Summary: The Arc succeeds where the Vox fell flat: Kobo's newest 7-inch e-reader tablet has a longer lasting battery, full access to the Google Play Store, and processing power comparable to Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. While we wish it ran the latest version of Android, the Arc's Tapestry feature helps set it apart from other 7-inch tablets. If you're seeking a good alternative to the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Arc is a compelling option.
Pros: Full access to Google Play store, Durable design, Customizable interface, Social integration, Fast performance, High-quality audio
Cons: Outdated version of Android, Reflective screen, Bookstore lacks magazines and periodicals, No Bluetooth
Conclusion: The Kobo Arc tablet straddles two Android tablet personality types. It’s a basic, $200 tablet with a friendly user interface meant to be easily grasped by less tech-savvy users. But it also offers the openness and full access to the Google Play app store, like a standard Android tablet.
Pros: Tapestries provide a novel way to interact with a tablet, Smooth, speedy performance, Good display with wide viewing angles, Pre-loaded apps are well curated
Cons: No Bluetooth or HD output, Display attracts smudges, Running Android 4.0, not latest version, No microSD slot
Kobo Arc review: another 7-inch Android tablet steps into the ring
3 January 2013
Summary: Placed against the low, low standard of last year's Vox, the Kobo Arc is a winner. Compared to the rest of the 7-inch tablets in the world, however, it's a non-starter. The Arc's not a bad device, by any means, but given the portion of the public that's already served by the Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7, iPad mini and Nook HD, it's tough to say who the Arc is for.
Pros: Open Google Play access, Up to 64GB of storage, Rugged design
Cons: Bulky design, Uninspired Android skinning, Content selection spread out over three stores
Excerpt: Like the Kindle Fire HD , the Kobo Arc comes from a company with a background in ebooks and e-readers, to the extent that in the UK it’s affiliated with WH Smith. Also like the Kindle, it has a 7in, 1280 x 800-pixel screen and costs £160.
Pros: Full-fat Android at a good price, Nice Tapestry system, Natural video
Conclusion: The Kobo Arc is a huge advance on the Kobo Vox, and a very credible alternative to the Kindle Fire HD or Google Nexus 7. Unlike the Kindle, it doesn’t tie you in to a particular apps, books, music and movies ecosystem, and you’re free to flit between all the book, music and movie stores on the Android platform. Given that these include Amazon’s own, you don’t really lose anything by going for the Arc instead of the Kindle Fire HD.
Pros: Good high-resolution 7in screen, Solid build quality, Good performance, Tapestries interface
Cons: Not as slick as the Nexus 7, Android ICS installed, not Jelly Bean
Conclusion: The Kobo Arc shows that, after the poor Vox tablet, Kobo does know how to do things other than make E-ink eReaders. With a keen price, decent innards and a respectable, if not great, screen, it’s a serious contender in the low-cost tablet space that the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD all live in. We prefer the Google tablet, but without the limitations of the rigid Amazon and Barnes & Noble UIs, it’s a solid choice for those who want an eReader experience...
Pros: Great value, More flexible than Kindle Fire, Neat eReader-like design
Cons: Dull colours, Low headphone jack volume output, No GPS, Not as nippy as a Nexus 7
Excerpt: But while the Kindle leverages Amazon's online assets, and Nook those of Barnes & Noble, Kobo takes a slightly different tack. It has a reasonable selection through its book store, but lacks its own movies and music to complete the entertainment offering in a closed system.
Pros: Access to Google means plenty of freedom, tough display means it's drop resistant, Kobo hasn't tinkered too offensively with Android
Cons: Speakers suffer from vibration and distortion, Tapestries adds little, some problems with responsiveness, no Bluetooth