The hardware was great but was expensive and let down by a lack of curation on the Kobo bookstore, as last year we reviewed Kobo’s Aura One eReader.
So, how have things changed in the past year?
Trying to decide if Kobo has a chance against the Amazon juggernaut which has form when it comes to crushing its smaller rivals, as in out Kobo Forma’s comparison with Kindle Oasis, we evaluate the company’s latest eReader for design, features, specs, and ease of use. Let us take a look at our best eReaders chart for a broader advice.
Price and where to buy
The comparison point given the quality of the specs and design as they should be the Kindle Oasis rather than the bog-standard Kindles as that is rather a lot but bear in mind that this is a premium eReader. The Oasis here costs just $10 less.
To the 8GB model, the above price tags apply. That will cost more when it eventually launches here as Kobo has only announced that the higher-storage unit will be released in Japan.
The other countries later on if you need a 32GB which will cost more when it eventually launches here.
Since 8GB is enough for 6,000 standard eBooks as we imagine there is more appetite for this in Japan.
Design and Built
A roughly book-shaped 8in screen with a mice chunky grip grafted on to one side, the Forma is almost square. So that it is easy to pick the things up, the grip is angled upwards.
There is a power button next to the micro USB charging port aside from the back and forward rocker switch on the grip.
We occasionally found out ourselves doing one when we meant to do the other as the button can be pressed once to put the Forma to sleep or pressed and held to do a full power off.
The materials do not imply luxury as they suggest the device will not be hurt if you drop it which is actually quite reassuring as seems to be standard among even quite premium eReaders.
As aesthetic which says function more than form as we are talking matt charcoal plastic, with a glossier black around the edge of the screen? To have an alternative color option though it would be nice.
While still relatively cheap-looking, deserves extra credit the design which comes to the back of the reader. Not to mention secure in the hand and is quite pleasing to the eye too as the mixture of small and large indentations feels nice.
Despite having a slightly larger screen and roughly the same weight as the current Kindle Oasis which has only a 7in screen we love the lightness of the Forma. It can easily be held in one hand.
The IPX8 water resistance of the Kobo Aura One last year is retained by Forma. If you cannot fish it out of the swimming pool in that time you frankly do not deserve to have nice things as this means that it will survive submersion in fresh water at 2m depth for up to 60minutes.
Big Screen Stands out
Even fractionally bigger than the iPad mini 4, the Forma’s crowning glory is its mono E Ink 8in display which is bigger than that of any current Kindle.
Although 300ppi which is now standard among premium and even mid-market eReaders it is sharp too at 1440×1920 and 300ppi.
Meaning that you can adjust the color temperature to suit your mood or the time of the day and hopefully improve your sleeping patterns by cutting blue light in the evening. To adjust automatically and find it relaxing to use we left it that way.
Finding that they have tapped a second menu option before the device responds to the first it is also a touchscreen, and quite a sluggish one at that those who are not used to devices of this sort may be frustrated.
For the E Ink displays and remember that 99 percent of the time you will not use it as a touchscreen and it is quite a standard.
Using the Kobo Forma
The Forma is simple to use as you would be hoping of. Navigate by either tapping on the left or the right side of the screen or using the top and bottom buttons on the grip select something to read from the My Books menu.
Including the brightness, text size and chapter quickly jump as you need to tap the central third of the screen to up menu options.
10 fonts and the ability to fine-tune text size, margin size and line spacing to an enormously granular degree as there is a good range of text customization options.
We have a slight reservation on the count as we mentioned earlier that rotating the device automatically rotates the screen. There is an option to ‘lock’ this as it can be used in either portrait or landscape orientation.
While preventing portrait mode from switching 90 degrees to landscape still allowing the device to rotate the full 180 degrees and it is so sensitive that it often flips upside-down when you put the device down on the table in the locked mode.
Indeed there are no alternatives so if you disable this option you just get a blank screen with ‘Sleeping’ or “Power off” at the bottom by default as the Kobo uses the cover of your current book as the screensaver.
We love the default setting though some may find that the latter limitation annoying.
As because they never get to see the cover as they would with a physical look on multiple occasions’ eBook using friends have sheepishly admitted to us that they don’t actually know what they are currently reading because they never get to see the cover.