The Glo HD is the latest E-reader from Kobo to hit the market, and it's a handsome, compact little device.
It also marks a return to the Glo range for Kobo, who followed up the original Glo with a series of higher-end devices: the Aura, the Aura HD and the waterproof Aura H2O. For the last few iterations of Kobo's devices, changes have been incremental as the company toys with different sizes and features, boosts the resolution of the E Ink display, and tweaks the software.
But now manufacturer Rakuten has turned back to the Glo with a new high-resolution screen. The Glo HD is a worthy successor to 2012's Glo, graced with a six-inch screen packing in a resolution of 1,448x1,072 pixels, or 300ppi. Its nearest equivalent would be the recently released Kindle Voyage, which has an ever-so-slightly lower resolution at 1,430x1,080 pixels.
The company has also learned a thing or two about competitive pricing, bringing the Glo HD to a $129 price point. It's an attractive option next to the $139 Kindle Paperwhite Wi-Fi, or even the $99 Nook GlowLight, which has a lower-resolution screen and isn't available outside the US.
If you're in the UK or Australia the Glo HD is going to set you back £110 or AU$180.
The Glo HD has made a return to the smaller build, after the larger "premium" sizes of the Aura HD and Aura H2O. It comes in at 157 x 115 x 9.2 mm (6.1 x 4.5 x 0.3 inches), and 180g or 6.3 ounces, a size much more amenable to being slipped into a coat pocket or a bag.
Kobo has always preferred a minimalist approach to design. There are no external bells and whistles on the e-reader's chassis, just a power button on the top edge and a micro-USB port on the bottom. This means that the Kobo Glo HD has eschewed the micro-SD card slot that has been present in the majority of the company's other products, but you're unlikely to miss the expandable storage option.
Everything else is handled via the touchscreen interface: there are no physical buttons for turning pages (a common feature for e-readers now) and the Glo HD's internal lighting is controlled via a slider on the screen, accessible via an icon next to the battery indicator.
That isn't to say the design is lacking. The company has renewed its efforts in creating an appealing tactile experience. The black bezel has a comforting curve around the edges, and the silky rubberised texture on the back has made a return, this time with a dotted pattern rather than in the old quilted style.
The result is a device that is comfortable to hold for long periods, very easy to carry around and doesn't distract with excessive buttons. Apart from its tendency to smudge a little with fingerprints, it's difficult to think of any improvement that could be made.
One of the things I love most about the Kobo e-reader is its stylish, yet intuitive, user interface. Based around a tiled view, everything you use regularly is displayed on the e-reader's home page, with your current book displayed in its own column on the left, and the middle and right columns shuffling to adapt to what you actually use.
These tiles can include books you have recently read, Pocket, which can be used to sync articles from the web for offline reading, recommended and related books, the on-board web browser, which can be accessed from "Beta Features" in the settings menu and Reading Life, which has become a much less intrusive part of the Kobo experience.
Reading Life, introduced in 2010, was Kobo's attempt at a "social platform" for reading. It's now tucked at the bottom of the home screen, next to the permanent links for the on-board library and the Kobo ebook store, under the heading "Extras." It offers awards for reading milestones (reading for a certain amount of time, or a certain number of books), and you can also jump in to check out your reading stats.
As mentioned, you can also access your library of ebooks from the bottom right corner of the home screen, as well as the Kobo ebook store. The store itself has improved in terms of available content since its original launch, although it's doubtful it will ever be able to match Amazon completely.