Kobo Glo vs. Kindle Paperwhite

kindle paperwhiteWhatever happened to all the buzz about e-book readers? It can seem that simple e-reader devices are being left in the dust in this era when a new tablet computer comes out every few months. But two of the latest releases from Kobo and Amazon might change your perspective. The Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite have moved into the spotlight in the ereader category since their founding companies have redesigned them to appeal even more to people who love to read.

(Note: please see the comments below for more useful information. It seems that my research for this peice was less than stellar.)

The Kindle Paperwhite differentiates itself most from earlier models by its screen, which has improved the contrast by 25% and heightened its pixels by more than 60%. This means you should have a screen that is crisp, glare free, and simpler to read.

Some of the other new features are a larger display, better resolution on the screen, and customizable fonts. All the controls reside on the touch screen. It is remarkably lightweight as well. In the end, the Kindle Paperwhite feels like reading a traditional paper book even when it is lit up. Unlike other e-readers in the past, this one will not cause much strain on the eyes.

Time to Read

Another new aspect on the Paperwhite is the “Time to Read” feature. This automatically responds to how fast the user reads a book and shows how much is left to the present chapter and the entire book in general based on your individual pace. The reading time is shown on the bottom of the screen to help the reader have a better experience.

The idea is that sometimes when you are reading a book, you start thinking things like “Should I put down the book, or finish the chapter” or “Is the chapter almost done, or I could finish this in the morning?” With this new feature, it supposedly helps you decide.

I thought this would be a little distracting, quite frankly, as I don’t like to rush through a book or have someone telling me I’m reading to slow. Hopefully there is some way to disable it to not display if you are like me.

Kobo Glo

The Kobo Glo is actually incredibly similar to Kindle’s Paperwhite. The dimensions are almost the same and they both use touchscreen control technology. One of the biggest differences between the two units is the battery life. Kindle claims that its newest Paperwhite’s battery will last up to eight weeks under normal conditions even with the light on.

In Kobo Glo vs. Kindle Paperwhite comparison, the Kobo Glo battery only lasts half as long. One positive feature of the Glo is its “Reading Life”. This lets a user share with friends on social networks like Twitter or Facebook.

Avid readers will be very excited with the new ereader releases. Two of the latest on the market are the Kobo Glo and the Kindle Paperwhite. Both of these devices have vast improvements over the previous models and make things much simpler for users.

The screens are fabulous on both units as well as the intuitiveness of the devices. One big difference is the battery life which is doubled on the Kindle version. In the end, choosing between the two will come down to your need for battery life, as well as personal preference. For those who have allegiance to Amazon and their product line, the Kindle Paperwhite will not disappoint. Likewise, if you are a Kobo fan and you don’t use your reader away from home for extended periods, the Glo will light your fire.

What is Paperwhite?

The new Paperwhite product line from Amazon is aimed at helping you to read even if you are in bad lighting situations. The beauty of this newer display screen is that it lights up the Kindle Paperwhite from top to bottom, and with a unique ambient glow light that gives a soothing feeling. It is not a bright backlight shining directly to your eyes.

On top of the new backlight, Amazon also improved on the display area. It is claimed that the new Kindle Paperwhite features a 25% more screen space, with an added 60% more pixels from its predecessors. If you have already used a Kindle, then just viewing the screen you can already spot a difference right away.

While it works perfectly well on daylight, and a well-lit room, it is on a dark environment where you can truly appreciate the Kindle Paperwhite’s advantages. For example, flying on long airplane trip where the lights are turned off, you will notice a big difference with the Kindle Paperwhite. It feels like you are reading from a white colored piece of paper. This is a big difference from traditional tablet lights that are too bright and have a different feel that may cause strain to the eyes with longer readings.

Kobo Books vs. Kindle Books

There are a number of advantages that Amazon offers that make the Kindle quite attractive, and that is one of the reasons they are outselling the Kobo. Things like the Send a Sample feature in the Kindle online store that actually gives you the first chapter free on Kindle- on Kobo do you see the first pages or comments on other books and the ISBN and copyright page, but no actual sample. Amazon has a much better search engine that allows you to search an author by publication date and other advanced searches. Amazon has pre-sales for digital books, so you can get the book the instant it is released, whereas Kobo does not.

As far as book selection, each device has different books available for some publishers, but there is mostly lots of overlap and the prices can also be pretty similar, depending on what sales and coupon codes you can find. I use the Calibre desktop software to compare prices and also to convert books between formats. Download Calibre for free here. http://calibre-ebook.com/download

Kindle Photo by appsmanila, Creative Commons

  • Mike

    Just another Kindle propaganda writer at work here.

    If my post is placed, I will point out where and why this article is biased and erroneous.

    But funny enough every time I post a reaction to correct mistakes in pro Kindle articles, it isn’t published.

    • http://www.techfragments.com James Anderson

      Would be interested to hear your points, Mike. I have no particular allegiance to either device.

  • Harold

    This is why I love the internet, all the misinformation. These devices are FRONT lit, NOT backlit.

    • http://www.techfragments.com James Anderson

      Edited to correct that, thanks. Yes, these screens are frontlit, as you say, the latest generation, instead of reflecting ambient light, has a built in LED light that shines onto the e-ink diplay from the front in.

  • Peter

    The photo of the Kobo Glo is actually last years Kobo Touch. The logo on the Glo is at the bottom, near the USB port. The Kobo is smaller by 12mm, it is lighter, its memory can be extended to 32GB because it has an Micro SD connector, while Amazon has 2GB onboard. Amazon locks you into its ecosystem while Kobo allows you to read a variety of book formats, even free ebooks from your public library. The screens are identical, so is the lighting technology. A months of battery life should allow users to go away from home for an extended period of time. That is longer than most people’s annual vacation time in the US. ;-) The article totally favors the Kindle for its screen and the Paperwhite light and the battery life, etc. The Kobo has the same features, some are even better and all we hear is the one month battery life not being enough. And that being supported by an old photo of another product. You can do better.

    • http://lettoredigitale.com/ Luca

      Peter, you’ve taken the words right out of my mouth. I’ve never read a pro Kindle article like this :-) James, I think you wrote this post quite honestly but Kindle PW and Kobo Glo are on the same level as devices.

  • Edward

    The kobo book store also provides free previews of most books.

    Also, white is not a colour.

  • frb

    Hey James, thanks for an informative article. But I have a question. Did you actually try both devices or are you making the comparision based on the specs?

    • http://www.techfragments.com James Anderson

      The comparison is mostly from specs as well as users subjective comments gathered from various sites.

  • Mike

    Hi James, this is Mike again, and surprised to see my post on top, :-)

    From your honest comments on other posters I gather you are a very nice guy, and you are probably making a few cents here and there writing reviews.
    So I won’t come down hard on you, and you should not take my comments personally, but merely as information and probably it will be useful for future reviews.

    First it’s generally not a good idea to write reviews about things you haven’t had a chance to test yourself. It’s not very useful for people who want to be informed before they buy an item.

    Specs are what the manufacturers would like you to believe and only on rare occasions they are accurate. It’s the reviewers task to find the discrepancies between what the producers claim and reality.
    Using subjective comments from other people is not a good idea James.
    They could make you look stupid without you knowing it until you get burned by readers for getting your facts wrong, like happened right here.

    About the Kobo Glo:
    Battery life:
    Kobo for some reason measures daily reading time different than other manufacturers. They estimate 2 hrs a day while all the others use 30 minutes a day. ( a commercialy very stupid move, if you ask me because it makes them look bad compared to others)
    When you put this in perspective the Kindle will last 8 weeks x 7 days x 30 mins = 28 hrs
    Or when you take the 55 hrs Kobo claim and divide that by 30 mins = 110 days = 3.7 months.

    Either way the Kobo outperforms the Kindle. That is if you believe them.
    Personally I don’t believe either Kindle’s nor Kobo’s claim. I think they will both last about a month for the average reader, which is more than enough by any standard, and one can always buy a cheap usb charger and charge the reader when it’s almost empty.
    Anyhow it’s a moot point and since it is an important argument in your review in favor of Kindle, you should reconsider it.

    You then give Kindle’s new screen a lot of love, where you fail to do that for the Kobo. Both readers in fact have identical screens. Kobo and Kindle bought these from the same manufacturer.
    The difference is only in the technical application of the led front light and the type of touch technology (IR vs Capacitive). Several reviewers who actually had the readers to test, claimed they could not see a difference between the two screens.
    At most the difference will be very subjective indeed.

    So Kindle and Kobo tie on this point.

    You then mention the convenience of Kindle’s ecosystem and although that is a strong point, it’s at the same time Kindle’s weak point.

    But Peter already covered that part, so no need to go into details.

    Now, like I said I don’t want to burn you because you were honest enough to tell how you wrote this piece.
    Maybe it’s a strategy you use to attract comments and get more clicks in your
    If that’s so, I commend you for using a brilliant strategy. :-)
    If you are serious about your reviews though, /i hope our comments have helped you to do better research next time and become a reviewer we all like to read pieces from.

    Good luck

    • http://www.techfragments.com James Anderson

      Mike, thanks for your feedback. My lame review wasn’t my devious strategy to get pageviews and Adnsense clicks, just outright poor execution on my part of a product review.

      I agree that a review or comparison of something that one has no actual experience of is misleading and of little value. Next review, if there is one, will be more hands-on and useful.

      Apologies to my readers for letting them down and am thanks to everyone that took the time to post corrections and added info.

  • benG

    Actually, the battery life on the Paperwhite is likely less than the Glo. The Glo clocks in at 55 hours of read time, whereas the Paperwhite is advertised as 8 weeks at 30 min/day..putting it somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 hours. I’ll be checking out both anyway, as both seem pretty interesting.

  • Aga K

    I’ve listed pros and cons of Kindle PW and Kobo Glo:

    Kindle PW
    Amazing content from amazon (US only)
    Better LED light technology
    released earlier

    Slower proc 800Mhz
    Limited compatible file
    Relatively annoying ads (they say it is special offers)
    WiFi useless outside US
    limited storage (2gb)
    not too limited for us only

    Kobo Glo
    Expandable storage (2GB built in up to 32GB mSD)
    without any ads
    Free for use content on any device
    Lots of compatible files

    Delayed release
    More expensive
    LED light technology just acceptable

    that’s it and if you are living outside US i strongly suggest kobo glo.
    but it’s another story if you’re US citizen

    • http://www.techfragments.com James Anderson

      Thanks Aga- just curious, why is the Kobo better for non-US people?

      • Oz

        eBook standards and availability, I would argue.

        First the standards; Amazon uses their own format (mobi) and the rest of the world uses ePub. If I want to buy books in the Netherlands I can only buy the ePub standard. Amazon also restricts quite a bit of books from foreign buyers. I wanted to get a Haruki Murakami book; Amazon wouldn’t let me buy it (it’s a bit of a mess on the legal side I feel). Having ePub support is a big plus!

        Another important aspect is the availability: Amazon won’t ship to Europe in 2012. My Kobo Glo pre-order will come in next week. This is perhaps why most European buyers will buy the Kobo, despite all other advantages/disadvantages over the Kindle.

        I’m really surprised about the stories about the light being inferior, since they are quite simular. There are LED lights in the bottom of the device and a layer of film on top of the screen that disperses the light evenly. Without having a hands-on commenting on the quality is about as useful as this “review”.

        I’m looking forward to a head-to-head comparison of the 2 devices. I think they both look like amazing devices. Because of availability in the Netherlands I chose the Kobo Glo.

  • Lele

    Unfortunately Either they removed the headphone jack to listen to music while you read or to listen audiobooks.
    In kindle touch was present….