Yesterday, I actually got my hands on an Arc. So here is the skinny: it looks pretty cool.
It is about the same size and weight as the Kobo Vox (about the weight of a trade paperback), and has a 7″ screen. The screen is HD-really crisp HD, actually. I noticed while using it a little lessening of responsiveness at the top of the screen, but that might have been because of all the people who just ate ice cream sandwiches (because it runs Android ice cream sandwich, get it? Food marketing tie-ins are my favorite) and then put their grubby fingers all over it. It now has a front camera, so it’s suitable for Skype, but any photo taking will either have to be blind, or always starring you.
Kobo took inspiration from the popularity of Pinterest, and created an interface it calls “Tapestries”. Basically, you create bulletin boards, and pin anything you want to them. This includes videos, photos, books, music, Twitter… and it will make suggestions about additional content you might find interesting. I noticed that (gasp) it was suggesting content that wasn’t being offered by Kobo, on occasion. It was suggesting also… free stuff. You can organize by media type, or theme, or whatever crazy scheme you come up with. This being basically a geek party, I noticed one of the newly created bulletin boards was titled “Deathstar Plans”.
The books downloaded, loaded, and turned pages very quickly – they have snuck in a 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor, and it seems to be doing the trick. They’ve taken out the option of using external MicroSD cards (which sucks), and have instead created the Vox at 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB, ranging from $200-$300. Apparently it no longer has an internal MicroSD card, so all you guys who were looking forward to an easy hack will have harder slogging.
One of my coworkers downloaded “Temple Run” from the Google Play store as, she claimed, a test. It downloaded fairly quickly, given the size of the file, and the game play was smooth and lag-free.
One thing I heard about, but didn’t get a chance to look at, is a feature built into the browser that apparently strips ads off web articles, so that only the content is left. Genius, if you’re using a 7″ screen to browse the internet. So much less zooming and dragging.
We’ll see how buggy it is when it starts actually shipping, but so far, so good. I wasn’t actually all that interested in the Vox, but the Arc, I can actually see buying. I was a little doubtful of Kobo positioning it as competition for tablets, but it looks like they may have been right.
Hopefully, the cases will actually arrive at the same time as the Arc – the custom Kobo Glo and Mini cases still haven’t arrived, and the pre-order on them is actually sold out. Approximate Arc arrival date is mid-November.
All in all, looks solid.