Kobo Arc is a strong E-reader and the ideal Christmas gift

Arc E-reader
Arc E-reader

Having not delved to extensively into the E-reader market I thought it was time with Christmas approaching to review a product I had heard a lot about the Kobo Arc.

The Kobo Arc is the 2nd offering by the Toronto based company and builds on its previous reader the Vox. While I don’t know much about the Vox, the review I read did not paint it in a good light.

The Kobo Arc is a different story.

Having primarily been an Apple and iOS user over the last few years, a shift to Android based devices is not met with any trepidation but rather is a welcome change. Sure I can download the Kobo App for my iPhone or iPad but this product means I don’t have to and I like that.

Because Kobo decided to have its Arc Google certified you get Android 4.04 as your operating system which is a nice thing to have. That means you have access to the over 600,000 apps that are available to Google Android users. This also leaves you in an ecosystem that is more open obviously than Apple or Amazon.

The Kobo Arc took any of the pushing I gave it and I loaded as many of my iPhone apps as possible onto the Arc. Save for Instagram and the Starbucks app which weren’t compatible with the Arc, many of my favorite apps including the Globe and Mail, Internet Movie Database and Angry Birds all worked very well.

The Arc integrates nicely with Gmail as well and I was able to have my email address sync up easily with the Arc.

In terms of hardware, the Arc uses a Texas Instruments 1.5 GHZ dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM. Like the iPad Mini it comes in 16, 32, and 64 GB options. I personally don’t see the need to pay for extra space beyond the 16GB. The current price offering on the tablet is as follows from Future Shop. The 16GB is 199, 32GB is 249 and the 64GB is 299. The Ipad Mini 16gb with Wifi only starts at 329 so if you are looking to save money on an e-readers or a tablet the Arc is for you.

Be aware that this is the first device the company has offered that actually does not have expandable memory. There is no support for MicroSD or SD cards as well. I did not like the fact that the Arc only came with a front facing camera which meant I could not take photo’s with it. It’s front facing camera worked well and is useful for Skype though.

With its two front facing speakers, the sound quality is superior to the iPad mini. That being said the Arc probably weighs about twice as much as the Mini I compared them side by side by holding each device in my left and right hands respectively.

Had i had this device in my possession longer, I probably would have attempted to read more books on it but I am still not convinced that an e-reader is the way to go for me. That should not however sway you from buying this product. Well done Kobo, the Arc has does definitely impresses even stubborn Apple users like me.

Gadget Gift Ideas for Christmas 2011

If you have to buy a Christmas present this year for a gadget lover you already know that this can be a daunting task. The array of gadgets let alone categories of gadgets seems to grow exponentially larger every year. I would like to take this opportunity to break things down into manageable bites so that you can make a more informed decision this Holiday season. The categories that I’ll be talking about here include Tablets, Phones, eReaders, Video Games, TVs, GPS devices, Accessories, Laptops, Desktops and Cameras. Wow, that was a mouthful. Can you say that sentence quickly 10 times? It’s a bit of a tongue twister. Anyways here we go.



There is now a dizzying array of Tablets available on the market now. Fortunately for you,Vancouver Gadgets already has a tablet buying guide. If that is too much for you I can break things down here quickly. The highest rated tablet Le Pan TC 970continues to be the Apple iPad2. One of the best deals in tablets however is probably the Le Pan TC 970. We have an in-depth review of the Le Pan TC 970 written just a few weeks back.



The phones category is even more enormous than tablets and continues to grow exponentially. It seems that everyone is using a smartphone these days and if you don’t already have one chances are you might want one. Vancouver Gadgets was invited to an event last month with phone provider Mobilicity. They may be able to help you with your smartphone buying decisions. Some of the top sellers here include the iPhone 4S, Android and BlackBerry.



The Kobo Vox or the Kindle Fire are going head-to-head this season as the battle of the book sellers takes off. Fortunately for the Kobo Vox, the Kindle Fire is not yet available in Canada so if you’re looking to purchase one of these you will have to go to Amazon.com vs Amazon.ca. By the way, it looks like they’re selling only to US addresses for the time being so you may have to wait a bit if you want that one. You can order the Kobo Vox online.


Video Games

Again this is another huge “gadget category” and the possibilities here are many. For the younger crowd, the Nintendo 3DS is a must have and is probably on Santa’s wish list. For the whole family looking at getting a console system, the PS3 Move Hardware Bundle is going to be a much sought after item as is Microsoft’s XBOX 360 Kinect. Some of the bestselling video games of the season include Just Dance 3, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Super Mario 3D Land, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, and NHL 12.



HD TVs have come down dramatically in price over the past few years and have somewhat ousted the former CRT type TVs from the market altogether. LEDs and LCDs are the top sellers and the most recommended manufacturers include Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba. 3D TVs are inching into the market and priced higher starting from about $1200 to $6000.


GPS Navigation Systems

Another popular category but maybe less than in the past what with the prominence of GPS navigation built into most smartphones. Nevertheless, there is still a demand for dedicated GPS Navigation Systems. The big names in GPS technology continue to be Magellan, Garmin, and Tom Tom. One of the coolest gadgets for the Christmas holidays though is the Garmin Forerunner which has a built in GPS and heart rate monitor. According to Amazon, “the heart and soul of the 305 can be found on the data screens, which give you real-time information about all aspects of your workout. In fact, the 305 can display a dizzying array of data, such as calories burned, distance, elevation, grade, and heading, as well as multiple lap and pace modes. The 305 adds the ability to track heartrate, lap heartrate, average heartrate, and heartrate zones via the included coded heartrate chest strap. With the purchase of a separate wireless cadence and speed meter, you can also track bike performance data.”



Accessories are a necessary evil. We all need to buy cases so our devices are protected from scuffs and bumps. But some accessories on the market have a coolness factor associated with them. Take the Breffo Spiderpodium for example, one review on Amazon reads, “I love its versatility… the Spiderpodium can essentially attach to anything that’s not a solid flat vertical surface. I even tucked all the legs in and wrapped it around my wrist, bracelet-style.” Another example of an innovate and fun accessory is the iGuy Standing Cover for iPad; which is a very handy accessory to have if you plan on letting your child play with your iPad as it offers a large degree of protection from bumps.


Laptop Computers

A staple of the computer industry for over a decade, laptops still have a large following by anyone needing to create large volumes of content on a mobile device. Some of the favorites here include HP, ASUS and Apple. Vancouver Gadgets wrote an in-depth review about the HP Pavillion laptop a few weeks back and highly recommends this device to anyone looking for an “entertainment powerhouse.”


Desktop Computers

Another staple of the computer industry is the desktop computer. While not as sexy compared to smartphones and tablets, there are still some that stand out. The HP Omni Pro is an all-in-one unit that has the processor built into the monitor. In other words there is no separate tower; so if you are looking at minimizing the footprint for your computer this would be a good option. (plus it looks super cool) Apple continues to do brisk sales of the iMac which is your option if you would like to join the throngs migrating to that platform.



Finally we come to cameras. There is still demand here for anyone wishing to purchase quality optics to produce superior images. Although most mobile devices have built-in cameras, they will never compare to the optics that are manufactured into standalone cameras. With that in mind, Vancouver Gadgets did write an article about the Top 10 Digital Cameras of 2011 along with an in-depth profile about the hottest selling compact camera – the Canon PowerShot ELPH 300. Remember if you plan on paying $10,000 for that dream vacation please take along more than just the camera in your mobile phone, you will be pleasantly surprised at the images a dedicated camera will take.


If you’ve made it to here, congratulations! This was one of my longer articles and I hope I didn’t lose anyone in the tech talk. If you have any questions at all about any of the technology discussed in this article please leave a comment below. Jay Kenobi.