Kobo Arc 10HD review

£299
Price when reviewed

In today’s tablet market, your product must be ultra-cheap or ultra-high-quality. It seems Kobo didn’t get the memo.

The Kobo Arc 10HD arrives at a time when Apple has just raised the quality bar with the iPad Air and compact tablet makers are driving prices through the floor. At £299, the Kobo Arc 10HD is keenly priced for a full-sized device, but only a round of beers cheaper than the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in.

It’s a good deal heavier than the new devices from Apple and Amazon. At 627g, it’s almost twice the weight of the Wi-Fi version of the 369g HDX 8.9in, and significantly portlier than the 469g Air. It’s no design classic, either: the sharp-angled frame digs into your palms as you’re holding it, and the matte-black plastic casing doesn’t exactly scream luxury. The power switch is too fiddly for our liking, too, although we’re glad Kobo hasn’t followed Amazon’s example and placed the volume switch on the rear casing – it’s on the side.

Kobo Arc 10HD

Like Amazon, Kobo has bastardised the Android 4.2.2 installation with its own user interface, which is designed primarily to shove you towards content sold in the Kobo store. Kobo’s customisations are more elegant than Amazon’s, however: we particularly like the bookshelf screen that provides quick access to books, magazines, articles saved in online bookmarking service Pocket and more.

Serious thought has gone into the reading apps, too, in particular the option to tap from one column of text to the next in digital magazines, which cuts out a lot of manual panning and zooming. The Reading Mode, meanwhile, silences the device and hides notifications while you’re tucking into an ebook, considerably minimising distractions.

Most importantly of all, Kobo gives you full access to the Google Play Store, trumping Amazon’s Appstore lock-in for flexibility. However, with only 16GB of storage to play with – 12.9GB of which is usable – and no means of expanding the storage, you can’t go mad in Google’s app emporium.

Kobo Arc 10HD

Reading should be a joy on a device with a 2,560 x 1,600 resolution spread across its 10.1in display (resulting in a pixel density of 300ppi). While we have no complaints about its sharpness, something seems to have gone horribly wrong with the colour calibration.

The screen has a permanent sepia tinge, while reds and oranges absolutely burst from the screen, as if someone’s passed it through an appalling Instagram filter before it left the factory. Switching from sRGB to Native colour correction in the Display settings merely shifts the muddy hues to blues. It’s a terrible shame, since otherwise the screen wants for nothing, with a respectable maximum brightness of 440cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and a contrast ratio of 800:1.

Detail

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical

Dimensions 253 x 10 x 172mm (WDH)
Weight 636g

Display

Primary keyboard On-screen
Screen size 10.1in
Resolution screen horizontal 2,560
Resolution screen vertical 1,600
Display type Multitouch, capacitive
Panel technology IPS

Battery

Battery capacity 6,550mAh

Core specifications

CPU frequency, MHz 2MHz
Integrated memory 16.0GB
RAM capacity 2.00GB

Camera

Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
Focus type autofocus
Built-in flash? no
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Other

WiFi standard 802.11abgn
Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS no
Upstream USB ports 0
HDMI output? yes
Video/TV output? no

Software

Mobile operating system Android 2.2.2

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