Kobo Vox: a surprising tablet and e-reader that’s also affordable

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Those of you who have read this blog in the last year will know that I’m a supporter of e-readers and digital books. My reasons for this focus primarily on the conveniance of technology (many e-readers can now serve as tablets that have multiple uses beyond reading digital books), but also include financial concerns (e-books are often much cheaper than print books due to skipping costs associated with paper materials), and the easing of stress on forest resources. That said, I know the e-reader experience depends a great deal on the quality of the device and the software provided with it.

In my own reading life, I have selected Kobo as the device of choice for me. A couple of years ago I bought a first generation Kobo e-reader and enjoyed it very much, but, like any new technology, limitations of the device became apparent over time. In December, I acquired the newest Kobo model, the Kobo Vox, and thought I would post some of my thoughts on this new e-reader.

Firstly, if you’re expecting a device that can compete with other tablets, like those produced by Apple or Samsung, than you’ll be disappointed. While the Vox is a tablet that allows the user to operate a variety of applications, including social networking like twitter and facebook, web browsing, office suite and word processing, blogging, games, and more, the device has it’s limits when it comes to functions that require more power (movie and video manipulation and audio editing, for instance). As it happens, the Vox satisfies nearly every use I have for a tablet, and most for which I own a laptop.

There is an internal storage limit of 8 gigs, which is below that of some of the more popular tablets, but includes an option of expansion through a micro SD card slot. Unless you are into storing a lot of high quality video on your device, this should be adequate for most purposes, including document storage and music.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of the Kobo Vox is the availability of apps through the unboard app store, Getjar. While all apps made available through this service are free, there is not as wide a range available as one will find on the Android Market (by the way, the Vox runs on the Android platform, in case you didn’t know). That said, you can get around this problem somewhat by downloading apps on another computer and copying them to your eReader.

What the Vox lacks in some more high functioning areas it more than makes up for in its primary purpose as a reading device. The library, reading, estore, and social reading links are easily available at the bottom of all front pages, making for quick and easy access. The reading options are much improved organization-wise than in earlier Kobo devices, including detailed font settings (type and size), brightness, book navigation, and annotations/highlighting. The loading speed for books is quite quick, and once reading begins page turning is speedy, requiring only a tap of the page. Access to an unboard dictionary where you don’t have to type in the word you wish to look up, but merely highlight it on the page is a positive. Shifting from one book to another is very easy as well. One of Kobo’s individual qualities is it’s social reading feature, which allows readers to share what they are reading easily through the app itself or through quick and easy updates to facebook. Users can share not only the titles they are reading, but they can also like or comment upon books, or selections within books, easily from anywhere in the app, which is visable to other Kobo users with whom this information is shared.

If you’re looking for a tablet that allows you to work with email and document editing, schedule calender events and reminders, browse the internet with a quality browser, that connects seamlessly to social networking then the Kobo Vox should be a device you consider. It won’t get you all the features of an iPad or Samsung tablet, nor the app variety available through Apple, but for a $200 tablet you get a surprising piece of technology that is affordable and versatile. If you’re looking for a functional e-reader than in my opinion the Vox is one of the best out there.

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