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Save Trees, Get a Kobo PDF Print E-mail

A great way to read books and articles is online via your computer, eg, surfing the web. I do most of this from a PC. However when out and about, unless I need to take a laptop, I have only my mobile phone, which has too small a screen for reading anything significant. I know I have the option to wait a while and then get a good Android tablet. However this will give me too much overlapping form factor and facility between a tablet and the laptop that I already have, and am likely to want in future too. My personal choice of preferred and less-preferred devices, with minimal overlap, and therefore saving redundancy and cold hard cash, simplistically ordered from "big and powerful" to "small and mobile" is:

Desktop PC | Laptop PC | (no netbook) | (no tablet) | eBook Reader | Mobile Phone

I looked at reviews of several eBook readers. When reading reviews, ignore some info relating to the older non-wifi model (It has a blue Nav button).

E-Ink screens, lightish weight, low cost and open standard seemed to be the most highly desirable features. I was fine with a limited connection options for getting new titles, eg a USB only connection to a PC would be OK. I narrowed the choice down to:

  • The Kindle from Amazon. Offers a wifi only model, and a wifi plus direct broadband model. The latter is considered to be uneccessary by several reviewers, to which I agree. However the big negative for me with the Kindle is that it only uses it Amazon-proprietary format. Being an open format advocate,  I rejected the Kindle.
  • The Kobo Ereader. I settled on the Kobo Ereader, expecting to have to download new titles from my desktop or laptop PC via USB cable. I would be quite happy to do this. It also has wifi. This review gives a good account of the product. Purchased online from Borders Online, this unit arrived within a couple of days, via the good old ever-reliable Australia Post.

My New Kobo eReaderMy setup and initial usage consisted of:

  1. Having unpacked it I plugged the supplied USB cable in and attached it to my Ubuntu (10.04) desktop PC. It then indicated that it was upgrading software. I am not sure whether it did anything at this point, as I might have been trying to talk to a Windoze PC.
  2. After a couple of minutes, a setup screen appeared, where I filled in the date, time and timezone. It then had me reboot it.
  3. On reboot, I started reading a pre-installed ebook: the first few pages of "Around the World in 80 Days."
  4. I then selected a Setup menu item, and set up the wifi. It then found local wifi networks. I selected our home wifi, and added in the WPA passphrase via the Nav Button. This involved moving to key indicators on an onscreen qwerty replica, and selecting each letter or number of the passphrase. This is a little tedious, but need be done just once as this is then saved for future connections (I hope).
  5. The Kobo then connected via DHCP and my wifi router to the world, and downloaded (again?) updated software.

The picture on the right is its current state as I wrote the above. No buttons on its side (Home, Menu, Shop, Back) are active, (presumably) while the USB is plugged in. However once the unit is charged and the USB was disconnected, I was able to set up an account online and manage and add new ebooks.

Since I am running Linux, I have found that the best way to operate the Kobo is:

  • Plugging in the USB is good to charge the Kobo, but not for anything else.
  • I have installed the Kobo desktop app in a Windows virtual machine, form whence it cannot see the Kobo, as the VM software (Virtual Box Open Source Edition) does not support USB. However from the desktop app, I can log into my account at Borders online, read my books there, and also buy more books.
  • I connect the Kobo to Borders online, and synchronize the book list, which downloads new books bought as per above.

What I cannot do with this setup is copy .PDFs and other .PUB documents and ebooks onto the Kobo. I am not sure how to achieve this at present, but I think will need to have a USB connection into the virtual machine, ie perhaps use the commercial edition of Virtual Box.

ps. Would these be other reasonably workable combinations?

Desktop PC | (no laptop PC) | Netbook | (no tablet) | (no eBook Reader) | Mobile Phone

Desktop PC | (no laptop PC) | (no netbook) | Android tablet | (no eBook Reader) | Mobile Phone

My preferences in all cases include

  • a Desktop PC: for power? and a big screen at lowest cost
  • a mobile phone: for just being in voice contact, with smallest possible size, for high mobility

Your preferences will relate to your own situation.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 February 2011 19:39