The Kobo Arc is not your ordinary Android tablet. Unlike many other low-cost Android tablets on the market today, it comes with a number of high-end features and little or no restrictions on the default software. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the pre-installed operating system, and the Arc handles it quite well with its 1.5GHz TI OMAP 4470 processor. On the front, it has a 1280x800 7-inch touchscreen display, as well as a dual-speaker setup that makes it useful for listening to audio no matter what orientation it is being used in. It even has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera that can be used for all kinds of applications. In other words, it’s more than just another e-book reader running Android software.
Unlike the similarly-sized Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, the Arc doesn’t run a forked version of Android. Instead, it uses the full version of Ice Cream Sandwich, albeit with a custom home screen that’s made to look like the social sharing website Pinterest. It offers users full access to Google’s Play software store, in which there are thousands of free and paid apps available for download. This extends the functionality the Arc even further, and with its high-def screen and built-in speakers, it can transform into a full-fledged media player of sorts when it isn’t being used to read e-books.
Kobo provides Arc a reasonably large content catalog. Alas, it’s no Amazon, but it appears to get many important elements right. For one thing, it has what is being referred to as the “Discover Bar” which is an ad-free source of recommended items for Arc users. It's seen by most reviewers as a non-distracting source of useful information. And users will have plenty of time to really dive into the recommendations as they come along, because the standard battery lasts for up to 10 hours of continuous usage per charge.
Kobo started out making simple e-book readers to take on bigger outfits like Sony and Amazon. And now, it looks ready to go against the rest of the Android tablet market with a well-equipped offering. Based on price-to-features ratio alone, the Arc is a hard one to pass up on. Users will likely agree with many of the early reviewers: the Arc is an excellent deal.
Need to Know: Kobo Arc
1. 1280x800 7-inch IPS touchscreen display offers great picture quality. (The Good)
2. The use of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with little or no restrictions allows users to take advantage of and fully enjoy the hardware features. (The Good)
3. The standard battery life could be a little longer. (The Bad)
4. Lacks a camera at the back. (The Bad)