Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Glo

Both Amazon and Kobo made some announcements today, revealing new versions of the Kindle and Kobo e-readers.

Introducing the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo. (Note: Affiliate links!)

As an avid reader and user of my Kindle Keyboard, I wanted to take a look at these two side-by-side to make my purchasing decision easier and I figure I would share.

Kindle Paperwhite Kobo Glo
Display 6″ Paperwhite display with patented built-in light, 212 ppi, 16-level gray scale 6” E Ink XGA Pearl screen; 1024×768 resolution; 16-level grey scale
Size 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169mm x 117mm x 9.1mm) 6.2″ x 4.5″ x 0.39″ (157mm x 114mm x 10mm)
Weight 7.5 ounces (213 grams) 6.5 ounces (185 grams)
Storage 2GB (approximately 1.25GB available for user content) 2GB (approximately 1GB available for user content)
Battery Life 28 hours of continuous use with light on 55 hours of continuous use with light on
Connectivity Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n
Warranty 1 year limited warranty 1 year limited warranty
Return Policy Within 30 days of delivery Within 30 days of delivery

NOTE: I calculated the Kindle Paperwhite’s 28 hour battery life by taking 30 minutes per day with light on, multiplying it with 8 weeks and finding the number of hours from that. Not sure if entirely accurate, but I wanted a comparable number with Kobo Glo’s numbers.

It’s a pretty even race, from my point of view.

Personally, the most important factors are the size and weight. The Kindle Paperwhite is taller and wider than the Kobo Glo, but also a hair thinner.

I think I’m going to give both a purchase and figure out which one I like using the most. I’m a little more entrenched into the Amazon ecosystem (with plenty of books and a lot of store credit to use up) but I would be happy to switch if I received a significantly better reading experience from the Kobo Glo.

If you’re purchasing one of the new Kindle or Kobo models, please do share in the comments which one you will be buying and why. I’m very curious!

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Kobo internal storage can be expanded by 32GB using a micro SD card. Personally, not a factor for me, but people should know.

Jon is marketing professional by day, and a multitude of things by night. These things include being an avid gamer, an amateur chef, and a professional food destroyer. You can find him on Twitter or LinkedIn and say hello!
  • http://www.facebook.com/evelynner Evelynne Weakley

    You seem to be in exactly the same position as I am. Although I am deep in the Amazon ecosystem I have both a Kindle and Kobo Touch e-reader. I use the Kobo for library books and for non Amazon resources, which is necessary as Amazon isn’t the greatest for French language Kindle books in Canada.

    I was amused that Kobo sneaked in in front of Amazon’s announcement with their own product launch. Both of the new eInk products look great. I would probably have upgraded my Kindle first as I use that more than the Kobo, but Amazon didn’t give me the choice as they don’t ship to Canada yet. The Kobo Glo is on pre-order.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Thanks for commenting Evelynne.

    Interesting to hear that you use a Kobo for library books and French language books – never crossed my mind! If Amazon beefed up their French language books, would that swing you a certain way?

    And while Kobo may have snuck in their announcement, it may have been a mistake as they were completely destroyed when it comes to media coverage. A quick google of “Kobo Glo” produces *some* articles, while Kindle Paperwhite produces hundreds and hundreds. The difference in media coverage was stunning.

  • Abby Smith

    On the storage side, Kobo Glo also has up to 32GB expansion through a microSD slot

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Hey Abby, thanks for pointing that out.

    I may have forgotten to write it down, but I saw that an instantly said “meh.” I really only use my e-readers for books, and it can fit 1,000+ books as it stands, I’m not sure I ever need 32GB in the first place. Would rather have that space go toward some other usage!

  • http://www.facebook.com/VirtualJon Jonathan Chase Laba

    For Reference the Kobo Glo has a reported 210 DPI, virtually on par.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Thanks Jon! That’s relatively close to the 213~ DPI that my friend calculated, and yes it’s virtually on par. I was more concerned with the difference in front lighting – the “patent pending” technology from Amazon’s light intrigues me.

  • MrF

    According to Amazon, the Paperwhite E-Ink has an improved contrast compared to the previous generation. Has Kobo improved their E-Ink contrast as well? On the pictures you have posted on the top, the Glo seems very greyish compared to the Paperwhite.

    I’m also already deep in the Amazon ecosystem, but if the Kobo Glo is just as good I might want to break out to ePub-freedom!

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    I’m going to be checking the in-store Kobo Glo units out soon, hopefully will be able to shed some light on build quality and reading experience. VERY curious about the front lighting, compared to the claims that Amazon is making with theirs!

  • Jim

    I’m trying to make a decision of which to get as well. Do you have any comments on the content availability in Canada, i.e. Kobo might have some books that Amazon doesn’t.

    thx

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Hey Jim,

    Content is generally available for Canadians via Amazon.com, there have been zero problems purchasing e-books via the .com site. From an earlier comment (from @facebook-630911527:disqus) she mentions that Kobo does significantly better on French language books and library books.

    If that matters to you, then Kobo might be your platform of choice. I also have heard that some books are significantly cheaper on Amazon compared to the Kobo platform. Take a look at both for sure!

  • IJdoD

    Both devices use the same E-ink-branded display (http://www.eink.com/customer_showcase_eReaders.html), but the implementation of the lighting technology may be different. Also, the Kindle Paperwhite has an additional layer over the display for it’s capacitive touch-screen.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Awesome, thanks for sharing that link! The additional layer also applies to the front lighting, at least in the case of the Kindle Paperwhite as demonstrated in their demo video. Not too sure about the Glo!

  • IJdoD

    Come to think of it, can’t find any mention of the touch-screen technology used by the Glo on the Kobo website. I assumed it was IR, but can’t confirm it.

  • MrF

    I found this thread, which might answer some questions:
    http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190440

    It appears that the contrast is the same as they use the same E-Ink generation and the Kobo also uses a pattern that directs the light. Initially I was going to get the Kindle, but Amazon refuses to let us know when it is available internationally. If the Kobo is just as good, Amazon just lost a customer..

  • http://twitter.com/namebrandon Brandon Harris

    It has been confirmed IR from a Kobo product manager. It uses zForce Neonode for touch. Source – http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190440&page=2

  • http://twitter.com/namebrandon Brandon Harris

    This is the deal-breaker for me. I have 250+ MB from a single author, throw in some textbook / reference PDF’s and space is gone rather quickly. I’m sure for a lot of people 1.25 GB is enough storage, but I really don’t want to get into a situation where I’m trying to figure out what I need to remove from the device in order to add more to it. Kobo and the expansion slot save the day here.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Brandon, more power to you! PDFs don’t look fantastic on the Kindle or Kobo, so I’ve abstained from even putting them on (and convert them to .mobi if I really need it.) Glad to hear that the expandable storage is an asset to some people though!

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Great link, thanks!

    I’m going to reserve judgment until I can see them both with my own eyes, but always good to know that they’re very similar in performance. Cheers.

  • Mike

    Before I saw this comment I already thought (looking at the pictures), someone will say a silly thing like this.
    Judging a device based on pictures taken on different times with different camera’s, different lighting conditions and so on, is just silly. On top of that, the Kindle has the light on, the Glo has the light off in these pictures.

    Don’t mean this in a offensive way, just making you and maybe others aware and helping you to make the right decisions based on accurate information.

  • MrF

    Well, the important question was if Kobo’s contrast had been improved (if at all) as much as the claimed Kindle improvement. I probably shouldn’t have made the remark about the picture on top.

  • @shunradan

    Great conversation!

    Since you already have Kindle and Kobo touchscreens, can you comment on page-turning speed and general processor speed? I’m currently a power user of a Kindle 2, doing many searches through multiple books, which sometimes take more than a minute.

    I have resisted upgrades to the newer touchscreen Kindles because people comment on the slow page turns, but I thought the Paperwhite might persuade me, of not as a replacement, then as a complement. Now this Kobo Glo sounds really intriguing, with its expandable capacity, but I’m worried that it might be slow too.

  • heehee

    From this blog, when turning off, the paperwhite is also greyish.
    http://gigaom.com/2012/09/06/why-e-readers-evolved-a-lot-today-kindle-paperwhite-and-kobo-glo/
    I think it would be necessarily so because they have the same display.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelo.febo Angelo Di Febo

    you are not very serrious..
    you say that is more attractive amazon world as you said you are more attracted for jail cause kobo reads alla formats..
    above all the best format that is epub.. while kindle is protected and you cannot use the bettere format but proprietary format..
    you are not honest..!!!Why you don’t talk the most important thing?
    I try to answer,cause amazon is a giant against a golia..but golia wins!

  • http://www.facebook.com/angelo.febo Angelo Di Febo

    the prove you are not honest is that you say is not important that kobo has a support for sd card and kindle does not

  • Fire Sky

    I’m going with the Kindle Paper; I purchased a KOBO Touch last year and I have already had to replace it. The Kobo freezes too often, and the device has to be reset. In addition, the firmware is a nightmare. That said, I’m going Kindle.

  • Fire Sky

    In addition to my reply, I have previously purchased the first generation Kobo, and the Kobo Touch; neither model has been too impressive. Each firmware update makes matters worse. For instance, on one of Kobo’s most recent firmware updates, my Kobo starting skipping 2 pages ahead when I tapped the screen only once. And then it started freezing altogether. Kobo did manage to replace my Kobo Touch; however, now my replacement freezes up every 5 pages.
    And I have to reset it religiously…Therefore, I have lost my faith altogether in Kobo. As a result, If Kobo can’t master their previous e-reader mistakes, then how are they going to master a Kobo Glo–or even a Kobo Mini–in the future? I’ve lost confidence in KOBO. I’m going Kindle paperwhite.

  • Kindred Tuliups

    …I agree with Fire Sky’s reply…Kobo has awful desktop software. And Kindle has a much, much greater book selection than Kobo. Furthermore, If Kobo has bad firmware updates that negatively impact the performance of the previous kobo
    e readers (such as the Kobo Touch), then it is obvious that the future firmware updates are negatively going to impact the Kobo Glo. When it comes to a great e reader experience, what are you going to pick? A Kobo Glo that has a fancy lit screen that excessively skips pages and freezes to the point of agony? Or a Kindle Paperwhite that is reliable and no interruptions on the page turns, and no freeze?
    I going with the better e reader experience. I don’t have the patience with excessive page skips and freezing: it takes me out of the book. So, I’m going with the Kindle Paperwhite as well because I have had all generations of Kindles, and Kindle produces a much more reliable product. And Kindle stands behind their products as well.

  • MrF

    Because Amazon is screwing international customers and because I found out that both devices has roughly the same technology, I had decided to go with the Kobo. But seeing some of these replies about the Kobo FW has made be skeptical. And as it turns out, Kobo is also screwing international customers! Yes, they do offer their devices in more countries, but even though some of the vendors ships internationally they refuse to ship Kobo devices to Norway. This is getting really frustrating!

  • Mystic Jim

    I’ve had my Kobo touch for almost a year now and absolutely love it. I originally bought my GF a kindle 4 for her birthday, played with it for a while, read a few reviews, then decided to give Kobo a try for myself. I’ll admit that the firmware went through a couple of glitchy periods but, for me at least, that was completely fixed a few updates ago and I’ve not had a single problem since – no page skipping, no freezing.
    I don’t bother with the Kobo desktop software (Ubuntu user) so I can’t really comment on that.
    For me, the biggest selling point of the Kobo is the freedom it offers me. I hate Amazon’s attitude of locking you into their ecosystem – convenience at the expense of choice just doesn’t appeal. Kobo takes many formats, and it’s trivial to convert if you need to. I have also never had a problem with not being able to get a book I wanted: the flexibility of format choice (no .kobo format locking you into using only the Kobo store) means that you have a variety of options from which to purchase your books, rather than being stuck with the choice Amazon decide to grant you.
    Being in the UK, I’m also a tad bitter about Amazon’s lack of support for the British user.
    All that said, I do still recommend kindles to friends that I know aren’t tech-savvy. If you want ultimate convenience and no fiddling, kindle is the better option. For anybody who is capable of using google though, I recommend Kobo.
    And it’s an anagram of booK.

  • KOBOGLO!

    I just got my Kobo Glo and I love it! I have checked out 3 books from the library and read 5 that i bought. Kobo’s light can go on for hours so on y sleepless nights I flick Kobo glo on. I love Kobo Glo all the way

  • MrF

    I’ve noticed on videos that the Paperwhite’s light seems more white and even, while the Kobo Glo’s light is a bit uneven and blueish. The Glo also seems to “glow” more, while the Paperwhite seems to be just “white”. That might be because of the surrounding light and camera conditions.

    I’d really like to see a side by side comparison soon.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    I’ve noticed it too, but I know never to make any judgments based on videos. Definitely need to see one in person before I can make any sort of call.

  • MrF

    http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/19/hands-on-with-kobos-glo-and-mini-e-readers-video/

    As you can see on this video, the Glo appears much whiter and more like the Paperwhite. I suppose this was done under stronger light conditions. Hopefully, someone reviews them both in the same video under the same conditions so I can make a decision!

    By the way, the video is a nice hands on.

  • http://jonlim.ca/ Jon Lim

    Neat! I’d love to see them both side by side in the dark, just to see if there’s a difference in the glow, and if there is one at all. Thanks again for sharing!

  • Loafers

    Hi Jon,

    The Kobo Glo is actually 1024×758.

    Source: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2233436&postcount=15

    Despite the 10 pixel difference, I’m probably still going to get the Kobo Glo for the ePub support.

    Yes, I could convert ePub to mobi on my computer and upload it on the Kindle, but why in the world should anybody shell out their good money for a product that doesn’t support one of the most BASIC formats. But, I guess so long as people don’t mind having Amazon’s proprietary format shoved down their throats, not much will change in the future. No thank you.

    Still looking forward for that paperwhite vs glo comparison though :)

    Regards,
    Loafers

  • Loafers

    where’d you get it :(!? it aint out yet for the general public, no?

  • Loafers

    Hi Jon,

    A minor correction: the Kobo Glo is actually 1024×758.

    Source: http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2233436&postcount=15

    Despite the 10 pixel difference, I’m still going to buy the Kobo Glo because I refuse to buy the Kindle until it supports ePub. After many iterations, you’d think Amazon would support one of the most basic file formats, but instead have only increased their efforts to shove their DRM down our throats.

    Still looking forward to the glo paperwhite comparison though!

    Regards,
    Loafers

  • Lele

    Where is jack to listen mp3?

  • nhunt909

    Just got my Glo. Looked forward to it for weeks and am VERY disappointed.

    There is no manual and the online manual (once you can find it) is not complete.

    I have had nothing but problems trying to get books over from the library, through the MANDATORY third party software and onto the Kobo.

    I became frustrated enough that I called Kobo’s helpline and said I wanted to return it. They said I could take it back to the store where I bought it. Another trip to the store and the store refused return.

    Kobo customer support says tough.

    Not only will I never buy Kobo again, but I won’t shop at that bookstore again. Lose, lose, lose.

    My advice: do more research than I did about customer support. It may be non-existant. And don;t buy Kobo because they don’t back up what their customer support people tell you on the phone.