Be honest, you weren’t really swept off your feet by Kobo’s Arc when the budget 7-incher went up for sale last fall, were you? I mean, the bang for the buck sounded good and all, but there was just too much competition to pay attention to a fairly inexperienced Android OEM.
However, you might just be tempted to give the Arc a second thought, given Kobo is as we speak bumping up the tab’s software to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. That’s less than four months after the initial release, which is pretty impressive in our book.
The upgrade is rolling out OTA (over-the-air), so you should be getting a prompt message to download and install any minute now. If that doesn’t happen, feel free to head to Settings – About Device – Software Update and see if you can pull the new firmware manually.
While the Arc initially came with a skinned version of Android 4.0 ICS, seasoned with Kobo’s own Tapestries overlay, the 4.1 bump is fairly standard, bringing the already classic goodies to the table and not much else.
That means Project Butter performance enhancements for all, Google Now integration, richer, expanded notifications, an improved search and optimized voice recognition. Furthermore, the Arc will be getting Face Unlock too, a feature usually associated with ICS, but that didn’t come with the tab right off the bat.
While we still can’t imagine picking the Kobo Arc over Google’s Nexus 7, this is definitely a major step forward for the $200 tab. Also available in 32 and 64 GB flavors (going for $250 and $300 respectively), the 7-incher has a strong spec sheet, which includes a 1,280 x 800 pix res display, a dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, Wi-Fi and a 1.3 MP front-facing cam.
Unfortunately, there’s no microSD card slot, Bluetooth or GPS, so you can say Kobo came just short of having a hit on its hands. Maybe next time…