Kobo Vox : Initial impressions of a developer

I really wanted an original Amazon Kindle – really. In fact too much to wait for them to become available in Canada. So I first got a Sony PRS505, then one (and a second) Sony PRS300 and last summer a Nook Touch (yep, I have two kids, my wife finds the Nook Touch the perfect device so I’m still using the first). I took the ePub road and never regretted it – even if most books I’ve bought have not been from the Sony or Barnes and Noble stores (most recent purchases were done with Kobo).

When the Kindle Fire was announced (even a bit before that) I become interesting again in Amazon’s hardware. Not for reading books, never did much my iPad, but to allow me to use/develop Android applications. I’m sure that low-cost Android devices will bring more people to consume medias and applications on the platform. Phones are nice (and getting nicer) but I don’t watch movies on them.

Kobo surprised me by releasing their own tablet, similar to the Fire. Even more surprising what it’s price of 199$ – since, even when the CDN$ is worth more than the US$, we generally have to pay more for the same hardware.


  • cheap 199$ device;
  • available now (in Canada);
  • microSD reader;


  • it won’t charge from USB when connected to a computer – making it a bad choice for a development device;
  • it consumes way too much power when sleeping – e.g. it won’t survive a night, forcing you to turn off the device (and enjoy the long reboots);
  • it crashes/turn itself off/won’t resume too often to trust the device to entertain you on a plane trip (plan a backup book or device);
  • adb does not see the device – so I can’t connect to the device to upload Mono for Android applications;
  • the provided market is getjar, not bad but not the Android Market;
  • microSD, not a full SD card, reader – that was not what I read from their web site and will make looking at pictures harder (since I had a lot of SD cards and no microSD);
  • the main interface menus don’t rotate, forcing you to manually rotate the device;

iPad (first generation) comparison:

  • Same depth as my original iPad;
  • Nothing feels half as fast as my iPad;

Nexus S comparison:

  • Nothing feels half as fast as the Nexus;
  • Vox’s lack of Android Market and Google Apps is frustrating;

Not fair comparisons ? maybe not πŸ˜‰ but those are the similar devices I got.

I believe most problems can go away with software updates. I cancelled the Kindle Fire as I don’t expect much more from it, except a better locked down device. Maybe the new Nook Color will be better ?

Anyway my advice is to wait a bit (more reviews, software updates) before buying a cheap tablet – even from a known retailer. A lot can (and will) change before christmas πŸ™‚

About spouliot

Xamarin Hacker, Mono Contributor, Open Source Enthusiast with strong interests in Code Analysis, Cryptography and Security. Presently working on MonoTouch, previous projects were Moonlight and libgdiplus and a lot of the cryptographic work done on Mono.
This entry was posted in mono, mono4android and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Kobo Vox : Initial impressions of a developer

  1. J says:

    The Fire is officially not locked down thankfully. Looking forward to CyanogenMod on it. Though, if someone has a Galaxy Tab 7 on sale for close to the Fire price, I’ll probably just go with that.

  2. Daniel Morgan says:

    I’m still waiting for the day you can build an app for your tablet on the tablet you are using to build the app. I will keep dreaming…

    What are some decent Android tablets out there that you could develop Android apps for?

  3. At last, someone else who found the Vox as much of a pain as did I. Wish I’d never bought the thing! And not being able to charge over USB, what idiot decided on that? The whole thing feels like a poor compromise to me.

  4. Ugooloo says:

    adbWireless to connect to it. Still a PITA. Good thing is I’ve found people selling them for super cheap because they don’t like the thing πŸ™‚

    • spouliot says:

      That requires root‘ing your device (not necessarily a bad thing but ADB should be available without doing so). Anyway it’s now possible, at least on Linux and OSX, to use ADB (USB) without rooting.

  5. Pingback: /dev/crypto support in Crimson | surprisingly unimpressed

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