Rakuten Kobo is bringing e-readers back to life in India by introducing a range of devices that cater to different budgets and personal preferences. The goal is to reignite the dwindling community of book lovers. Following its initial debut in India in 2013, the Canadian company is now offering three unique eReaders, each tailored for specific purposes and user profiles. Without wasting any time, let’s dive into the review and see how these eReaders stack up against the Amazon Kindle lineup.
Kobo Libra 2
The Kobo Libra 2 is the most expensive eReader among the new devices launched in the Indian market. It can be compared to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 2021 Edition. The Kindle is known for its asymmetrical design, and the Libra 2 concept takes it to a whole new level, which works in their favor. Looking at the Kobo eReader lineup, the Libra 2 feels more polished and premium despite its all-plastic build. The Libra 2 has a square shape with a thicker side bezel that makes it easy to hold with one hand. There are two large buttons on this side for flipping pages up and down. Next to them is the USB Type C port placed on the edge along with a charging indicator LED. The rear panel of the Libra 2 is textured, offering a very good grip.
The Kobo Libra 2 features a 7-inch E Ink Carta 1200 screen. This display accepts touch, making it easy to navigate the menu. It gets plenty bright with the company’s patented ComfortLight Pro screen technology. Like other Kobo eReaders, the brightness can be adjusted on screen via a slider on the top menu bar or by sliding a finger along the display beside the thick bezel. There are no ambient light sensors, but the ability to set the light temperature to change from cool to warm or vice versa is present.
We spent two weeks with the Kobo Libra 2 and the overall experience was enjoyable. The Reader is powered by a 1GHz processor with plenty of RAM and storage, and during our limited use, regardless of file size, we never found the device to slow down, hang, or lag.
The content on the Libra 2 can be set in either landscape or portrait mode, or locked into either orientation. No matter how you like to read, the text on the screen rotates instantaneously. The screen renders copy in sharp lettering, with several font sizes to choose from. You can even change the font to any of the default options or sideload your preferred ones without a hassle, something that is missing on the Amazon Kindle range.
The reader supports over 15 file formats including PDF, JPEG, GIF, TXT, comic fonts, and more. The UX of the Reader is polished, and it’s easy to switch to dark mode if you’re a fan of it. Your saved content is curated under the My Books section, while the Discover section offers a plethora of content to read or listen to. Yes, the Libra 2 supports both WiFi and Bluetooth, which allows you to listen to audiobooks on this eReader. To do this, you need to pair a Bluetooth headset with the Libra 2. The presence of WiFi also enhances the experience as you can browse the web directly from the device, although it’s not the ideal device for internet browsing.
With the sizable 1,500mAh battery, the Libra 2 can easily last over 50 hours on a single use. Topping up the battery using the supplied charger takes close to an hour.
Priced at INR 19,999, the Kobo Libra 2 is not cheap and not suitable for everyone. It features a bright E-Ink display, a functional design, plenty of storage, audiobook support, and a cleaner UX. The Libra 2 is an excellent choice for people who need a large eReader that is feature-packed and allows you to sideload a wide variety of content. That’s the feature that justifies the premium price tag.
Kobo Clara 2E
The Kobo Clara 2E is a compact ebook reader with a traditional design. Its chassis is made of ocean recycled plastic, and the packaging is also environmentally friendly. The ebook reader is slim and features a wavy pattern etched on the back panel, which enhances grip. The Clara 2E boasts a 6-inch E Ink Carta 1200 display that is crisp and sufficiently bright. The display is surrounded by chunky bezels in all directions, making it easier to hold the device without accidentally flipping through pages.
Similar to the Libra 2, the Kobo Clara 2E offers exciting features such as audiobook support, a USB-C port, and a power button on the back panel. However, it lacks the page-flipping buttons found on the Libra 2, but compensates with an IPX8 dust and water resistance rating. The software on the Clara 2E is similar to that of the Libra 2, and the ebook reader performs just as smoothly.
With a 1,500mAh battery, the Kobo Clara 2E can last 4-5 weeks with 2 hours of daily use. Although slightly less than the battery life of the Libra 2, the price difference between the two models cannot be ignored. Using the included charger, the Kobo Clara 2E takes a little over 2 hours to fully charge.
Priced at INR 14,999, the Kobo Clara 2E is an excellent choice for those new to the world of ebooks. Its smaller size allows for easy transport in a backpack, it features a user-friendly interface, 16GB of storage, and has an eco-friendly footprint. Additionally, it offers the option to play audiobooks.
The Kobo Nia offers no new design features. It closely resembles the Clara 2E and the 2022 Kindle, with a plastic chassis and a grippy texture on the back adorned with Rakuten and Kobo branding. The only button on the device is located on the bottom edge and functions as both the sleep and power button. Additionally, it has a microUSB charging port which may be considered outdated in today’s standards.
The Kobo Nia is equipped with a 6-inch display that features a backlight and a resolution of 1024×758 pixels. Its user interface is similar to other Kobo ebook readers, but it lacks support for audiobooks. Although the Kobo Nia boasts a 1GHz processor, navigating through the menu may not be as smooth as with other ebook readers in Rakuten’s lineup.
The Kobo Nia comes with a smaller 1,000mAh battery that lasts approximately four weeks on a single charge with around one hour of daily use. This battery life may vary depending on factors such as lower brightness settings and WiFi disconnection. When charged using a regular wall charger, the Kobo Nia takes approximately two hours to reach full battery capacity.
Priced at INR 10,999, the Kobo Nia is slightly more expensive compared to the Amazon Kindle 2022 edition, which offers similar specifications. The main advantages of the Kobo Nia over the Amazon Kindle are its user-friendly interface and open ecosystem.
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