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Kobo Wireless eReader N647-BUS-S: Kobo e-Reader Review

Screen: 6" E-Ink display
Internal Memory: 1 GB
Connectivity: Wifi or USB Cable
Dimensions: 7.2" x 4.7" x 0.4"
Weight: 7.8 oz.
Other models: N289-BUS-B, N747-BUS-B, N647-BUS-L

By Sophia Schmidt


Once Borders came out with its Kobo eReader product, it quickly followed with its Kobo Wireless eReader to compete with its book retailing peers. The Kobo Wireless e-reader is priced at $139.99, which is under market to a black and white screens found in the nook (Barnes and Noble) and kindle (Amazon). This mid-priced wireless ereader has several features found in higher priced ereaders. Kobo's device is presented as a bit of a mix of open access with high user friendly features. However, users still need to be reasonably technology proficient to use this device for wireless downloads.

Appearance and Feel Rating: 92/100

The two Kobo e-readers have almost the same look, feel and design. With 6" screens, they are among the largest of the eInk displays available today. We mentioned in our review of the Kobo eReader that the size of the device is well-thought out in terms of how the device might be held and used. The 6" e-ink screen relies is not a touch screen, but requires users to toggle through using several buttons on the left hand side of the device. In the Kobo Wireless eReader, the four choices are: Home, Menu, Shop and Back. (In the Kobo eReader non-wireless device, the 'Shop' button is replaced by a 'Display' button.) The Kobo eReader also uses a 4-way directional pad that's located at the bottom right of the device. This directional pad is actually a 5-way device, because from here users will push the button down for the 'enter' function. On the left hand side are four buttons that help you navigate thru the books and any display or device settings.

In the hand, the Kobo feels very light and quite natural for someone looking to read a book. This is definitely a device made for avid readers. Holding the book in one hand or two is comfortable. As we mentioned in our Kobo eReader N416-BUS-W review, the screen size is particularly important for users who need larger font sizes. It's arguable that in many cases the Kobo Wireless e-reader and other ereaders, in general, open up a vast world of reading options for the individual who requires large font sizes.

The creators of the Kobo did one thing very right in developing the product which gives it much of its book-like experience feel. It's very subtle, yet the tactile feel of the back of the Kobo ereaders is very comfortable. Kobo created a quilted back frame which lets fingers and palms settle into the miniature valleys of its back as you settle into reading the book. The Kobo Wireless eReader comes in several colors: black, silver and lavender.

Ereader e-paper or eInk Legibility Rating: 95/100

Getting Started on this EReader is a Quick Read

The e-Ink display on the Kobo eReader is very comfortable to read and has no electrical cycling back images behind the digital text. It can easily be read in full sunlight because it does not have a backlit screen. This does mean, however, that the Kobo must have a book light for any night reading. Selecting Menu, then ;Display' quickly pulls up font size options. Kobo e-reader users can select between two eye-appealing fonts. Dimness settings are available within the Help portion of the device's menu architecture.

In our estimation, a typical non-technical user could become familiar with the Kobo e-Reader or Kobo Wireless e-Reader devices within a few days of use. Note that this is far less time invested versus learning any of the most basic smart phones. The Kobo Wireless e-Reader also has 100 classics pre-installed onto it, which allows users to get reading and lets them quickly familiarize themselves with its functionality. In our ereader review, we found that the menu navigation was well-developed, appealing to technical and non-technical users alike. A site map available through the Help button might be the only suggestion made to both the Kobo ereader and Kobo Wireless e-reader in this regard.

We mentioned in our review of the Kobo eReader that the 100 ebooks selected for each device are a wonderful mix of titles some of us have read or, candidly, haven't gotten around to yet. The nook and kindle ereaders offer 4 books and zero books, respectively, upon purchase. This really helps the user out in terms of walking through functionality of the Kobo eReader.

Vocabulary Words De-Mystified; Game Feature Available

Borders Kobo Key Features

  • 6" E-Ink Screen
  • Sync with Borders Desktop App
  • USB Connectivity
  • Blue Tooth Connectivity
  • Quilted Back
  • Two Week Battery Life
  • 1000 Book Storage
  • Includes 100 free e-books
  • Dimensions: 4.7" x 7.2" x 0.4"
  • Less than 8 ounces

Accessing the dictionary on the Kobo Wireless ereader is very simple process (a dictionary is not provided in the Kobo base model). Go to Menu and the Dictionary option is at the very top of the list. Once you select dictionary, a black underscore bar appears and allows you to toggle thru the page to pull up words to look up. When you land on the word, you hit 'enter' in the navigation pad and a Merriam Webster Dictionary will provide you with the meaning. In our reviews, it's among the easiest dictionaries to access and continue reading on the page.

Two features that are glaringly missing from the Kobo eReader and Kobo Wireless eReader are the ability to highlight text and the use of a touch screen. These features are available in the highest price point ereader devices, such as the Sony PRS-350, Sony PRS-650 and Sony PRS-950 models. However, a surprise 'egg' as they call it are a blackjack and poker game hidden on the device. I'll leave it to you to fine it, but it is similar to finding the egg on the Kobo base model.

Compatability rating: 89/100

In terms of e-Book formats, the Kobo ereader and Kobo Wireless e-reader devices have a fairly open format of ebook options. These are slightly less than the Sony e-Readers in terms of openness to ebook options and websites from where to download materials. Users can download ebooks from the Borders eBook application available on the website at or from open format sites. Formats files accepted include ePub (Adobe DRM protected/ non-DRM) and PDF (Adobe DRM protected/ non-DRM). Users with little technology experience do have access to downloading books from local libraries, if they are available.

Once Its Downloaded, It's Your eBook

We mentioned this before in prior reviews. For user selecting an ereader from the nook and kindle ereader device options, they may download any ebook or epublication from those sites. Borders allows users to purchase from their site and also decided to take this a step forward and offer other ways for users to download books to the Kobo ereader. This means that users may also borrow books from their local library if they offer the ebook option. Once a ebook is purchased, it is owned by the user. This contrasts with the Kindle and Nook ereader options, where books are provided to your device on a license basis and may actually be pulled from your digital library when the license runs out.

The Kobo Wireless eReader also holds up to 1,000 ebooks on its 1 GB of memory and can add up to 4 GB of memory via a SD memory card. Approximately 150 ebooks will take up less than 3 percent of the entire memory space, so these expansion options seem to be more of a marketing thing than a truly functional improvement thing.

Wifi Downloading

We tried the downloading function through the 'Shop' button on the Kobo Wireless E-Reader and found the process a bit more difficult than we would have imagined. This is because without a touch screen option, like with the Sony e-reader series, it's a bit more cumbersome to download ebooks. Users have to manually scroll down through an entire set of book selections. While Borders has done a nice job of delineating between different categories, the toggling function is a bit more cumbersome than we've come to expect in today's digital world. Therefore, we feel that the wireless option is really to be used when you're on the go and away from a handy computer. For a pure wireless downloading function, the Sony PRS 950 ereader may be the best option out there at the moment. We recommend using your computer to search through books or purchase a new book mentioned by a friend or colleague and then download several books at once through the Kobo update library function under the 'Shop' button. The actual downloading transfer time to the wireless ereader is very quick, like in seconds this happens.

Battery Life Rating: 93/100

Break Free from the Outlet; Long Live Battery Life

Kobo Wireless E-Reader claims a battery life of up to 10 days, which is slightly less than the Kobo eReader which claims 2 weeks of battery life. In either instance, the battery life is sufficient to manage through a typical vacation. There is one exception though - battery life declines significantly when the Wifi is activated. Kobo Wireless eReader claims a 3-day battery life with wireless in use.

Users should take note that the Wifi function should be used only to download ebooks and then turned off to maximize battery life. Getting to the wifi setting is done through the 'Home' button. In terms of energy management, both Kobo devices seem to intuitively manage its usage well. There is also an adjustment setting to best manage battery life within the system. There seems to have been a lot of thought put into an ereader that could go without a charger and plug.

Value rating: 92/100

Borders has been strategic in pricing their models below that of its competition. For under $140, the Kobo Wireless e-reader can be yours, and it provides more freedom in the types of books purchased. Again, the look and feel of the Kobo ereader is solid and likable, although the non-touch screen is a bit of a disadvantage to quickly sort through and purchase an ebook, so we rated is slightly below its lower-priced sister product.

Overall review rating: 90/100

With a great display size that gives readers plenty of font options, the Kobo Wireless ereader is a solid device for the avid reader or someone looking to port many books around in one product. The long battery life is appealing, if you turn off the wireless, and appeals to the traveler and typical user who wants to be reading versus charging a device.

Kobo Wireless e Reader models: N289-BUS-B, N747-BUS-B, N647-BUS-S, N647-BUS-L

Perfect ereader for: Traveling Professionals, Avid Readers on the Go, Non-Tech Savvy Users, Soccer Mom/ Soccer Parent, Users Wanting to Read Other epublications, like magazine and newspapers, Those Wanting a Dictionary Pre-Installed on Their e-Reader

Not an ereader for: Users Seeking to Read PDF Articles and Other Downloads, Note taking Students, Note Taking Adults

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