Hands on with the Kobo Arc Jelly Bean update

Flash back to our review of the Kobo Arc a moment. On the whole, the 7-inch tablet from Canada impressed, but was left lacking on the software front. Despite a Jelly Bean update in the works at launch, the Arc came to market on Ice Cream Sandwich, with the custom Tapestries UI on top. While a decent performer generally, if you've ever used Jelly Bean, going back to ICS is a tough ask. 

The Jelly Bean update for the Arc is now available though, thus removing a potential barrier to purchase. So, has it made a difference? Is the Kobo Arc now a serious contender in the tablet space? Well, we got one back in the office to take a look at how they did. 

Kobo Arc Jelly Bean video walkthrough

On the face of it, very little has changed by way of UI. And that's a good thing. Tapestries may not be everyone's bag, but for folks who already purchased an Arc, not radically changing the UI isn't going to change the experience they're used to. The big change on the visual front is that the homescreen now takes on a more Nexus feel, with the stock software buttons in the center coupled with the standard pull down notification tray from the top. We're big fans of this layout on 7-inch tablets. The older style layout left everything all cramped down there in either bottom corner, so this is definitely a score on the UI front. 

Project Butter also makes a noticeable improvement to the overall performance. Scrolling is definitely smoother, and navigating through menus and the app drawer feels snappier. Of course, another of the headline Jelly Bean features, Google Now, has also been added to the Arc with this update. 

And thats about all she wrote. There's a lot of the stock Android characteristics in here, but the general look and feel hasn't changed much at all. It's not going to confuse anyone who's already bought one, and it might well be enough to convince those who were on the fence to take a more serious look. With arguably a nicer screen than the Nexus 7, more powerful -- and front facing -- speakers and the potential of a 64GB storage option, the Kobo Arc offers fantastic value for money. Now, it has the software on board that it deserves. 

Richard Devine