The Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo are among the first ebook readers to come with built-in frontlights in order to make the E Ink screens readable in the dark and in areas with low lighting.
Each device has its pros and cons, as outlined in the reviews (Kobo Glo Review – Kindle Paperwhite Review). But which device is better? This article aims to answer that question. To make it easier to compare I’ve broken things down into different sections for the main points. So let’s get started.
Kobo Glo Wins
I’ll keep this short since I’ve already posted an article about how the Kobo Glo has a better frontlight than the Kindle Paperwhite and GlowLight Nook Touch. The lighting is more even, the lights’ shadows are less obvious and distracting, and there aren’t any discolorations. The Kobo isn’t perfect, though. The light is a little brighter toward the top of the screen and the light doesn’t adjust nearly as dim as the Kindle’s.
The E Ink Screen
Kindle Paperwhite Wins
Both devices use the exact same 1024 x 758 resolution E Ink screens. But I was surprised to see that text appears slightly more fuzzy and gray on the Kobo than on the Kindle. With the light on text is a little more washed out; it isn’t quite as dark and sharp. The Kobo’s screen also appears slightly dingy with the light turned up, especially when viewed at angles, whereas the Kindle’s screen appears more clear.
You can adjust the font weight on the Kobo, which is a plus over the Kindle, but even still that doesn’t make the text any darker. The bottom line is the light seems to lessen contrast more on the Kobo than on the Kindle.
Kindle Paperwhite Wins
The Kobo Glo uses an infrared touchscreen and the Kindle uses a capacitive touchscreen. When it comes right down to it both work well and both get the job done. There’s not really enough of a difference between them to call one better than the other. But since the Kindle supports multitouch for pinch-zooming and the Kobo does not, I’m giving the edge to the Kindle. Plus things like highlighting and selecting a word are a little smoother on the Kindle.
Kindle Paperwhite Advantages
- Multitouch support for pinch-zooming.
- Support for Kindle Games and Kindle Apps.
- Software is more polished and much less prone to bugs.
- The Kindle Paperwhite has a better web browser with pinch-zooming and article view.
- X-Ray feature analyzes a book’s contents with references from Wikipedia and Shelfari.
- Landscape mode for ebooks.
- Better PDF support, but neither device is very good in that regard.
- The ads (Special Offers) aren’t all bad; you get coupon deals otherwise unavailable, and sometimes free credit to spend at Amazon.
- Optional free 3G wireless (works for Amazon, Wikipedia, and Shelfari).
- Annotations backup.
- Can easily take screenshots.
- Contrast darken feature for PDFs.
- Borrow 1 free ebook per month for Prime Members.
- Send to Kindle apps and email address makes emailing ebooks and documents to the Kindle Paperwhite easy.
- Can have ebooks from public libraries wirelessly delivered (Kobo has to transfer via USB).
- Kindle Panel View for comics and manga.
Kobo Glo Advantages
- Supports ebooks with Adobe DRM sold from a wide selection of ebook stores.
- Supports the most widely used format: ePub.
- More fonts available, plus you can add additional font types.
- More formatting options for line spacing, margins, justification.
- Customize font weight and sharpness.
- The Kobo Glo has a microSD card slot and supports cards up to 32GB.
- The frontlight can be turned off (the light stays on ever so slightly on the Kindle Paperwhite even at the lowest setting).
- No screensaver ads.
- Quickly turn Wi-Fi on and off from the settings popup.
- Can easily view battery percentage from the settings popup.
- Comes with two games: Sudoku and chess.
- Has a sketchpad.
- Option to set screen refresh from 1 to 6 pages.
- Reading Life feature keeps track of reading stats, with awards for reading.
Kindle Paperwhite vs Kobo Glo Conclusion
When trying to decide between the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo, it comes down to which platform you’d rather deal with just as much as which device to choose. Weigh the pluses and minuses of each device as described here with the ecosystem you prefer moving forward with your ebook collection now and in the future.
The main things to consider from a device perspective is the Kindle Paperwhite has the advantage with the clearer screen, bigger ebookstore, more advanced features, and a more polished user interface. The Kobo has the advantage of the more even frontlight, it has a microSD card slot, supports ePub format, and offers a multitude of font adjusting options.