Hands on: Rakuten Kobo Forma is a lightweight, handy e-book reader

December 22nd, 2019 | by Alfred Siew
Hands on: Rakuten Kobo Forma is a lightweight, handy e-book reader
PHOTO: Rakuten Kobo website

Talk about e-book readers and the first gadgets that come to mind are often Amazon’s Kindle devices. But the Rakuten Kobo Forma, out last month in Singapore, wants users to consider it as a viable alternative.

Among the first things you’d notice about the device is the relatively large 8-inch screen that provides sharp text and great contrast for a comfortable reading experience. The 1,440 x 1,920 resolution helps too.

The next thing is the lightweight construction. Weighing just 197g, it is easy to carry in one hand, whether you’re lounging in the sofa or cramped in an economy seat on a plane.

Despite its slim profile, the Kobo Forma sports a 1,200mAh power pack. That’s good enough for most users to use the device for weeks. Certainly, the device is well made and practical for folks who find themselves unable to put down a good e-book.

Speaking of that, it helps to have up to 32GB of storage that will store thousands of books (though the Singapore store seems to only have the 8GB version on sale at the time of writing).

What I particularly like is the IPX8 rating that the Rakuten device comes with. This means it can get wet, say, when you are reading at the poolside in Bali or simply browsing recipes at the kitchen, and not get damaged.

For me, the device has few faults in its design. With the separately available SleepCover (at S$69), the e-reader is an elegant, practical gadget to have when catching up on a book or two.

What about the e-books available? Well, the Kobo store is well stocked with millions of titles, whether you’re looking for recipe books or the latest bestsellers. I’ve been a Kobo service user since I was using an early Samsung tablet several years ago, so I’ve liked the interface all this while.

To be fair, the downside here is the lack of audio books, if you’re a fan of those. The Kobo store isn’t as populated with the format as Amazon’s Kindle.

The good news for the Kobo Forma is that it offers flexibility. It supports 14 file formats, such as EPUB, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, TXT and HTML. This means you can read a lot of your own documents along with the e-books on the Kobo store.

Plus, the close integration with Dropbox lets you browse stuff on the cloud easily. Another feature, called Pocket, lets you save Web articles for reading later. That’s handy if you are doing research and want to keep all the articles, for reading later on a plane ride.

Finally, as a direct pitch to Kindle users, Rakuten also promises no advertisements. So, say no to disruptions, if you have been annoyed with Amazon of late.

The Kobo Forma is out in Singapore now for S$369, a slight discount over the sticker price of S$399. For folks who like to read on the go, it could be a nice digital companion to pack for a trip.

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