I’ve posted at length about my first impressions of the Kobo Vox. How is it faring a week later? Is it meeting my needs as the ultimate bedside reading companion? Do I miss my e-ink Kindle even a little? Here are my thoughts after almost a week with my new toy.


The Kobo Vox is a mixed bag as far as size and form factor goes. I found the iPad too big to read on, the iPod Touch too small, and the Kindle just right but only in optimum lighting conditions. The Kobo Vox falls somewhere in the middle. The screen size is great, but the default font is much bigger than that of the Kindle, and the controls for adjusting it are a little fidgety. Whenever I’ve tried the imprecise slider tool in the Kindle or Kobo apps, I’ve wound up with text that is either giant or itty bitty. I’ve contented myself with the larger-than-Kindle default and been happy—I read a lot in bed and sometimes take my glasses off so I can lie down comfortably, so having somewhat large text is fine for me.

From a weight standpoint though, the Vox in unreasonably clunky. My iPad is too large, dimension-wise, for easy bedtime reading, but I think it may be lighter than the brick of a Vox. I’m just not sure why this device has to be so thick and heavy. If my teeny tiny iPod Touch can match or exceed the Vox in feature and function, why couldn’t Kobo have shrunk this beast down a little?


I mitigated the weight issue of the Kobo some by getting a case for it.Somehow, having it strapped in like that made it easier to hold it landscape-style and balance out the heft somewhat. I also added on a glare-reducing screen; the combination of these two accessories reduced the smudginess factor significantly. The screen shield made a huge difference in itself, but the case covers most of the bezel, so I can hold the device in my hands without getting fingerprints up and down the side of it.

The Android OS also has a personalization feature which is lacking in the iOS, which I love: widgets! A widget is an add-on you can apply right to one of your homescreens, which can include live-updating content such as news headlines or a Facebook feed, or content pulled from your device itself. This is great because it reduces the number of apps you need to check to see your stuff. I have a calendar widget which shows upcoming appointments without the need to open the calendar app directly, and a clock widget which I can tap on to pull up an alarm clock function. Widgets are cool! I wish iOS had them.


The Android OS has been seamless to adjust to. Visually, it is similar to the iOS system in many ways. There are a few things I like better about it, to my surprise. I think its store is a bit more organized (it had some sub-categories that iTunes lacks) and I like that it remembers your place when you return to a previous screen—it drives me crazy when you’re on page 100 of something on the iTunes store, and you click the details for something, then when you go back, it reloads you to page 1 again. I think iOS does have a more robust and interesting app selection, but since the Vox will primarily be a reading device for me, this isn’t an issue.

I’m not sure if this is a credit to the Android OS or to the Vox itself, but I found the pop-up keyboard more precise than that of the iOS. My apple devices frequently fail to recognize spaces, the letter A and certain punctuation marks. The Vox’s keyboard is a little slower (I can’t touch-type on it) but usually dead-on. When I press something, it registers as whatever I pressed.


The one main issue I have had with the Vox is that its battery life is on the weak side. There are some built-in apps you can’t delete, which run annoyingly in the background. I downloaded a battery widget which assures me that Rdio and Globe2Go are consuming less than 0.2% of the juice, but it annoys me that I keep closing them and they keep popping up again and running in the background. I had to install an app killer widget so I could delete all these running apps in one go periodically.

Another battery drain has been the sleep mode. It doesn’t function the same way that sleep mode on the iThings does, and I did not realize this at first. I was reading it in bed on a full charge and when I put it aside and it went into sleep mode, I assumed that was it and put it away for the night, expecting to turn it on again coming morning and resume where I had left off, both book-wise and in terms of battery charge. Nope. It turns out the sleep mode is not a sleep it all, it’s just a ‘turn off the screen and lock it’ mode. Underneath the dark screen, the device itself still running! And running it all night drained the battery almost completely!

So, I have been schooled now on the power issue, and have developed a well-oiled battery management routine. If it’s going to be longer than an hour before I use it again, I power it off completely. If I am home and fiddling on and off, or if I take it out with me and have only brief downtimes (for instance, I am reading at the coffee shop, then putting it in my bag for a few minutes while I walk to the bus) I’ll let it sleep, but before I do I’ll hit the kill switch on all running apps and on the wifi. There are widgets which will let you do this with one tap—it’s that common an issue!


So, the big question: how does it read? Fabulous, actually. I’ve already spoken about the nighttime experience, but I took it out in bright, sunny daylight and had no problems. I keep it on the dimmest brightness setting at home, and it did wash out when I hit sunshine. But both the Kindle and Kobo apps have their own brightness slider independent of the system one, and all I had to do was tweak up the backlight a little and I could see clearly—and, thanks to my screen protector, smudge-free. The device is a treat to read on.


Overall, so far, so good. The Andoid OS is more polished than I thought it was, and the apps available are just enough for me (I don’t plan to use this for serious gaming or extras). My one app disappointment was my inability to get Netflix working.

In landscape view, it’s comfortable to hold and read in bed; I found it plenty clear in daylight too. I think the Kindle app is far superior to the built-in Kobo one though, and the after-market launcher app I installed to rid myself of all the Kobo widgets was the best tip I got pre-purchase.

The battery issue is a bit of an annoyance. A full restart from power-off takes about ten seconds, compared to 1 second to wake it from sleep, but you can’t let it sleep the way you can with my Apple stuff. At six hours per charge, it lasts much less time than my iPad, and a tiny fraction of what my e-ink Kindle could go for. I’m not sure I would be comfortable with this as my sole device for an airplane ride or long trip, and it’s heavy enough that I wouldn’t pack it in addition to an iPad, like I have in the past with my old e-ink Kindle.

Overall, I am happy. But it’s a qualified happy. It’s a happy for now—until something better comes along. If someone comes out with a 7-inch tablet that’s iPad thin, and with the battery to match it, I’d sell the Vox and jump ship in a heartbeat. Android did impress me more than I thought it would—I am not waiting around by any means for Apple to be the ones to build my next device—but a thin, light 7-inch tablet with 10 hours or more of battery life would be an upgrade that I’d hardly have to think about.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. The battery issue is a bug. Either in the system provided by Kobo or an application you have installed. It may be worth it to look into what other people have found. A decent starting search would be “Kobo vox deep sleep”.

  2. I’ve installed the WiFi Toggle Widget from Google Play. Turning WiFi off makes a huge difference in battery life.

    I wonder if we are using the same Kobo app. On my Vox, I choose the font size by clicking on the centre button, choosing font size, and then touching my choice on a pick list, 5 options from smallest to largest. No slider, nothing fidgety. There is a slider for moving through the book, if you don’t want to use the Table of Contents or need to move to a page part way through a chapter. I find that annoying, for sure. I’d much prefer a go to page function, myself so I find myself going to the beginning of a chapter and paging either forward or backward to get to the exact page I want.

    Did you happen to try any of the social aspects–Pulse or sharing to Facebook? Do you like the stats in Reading Life? What about annotations? It seems a bit odd to me to review something like the Kobo app without writing about your experience using these sorts of features. I’m not a Facebook fan, but I do save annotations to my Facebook account that I actually use only for that.

    I also appreciate the ease of getting non-drm ePUBs onto the Vox. Have you tried that?

    What is the book purchasing experience like compared to the Kindle app? Have you used any of the discount codes available for non-Agency books? I use the heck out of them and have gotten some great deals.

    I am not a fan of the weight of the Vox, so I read on my Kobo Touch most of the time. Still, for $180 CAD, and all that Google Play brings to it, its turned out to be a great little machine for me. I bought mine on day 1 and now that it has more to offer, I use it every day, even though I have a house full of computers.

  3. … plus having Overdrive via the app means the ability to access library books directly over WiFi. Overdrive have done a terrific job in adding improvements which include the ability to choose various size fonts. You can access public library material (books and other media) as well as directly from Toronto Public Library has been growing its ebook collection handsomely in the past couple of years, including current and classic titles (lots of Agatha Christie but also new release stuff). There are even ebooks in French, Russian, Chinese and Spanish.

    All this live on the Vox. 🙂

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