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Old 06-02-2018, 08:58 AM   #1
Rojofo
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Thumbs down Prospective buyers : Kobo dictionary warning !

Prospective e-reader buyers*: Kobo dictionary warning*!

I thought it might be helpful for prospective buyers of an e-reader to share my frustrating experience with Kobo.

I am writing this with a very special reading public in mind, those who, like me, want to use their e-reader for improving their knowledge of a foreign language and particularly of foreign language literature.

Up until recently I had been very happy with my various Kobo readers and particularly the Kobo Glo HD which is my favorite. Kobos come with a collection of free dictionaries which are more than sufficient for most readers.

However, as my knowledge of Spanish improved and my reading choices became more ambitious, I discovered that I was constantly being told that the word that I wanted was not in the Kobo dictionaries.

When I tried to add more dictionaries, I also learnt that Kobo does not allow its users to side-load any of the very many excellent compatible dictionaries available. This is a rigidly restrictive policy and hard to get around. Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple of extra dictionaries working thanks to the generous help of members of the MobileRead forum (whom I would like to thank once more).

This work-around was destroyed by a recent firmware upgrade by Kobo so that only two basic dictionaries now work (monolingual Spanish and Spanish-English). Even the basic Spanish-French dictionary is no longer accessible. So I was back to linguistic poverty and the same frustrating situation.

From what I have read on the MobileRead forum, the dictionaries available for Kindles are considerably better for the purposes of people who want to read literature and I would advise prospective buyers to investigate this point before making their decision. I am now beginning to think about changing to Kindle as I face constant irritating frustration in attempting to read with the basic Kobo dictionaries.

Anecdotally, I should mention that I do not give up easily, and when I saw the disaster of the last couple of firmware updates, I sought advice on MobileRead forum. I was given two leads: to install Koreader which, I thought would allow unlimited dictionaries or to “jailbreak” the Kobo to allow multiple dictionaries.

So I tried the Koreader solution first. It was not too difficult to install and, despite the very spartan interface, works very well with a very pleasant rendering of the text. Delighted at the prospect of dictionary freedom, I installed four excellent Spanish monolingual dictionaries and two bilingual dictionaries. At this point the problems began. Only three of the Spanish monolingual dictionaries were accessible although all six dictionaries were in Stardict format and all came from the same reliable source. Unfortunately for me, I need a bilingual dictionary. So I took the monolingual dictionaries off the reader. Then only one of the bilingual dictionaries became accessible and after a couple of days this developed an amusing bug: it began to give me definitions that were in no way related to the word I had selected. The incongruity was fun for a while, giving me the occasion to break out laughing often enough, but, of course, I realized that I was worse off than with the basic Kobo dictionaries and decided to drop the Koreader experience. I might add that it is not easy to get help on these questions.

Finally, I am trying to get up the courage to undertake the “jailbreaking” solution but my lack of experience in computing is giving me serious misgivings and I suspect that after all the work and stress involved, the solution may be no better than my Koreader experiment.

I hope my experience will help other prospective buyers with the same literary interests as me to make their decisions.

Best to all,
Rojofo.
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Old 06-02-2018, 09:43 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Rojofo View Post
I was given two leads: to install Koreader which, I thought would allow unlimited dictionaries or to “jailbreak” the Kobo to allow multiple dictionaries.
Isn't there a third lead: Downgrade to the firmware version where the dictionaries worked and refuse upgrades henceforth ???
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:00 AM   #3
Rojofo
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Hi Mobama,
Thank you for reminding me of this option. The problem is that the work-around that I had found is not all that satisfactory since it only allows a couple of extra dictionaries.
However, on the short term it may be the only reasonable solution.

For prospective buyers of a Kobo, it can't be a long-term solution.

Last edited by Rojofo; 06-02-2018 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Correct spelling!
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:39 AM   #4
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Isn't there a third lead: Downgrade to the firmware version where the dictionaries worked and refuse upgrades henceforth ???
Or maybe the fourth, to simultaneously use another e-reader or tablet we already own but with better dictionaries or to buy a cheaper used one with such capability for the simultaneous usage, until things with Koreader/firmware maybe change.

I've been simultaneously using various dictionary apps on iPad for years now, they are just a swipe or tap away, regardless as apps that we can quickly copy/paste or type the word in, or as plain textual books or scanned pdfs that we flip through as book or use the search function therein, either because I needed better dictionaries or the letters in iPad's dictionaries were to small for my liking.

Imperfect as they are and will be for some more time to come, we are also forced to simultaneously use another e-reader or tablet for many other reasons e.g. when we need a color recognition, better annotation or scribbling, multi-tab function for several simultaneously opened documents, quicker referencing, audio & video capability etc.

Last edited by Marinolino; 06-02-2018 at 12:13 PM.
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Old 06-02-2018, 11:52 AM   #5
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Or maybe the fourth, to simultaneously use another e-reader or tablet we already own but with better dictionaries or to buy a cheaper used one with such capability, until things with Koreader/firmware maybe change.
I think that the thing that should change is dictionary formats. The incompatibilities and conversion difficulties are completely unnecessary.

Firmware is okay as long as it can be safely downgraded.
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Old 06-03-2018, 06:22 AM   #6
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Yes, Mobama, but the real problem here is not a format problem. There are quite a few dictionaries available in Kobo format. It is the Kobo firmware that prevents you from adding these dictionaries!
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rojofo View Post
Finally, I am trying to get up the courage to undertake the “jailbreaking” solution but my lack of experience in computing is giving me serious misgivings and I suspect that after all the work and stress involved, the solution may be no better than my Koreader experiment.
You are currently trying to figure out how to maintain the style of reading to which you have become accustomed. However, switching to using a Spanish monolingual dictionary instead of a bilingual one, may be more worthy of your sustained effort and concentration, in my opinion. When learning languages, I aspire to use a dictionary in the target language as early as possible.

Disclaimer: I acknowledge that this is not a solution to your problem. Using a monolingual dictionary instead of a bilingual dictionary does not provide the same convenience and reading experience. Looking up words becomes much more disruptive of the reading experience; you have to divert your concentration away from the text, in order to understand the definition of the word you are looking up. So I can totally understand why you might want to stick to using a bilingual dictionary. Better overall dictionary performance is one of the reasons I own Kindles as well as Kobo devices.

So with that said, I still think you should consider using a monolingual dictionary at least part of the time. Learning definitions in the target language is wholesome: instead of increasing your vocabulary by building associations between Spanish and English words, you increase your vocabulary by building associations between Spanish words, and other Spanish words. Instead of "silla = seat", you have "silla = asiento individual con patas y respaldo". Reading definitions in the target language is especially hard at first, because you have to learn the dry, academic style in which dictionary definitions are written. But once you have gotten over this hurdle, think how valuable that knowledge will be! Instead of asking your translator friend to translate a word into English for you, it is like having a monolingual Spanish friend with you, who you can ask "que quiere decir ese palabra", who will explain it to you, in Spanish. It is a more "immersive" way to build vocabulary.

Last edited by Braid; 06-03-2018 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Marinolino View Post
Imperfect as they are and will be for some more time to come, we are also forced to simultaneously use another e-reader or tablet for many other reasons e.g. when we need a color recognition, better annotation or scribbling, multi-tab function for several simultaneously opened documents, quicker referencing, audio & video capability etc.
Yes, I find myself too typing things in dictionaries that I have on the phone rather than on the ereader, where they are much harder to get. And often enough I must google, which will probably never become convenient on ereaders.
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Old 06-03-2018, 03:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rojofo View Post
Prospective e-reader buyers*: Kobo dictionary warning*!

I thought it might be helpful for prospective buyers of an e-reader to share my frustrating experience with Kobo.

When I tried to add more dictionaries, I also learnt that Kobo does not allow its users to side-load any of the very many excellent compatible dictionaries available. This is a rigidly restrictive policy and hard to get around. Nevertheless, I managed to get a couple of extra dictionaries working thanks to the generous help of members of the MobileRead forum (whom I would like to thank once more).

This work-around was destroyed by a recent firmware upgrade by Kobo so that only two basic dictionaries now work (monolingual Spanish and Spanish-English). Even the basic Spanish-French dictionary is no longer accessible. So I was back to linguistic poverty and the same frustrating situation.

From what I have read on the MobileRead forum, the dictionaries available for Kindles are considerably better for the purposes of people who want to read literature and I would advise prospective buyers to investigate this point before making their decision. I am now beginning to think about changing to Kindle as I face constant irritating frustration in attempting to read with the basic Kobo dictionaries.

(...)

I hope my experience will help other prospective buyers with the same literary interests as me to make their decisions.

Best to all,
Rojofo.
Well, it is not so complicated to add new dictionaries. I did it yesterday in less than five minutes following the indications of surquizu in post https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...20&postcount=1. Spanish dictionaries by the way.

The only thing that it is needed is to have an editor for the database (e.g. SQlite expert). The rest is very easy. The only thing that is different in the last FW version is that the name of the dicitionary in the data base have to start by Extra:_xx, being xx the two characters selected for the new languages (eg. Extra:_e1 RAE, being e1 the two characters I selected for the new "fake language" and RAE the name of the dictionary)

If you have some concerns, you only have to do a backup of the files Kobo eReader.conf and KoboReader.sqlite. If there is a problem, you can recover the backup again.

Other possibility is the one proposed by jackie_w in post https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...5&postcount=16.

And the last one, very easy and without danger, is to remove a dictionary you don't use (e.g. translation German-English) and to change the name of yours to meet the old one. You have to select in the lookup German-English and that`s all. The only negative side effect is when you sync, you will have the dictionary replace by the original one, but depending of the frequency you sync, it is not a nightmare to replace it again.
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Old 06-04-2018, 12:37 AM   #10
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I feel this warning is unwarranted.

Why is there not a similar warning to prospective Kindle owners that there devices can not be jail broken and that many of the add-ons are not applicable.



Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk
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Old 06-04-2018, 12:57 AM   #11
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I feel this warning is unwarranted.

Why is there not a similar warning to prospective Kindle owners that there devices can not be jail broken and that many of the add-ons are not applicable.
There are such warnings on this forum at least by me. I always say that Kindle makes sense only if you want to keep buying mobis. If you want to read epubs and pdf files from any source, then the first option should be anything but a Kindle.

Kobo does not natively seem to do anything useful with pdf files either(useful such as crop, zoom, reflow), and latest firmwares favour its own kepub format over epub, so if you buy a Kobo, the first thing is to install at least Koreader on it.

Only Onyx and Pocketbook provide reasonable functionality out of the box and when you want more, installation process on them is effortless compared to Kindle and Kobo.

Last edited by mobama; 06-04-2018 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterT View Post
I feel this warning is unwarranted.

Why is there not a similar warning to prospective Kindle owners that there devices can not be jail broken and that many of the add-ons are not applicable.



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As Mobama mentioned there are real differences between Kobo and Kindle on this question. The reason why a similar warning to Kindle buyers is apparently not necessary is that there is a larger choice of better dictionaries on Kindle, at least this seems to be the belief of Kindle users and particularly friends of mine who use their Kindle for reading foreign literature.

I am not personally (yet!) a Kindle user so I am not well placed to give information about this (though I have had a quick look at the Kindle forums on these questions). What I beleive is that Kindle does not block you or prevent users from having several dictionaries (bilingual and monolingual) of the same language. Kobo does. That is why there are "jailbreaking " methods for Kobo being developed (and available on this forum) to try to remedy this problem.

Last edited by Rojofo; 06-04-2018 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 06-04-2018, 09:56 AM   #13
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Well, it is not so complicated to add new dictionaries. I did it yesterday in less than five minutes following the indications of surquizu in post https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...20&postcount=1. Spanish dictionaries by the way.

The only thing that it is needed is to have an editor for the database (e.g. SQlite expert). The rest is very easy. The only thing that is different in the last FW version is that the name of the dicitionary in the data base have to start by Extra:_xx, being xx the two characters selected for the new languages (eg. Extra:_e1 RAE, being e1 the two characters I selected for the new "fake language" and RAE the name of the dictionary)

If you have some concerns, you only have to do a backup of the files Kobo eReader.conf and KoboReader.sqlite. If there is a problem, you can recover the backup again.

Other possibility is the one proposed by jackie_w in post https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...5&postcount=16.

And the last one, very easy and without danger, is to remove a dictionary you don't use (e.g. translation German-English) and to change the name of yours to meet the old one. You have to select in the lookup German-English and that`s all. The only negative side effect is when you sync, you will have the dictionary replace by the original one, but depending of the frequency you sync, it is not a nightmare to replace it again.
Thank you very much JIPG-reader, this is the method that I referred to in my post as "jailbreaking" (for want of a more appropriate term).

I'm glad that you were able to do in in five minutes; I'm afraid that it would take me much longer and be quite stressful and daunting. However, it seems to be the only solution.

What I am afraid of is that there will be bugs like those I had with Koreader dictionaries. I'm reluctant to go to such a lot of trouble with the possibility of no result or a mediocre outcome.

In any case, thank you once again for having made part of this process clearer in my mind.
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Old 06-05-2018, 06:09 PM   #14
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Thank you very much JIPG-reader, this is the method that I referred to in my post as "jailbreaking" (for want of a more appropriate term).

I'm glad that you were able to do in in five minutes; I'm afraid that it would take me much longer and be quite stressful and daunting. However, it seems to be the only solution.

What I am afraid of is that there will be bugs like those I had with Koreader dictionaries. I'm reluctant to go to such a lot of trouble with the possibility of no result or a mediocre outcome.

In any case, thank you once again for having made part of this process clearer in my mind.
I was afraid, as you, of doing it, but at the end it was easy and WORKS!.

I have used for a long time the trick of erasing the portuguese dictionary and install another spanish dictionary changing the name of the file. After each sync, it was replaced by the original one.
I was tired of doing the change many times, so finally, I tried the method of installing new (fake) languages.

Using the database editor is very easy, and again, do a complete kobo backup (specially the database and config file), and if something goes wrong, you can recover the latest status.

I am very happy with my two new spanish dictionaries, that work very well and will not be erased after any update or sync. I think that the post with the instructions has also a link to many dictionaries in kobo format.

Furthermore, with a program called penelope is also easy to convert stardict dictionaries to kobo format, but this is another history ...
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