Review: Kobo Glo HD
Earlier today a reader showed up in the comment section and started pestering me about my promised review of Kobo’s newest ereader, the Glo HD.
I was one of the first to get a Glo HD. I’ve had it for just over two and a half weeks, but for one reason or another I have been holding off from writing the review*.
Update: This review is based on the 3.14.7 firmware. Many of the complaints were addressed in the v3.15 firmware update.
I reached this opinion after less than a week, and I still feel this way:
- Wait for Kobo to do something about the software. Kobo can’t do anything to make the Glo HD prettier, but they can at least fix the software and performance issues.
The simple fact is, folks, I don’t think much of the Kobo Glo HD. On its own it is an unremarkable ereader, and when compared to other ereaders on the market it comes up short.
I know that everyone (including me) framed the Glo HD as a competitor to the Kindle Voyage, but it’s really not. Sure, the $129 Glo HD matches the $199 Voyage in all the important hardware specs, but once you put your hands on it the difference is obvious.
To start with, there’s the aesthetics; the Voyage looks like a premium ereader and the Glo HD does not. One has a sleek and polished design while the other is basic and ordinary. (I don’t actually care for the design of the Voyage, but it still looks better.)
The Glo HD’s design is about as uninspired as that of the Kindle Paperwhite; both are basic black rectangles wrapped around a 6″ screen. And while there’s nothing wrong with a boring design, if the Kobo Glo HD wants to be seen as a premium device then it needs to _be_ premium in every way.
And it certainly does not live up to that expectation in the software department. The Glo HD is disappointing both in terms of responsiveness and fonts.
I don’t know what Kobo did wrong, but the Glo HD is the slowest of the 4 ereaders on my desk right now.
I tested the Kobo Glo HD with an Epub file bought from Kobo (kepub) and a sideloaded Epub. The Glo HD is slower to open ebooks and turn the page than the Voyage, and it is also slower than my Paperwhite (2013).
The Glo HD is even slower than my two-year-old Kobo Aura HD. Yes, Kobo’s older, larger, and clunkier ereader is faster than its awesome new Kindle Voyage killer. The two devices should be running the same software, so I have no explanation for the difference, but it is there.
And that’s not the kicker.
The Kobo Glo HD may have the same resolution screen as the Kindle Voyage but the text displayed on the screen is not as pretty. Yes, Kobo offers many customization options and even has their own font optimized for E-ink screens, but the text on the screen of the Voyage is still prettier.
And I hope you’re sitting down for this next part, because this is where things get fun.
I’m going to have to work really hard to document this with photos for my review, but I can report based on what I see right now that the Glo HD is not significantly better at displaying text than the Kindle Paperwhite.
I can’t honestly tell you which one is better, and that is a serious problem for the Kobo Glo HD.
All in all, the Kobo Glo HD is not a $129 premium ereader. The unit on my desk is a very solid mid-range ereader on which Kobo has wasted an expensive and high-res E-ink screen.
If and when Kobo fixes the performance, software, and other issues, this could be a wonderful ereader.
But it’s not there yet.
P.S. In my defense, two weeks is just _barely_ enough time to understand an ereader enough to write a good review. I’d originally promised to write the review after having the Glo HD less than a week, which is rarely enough time. (I hadn’t realized I had goofed on the time frame until after I committed to the review.)