Kobo Arc 10 HD in-depth review - An Arc for all seasons

Look and feel

The Kobo Arc 10 HD is rather hefty compared to rivals such as the Nook HD+ and iPad Air, but it’s well constructed with a soft-touch rear.

 

Ease of Use

That ten-inch screen is perfectly spacious although the reflective surface makes it difficult to see outdoors. The custom Kobo desktop gives quick and easy access to the online store.

 

Features

The Kobo Arc 10 HD has a serious lack of storage, with no memory card slot to expand, and no rear-facing camera despite the price. Thankfully the HD screen and front-facing snapper help to make up for it.

 

Performance

Quad-core Tegra 4 power keeps your apps and games running smoothly.

 

Battery life

With over seven hours of battery life when streaming video, the Kobo Arc 10 HD is far better than the average ten-inch tablet. It’s still lagging behind the champion, the iPad Air, however.

 Kobo Arc 10 HD Review - An Arc for all seasons
3.5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,11/19/2013 3:30:52 PM

9

out of 10

Performance

6

out of 5

Look and feel

8

out of 5

Ease of use

7

out of 5

Features

8

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

Two great online stores; Powerful; Reading Mode

Cons:

Hefty build; Screen could be brighter; No memory card slot

Like Amazon with its Kindle, the Kobo brand rose to popularity thanks to its nifty eReaders (the most recent of which, the Kobo Aura, was an excellent-but-pricey compact device), before expanding into full-on Android tablets. The Kobo Arc 10 HD is a powerful tablet with a crisp HD screen, but with hot competition from the likes of  the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9 and the Nook HD+, does it do enough to stand out from the crowd?

 

 

Design: Chunky chappy

 

At 627g, the Kobo Arc10 HD is quite a hefty ten-incher, particularly when compared with the Nook HD+ and Apple’s awesome new iPad Air. The new iPad weighs just 469g, and you can really feel the difference. Clutching the Arc 10 HD one-handed is much easier if you hold your hand flat and balance the tablet on your palm, rather than gripping the edge, although this is much less stable and could end in disaster if you’re nudged.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

Aside from the weight, we love Kobo’s design work. The edges and rear are soft-touch, which helps to prevent it from skidding across a desk if knocked. You get micro USB and mini HDMI ports on the left edge,

 

 

Display: The clue’s in the name

 

You’ll probably have noticed the letters ‘HD’ in the name, and that’s no coincidence – the Kobo Arc 10 HD has a sharp 10.1-inch screen, packing a 300ppi resolution. HD movies look crisp as you’d expect, and that 10-inch display is spacious enough to get fully immersed in a blockbuster while you’re stuck on public transport. It’s a great way to browse the web too, not to mention playing around with apps and games.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

Unfortunately we did struggle to see when the sun came out, especially during darker movie moments. A brighter, less reflective panel would have massively helped. Colours also appeared rather rich, with some skin tones looking decidedly orange – and we weren’t even checking out pictures of the TOWIE cast.

 

The touchscreen was generally responsive when typing or skimming through websites, but on one occasion it did become completely unresponsive, requiring a restart to fix. Thankfully this was a one-off, but it was slightly unsettling when it happened.

 

 

Performance: Quad-core power

 

The Kobo Arc 10 HD belts out impressive performance thanks to the powerful quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 processor, backed up by 2GB of RAM. The latest games such as Asphalt 8 play with buttery smooth frame rates, and HD media poses no problem at all. Our only concern was how hot the top edge of the tablet got when using for an extended period – although it proved a good way to warm our hands against the cold winter chill.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

10-inch tablets usually give around five to six hours of video playback before the battery dies, and the Kobo Arc 10 HD managed to beat the average, lasting seven hours before it bit the dust. Of course the champion is still the iPad Air, which survived for nine hours straight.

 

 

OS: A world of books

 

The Kobo Arc 10 HD’s desktop is unrecognisable from the standard Android interface, and like the Kindle Fire HD’s is geared towards your content – so you’ll have fast access to the books, apps etc that you’ve downloaded from the Kobo and Google Play stores. It’s also a means for Kobo to advertise new stuff that it thinks you’ll like, based on past purchases. As long as you don’t mind the blatant marketing, it’s a slick and streamlined way to jump straight back into that thriller you’re halfway through, or find a brand new author to read.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

Nearly 4 million books, magazines and comics are available to download from the Kobo Store, and you also get full Google Play access, with its excellent collection of apps and media. The 16GB of storage space (just under 13GB of which is free for your media and apps) sadly isn’t expandable via a memory card slot. Not a problem if you’re just carrying books and photos, but movies will quickly fill that space up, as will the latest graphically intensive games – Asphalt 8 alone took up over 1.5GB. If you’ve got a huge media collection, you may prefer the Nook HD+.

 

 

Special features: Do not disturb

 

One of the problems with mobile devices is their tendency to distract you with non-stop notifications, which is particularly annoying if you’re enjoying a good book. To get around this, the Kobo Arc 10 HD has a ‘Reading Mode’, which blocks all of that rubbish out. It’s fully customisable, allowing you to toggle which features (including sounds, notification and sleep mode) are disabled. We set this to activate automatically when the book app launched, and it proved a perfect way to lose ourselves in a thriller undisturbed.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

Reading on the Kobo also gives you access to ‘Beyond the Book’ special features, which can include character and location articles, author biographies and more. The information is pulled from online sources such as Wikipedia, and while it’s often far from definitive, it’s a neat touch that rivals such as Amazon don’t offer.

 

A very basic 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera allows you to make video calls, and although we looked rather grainy when we tried it out, it does the job. There’s no rear-facing camera, which is unusual given the Kobo Arc 10 HD’s price, but personally we didn’t miss it.

 

Kobo Arc 10 HD review

 

The verdict

 

The Kobo Arc 10 HD gives you fast and easy access to a wealth of books, comics, apps and games, on both the Kobo Store and also Google’s Play Store, making it a content consumer’s dream. The tablet itself is a mixed bag: it’s a little heavy but nicely designed, and the HD screen is wonderfully crisp but also too reflective. But with excellent performance and battery life, the Arc can hold its own when apps and games come into play.