New Review: the Kobo Arc 7 is not the ‘Droid You’re Looking For

Who kobo-arc-7-press-lead[1]wants to see me eviscerate Kobo in a review? Sorry, but you’ve come to the wrong place.

I’ve just finished a review of the Kobo Arc 7 and it revealed details about Kobo which surprised me. Read on for the full review.

Of the 4 major ebook platforms in the US, Kobo was the only one with a truly baffling interest in tablets. Amazon has always clearly been building a media tablet where they could sell you stuff, Apple is Apple, and Barnes & Noble’s tablet efforts are showing all the signs of being a glorious failure.

But Kobo’s tablets, on the other hand, have never made much sense. Their first 2 tablets (the Vox in 2011 and the Arc in 2012) were outdated the day they launched, and Kobo’s third generation tablets were clearly overpriced when they were announced in August 2013.

At some point you have to start wondering why Kobo is still in the Android tablet market after so many missteps, but as I discovered while writing this review Kobo isn’t actually trying to compete in the Android tablet market – not with the Arc 7, anyway.

Kobo has their own plan, and competing on price isn’t part of that plan.

I had to get my hands on this tablet before I realized that Kobo designed the Arc 7 for a specific type of consumer: readers, and more specifically Kobo customers. If you’re not a member of at least the first group then you were never in Kobo’s sights, and so there was no reason for Kobo to try to make a sale by offering a super low price. This freed Kobo to sell the Arc 7 at a price point which enabled them to make at least some money on the tablet while still attracting readers and locking them in to buy ebooks from Kobo first.

Read on for the full review.

P.S. As you are probably thinking, B&N tried a similar model but failed miserably. TBH I don’t know whether Kobo will succeed where B&N failed, though Kobo does have at least one advantage (an international focus). And Kobo only adopted this strategy with the latest tablet. I’m still thinking about how this will affect Kobo’s position in the long term; would anyone care to guess?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. oj82927 January, 2014

    Despite its significant unfixable flaws (too heavy, no MicroSD), the original Kobo Arc has aged well on my toyshelf.

    It’s not the ONLY tab out there with front-facing speakers, but it sounds the best among the 4 I own. Its’ SRS features (volume boost, extra bass/treble) work tab-wide, across ALL apps. It was my first tab to accommodate a mainstream magazine app (NextIssue), and this continues to work well. VG/Ex screen, universally good and even responses to finger input. Smooth video.

    All around, it’s my “go to” tab more than I thought it would be. It wasn’t frustration-free – I had to install an alternate launcher. And I won’t be buying any of Kobo’s new ones. But it’s definitely never one of the tabs I look at and wonder why I bothered.

    1. Bart Anderson27 January, 2014

      I agree. We bought two of the original Arcs and have been very happy with them. After recent price reductions, they are a good deal.

    2. Nate Hoffelder28 January, 2014

      The 2012 Arc isn’t that heavy. According to Wikipedia it’s only a few grams heavier than the Kindle Fire HD.

  2. Elen Ermo30 March, 2014

    I agree. I’m very satisfied with my Arc and I use it many hours daily since it was released. The only problem was the launcher but fixed it by installing an alternative as said above. I was never a Kobo customer but I bought a few ebooks since only because of lower price and epub format. I like not being tied to Amazon, Google etc. Having more options is a good thing, it’s what they did right. And of course everything in the end comes down to price. Good value for money.

  3. Dean Finlay26 October, 2014

    My Kobo Arc 7 HD has huge battery issues. It was purchased Christmas 2013 and now the battery issues are to the point where it only lasts 10 minutes after a full charge. The battery meter is completely unreliable as it will always indicate that the device is fully charged when it is turned on but then it quickly discharges and shuts off. When it is plugged in to charge the battery indicates it is fully charged at the beginning of the charge. So one never really knows what the level of charge is but it doesn’t matter much, because it quits after 10 minutes no matter how long it is charged.

  4. Walter Gibson1 February, 2015

    My Kobo Arc7 also has major battery issues. I have already returned one because of the same issue. I will check the battery indicator when I shut down the Kobo and it indicates the battery still has plenty of charge remaining yet when I go to start it the next day the battery will be stone dead and I have to charge it before I can use it. I purchased an extended warranty on this one so if there is problem they (Future Shop) just replaces it with a new one. I just wonder how many times they will do that??

    1. My first suggestion in this type of situation is to install a pwermanagement app like Deepsleep. That app forces other apps to stay off when you put your tablet to sleep.

    2. Lenora9 February, 2015

      I sent back my first Kobo Arc 7 HD and got a replacement only one month ago and the same battery problem is starting up again.

      I shut it off at 30% battery life, I go to turn it on hours later and the battery is dead!

      I’m never buying a Kobo product again, it’s all garbage.

  5. Morgan30 January, 2016

    I’ve had a obo Arc 7 HD for over 1 year now with no power issues. I switched to Smart Launcher and it works very well. I also bought the Arc 10 HD for my wife and it has no problems althogh my wife still prefers her crash prone iPad 2 due to it’s lighter weight and better designed case. I’ve used APKLeech site to get programs that would install directly onto both, specifically Bell TV apps which allow me to use the 10 HD a portable TV in the house. I’m about to try a switch the from the default launcher to Action Launcher 3.5 for the 10 HD.

  6. dan6 April, 2017

    i think the battery indicator works backward shows fully charged wnen near dead. full battery on indicator means dead. i have been watching this as time goes by looking in their manual it says the picture of a complete battery means dead. dumb. counter intuitive ain’t it.
    i have noticed that manual seem to be written by people with no ability to communicate information assgrabbers syndrome?


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