PREPARING FOR FIRST USE
The first thing to note when turning on the unit is that it turns on without needing to be charged. Some have said it comes with a 75% initial charge. All I can confirm is that after messing around with the first switch-on and testing all the various install options, it showed a 46% battery charge when I eventually got to the home screen.
Despite the unit's quick-start manual telling you to tether to a PC for first use, the unit doesn't actually need this to activate and get to work. However, you absolutely MUST be prepared to register for / sign-in to a Kobo account (via WiFi) before you can even get to the home screen if you choose not to tether. You do have the option to log-on via Facebook, which I dutifully attempted, but after providing my Facebook credentials, all I got was an error screen, which then happened every time I restarted and attempted to sign-in this way again.
I should also point out that initially, as I rechoose an option to sign-in to the device, the Glo kept rescanning for my WiFi and asking for my password. I guess your WiFi data only gets stored after successfully completing the initial startup steps. This was annoying for me, but only because I was testing everything out. I would recommend logging on with a Kobo account straight away to avoid this hassle, since there also doesn't appear to be a viable, alternative method of getting to the home screen.
It should be noted that I have been able to sideload all my non-Kobo ebooks via Windows Explorer and all these books work without issue, so although you need to sign-in to a Kobo account, there is no need to ever use the Kobo Desktop account or even Adobe Digital Editions if you prefer to stay free of extraneous software and DRM limitations.
There were only a handful of free ebooks which appeared in my library after successfully syncing, but I think these were downloaded from my Kobo account (probably linked from a play with the Kobo Android app a couple of months ago) and were not pre-loaded on the device. Not 100% sure, though.
Official "kePUB"s are plentiful and similar in price to competitors, though there are a number of titles that you cannot find in the Kobo store. Also, Amazon has regular sales which sometimes make for cheaper titles. With a small amount of tweaking in Calibre, Kindle titles can be played on the Glo, as can epubs from any other retailer. Not sure how easy it is to side-load unsupported books onto a Kindle, but I'm pretty happy with how easy it has been on the Glo. In Windows Explorer, I simply created a "Calibre" folder on the Glo's hard drive and then just dragged and dropped the epubs into that folder. They were all instantly recognised by the device.
I was asked to compare an Adobe DRM epub with a kepub, when both were purchased from the Kobo store. I don't fully understand how this would actually work, though. When I look in the Kobo store, there is only ever one option for a book, and they are all in "Adobe DRM epub" format. So I decided I would get one book from the Kobo store, and another from the Google Play store. I purchased a Steven King novella, "In the Tall Grass", from the two stores. The Google version (refered to here on out as a "gepub") arrived as an ACSM file - basically a file which open Adobe Digital Editions and adds the book to your library in that program.
The Kobo version worked perfectly: The cover showed up nicely, the page numbers counted for each section of the book (a feature I really like) and when clicked on from the Contents page, the extra "sneak peek" sections brought up first a pop-up footnote window with info about the excerpt, and then an option to "see more" which jumped me to the excerpt pages for these books, at the end of the book.
In contrast to the excellent kepub, the gepub was much more problematic. First issue was that the front page didn't display - for some reason a blank page was inserted in front of the cover, so although the cover is there, it is on page 2 (note this is easy to fix in Calibre). Second, the additional sections were not selectable as links from the Contents page on page 3 (as they were on the kepub), but they were available on the Table of Contents menu option. Finally, the page numbers only counted the entire contents of the book, and didn't seperate the main story from the excerpts at the end. At first I thought this could be an issue with Google Play epubs, as another gepub I picked up, "An Idiot Abroad", also has the strange missing front cover issue. However, James Herbert's "The Rats" trilogy all display correctly as gepubs, so I really have no idea.
Another item I was asked to look at was how easy it is to get back to where you were reading after loading new books onto the device. Suffice it to say that when new books are loaded onto the device, they push the latest read books towards the back of (and off) the list. I tried this with books loaded with Kobo Desktop, Adobe Digital Editions and also sideloading books via Windows Explorer (drag and drop). It would be great if a future firmware added an option to the Settings menu to disable displaying new books on the home screen by default. One way of getting round this is by creating a shelf called something like "!Favourites" and putting all your priority titles in this shelf, so that they are relatively easy to get back to (3 screen touches to get into a shelf). I'll cover the Shelves feature in the "Functionality" section of the review.
The final element I wanted to look at for loading content was looking at enabling dictionaries. This is remarkably easy, as all available dictionaries came pre-installed on my Glo, with the exception of Italian and Spanish (for some reason). Here is the list of all dictionaries (totalling 52.5MB of space on the Glo) available under Settings / Language:
PREP & FIRST USE RATING - 7/10 stars
- Deutsch (6.5MB)
- English (6.7MB)
- Espanol (6.2MB)
- Francais (6.0MB)
- Italiano (10.6MB)
- Japanese (maybe Chinese? I don't know the script) (5.5MB)
- Nederlands (2.3MB)
- Deutsch-English (0.9MB)
- English-Deutsch (0.7MB)
- English-Espanol (1.2MB)
- English-Francais (1.1MB)
- English-Italiano (0.7MB)
- Espanol-English (1.6MB)
- Francais-English (1.5MB)
- Italiano-English (1.0MB)
- The first thing to note is that the initial sign-in process was a bit clunky and the fact that not all options worked is enough to warrant one star to be removed.
- Loading content to the Glo really is easy, although the issue of newly loaded titles pushing your current reading list off the home screen is serious and annoying enough to warrant the docking of two stars.