Kobo Arc 10HD full review

Kobo Arc 10HD review

The Kobo Arc 10HD is an Android tablet with good hardware specs, an incredible 300 ppi display, a great price tag, and full access to the Google Play app store. Here's our review of the device that hasn't quite got the attention it deserves. See also The 14 best tablets of 2013.

Kobo Arc 10HD review: Design and build quality

It's hard to fault the Kobo Arc 10HD in the looks department, it's understated, dark and incredibly stylish. It features an edge to edge glass front with an acceptable and symmetrical amount of bezel - the discreet placement of the power and volume buttons is well thought out too. Take a look at Best Android tablets 2013.

The Arc 10 HD looks like a budget version of the Sony Tablet Z, and we use the term "budget" only because the Kobo is a bit on the chunky side.

The tablet's rear is made from a pretty solid plastic that offers a reasonable amount of grip. All in all, the Kobo Arc 10HD's build quality has to be praised, as it feels solid in your hand, especially for a £300 device. The only drawback is that the solidity comes at a price, and that price is its weight, at 627g it's a heavy tablet.

Kobo Arc 10HD hardware and performance

The Kobo Arc 10HD does pretty well in the hardware department. It comes with a Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core, 1.8 GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 16 GB storage (12.9GB available to the user) and an impressive 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 (300 ppi) display. All of this is about as much as you can hope for from a £300 tablet.

It's not a completely perfect tablet in terms of its hardware though. The device doesn't have a microSD slot, which makes the limited option of 16GB storage a bit of a flaw. And even though taking pictures with a tablet looks (and is) ridiculous, the fact that the Kobo Arc 10HD only has a single front-facing 1.3Mp camera isn't ideal either.

In terms of real world performance there is nothing remarkable – good or bad – to report on. The Kobo Arc 10HD gets on with its functions with a reasonable amount of zip – switching from app to app isn't lightning fast, but acceptable.

Our benchmarks suggest as much too, with the Kobo Arc 10HD scoring 3399 @ 30fps in the GL Benchmark 2.7 test; 563.5 in the SunSpider 1.0.2 JavaScript Benchmark; 4105 in the Geekbench 2 test and 2596 in Geekbench 3.

The Kobo Arc 10HD also comes with two rear-facing stereo speakers that produce reasonable audio for a tablet, but nothing awe-inspiring.

Kobo Arc 10HD review

Kobo Arc 10HD video review

Kobo Arc 10HD review: Software

The software on the Kobo Arc 10HD is an interesting one. Normally when you get a brand with its own digital store (think Amazon Kindle) making an Android tablet, the device features a heavily customised version of Google's open source Android OS. However, the Kobo Arc 10HD has opted for an almost partitioned OS, that gives you full access to the Google Play app and media store, while also presenting you with its own Kobo store and software. This is a real plus point for the Kobo tablet, as the Kindle Fire's approach of restricting access to the Google Play store devalues the tablet massively.

The Kobo software itself comes in two main parts and is pretty intuitive to use. The first part you will see when you turn the tablet on and this is the Kobo dashboard, that display all of the Kobo books and magazine you own as well as suggesting some titles that it's algorithms think you would enjoy. The second part comes in the form of the Kobo app store – which can be accessed via the home screen – and is a fairly unremarkable experience. From the Kobo store you can buy pretty much any mainstream book or magazine you can imagine, boasting over 3.5 millions titles for its readers.

For the serious bookworms out there, there is also a handy Reading Mode button, accessible via the pull down mini-setting menu that turns off all of your tablets alerts so you can immerse yourself into a book with no distractions. The eReader app itself is impressive - all the normal eReader app things can be done, such as adjusting the brightness, background colour and font size, but there Kobo has also built in Wikipedia to its pages. What this means is certain words/phrases in popular books have links attached to them, and by clicking them a Wikipedia pop-in appears on page, giving you further information about the subject without leaving the eBook. In Phillipa Gregory's The White Queen, for example, you can learn all about The House of Lancaster as the click of the button, cool eh?

Kobo Arc 10HD review

Kobo Arc 10HD review: Battery life

The 6550 mAh non-removable battery is about average for the tablet market. We ran our standard battery test where we turn the screen up to maximum brightness and play a video on loop with the volume turned up fully until the battery runs out. The Kobo's time of seven and half hours was impressive for a 10-inch tablet with a HD screen.


Kobo Arc 10HD: Specs

  • Display: 10.1" 2560 x 1600 HD+ Display (300 ppi). Up to 1080p video playback
  • Touch: Capacitive Touch-screen with 10 point multi-touch, edge-to-edge display
  • Dimensions: 253 x 172 x 9.9 mm
  • Weight: 627 g
  • Processor: Nvidia Tegra 4 Quad-Core, 1.8 GHz
  • Memory: 2 GB DDR3L RAM
  • Camera: Front-facing 1.3 MP (720p) HD camera
  • Audio: Dual stereo speakers, microphone, universal 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with inline microphone support
  • Storage: 16 GB. (Available storage space 12.9 GB)
  • Battery: 6550 mAh capacity
  • Colours: Black
  • Connectivity: Dual Band Wi Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n with 2x2 MIMO, Bluetooth v4.0, Miracast support for Wifi media streaming
  • Ports: Micro USB, Micro HDMI out, and 3.5mm headphone jack with in-line microphone support
  • Operating system: Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, Google Play Certified.