Canada, and other countries which sell the Vox since the Amazon Kindle Fire, and Barnes and Noble Nook Color are both not available in Canada, and the Vox has a huge selection of paid and free eBooks which you can easily buy or download with the Vox without the need to install any additional Apps.

The Blackberry Playbook can be consider a good Tablet which is faster for 299.99 or 199.99 if there is a sale going on like during the 2011 Winter holiday, but the Playbook does not support as many apps natively as the Vox since the Vox can install almost any Android App, and the Playbook is designed to work better as a Tablet then a eReader device like the Vox which is automatically connected to its huge eBook store without any need to install additional apps like the Amazon Kindle or Barnes and Noble Apps, and the Playbook does not seem to have as big of a community as the Google Android, Windows 7 Tablet and Apple iOS iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch community of users and App developers.

I also feel the Vox is better built then most cheap generic 199.99 or cheaper Tablets and color eReader since the Vox has a better screen, construction, faster parts, more RAM, and nicer design and tech. support then generic tablet makers where tech. support is bad, or not there when you need help. While Kobo is part of Chapters Indigo which is one of the biggest book sellers in Canada, so Kobo seem more trust worthy then a brand I never heard much about.

1 comment:

Touchscreen Technology said...

Very informative post. It's great to read something like this. And, straight to the point.