Friday, September 21, 2012

Gadget Girl: Kindle vs Kobo (E-Reader Face-Off)

Metric Jenn

Electronics. I love them. I am the epitome of the gadget chic. I had an RCA mp3 player before the iPod was invented. It took a goddamn memory card the size of a greeting card. I had a laptop back in 1994. My dad brought it home and it could barely handle saving .txt documents, but I played Tetris on that bad boy all during my bout with mononucleosis. Going back even further (am I showing my age?), I could espouse the virtues of the Betamax tape over VHS. I love technology and trying new things. When some new gadget somes out, I'm usually the first one boarding that monorail.

And yet, I struggled with the decision to purchase an e-reader. My love of books is well known to my friends and family. One of my favourite things to do when I have a brand new novel is to split it open at a random spot in the book and breath in deeply. Libraries are also a place of wonder for me. Stacks of knowledge, beach reading, memoirs, and incomprehensible Stephanie Meyers books make me wide-eyed with awe.

So what finally got me to buy an e-reader? After 2 years of hemming and hawing? The hardcover Book 5 of A Song of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons. George R. R. Martin broke me. In July of 2011, I was struggling through the airport with the dog carrier, my purse, my carry on luggage, a bagel, a coffee, and finally - that immense compendium. At 1006 pages, DwD was necessary to my trip, but the most frustrating thing to carry.

Enter some online shopping, wine, and a fight with a friend over which e-reader was better: Kindle or Kobo. My friend was swilling her glass around and screaming that her Kindle was the cat's pyjamas. My parents, on the other hand (is gadget-love hereditary?) were very pleased with their Kobo. 

The Kobo is a touch-screen interface, black-and-white screen, with sudoku included as a fun diversion. At rest, the most current 4 books you were reading populate the main screen for easy access, which is kind of nice. However, I found that the rest of the navigation is less intuitive, and the touch screen itself responds slower than what I'm used to since smart phones are so responsive.

The (now old-school) Kindle has the full keypad, and so the navigation is pretty damn good. The main home screen can be modified to show books by author, title, or most recently read, and the sleep screen savers are quite lovely! I did find the responsiveness just as slow as the Kobo's. Kindle, of course, has the added benefit of being directly linked to Amazon for easy legal book downloading.

Now most of you will be bitching that I haven't addressed the file formats of each reader; epubs, mobi, pdf, etc, etc, etc. Well, they did not factor in to my choice. With the 'calibre' program, it renders them moot as you can switch from one to another with little fuss, and even less muss.

So what did I choose? The Kindle. The full keypad got me. The interface was more intuitive, and I really wanted my friend to stop drunkenly screaming at me about how she's always right and that ducks should wear long pants.

How about the rest of you? What is your e-reader of choice? And does anyone have a Nook? 


  1. My husband and my mother both have Nook's and, in general, love them. Dan's biggest problem with his Nook is that it takes an eternity to turn on; it also has a shorter battery life (due to having that digital display on the bottom - the simple black/white pigment on the Kindle requires WAY less energy to manipulate). And for whatever reason, he finds his turns on all the time by accident, so he'll often find it sans battery even without use.

    I have an old school Kindle and am in love with it. I love having a full selection at my fingertips without needing to pack an extra bag for my books. I find it easy to use, and the battery lasts forever (and charges quickly as well). And linking to my Amazon is great.

    I hadn't even heard of Kobo before this article!

    1. Oh, the battery life on Kindles is just incredible! Serious. If I could make out with the battery, I would.