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Old 10-03-2011, 08:40 PM   #1
nesler
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Kobo - We need to have a talk

I know that you're trying to win over new users with exciting, flashy new features like social network integration and the like. That's understandable. You want to expand.

But frankly, as someone who's owned a KT for a while... I can't see myself telling someone, "Yeah, the Kobo is awesome. Buy it." It's a bit of a mess right now. Each new firmware update fixes one thing, and introduces a host of new problems with the next update. It's like a Hydra--cut off one head, and two more appear. I haven't been hit with the nastier bugs (like the storage error that was causing huge headaches for some), but I have had some of the goofier ones, like the line cut-off issue that was resolved in 1.9.11. I don't know why this is, but it seems like each successive update makes one-half of the Kobo family happy, but screws up things for the other half. Ultimately, everyone gets hit sooner or later.

I own a Kindle, and I own a Nook Color. All of them have had their quirks. But none of them have had as many issues crop up as the Kobo Touch has. To be fair, you really have done your best to incorporate the wants and needs of the many, but maybe that isn't the greatest strategy... You might impress people who don't know anyone who owns a Kobo, but when someone asks me what I think of my Kobo, I have to say, "You know, its awesome, it's a great reader, I love the features, but... you need to know what you're doing, and you're gonna have to expect things to go wrong."

Kindle versus Kobo is a bit like an iPhone versus an Android phone (FYI - I own a phone that runs Android)--the Kobo has a lot of flexibility and great features like the Android OS does. But with that flexibility and freedom comes a lot of problems and quirks to overcome. The Kindle is a bit more locked down like the iPhone is, but it runs solid, and it just about never has a problem.

You might lure in some new customers due to the features you're offering, but the word of mouth might kill you.

I've tried to get into the beta group to help things out. I contacted one of the Kobo reps about it, and I was very impressed with how quickly he got back to me and forwarded the necessary info to the guy running the beta teste group. But then... nothing. I haven't heard a thing in weeks. Even a response saying, "Hey, we appreciate your interest, but right now the group is full. But I would love to add you when we have an opening," would have given me a sense of... order. But I've heard nothing.

So things are a bit wonky, and I want to be a part of the crowd helping out, but right now I apparently can't do that. And as things stand right now, I can't really be an advocate for Kobo products without some serious misgivings. I like my KT, but I don't want to be responsible for getting someone I know stuck with a serious bug like the ones we've been seeing lately. I play tech support for friends enough as it is.

I like that you guys support expansion via the use of micro SD cards. I like that you support an open standard with your use of ePub--though at the same time, the vast differences in your treatment of "kepubs" versus stock epubs is disconcerting. It's clear to me that Kobo really is trying to make a name for itself as a good company that exemplifies the Canadian spirit.

But... right now... you aren't really hitting the mark.

Please note - these are only my opinions, and I can only speak for myself. I'm sure there are a number of folks that have been nothing but thrilled with Kobo. But I have to suspect that my misgivings are shared by others.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:45 PM   #2
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I'd recommend the Kobo Touch.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:10 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'd still recommend the KT, but I'm not disagreeing with nesler's points. The main thing he pointed out which I really agree with is how each time a bug is fixed, a new one crops up. The last two I can think of:

1.9.10 Fixes storage error, introduces cut-off lines at the bottom of pages
1.9.11 Fixes cut-off lines, stops Reading Stats from recording new data

And these are just the ones I've experienced. The problems seem to vary wildly. Some people can't even use their SD cards anymore with 1.9.11. Yet I don't have that issue, and all of my books are DRM-stripped and sideloaded from my SD card. A lot of people were having the random storage errors, but my unit was fine until the morning of 1.9.10's release.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd prefer it if there was some consistency with the bugs. But there isn't. They're the same issues, sure, but they occur apparently randomly. Remember the thread where people tried to work out what triggered the storage error?

It's not like there's a wide range of hardware the KT software is running on. It's not like there are fifty different scenarios for the device's use. At its heart, it's a single purpose device. And it's just the one device with the one set of components and only ever one current firmware version.

And they have beta testers. And I'm sure they'll have internal testers. How can so much slip past and get broken every time for a single device with a single company writing all the software for it?

I love my Kobo. I use it every single day. But seriously, all these bugs and issues are endlessly frustrating.
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Old 10-03-2011, 10:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyvros View Post
It's not like there's a wide range of hardware the KT software is running on. It's not like there are fifty different scenarios for the device's use. At its heart, it's a single purpose device. And it's just the one device with the one set of components and only ever one current firmware version.

And they have beta testers. And I'm sure they'll have internal testers. How can so much slip past and get broken every time for a single device with a single company writing all the software for it?

I love my Kobo. I use it every single day. But seriously, all these bugs and issues are endlessly frustrating.
That's a large part of why I find the situation so disconcerting. The circumstances are very confusing, and you get these divides in the community where some people are having a totally fantastic, flawless experience, while others seem to be getting hit with everything, even when they aren't using Calibre or other third-party software to interact with their device.

I love new features. I love them. Nothing is more boring than an update log that reads, "Bug fixes," and nothing is more exciting than a major new roll-out (2.0, I'm looking at you). But that anticipation kind of falls apart when some shiny new thing gets tacked on while the main function of the reader is getting hit with one bug or another. To a far lesser degree, it's a bit of a bummer when major features (note-taking, highlighting, etc) are restricted to only some content.

It's not my intent to create divisions in the community or to crucify Kobo. Kobo is in no way beyond redemption, and they aren't a bad company or comprised of bad people. Simply put, it's my sense that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and priorities are a bit out of whack right now.

I'm glad I bought my Kobo. I like it, and it has a lot of promise. But it has a long way to go, and things have to change if it doesn't want to be run over by Amazon and B&N (and Sony, to a lesser extent).
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:20 AM   #5
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I agree with the OP. I really like my KT and for the most part it's been ok.
I only suffered the Text cut off error which the last firmware has sorted and I did get a couple of forced factory resets when Calibre and Kobo desktop didn't play nice together.
Actually I don't know if that particular problem is sorted as I never use Kobo desktop now.

I fairly regularly get asked about ereaders thse days (maybe about once a week). I don't recommend the KT to my friends as I'd like to keep them as such.
I really want to though, but seeing as most of my friends are non-technical I generally point them in the direction of the Kindle, coz it "Just works" warts and all.
I wish I could be confident the KT is as stable as it competitors, as it really is a great ereader, but as things stand, I just don't feel that way.
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:32 AM   #6
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The Kobo reader is a solid device. While the device has its problems, I think that a lot of the confusion is created by people who assume that their problems are everyone's problems. The reality is that every piece of hardware and software is going to going to run into boundary cases that are difficult for the developers to account for. This ranges from poor handling of poorly formatted ebooks to cheap SD cards that simply don't follow the specifications. Unfortunately forums have a tendency to bring even the most rare of problems to the forefront because these are the sorts of places where people come to solve their problems.
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Old 10-04-2011, 07:41 AM   #7
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One of the issues is that the problems are often internal and not influenced by stuff like the e-books themselves or SD cards. The storage error hit a lot of us not using SD cards, but also those who were (I only started using an SD card because of the storage error resulting in a wipe). The text cut-off wasn't consistent. Some books had it, some didn't, and nobody I saw could figure out whether there was some trigger in the book's format or content.

It would be easier to accept the various issues if it weren't for the fact that it's a single platform with a single set of hardware, often malfunctioning all by itself.

(Man, now I'm getting all negative. I would like to note that yes, I still love my Kobo, even though it doesn't remember all my reading stats anymore.)
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Old 10-04-2011, 08:52 AM   #8
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We own two and have only ever had the storage problem from 1.9.10, which was easily worked around by ignoring the error. Otherwise, they've been solid as a rock.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
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1.9.11 Fixes cut-off lines, ...
Are you sure about that?
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:57 AM   #10
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Are you sure about that?
Yes. If you are still having issues with that, provide samples. No point waiting for a fix to a bug that is fixed for everyone else.
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Old 10-04-2011, 01:02 PM   #11
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I loved my touch until the .11 update, recommended it to everyone I knew. The .11 update killed my Reading Life, and that it's messed up doesn't bother me so much as not so much as I'm confused as to how you can essentially take a step back with an "update". But I'm just a user.

What would make me happy, and maybe others, is to choose the firmware you'd like on your Kobo. If the new update doesn't work for some, then set up your website so people can roll back to the previous firmware that worked for them.

I had the line cut off in .10, but I lived with it, no big deal. I'd take that hands down over .11. I've given up on my Kobo until the next firmware release, I'm back to reading "real" books.
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
I've given up on my Kobo until the next firmware release, I'm back to reading "real" books.
Why not downgrade to the firmware that worked best for you? I got this from a kind soul whose name escapes me...

Download the firmware:

http://download.kobobooks.com/firmwa...ade-1.9.10.zip

Unpack the zip file into the .kobo directory on the Kobo, eject and unplug, and the Kobo should update itself.

The only difference for a Mac OS user is that the .kobo folder is hidden (because it is supposed to be, the . does that).

In the Finder, go to the Kobo's memory ("KOBOeReader"), then in the menu bar select "Go / Go to Folder ..." (or press "shift+cmd+G"), type .kobo into the pull-down and press enter. Voilà, you are inside KOBOeReader/.kobo/
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:44 PM   #13
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Updates need to be applied to the store models me thinks. The kobo is pretty much a whole other beast out of the box. The ones I've seen in store really doesn't do the device credit.
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:25 AM   #14
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Updates need to be applied to the store models me thinks. The kobo is pretty much a whole other beast out of the box. The ones I've seen in store really doesn't do the device credit.
Agreed. Chapters/Coles/Indigo in B.C. fail at showing the device off.
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Old 10-06-2011, 09:37 PM   #15
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I agree with the OP, there's so much potential with this device and it's sad to see the way things are going. Kobo really needs to up the quality of their software if they want to compete. It's great that Kobo are actually releasing software updates regularly (I get the impression most other manufacturer's don't), but if there's at least one very noticeable new bug with each release, then there's clearly not enough testing going on.
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