TODO alt text

Kobo Arc review

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

Forget the ereader market – the 7-inch Kobo Arc might have a literary bent, but this open Android 4.1 experience is at least the equal of the Google Nexus 7 and iPad Mini in terms of core performance and value.

However, it lacks a few features that restrict it to battling with the other ebook readers, such as the Nook HD and Kindle Fire HD.

We liked

A fast processor, a nicely open Android experience and a clever layer of the Tapestries interface make using the Kobo Arc a pleasant experience and, app-wise, incredibly versatile.

The web concierge-style Discover feature won't be everyone's taste, but works well if trained using the Taste app.

Reading is smooth, comfortable and highly customisable, with an auto-sensor keeping brightness just about right, while the Kobo Arc even makes a play as an excellent tablet for games.

The Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update is welcome, too, since it brings Siri-like instant voice interaction and the impressive Google Now suite of easy-access information cards.

We disliked

The native Android browser is poor, which is a shame, since jumping ship to Chrome means losing the option to 'pin' content to Tapestries, and the touchscreen isn't always as sensitive as it should be.

Our biggest criticism of the Kobo Arc is that it lacks the kind of hardware that would make it a truly serious contender in the tablet market. The no-show of Bluetooth, HDMI-out and a microSD expansion slot takes away the kind of versatility all tablets need.

Final verdict

You might also like...
Android 4 1  Jelly Bean review
Android 4.1: Jelly Bean review

If you accept that Android tablets are more or less the same, it seems almost illogical to buy into a 'locked' ecosystem such as the Kindle Fire or Nook when open platform tablets like the Kobo Arc exist.

Add to that a fast, fluid operation and some innovative Tapestry tweaks to the Android GUI and we've got a great value 7-inch tablet, though the lack of Bluetooth, storage expansion and an HDMI output do limit its appeal as a do-it-all tablet.

The iPad mini doesn't have much to worry about, since it's a more encompassing tablet with more top-end features, but the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD should take note, given that they both come from ereader backgrounds.

Overall, if those 'missing' hardware options are irrelevant to you, we'd recommend the Kobo Arc as an impressive 'my first tablet'. However, overall the Kobo Arc is probably happiest being the ereader-based tablet that offers by far the most freedom.

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