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Old 10-14-2012, 05:47 PM   #5
9littlebees
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Posts: 65
Karma: 161138
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Bristol, UK
Device: Sony Xperia Arc; Kobo Glo
Readability

READABILITY
Finally, the "meat" of my review, and the major area of importance any ereader should be judged on.

PAGE TURN SPEED
Page turning (both forward and backward) on the Glo is mostly consistent.
Spoiler:
For most epubs and all kepubs, there is only a very slight delay in which is actually faster than it would take me to physically turn a paperback page. I do have at least one epub from a free ebook site that takes just under 1 second to turn a page. This feels sluggish but not overly long.

Thinking that maybe the quantity of text on the next page might affect speed, I can confirm that neither changing font size nor changing the page refresh value in Reading Settings make any discernible difference.

With previous Kobo devices, firmware patches have addressed page turn speed, so it will be interesting to see if this improves in future firmware (I'm on 2.14).

One thing to note about page turning is that you have to ensure that you don't slide a finger too much vertically when touching the relevant side. You can either press on the relevant side or flick it the relevant direction (i.e. from the right edge towards the centre to turn a page forwards). However, if your finger moves more than what seems to be 45 degrees on a vertical angle to the x axis (horizontal) of the ereader, the epub doesn't do anything, so there is the possibility of page turns that aren't recognised. More on this in the next section.

EASE OF TURNING PAGES ONE-HANDED
This is a bit of a tricky one, as it appears at first glance that the issue with vertical travel on when tapping to page turn could make one-handed reading quite annoying, but thankfully this is not the case.
Spoiler:
Let's back up a bit first, though.

As mentioned, vertical travel by your finger (even if only over a very small distance) will not allow the page to turn as the Glo doesn't recognise what you are trying to do.

This isn't normally a problem, but it could become more problematic when you are trying to turn pages one-handed when reclined. I mainly read my Glo in bed and so am laying on my side, with the Glo held sideways, and turn it with one hand. Unfortunately, in this scenario (and other similar ones, like lying on a couch), it is inevitable that the threshold of 45 degrees of vertical travel will be surpassed and you will wonder why the page hasn't turned.

When reading a book, if you go to the Reading Settings, you can change where on the screen you need to tap to change pages (forward or backward) and bring up the menu. There are three options, depending on the way in which you hold your Glo, as seen below:


Thankfully, regardless of the screen page turning setup you decide to go for, you can still progress a page forward or backward by swiping horizontally anywhere on the page.

Swiping makes reading the Glo one-handed possible and I'm thrilled it wasn't overlooked, since this is how I now regularly turn pages on mine. It also makes no difference how big your hands are, since you can swipe anywhere on the screen.

Otherwise, the Glo is comfortable to hold one-handed due to its size, weight and lovely quilted back.

PAGE REFRESHING
Just a quick one here. Also in the Reading Settings is an option to change the Page Refresh time. This "sets the number of pages you turn before a full screen refresh occurs". You can choose anywhere between 1 and 6 pages.

In my testing, I can't see any noticeable difference when setting it to 1 or 6. As such, I leave it on 6, since in my paranoia refreshing the screen every page probably uses a little more battery.

SCREEN CLARITY/QUALITY WITH LIGHT ON/OFF
Now I have no basis for comparison, since I've never had an ereader before, but this is one area that the Glo is really good in.
Spoiler:
The main reason why is that Kobo have included some advanced text settings, which essentially allow you to tweak the font size, weight and sharpness to an incredible level of customisation. Since the screen is e-ink, changing these settings allows you to have an incredible amount of control over how clear the text is displayed. See the screenshot below for the relevant setting page:


With the screen light off and normal ambient light reading conditions (i.e. during the day or in a well-lit room), I cannot fault the screen or the clarity of the text on display.

When things get darker and the Glo's light is switched on, the clarity of the text is if anything improved. This is because the light thankfully does not dim the text (at least not that I can see!) and brightens the "white" areas of the page. This actually boosts the contrast, making books even easier to read.

In fact, I have found myself turning the light on even under adequate lighting conditions, since the Glo light is barely noticeable with significant ambient light, yet the text seems to pop out much more noticeably.

LIGHT BRIGHTNESS
I have to say that overall I am happy with the light brightness of the Glo, though it would be nice to have the thresholds for screen brightness shifted to be dimmer overall (both on the lowest and highest settings).
Spoiler:
After originally trying out the various levels of screen brightness, it is now permanently set to the lowest setting.

I do not like to read with a bright light, and I find any but the lowest 10% light settings to be too bright. That said, I am 100% happy with these low light settings, as they meet my needs perfectly, especially in total darkness.

One thing that does niggle me slightly, though, is that I do have the light on the lowest setting. I would have liked to have seen the light thresholds moved to the dimmer end of the spectrum personally, since using an extreme makes me wonder whether it might be even better just a little dimmer. Plus I personally think the brighter settings are too bright for any setting.

Next, there is a nice feature to do with the light coming back on after sleep. If you were using a light and put the Glo to sleep, when you wake it up again, the light turns back on gradually (but at quite a perfect, reasonably fast speed), rather than blinking on instantly. Not sure how other ereader devices do this, but it's nice not to be pelted in the eyes by light, like my bloody mobile phones have always done. Note that if you turn the device off when the light was on, it will not be switched back on when you power it back up.

Finally. let's move on to the infamous problem area: uniformity of light distribution. As has been noted in numerous other threads, there is a small strip at the bottom of the device where the light isn't as bright.

It only occurs at the very bottom edge of the screen, is only slightly less bright than the remaining light (i.e. it's not like a black strip of darkness), is only about 2mm in depth and the rest of the screen is perfectly uniform at all brightness levels. I don't actually notice it unless I'm looking for it, and wasn't aware it was a problem until I read about it on another thread. Therefore, I have to disagree with some of the hype-mongerers out there who have been making this into a massive issue and will not dock any stars for it.

"TEXT-EDIT" MODE
By pressing on the screen and holding your finger on a word for at least 1.5 seconds (approx), the word will become underlined as the Glo enters what I am calling the "text-edit" mode.

Once in this mode, you can either drag your finger around to select more than one word (if you are still pressing on the word), or you can take your finger off to see a definition pop up.

From this mode, you can highlight text, add notes, translate, search the book for other instances and even share that text selection to Facebook.

NOTE-TAKING
Adding notes is reasonably easy on the Glo.
Spoiler:
Here's how it works:
  1. Simply hold on a word until it is underlined (as described above).
  2. (only if resizing beyond one word) Still touching the screen, drag your finger to resize the selection you want to add the note to.
  3. Tap on the pencil icon which now appears at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Tap on the "Add note" option which pops up.
  5. Write your note in the window which pops up and press "Save" on the keyboard when done.
Three screen touches getting from a blank page to the add note window will struggle to be done in less than 4 seconds. Much of this time is taken up by how long you have to press on a word for the Glo to recognise you want to do something with it, about 1.5 seconds. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

To see all the notes in an ebook, Bring up the Reading Menu, select the book icon and then "Annotations". This shows all the notes (and highlights) in the book you have open, displaying the highlighted text, the note, the date it was created and a settings option (denoted by three horizontal lines). If you choose settings, you can then jump to the page the note is on, view the note in full, delete it, edit it and share it on Facebook. Quite thorough.

HIGHLIGHTING TEXT
When highlighting text, you do this in the same manner as adding a note, using the other option under the pencil icon when in "Edit-Text" mode.
Spoiler:
Highlighted selections appear alongside notes under the "Annotations" sub-menu in the Reading Menu. You can also add a note to a highlighted selection, which is quite useful.

Note that the Glo displays annotated text in only one way, with a faint grey highlight. There is no distinction between notes and highlights.

[STILL TO REVIEW:]
Can annotations be exported? How are they accessed outside the book itself? Do they sync with kepubs between devices? How are / can they be accessed outside of the device?

SEARCHING
There are two ways to search for text in an ebook on the Glo.
Spoiler:
When selecting text as described in the Note-Taking section above, one of the options is a magnifying glass. Tapping this brings up all instances of that word in the book, displayed from the very beginning of the book. This could be annoying if you are halfway through a book and want to find the next instance of some text, as you will have to pass over the other, earlier instances of that text before getting to the later selections.

The other way to search is from the Reading Menu. Click on the book icon, choose the "Search in Book" option and then enter the required text. This is fairly straight-forward and even offers a list of the last used search phrases, which is unexpected and very useful.

There has been a report in this thread about the search feature not always going to the page you select. I've tested this on a number of epubs and kepubs and couldn't replicate this.

FOOTNOTES
Still to come... (I need to renew my library rental of one of Terry Pratchett's books, as they're the only ones I've found that have footnotes.)
How are they displayed? Thoughts / comments


DICTIONARIES
Still to come...
can they interpret foreign text (try to use example from every supported language - test with Anna Karenina)?


"TIME LEFT TO END OF CHAPTER"
Apparently the Paperwhite has a "time left to end of chapter" feature. The Glo also has this, but only with kepubs.
Spoiler:
It may be possible to replicate this in epubs somehow, but I've not seen or bought any yet that do this. epubs for me show "time left to end of book", in other words "PG. x OF y".

I do not think this should be counted against the Glo compared to the Paperwhite, as the Paperwhite only officially supports Amazon mobi ebooks, and so are in control of what features their ebooks will have. The Glo has this same feature for their officially supported kepub ebooks (and so ranks evenly with them in this regard), but will also allow the user to read any other epub they want, however it may be configured. This is a huge selling point for the Glo over the Paperwhite, in my opinion.

For me personally, I much prefer the epubs. I'd rather know how many pages I have left until the end of the book, not the end of the chapter. You can still see this info (sort of) on a kepub, by bringing up the Reading Menu, whereby you can see percentage complete at the top. As far as I know, there is no way to display how many pages to the end of the book in a kepub.

It would be nice in future firmware to be able to decide to switch off the "time left to end of chapter" feature in kepubs in the Reading Settings menu and display "PG. x OF y" instead.

READABILITY RATING - TBD
Still to come...

Last edited by 9littlebees; 01-03-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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