Kobo Arc 10HD Android tablet

Kobo hopes the Arc 10HD will appeal both as an Android tablet and an e-reader. Is it worth it?

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Kobo Arc 10HD
  • Kobo Arc 10HD
  • Kobo Arc 10HD
  • Kobo Arc 10HD

Pros

  • Reader-centric features
  • High-resolution screen
  • Full access to Google Play store

Cons

  • Heavy build & limited storage
  • Dim display
  • Weak camera

Bottom Line

The Kobo Arc 10HD is fairly expensive to be bought purely as a reading device and the heavy build, limited storage capacity and dim screen are downsides. It offers a great reading experience, but only a decent tablet experience.

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Kobo, best known for its e-readers, has delved into the tablet market with its Arc line-up of devices. These tablets are designed primarily for those of you who are passionate about reading. The Kobo Arc 10HD that we’re looking at here is a high-end tablet, and Kobo hopes it will be appealing both as an Android tablet and an e-reader. However, at AU$499.99, is it worth it?

Hefty design, high resolution screen

Sharp edges, combined with the device's heft, can make it uncomfortable to hold.

The design of the Kobo Arc 10HD is minimalistic; it has only two physical buttons, which includes a power slider at the top of the device, and a volume rocker on the right side. The device itself is 253mm long, 172mm deep, and 10mm thick. At 627g, it’s a heavy tablet, especially when compared to the iPad Air Wi-Fi model, which weighs in at 469g. It has a faceted, plastic back, with a matte finish and edge-to-edge glass on the front. However, the sharp edges from this, combined with the device's heft, can make it uncomfortable to hold, as it digs into your hands.

Although it's heavy, the build quality feels sturdy and solid in the hand. On the left-hand side of the device there are three ports: a micro-USB for charging and syncing, a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, and a micro HDMI port. This HDMI output is a welcome addition, making it possible to view content on a separate display such as a television or projector. A standard set of sensors is installed, including a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and an ambient light sensor. The Kobo Arc 10HD also includes a built-in microphone and dual stereo speakers, which are located on the rear. The sound is decent, though tinny.

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The screen looks dim, even at the highest brightness setting.

Kobo has included an NVIDIA Tegra 4 processor, clocked at 1.8GHz, and 2GB of RAM, which is twice as much as the iPad Air’s 1GB of RAM. A drawback of the Kobo Arc 10HD is its limited storage space. It holds only 16GB of internal storage memory, with only 12GB being usable due to pre-installed bloatware. This will become a problem as the space is filled up lots of apps, movies, music, and books. A microSD card slot is not present, so you can’t expand this storage.

The Kobo Arc 10HD has only one camera, a front-facing 1.3-megapixel shooter. It’s designed for self-shots and video calls, but its quality isn’t great; the images we took looked fuzzy and grainy. The Kobo Arc 10HD offers a screen resolution of 2560x1600 pixels, which equates to a pixel density of 300 pixels per inch (ppi). This is 36ppi more than Apples’ iPad Air at 264ppi. We found the screen to be very sharp, although a bit saturated and reflective due to the glossiness. It has good viewing angles. The screen looked dim, even at the highest brightness settings, and it didn’t look as bright when compared to many other tablets on the market.

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Software and Reading

Running Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, the Kobo Arc 10HD differentiates itself from competitors by skinning the Reading Life dashboard onto the operating system’s home screen. This has attempted to give the tablet a reader focus while maintaining the full functionality of a multimedia tablet. You can get a more traditional Android experience in addition to Kobo’s Reading Life dashboard by customising apps, widgets, and wallpapers on the home screen. Swiping down on the left-hand side of the screen brings down notifications, and swiping down on the right-hand side brings down quick settings, where you can easily access widgets such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and brightness.

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Reading mode can be easily accessed through quick settings, and this mode assists in providing an immersive reading experience by disabling annoying notifications while you read. These settings can be tweaked according to your preferences.

In addition to the four million e-books the Kobo store has to offer, the home screen is built with reader interest in mind. Swiping to the left brings the user to Reading Life; you will see tiles where you can access your books, magazines, recent reads, user stats and recommendations. Swiping left again will bring you to Kobo Collections; each vertical bar acts as a collection of desired content. You pin content inside each collection including websites, video, and music, mainly for easier access and better organisation.

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You can use the volume rocker as a page turner.

The Kobo Arc 10HD has the Beyond The Book feature. While reading, you will see underlined words that you can click to get more background information, context or related content. Pocket is also pre-installed, which saves articles from the Web for later or offline reading.

Reading is enjoyable due to the HD screen, which offers crisp and clear text. You can customise your reading experience by changing the settings, brightness, font size, and style. You can also use the volume rocker as a page turner, which was very useful during testing as we did not have to keep swiping and tapping the screen while reading.

The Kobo Arc 10HD optimises magazine reading; it has a guided reading feature. Once zoomed in, you can tap right or left and it can automatically scroll from section to section of magazine articles where text is tiny due to multiple columns. This function is preferred to constant panning and zooming, which can be annoying.

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Pinching and zooming can get jittery at times.

While browsing the Internet, pinching and zooming is mostly smooth, but can get jittery at times. There was also some lag when scrolling through certain Web pages, and this was most noticeable with Web pages that were image heavy. We also noticed accuracy issues sometimes when scrolling, in which we would inadvertently end up zooming. Furthermore, when scrolling through YouTube videos, we ended up performing accidental clicks.

Apps loaded quickly and switching from one app to another was snappy, even when there were many applications running in the background. Games were responsive and quick, and we experienced short loading times.

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Conclusion

Overall, the Kobo Arc 10HD is a solid tablet. The high-definition screen, as well as the reader-heavy features, make it a joy for reading books and magazines. Further, the tablet’s configuration provides fast performance for loading and switching between apps. However, it's fairly expensive to be bought purely as a reading device and the heavy build and limited storage capacity are downsides. The Kobo Arc 10HD offers a great reading experience, but only a decent tablet experience.

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Read more on these topics: ereader, Android, Kobo, Kobo Arc, Android tablets

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