Kobo Glo’s Frontlight is Better Than Kindle Paperwhite’s and GlowLight Nook

Kindle, Kobo, Nook frontlights

As I mentioned last week, I was finally able to order a Kobo Glo from Powell’s Books to review. By the way, Powell’s did a great job of getting it out quickly. I ordered it on November 7th and received a shipping notice the next day, and even with the free shipping option it arrived yesterday the 13th (glad I didn’t pay for express shipping).

Ever since Kobo first announced the Kobo Glo, I’ve been eager to see how well the frontlight works and how it compares to the GlowLight Nook and Kindle Paperwhite. So the first thing I did after opening the box and turning the device on was switch on the frontlight to see how it looks.

One word came to mind: impressive.

The Kobo Glo’s lighting is surprisingly uniform across the entire screen, more so than the Kindle Paperwhite and way more than the Nook Glow. There’s a subtle shadow line at the bottom of the screen where the LED lights are located, but it’s smaller, less noticeable, and doesn’t intrude on the text like the Kindle and Nook.

In short, the Kobo Glo has the best frontlight of any ebook reader I’ve seen so far. It’s certainly better than the GlowLight Nook and is a little better than my Kindle Paperwhite. Notice I say my Kindle Paperwhite, as they don’t all seem to be created equal.

As mentioned earlier, my Kindle Paperwhite has some mildly distracting discolorations on the screen that are visible in certain lighting conditions. Some people claim they don’t have any of that at all, so it’s up for debate. I’m tempted to get a replacement Paperwhite just to see how it compares, but they are majorly back-ordered right now.

The Kobo Glo on the other hand doesn’t have any of the discolored blobs. The screen gets slightly whiter and brighter toward the top than at the bottom, but the transition is so gradual that it’s hardly noticeable and it doesn’t distract the eye when reading.

All in all, I’m impressed with the Kobo Glo’s frontlight so far. I still need some more time with it before doing a full review and some proper comparison reviews between it and the Kindle and Nook. But seeing as how I just posted the Kobo Mini review I’m already very familiar with the Glo since the software is basically identical. So stay tuned for some reviews of the Kobo Glo over the next couple weeks (I’ve got to finish the Nook HD+ review first, though).

15 Responses to “Kobo Glo’s Frontlight is Better Than Kindle Paperwhite’s and GlowLight Nook”

  1. Nathan, I can’t tell much from this first picture, but it appears there is more contrast with the Kindle and Nook than the Kobo. Would you be able to do a picture with each reader displaying the exact same e-book and on the same page? Lighting is tricky with any e-book reader and no matter how you do it (front light or using an external light).

    • Yeah, I’ll post some better pictures in the reviews. That one above is actually quite terrible. And you are very right, it’s extremely hard to get a good picture of an ebook reader, especially when trying to show the frontlight. The text does look thinner and lighter in that picture. One reason was the flash was centered more over the Kobo. In person the Kindle’s font is darker though, but it should be noted that is the default text on the Kobo. You can adjust the weight to make the text a lot bolder.

  2. I was wondering the same thing…how do the contrasts compare? Thanks!

  3. Cold you compare the Glo and the Kindle at their lowest lighting setting? I’ve read that the Globo is still too bright to read comfortably in the dark of a bedroom….

    • It’s not too bright for me in the dark (and that’s saying something because I find most tablets too bright) but it is certainly a lot brighter than the Kindle at both the lowest and highest settings. In fact it’s so much brighter than the Kindle and Nook I had those both turned all the way up and the Kobo at about half brightness in that picture.

  4. Aside from its lack of landscape, Kobo Glo compares closely to Kindle Paperwhite. Both have advanced screens with higher resolution and higher contrast than the common 6-inch e-ink screen. Both also have the niftiest-looking casing of any e-reader (except for Sony PRS-T2 and Pocketbook Pro 622).

    But Glo’s frontlight is superior? How about its other features — how do they stack up against Kindle?

  5. Exciting Nathan! I will look forward to your Glo reviews. I love the advanced font features on my Kobo Mini. If the Glo has the same options, text will look great.

    As for the Nook HD+, I really love the display. I’m wondering if you noticed how easy it is on the eyes, even with the brightness turned up almost all the way.

    I have had a ton of issues with the Reader application. It constantly exhibits glitches, like when you change the font it pages back three times for no reason. The Nook Web Browser also won’t download eBooks from Gutenberg or ManyBooks for some reason, but the Dolphin Browser (available in the Nook Store) has no issues.

    The HD+ is a nice tablet, and I love the screen size and build quality, but I find myself using it WAY less than my Nexus 7 without my Google Play apps.

    • I agree. The Nook HD+’s (oh crap, now that I see it I’m going to have to refrain from using apostrophes with this device; curse you and your weird names, B&N ) screen is by far its best quality, and is one of the best I’ve seen. Comics and magazines look spectacular. I’m not particularly big on either but the Nook kind makes me want to get more.

      I’ve been using the web browser like a web surfing madman lately and I really like it for the most part. I’m able to download from Feedbooks without a problem and the books work fine, but I tried downloading an ePub from Baen and it didn’t prompt to work with B&N’s reader, instead automatically opening the OverDrive app.

      I haven’t really experienced many issues other than it bogging down at times and Netflix scrolling horribly. My biggest bane with the Nook HD+ is the notifications thingy (it’s not really a menu or a bar; I don’t know what to call it). I’m always tapping away it and it doesn’t pop up at least half the time.

      The devs have obtained permanent root on the HD and HD+ so Google apps are looking up. Sounds like some have Amazon’s appstore working.

  6. Hi Nathan,

    Glad that you were pleased with your experience purchasing at Powells.com! Thanks for the kind words.

    Powell’s Books

  7. Kobo says that zooming in on a PDF can be done with a double-tap. Could you please show us what that looks like when you do your video review?

  8. I’m a previous Paperwhite owner. I went through 4 defective devices before I decided that I was returning it for good. I own the Kobo Glo now (yay!) and I agree with you. The screen light is more uniformed and doesn’t have any discoloration at all. I still remember some people said the people complaining about the discoloration on their Paperwhites were too sensitive to color. lol which is completely ludicrous. The Kobo Glo is far superior in every way. The only thing Amazon has going for it is its enormous selection of books. Kobo’s bookstore is much smaller. But what’s the point of owning an e-reader if you can’t enjoy reading on the screen? At least the Kobo Glo doesn’t suffer from the Paperwhite’s screen problems. That is reason enough for me to choose the Kobo Glo. I’m glad Powell’s was selling it on their site otherwise I probably wouldn’t have one right now. 🙂

  9. The Kobo glo isn’t perfect. I had one but returned it after a week and got a paperwhite. The model I had suffered from bright spots, I had 7 on my screen. The light was too bright to read in the night for me and it well lit rooms it had a nasty blue tinge. The battery also drained horribly fast. One day I had my WiFi on for 10 minutes and the battery drained to empty on a full charge.

  10. Anika, am I reading you correctly that you exhausted a fully charged battery in ten minutes? Wifi or no wifi, that sounds like a defective unit.

  11. I’m down to my 3rd Kobo Glo. The first 2 had battery life issue. My 3rd one is ok but I’m nowhere near the 1 month or 80h battery life promised (with Wifi and light shut down …)

    And today for some reason part of my screen is now broken. I know my Kobo fell but with a thick cover and not from very high I’d be really annoyed if it’s broken 🙁

    So well the light is more uniform on the Kobo that much I agree and you have more format and an SD card slot but you need to be lucky for the battery …