Which Kobo to choose? The guide to all models

Which Kobo to choose? The guide to all models

Kobo is the line of ebook readers that is proposed as an alternative to the Kindle. While sharing the same panel technology – made by E-ink Holdings – they differ in design, software interface and additional features. In principle, the Japanese giant Rakuten which produces the Kobo over time has not only managed to keep up with Amazon but has often anticipated its moves by first implementing new technologies and services. However, an e-book reader can rest assured that Kobo and Kindle represent the cutting edge of the industry.

Currently the Rakuten line is declined in Kobo Nia, Kobo Clara 2E, Kobo Libra 2, Kobo Sage and Kobo Elipsa; even if online you can still buy the Kobo Libra H2O and the Kobo Clara HD in various stores. It should also be remembered that the colored SleepCovers - really well made - and the Kobo Stylus pen for Sage and Elipsa are available as accessories.

Before going into the details of the differences, we can mention the common features that make this family a valid alternative to the Kindle. In terms of design they tend to be more refined, while Amazon aims above all at essentiality and minimalism. Certainly the tastes among users may differ, but the Kobos are prettier, if only for the choice of knurling the back with an elegant motif and positioning the power button on the back in a recess, where the camera would normally be located in a tablet.

This cleaning of forms is also found in the software interface. Certainly we are not faced with lunar differences compared to the Kindle world, but a little more care is perceived with small information details that improve usability. An example? In the library section ( My books ) not only texts and authors are listed with related covers, but also the format, the weight in Megabytes and the time remaining for completion. The menus are more orderly and intuitive. When selecting a term on the text the context menu offers a search on Wikipedia, Google, on the book itself and possibly also the translation. It also happens on the Kindle but the Kobo interface is easier and more elegant. Not to mention the automatic orientation of the text, when you rotate the device, on all models (except Nia) as on tablets. The final feeling is that the Kobo interface is more evolved, pleasant and in step with the times.

Procurement libraries

The first concern of an ebook reader is where to buy the books and above all in what format. Kobo offers its own library (eBookStore), but excluding compatibility with all the most popular e-book formats (with the exception of the proprietary Amazon), it has signed partnerships with Mondadori, La Feltrinelli, Ibs and Libraccio. In short, you have two options: buy from any online bookstore or from one of the affiliated ones, perhaps by linking your account later. The substance is that you are freer, while with Kindle you tend to buy for convenience on Amazon. But all told, there is no difference since all bookstores always have the same discounts.

Kobos natively support epub, epub3, flepub, pdf, mobi, jpeg, gif, png, bmp, tiff formats , txt, html, rtf, cbz and cbr. Not to mention the proprietary kepub format which allows you to improve the fluidity of page switching and activate some more functions. Usually, however, ebooks are widely in epub format.

There is also the Kobo app which allows the purchase and use of electronic books on Apple and Android devices. However, Rakuten underlines that " the purchase function is not available on iPhone and iPad. The ebooks can be purchased on the web and synchronized on the Apple device".

To transfer the ebooks purchased perhaps from a PC or Mac, it is sufficient connect the Kobo via usb cable . Or activate the Dropbox account on the reader (except Nia) and proceed via the cloud. However, it should be remembered that when dealing with DRM-protected ebooks, you need to proceed with the authentication provided by the free Adobe Digital Edition software.

Then there is also – along the lines of Kindle Unlimited – Kobo Plus, a subscription from 9.99 euros per month to read all the books you want by selecting from a library of hundreds of thousands of books. If desired, there is also the version with audiobooks (over 10,000), again at 9.99 euros per month. By combining its services, the price becomes 12.99 euros per month. Of course, you can try each service for free for 30 days.

Finally, there is a great advantage of almost the entire Kobo line: there is bluetooth support and compatibility with the reproduction of audiobooks in Kobo format is ensured. Well yes, Amazon in Italy continues to persist in not unlocking this function on Kindles.

Kobo Nia, the ultra-portable with a competitive price

The Nia features a Carta e-ink screen 6-inch screen with a resolution of 212 pixels per inch (1024 x 758 pixels). The dimensions are 112.4 x 159.3 x 9.2 mm, while the weight is 172 grams. The Comfort Light front lighting system is monochromatic but the brightness is adjustable. It is based on a 900 MHz processor, supported by 8 GB of memory (about 6,000 ebooks), Wi-Fi 5 and a micro-USB port. The battery is 1000 mAh and should provide about two weeks of autonomy. Too bad it lacks bluetooth support and therefore audiobooks.

The Kobo Nia is truly the basic model, super portable and ideal for those with basic needs. However, it lacks liquid resistance and the competition has already moved to higher resolutions. To be purchased only if the price is inviting. €94.99 - buy on amazon

Kobo Clara 2E, ideal for the whole family

The Clara 2E, which we reviewed recently, features a 6-inch Carta e-ink screen with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch (1448 x 1072 pixels). The dimensions are 112.05 x 159.3 x 8.66 mm, while the weight is 171 grams. The Comfort LightPro front lighting system is advanced: it allows for both color and brightness adjustment. It relies on a 1 GHz processor, coupled with 16 GB of memory, dual-band Wi-Fi 5, bluetooth and usb-c port. The battery is 1500 mAh and should ensure about three weeks of autonomy. For audiobooks, you need to pair a speaker, headphones or wireless earphones. Do not miss the Ipx8 waterproof certificate, which ensures protection for up to 60 minutes in 2 meters of water.

The Kobo Clara 2E is the most recommended entry-level model, as it is fluid and equipped with every function. may need. Great for the whole family, even considering the wide autonomy. €129.99 - buy on amazon

Kobo Libra 2 for the avid reader

The Libra 2 features a 7-inch Carta e-ink screen with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. The dimensions are 144.6 x 161.6 x 9 mm, while the weight is 215 grams. The front lighting system is similar to that of the Clara 2E: it allows for both color and brightness adjustment. It relies on a 1 GHz processor, coupled with 32 GB of memory, dual-band Wi-Fi 5, bluetooth and usb-c port. The battery is 1500 mAh and should ensure about two / three weeks of autonomy. Also in this case for audiobooks it is necessary to combine a speaker, headphones or wireless earphones. Do not miss the Ipx8 waterproof certificate, which ensures protection for up to 60 minutes in 2 meters of water.

The Kobo Libra 2 is the ideal model for digital book lovers, with a more comfortable shape to hold and also with two useful side keys for page scrolling. It needs a large pocket - too large for jeans - but it pays off amply with the large screen. €180 - buy on amazon

Kobo Sage, reading and notes by hand with a pen

The Sage is undoubtedly the sedan from Rakuten with an 8-inch Carta e-ink screen with a resolution of 300 ppi. Also in this case brightness and color temperature are adjustable. The dimensions are 160.5 x 181.4 x 7.6 mm, while the weight reaches 240.8 grams. The transportability compared to the other models is therefore reduced a bit, but the Ipx8 certified waterproofing is still confirmed. At the hardware level, the performance threshold rises a lot since it mounts a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor and the reason is also due to the fact that this line supports handwriting of the Kobo Stylus (optional) on ebook epub, kepub and pdf (free of rights or limited licenses). It is a capacitive pen, therefore capable of recognizing pressure (4096 levels), which is powered by an AAAA battery. It also has two keys: one for activating the highlighter, the other for deleting. The notepad also allows the conversion of handwriting into digital text in txt, html and doc formats. There is also support for Kobo audiobooks and also Dropbox, not to mention Wi-Fi 5, bluetooth and usb-c. The battery is 1200 mAh and should ensure about two/three weeks of autonomy.

Overall, the Kobo Sage is an excellent product, probably more compatible with a train ride, reading at home and long journeys than the daily commute. The handwriting option is useful. In summary it offers a premium experience, even with comics. €259.99 - buy on amazon

Kobo Elipsa, the top of the 10.3-inch range

The Elipsa is the top of the range of the Kobo family but, as we found in our review, it must be considered a specialist product more than a common e-reader. The key detail is that it features a 10.3-inch e-in screen with a resolution of 227 ppi. The dimensions are in fact 193 x 227.5 x 7.6 mm and the weight 382 grams. In short, it is portable as a tablet would be. Unfortunately the lighting system is only one color with brightness adjustment. After that it shares all the features of the Sage, therefore Wi-Fi 5, usb-c, 32 GB of storage, bluetooth, handwriting support, compatibility with Kobo audiobooks and Dropbox support. It mounts two 1500 mAh batteries and therefore should ensure about two / three weeks of autonomy. The package also includes Kobo Stylus and SleepCover.

The Kobo Elipsa is a model for enthusiasts, but especially recommended for those looking for a very large panel. Professionals might think about it, but they should also weigh the productivity-enhancing benefits of traditional tablets. €399.99 - buy on amazon

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