The e-reader market is growing exponentially, and it's safe to say that newcomer Kobo is adept at keeping up. Although its first offering only arrived last year, it is now releasing the third iteration of its Kobo eReader, and the advancement on the previous model is fantastic.
The Kobo Touch is smaller and lighter again than the Wireless, making it the most compact (if not the lightest) six-inch reader on the market. It's done this by minimising the number of buttons on the device; now there is only one, a single bar for home button placed at the bottom of the device. Even the side buttons are gone, and the power button is a discreet silver slider set in the top edge.
The face of the device, in hard matt plastic, is clean and unadorned apart from a small Kobo logo, and it's available in both black and white. Kobo's signature quilted back is still there, set into the back rather than wrapping around, and you can get your white reader with a silver, lilac or blue back; for the first time, the black reader has a black back.
A micro-USB port for charging and data transfer is on the bottom of the e-reader, and a micro-SD slot is in the left side. A tiny charge indicator light is nestled near the power button on the top, which isn't very convenient for a quick glance, but at least it's there.
Like all Kobo e-readers, the eReader Touch is light on additional features, choosing to focus on reading. The Kobo eReader is still what it has always been: a single-purpose, single-minded device.
This is not a bad thing; concentrating on one purpose can deliver a very well thought-out product, and that is what we have here.
As enhancements to the reading experience, the Kobo eReader Touch has a built-in dictionary; a range of viewing options, including font type and size, and line and margin spacing; page numbering and a new go-to page feature; landscape orientation for PDFs; and the ability to mark a book as read.
There is also a web browser, although it's still being tweaked; we couldn't get it to go directly to URLs typed in the address bar. It would only recognise links typed into the Google search engine home page, although we did manage to access web mail in that fashion.
Still notably absent is multiple bookmarking, although buried in the settings menu, you can find Kobo's experimental "sketchbook" if you feel the need to jot down a note or smiley face or two. This Kobo also allows highlighting — although you can highlight passages by pressing and holding a word, then dragging the marker to your chosen end point.
A store link, available on Wi-Fi, is also included; tapping "Store" on the e-reader's home screen will take you directly to the Kobo store.
Probably the most notable thing is Kobo's new social application for reading. Called Reading Life, it integrates a couple of fun features into your reading; namely, awards in the form of badges and the ability to share your badges on Facebook. These can be for achievements such as reading at certain times of the day, the number of books added to your Kobo library, and the number of books read.
You can also check out your stats. This screen tells you how far you are in your current book and how long it has taken you to read it, as well as a bunch of overall stats, such as how much of your library you have managed to get through, how many books you have finished and how many hours you have spent reading on your Kobo.
If you don't care for the occasional pop up on the bottom of your screen while you are engrossed in a book, you can turn these off from the advanced options menu.
Reading Life on the Kobo eReader Touch doesn't offer as many options as it does on, say, a PC or smartphone application; you can't, for example "meet" the characters in books via Reading Life's Check In or share passages of your book, but it does emphasise Kobo's philosophy that reading should be, overall, a fun experience ... and we're completely on board with that.