TLDR: Both were disappointments and I sent them back.
This holiday season the one thing I wanted was a new eReader. I like my Kindle Paperwhite and have no issues save… I’m one of those people who reacts badly to the blue-white glow of electronics. Given I’m also a voracious reader who cannot fall asleep without reading, I perked up when I heard the words “front lit” attached to the new Kindle Oasis reader. I went so far as to visit one in a store and found it extremely comfortable in my hand.
I began to plot.
But as holiday season arrived, I heard whispers about a new Kobo reader, the Forma.
A moment’s digression. Around the year 1997, I first became aware of a new internet company that would ship books to your door. (Books to your door! My husband heard the rapture in my voice and a slightly panicked look lit his eyes. It was not unwarranted.) I have vague recollections that DVDs or some other such thing were also being sold when I first logged onto their website but, honestly, I was there for the books. And I still am. But their focus has shifted over the years. While they’re the acknowledged leader in book sales, there’s this smaller company, Kobo (an anagram of book), that is making strides. And they are ALL about the books. So as Amazon clutters with advertisements, I found myself eying the Kobo readers as a way to escape this. If anything could lure away my loyalty, it would be a company dedicated to nothing but books and the reading experience.
Then Kobo said the magic words: a reader that could remove the blue from its lighting.
With my holiday money, I tripped off to Walmart to pick up my first Kobo reader, the Forma. I’m going to skip the tech specs and move straight to what mattered to me. The large screen (8”) was a huge bonus: more words per page! And the lighting that went from a bright daylight blue to a beautiful orange sunset was a dream. The direct connection to Overdrive at my library was ridiculously easy to use. But as I prepared to adjust my purse size to accommodate the larger device, a few problems began to crop up.
For one, the size and the auto rotation (which lets you hold the bezel to rotate left/right/up/down) means the buttons to page forward or back were a bit high on the side for comfortable use. Moreover, they were a rocker button that wasn’t the easiest to push. No worries, I told myself, I’ll use the touch screen. The large size was lovely (you can prop the reader sideways and read in “belly” mode and still have plenty of words per “page”). I was quite happy EXCEPT the device kept freezing. I’d touch the screen to adjust the font or the light – or to exit to the home page, and it simply wouldn’t respond. I lost track of how many times I had to turn the device completely off and then on again (holding the button down for some time). That was a deal breaker. Sadly, I dug out the receipt and boxed up the Forma. I’m not paying $278.00 for an unresponsive electronic device. Had it been a mere $100 *cough*, I’d probably have held on to it. (Yes, I could have contacted customer support, but I’m just not interested in trying to “fix” a brand new device.)
Meanwhile, my husband had a shiny new Kindle Oasis in hand. He was having doubts about this $249.00 Kindle, but insisted I give it a try. I lasted one night. The Oasis is smooth and fits in the hand like a dream. Slightly smaller (7”) and almost square, it’s about an inch smaller around the edge than the Kobo Forma, but only a tiny bit larger than my Paperwhite. The touch screen (to access the home page, to adjust light levels or font size or…) was perfectly responsive and fast.
Like the Kobo Forma, it was a touch awkward and unbalanced, and again I found myself flipping it from side to side. (It’s a bit small for “belly” mode). The buttons on the side, however are perfection. Right where they should be and easy to push. But. But. But. The lighting? A little different from the Paperwhite, but not noticeably so (YMMV). And my orange, sunset reading light was non-existent. I picked up my Paperwhite and, some two years old, it still felt better in my hands. I passed the Oasis back to my husband with a sigh. But while I was reading on his Oasis, he had moved back to his own Paperwhite… and had also concluded the “improvements” were not worth the price tag.
Both the Kindle Oasis and the Kobo Forma have been sent back. I’ll be buying more books instead.
What now? I’ll keep reading on my Kindle Paperwhite while I watch to see what’s next. If Kobo fixes their software issues and those side buttons in the next upgrade, I’ll give them another try. But if the Kindle Oasis manages to offer me a nice sunset for night time reading? I might never leave Amazon.
How about you, readers? What is it you’re looking for in an eReader? Your experiences? Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Suggestions? I’d love to hear them.
Though USA TODAY bestselling author Anne Renwick holds a Ph.D. in biology and greatly enjoyed tormenting the overburdened undergraduates who were her students, fiction has always been her first love. Today, she writes steampunk romance, placing a new kind of biotech in the hands of mad scientists, proper young ladies and determined villains.
Anne brings an unusual perspective to steampunk. A number of years spent locked inside the bowels of a biological research facility left her permanently altered. In her steampunk world, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical led to a number of alarming biotechnological advances. Ones that the enemies of Britain would dearly love to possess.
To chat with Anne, stop by on Facebook or join the Department of Cryptobiology Facebook group. You can also join her newsletter list to have cover reveals, sneak peaks, sales and giveaways delivered straight to your inbox.