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Kobo Glo review

Andrew Williams




  • Recommended by TR

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Kobo Glo
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  • Kobo Glo 1
  • Kobo Glo


Our Score:



  • Great integrated light
  • Pretty interface
  • Light
  • Good value


  • Rear not as pretty as previous model
  • Kindle offers slightly better contrast

Key Features

  • 6-inch XGA resolution E-ink screen
  • 2GB internal memory
  • microSD card slot
  • Integrated light
  • Manufacturer: Kobo
  • Review Price: £99.99


The next step in the evolution of the E-ink ereader is not, as some expected, colour screens but integrated lights. First on the scene was the wonderful Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, and now Kobo has responded with the Kobo Glo. It's £10 cheaper than the top Kindle, more flexible in some respects and is a darn good ereader. All it lacks is the magic of the Kindle ebook-buying system.

Kobo Glo Design

Last year, Kobo made a splash on the ereader scene with the great Kobo eReader Touch. It was cuter-looking than the Kindle, had a more fun-filled interface and let you read the EPUB books that Amazon's range didn't, and doesn't support. Kobo has updated the eReader Touch design with the Kobo Glo. Like the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and Nook GlowLight, the Kobo Glo features a front-lit screen, letting you read in the dark without a bedside light.

The look of the Kobo Glo is much like its predecessor's, though. The front and sides are a single piece of moulded plastic - either black or white - and the rear is a panel of slightly soft touch plastic.

Kobo Glo 1

It comes in four shades, blue, red, silver and black, although the pastel shades of the Kobo eReader Touch have been swapped for more vivid colours. Consequently, there's more scope for people to find them objectionable, and to our eyes the silver model does not look great.

The texture of the Kobo Glo's rear is different from the Kobo eReader Touch's too, ditching the quilted contouring but keeping a diamond-shaped pattern, this time made up of thin lines cut into the back. It's quirkier and friendlier-looking than the Kindle family, but ergonomically it isn't quite as good.

The Kobo Glo has relatively severe edges, and its soft touch finish isn't quite as velvety soft as some of the competition. It is markedly lighter than a Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, though. Weighing 185g, it's noticeably trimmer and is the lightest ereader with a front-lite screen you can get in the UK.

With no nav buttons on the Kobo Glo whatsoever, all page turning and navigation is done using the touchscreen. As such, it's critical that the ereader rests happily in your palm, leaving you thumb free for page-turn duties - and it does. Like the Amazon Kindle Touch, it's a design success.

Kobo Glo Features

The Kobo Glo also offers a couple of extra features you don't get with thr Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. There's a microSD memory card slot on the left edge if the 2GB of internal memory isn't enough (pro tip: it probably is) and the Kobo Glo can handle the EPUB files that let you lend ebooks from public libraries.

Kobo Glo

Where you pay for these Kindle-beating bits is in the screen. The specs of the Kobo Glo's display are a point-for-point match with the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. It has a 1,024 x 768 resolution E-ink display, much higher than the 800 x 600 resolution of the previous-generation Kobo eReader Touch.

The screen light works in a similar fashion too, with LEDs firing across a specially-designed layer that distributes the light around the surface of the display. They employ the same basic technologies, but the Kindle is ever-so-slightly superior. Contrast is better on the Kindle and in spite of the level resolution, text appears slightly sharper on Amazon's model - most likely down to the way text is rendered.

The lights are about as problematic as each other. Where the Kindle fires upwards from the bottom of the screen, the Kobo Glo fires downwards from the top, and the light dispersion isn't completely consistent.

There are no shadowy dark patches here, but there's a line of brighter white up top, and at top brightness the colour appears to turn blueish towards the bottom. It's a little brighter than the Paperwhite's, though, and they perform roughly as well as each other. It's a superb step up from the non-lit Kobo model.

The left button switches the light on and off

The light doesn't destroy the ereader's battery life either. The Kobo Glo is rated for around 70 hours of use with the light at 15-20 percent, which is easily bright enough to read with in the dark - maximum brightness is way too bright for night-time reading. Kobo has included a little button on the top edge of the Glo, which lets you quickly turn the light on and off.

Taking the pedant's hat off for a second, both the screen and light are largely excellent. Within a week of use, former ereader owners will wonder how they ever got by without an integrated light. The Kobo Glo gives you quick and easy control over the level of the backlight too. Within two screen taps you can call up a light intensity slider that offers around 20 gradations.

Getting the best out of the Kobo Glo requires a little bit of fiddling, because it gives you so much control. Conversely, the Kindle range takes a more Apple-like approach, largely dictating how text looks.

Here, you can control font style (10 in total), size, spacing, margins, weight and sharpness. The most dangerous, arguably, is sharpness, because ramp it up and it'll have precisely the opposite effect, making characters look blocky rather than sharp. Spend a while fine-tuning and the Kobo Glo's text can look roughly Kindle-grade. Spend a while and pick the wrong options and it can look pretty poor.

Noly D Des

February 26, 2013, 1:45 am

the glow light from the kobo starts at the bottom not at the top an it does not have the problem of the kindle paperwhite that turns pink or blue at parts


May 3, 2013, 7:13 pm

After looking at reviews Kindle vs Kobo, I am so glad I chose Kobo. I LOVE my "Kobo Glo."

Tracey Cross

May 15, 2013, 10:11 am

I agree with below reviews. Th kobo glo has the lights at the bottom. Plus mine has never looked blue. I think amazon must be paying some of these reviewers to slate the kobo. I owned four paperwhites. All had faulty screens.
The best purchase I ever made was the glo. I love it. I can't believe you even moan about the colours. SERIOUSLY!! Plus the contrast is better. Try altering the weight of the letters with the kindle. My books read in beautiful black ink. Perfect. If reviewers were actually honest about the kobo then perhaps more would be bought. But then I guess that's why amazon pays reviewers to slate any kobo model.


October 9, 2013, 7:04 pm

Kobo is great unless something goes wrong, the screens tend to freeze for many people, and good luck to you if it freezes for good -throw it in the garbage as the company has terrible customer service. My husband reads 1-2 books per week, so an e-reader is great, but he was so angry and disappointed with the service when it froze (it's well within the one year warranty, the warranty is not great actually, they do not want to replace a broken one, they'll send you a refurbished model if you are lucky), the person he dealt with at the store tried to say the screen is cracked, honestly, I looked at it in every possible angle, there is nothing at all wrong with the screen, not that that would have anything to do with the fact it's frozen, and not for the first time, it happened a lot, he's been to the store before, they fixed it once, it unfroze eventually, but this time not with any method, it's clear the model is faulty, whatever, I think I will try Kindle next, just because we are so angry at Kobo in general.


October 26, 2013, 10:10 pm

I've had a Kobo Touch for about 18 mths. The back began to crack away from the front. I took it back to WH SMith where I bought it and they sent a new replacement within a few days. It's the seller who is liable not the manufacturer. EU regulations give you 2 years or more rights. I love my Kobo, going to get a Glo now.


November 7, 2013, 7:52 am

I bought a Kobo Glo a few days ago but it was impossible to set it up as it requires the Internet to do so. It is not a simple switch on and use it reader. I had to download the required software and install in on my PC. That worked fine. But then the Kobo software would not connect to the Internet on my PC and after trying all options I contacted the Kobo helpdesk. No response posting a question on their site or via email. In the end I phoned them. There is no way to make it work and they suggested I buy something else:
'We are really to sorry to hear about your ordeal and do hope that the next device you get works a lot better for you. Happy Reading.'
Nice reader but useless without completely open Internet access. I will never buy another Kobo product again.

Melvyn Adams

July 19, 2014, 5:01 pm

My wife bought the Kobo Glo for me a couple of years ago. I looked at the various options and told her which I preferred. I don't have a fortune and I read at least one book per week so the option of using the library was vital to me.
I am 65 years old and though quite computer savvy always preferred the feel of a book. Not anymore - now I am a total convert to Kobo. Wife says she has never seen me make so much use of a present. Guess what - I bought one for the wife a couple of months ago.
As for needing a computer to set up - that's not true- you can get online direct from your Kobo - all you need is a wifi connection and then you can surf the net and set up your KOBO!!

Andrew Marcus Meldrum

September 17, 2014, 12:15 pm

I HAD a Kobo Glo, At first I enjoyed reading just before
going to sleep while the lights were off. Due to my situation I left it alone
for a couple of months. Now it does not work.

I have asked how to get it repaired. I get the usual factory reset instruction
but this does not work I still have a black screen and a temporary blue light.
It, of course, has been charged. It was charging for a couple of months
attached to the computer just not used. The answer, so far, seems that I now
have an electronic piece of junk.

Long lasting against the rigours of an interrupted life this
product is not. Do NOT BUY!


January 26, 2015, 4:45 am

Don't buy if you want to put library books on it. If there is a problem with it,your computer, Adobe Digital Editions, the book you are borrowing or your library it won't work. (oh and if your library uses 3M they say they don't support that, like they support ADE, ha ha)


November 20, 2015, 6:21 pm

I think it is possible that what they call "the screen" lies below the surface glass (or is it plastic?). That was the case with my Kindle Paperwhite when it developed what they call a "light leak" when the tip of my charger cable hit the surface of my Kindle. How does this happen? I do not know... Surface glass (or plastic) was fine, unharmed, but beneath a small less than 1/8" glitch where a bright white light shows through, it was the "screen," I was told. Amazon replaces new Kindles with refurbished quite a lot, and there's a whole lot of complaints about them. It seems there's about a 10% failure rate that I would attribute to manufacturing in China... And yet the company is reluctant to back the product with brand new replacements unless you yell a lot. Which is why I'm looking... Strangely enough, there's a whole set of unhappy Nook readers as well....

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