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Kobo Arc review

Good value, fast working 7-inch Android tablet with Google Play apps

Our Verdict

For

  • Google Play apps
  • Tapestries interface
  • Processing speed
  • Reading

Against

  • Lacks Bluetooth & HDMI out
  • No rear-facing camera
  • No micro SD card slot
  • Average design

Camera

Further proof that the Arc – while offering an open Android experience – is centered on reading rather than all-round entertainment is its lack of a rear-facing camera.

It does, however, have front-facing optics. Achieving a mere 1.3 megapixels, it sits at the top of the device in portrait mode alongside a microphone and a small flash.

Kobo Arc review

It's clearly provided mainly for Skype video calling, which it's absolutely fine for.

Although video calls are theoretically performed in 720p HD quality, this is a classic case of specs over real life since the results are grainy and best described as rudimentary.

Kobo Arc review

Though Skype-centric, the Kobo Arc's optics can be accessed via the native Camera app, offering some basic face recognition tech, colour options.

White balance/exposure tweaks and a movie mode are simply executed, though aside from Skype it's fit only for briefly amusing children.

Internet

Kobo Arc review

The vanilla Android browser is one of the few areas where the Arc disappoints, with an overall slow experience.

Flash isn't supported natively, and while workarounds are available they may be beyond the interest of many of this tablet's demographic. Any fixes we tried only yielded partial results anyway.

The Flash issue can't be solved by opting for Google's own Chrome browser, but doing so does increase browsing speed.

Zooming-in and out of pages while using either browser is excellent, with plenty of sharp detail amid a fluid experience that never stalls.

Opt for Chrome and you'll have to use bookmarks since only the native browser includes the 'Pin Image To Tapestry' and 'Set As Wallpaper' options for images.

Google Now, a new feature thanks to the Android Jelly Bean firmware update, works well. Swipe up from the bottom of the Kobo Arc's screen in either portrait or landscape orientation and a small white rings appears intersected by a small Google logo. It then transits to a search box and the keyboard. Say "Google" and a Speak Now written message appears next to a pulsing microphone.

Kobo Arc review

In our test, asking: "what is the weather?" in Google Now instantly brought up an app telling us the local weather, along with a spoken summary, telling us "it's 43 degrees and cloudy in Cardiff".

There are also semi-permanent cards showing photo spots nearby and places nearby - the latter largely being restaurants and pubs.

From here you need to press the microphone rather than just saying "Google", but by saying "how do I get to…" the Kobo Arc replies that it's getting directions, before producing clear Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions that can be made available offline.

Kobo Arc review

It's pretty efficient stuff - asking "when is my next appointment?" solicited an instant response, both spoken and onscreen, of a train journey planned for the next day. However, "is there a Thai restaurant nearby?", though understood, produced three choices, one each in Manchester, London and Singapore. Whoops.

Sadly we weren't able to successfully download open source ePUB ebooks from sites like Project Gutenberg, having to rely instead on reading the text files online.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Text Reader
Flash Memory Capacity32 GB
Colour SupportGrayscale (16-bit)
Brand NameKobo
Battery Run Time10 Hour
Product LineArc
Screen Size17.8 cm (7")
Display Resolution1280 x 800
Graphic ModeWXGA
Wireless LANYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Text FormatsePub
HeadphoneYes
Height189 mm
Width120 mm
Depth11.5 mm
ColourBlack
Operating SystemAndroid
Image FormatsJPG, PNG, BMP, GIF
Audio FormatsAAC, OGG, WAV, FLAC, MIDI
ManufacturerKobo, Inc
Product NameArc Digital Text Reader
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Manufacturer Part NumberK107-KBO-32B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.koboereader.com
Marketing Information

Get more out of your tablet

.

Kobo Arc gets to know you. As you build your multimedia collection, Kobo Arc will recommend content based on your tastes and preferences. So you get more of the content you love without searching for it.

Everything you love at your fingertips

Don't dig through your collection - your Kobo Arc keeps your content on the surface so you don't have to go searching. It's all there on the home screen. Kobo's exclusive interface, Tapestries, allows you to organize your content thematically and pin content you find interesting into customized groups. Based on content you've pinned to your Tapestries, Kobo Arc learns what you're into and suggests content that reflects your personality and interests.

Limited Warranty1 Year
Built-in DevicesVideo Player, Music Player, Camera, Speaker
Standard Memory1 GB
Host InterfaceMicro USB
Weight (Approximate)364 g