Kobo Arc Android Tablet eReader Review
By Austin Downing
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Kobo..
For many people carrying a book around to read has become a thing of the past, replaced by a phone, tablet, or e-Reader. Kobo’s e-Reader line has been one of the primary competitors for Amazon’s Kindle, that is until Amazon brought out their Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire helped bring an Android tablet to the masses, and allowed Amazon to distribute its music and movies directly to their device. Kobo is fighting back and Benchmark Reviews tests their new 16GB Kobo Arc 7″ Android Tablet eReader (model K107-KBO-16W), which features a 1.5GHz dual core TI OMAP 4470 CPU and a POWERVR SGX 544 GPU.
In order for Kobo to differentiate itself from its competitors, Kobo has introduced Tapestries, a tool that helps make a user’s content easy to find and organize. The more a user reads, watches, and listens to, the better Tapestries gets at recommending new content to the user. These customizations are for the most part locked to the home page of the Arc, while leaving the stock Android 4.0 experience in place everywhere else.
Testing a product is about being able to produce consistent results, which can be reproduced by our readers. For our CPU and GPU benchmarks this means that we run a stock system with no other applications running at the time of the test. We run each benchmark three times, throwing out the lowest result and the two remaining results are then averaged to give us our final score.
When we benchmark the battery performance, we start with a 100% charged battery and then run our tests. For our web surfing and e-Reader tests, we will run the benchmark for three hours and then see how much of the battery has been used up during the test. For our video benchmarks we run the tests until the system is at 5%, and then record how long the system has been on battery.
Kobo Arc Specifications
Kobo has powered the Arc with TI’s OMAP4470 processor running at 1.5GHz. This is an ARM Cortex A9 based processor, which runs the ARMv7 instruction set. The graphical muscle needed for gaming and to run the Android interface is provided by the Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 544, which supports OpenGL ES 2.0, and DX 10.1. Split between these two processors is 1GB of LPDDR2, which is an adequate amount, but since DRAM prices are so low right now, it would have been nice to see Kobo add another gigabyte of RAM to bring the total up to 2GB.
The screen on the Kobo Arc is a 7″ 800 x 1200 IPS screen. Kobo claims that this display is able to display 16.4 million colors (8-bit display), and I will admit it is quite beautiful to look at. This screen has been designed to help reduce glare, with a claimed 29% reduction in glare (When compared to untreated glass I assume).
Kobo uses Android Jellybean build 4.1.1 on the Arc. This allows users to run almost any application in the Play Store on the Arc. One of the big additions in Jelly Bean was the addition of Google Now, a landing page that contains almost everything a user will need to see in a day. For example if I have a tracking number of a package in my GMail, Google now will automatically add the tracking information to my Google Now page. The information on this page is constantly updated based on what a search, where I go, what e-mail I receive, and what items I have on my calendar.