Innovative Gadgets

Judging books by their covers is now extra enjoyable

Kobo isn’t the primary on the color-ereader scene; Boox and Pocketbook have had shade ereaders and tablets for years. Each of these corporations make lovely, premium gadgets which might be extremely succesful and customizable — however they don’t supply the plug-and-play ereader expertise of a Kindle or Kobo. Of all of the ereaders I’ve tried over the previous 12 months, I’ve discovered Kobos do the most effective job of mixing a user-friendly interface with high quality {hardware}. And now that {hardware} has a brand new trick with a shade display on the Clara Color.

It’s noteworthy that Kobo beat Kindle to the punch in getting a shade ereader out the door. To be honest, Amazon is busy doing, properly, all the things, but it surely’s secure to wager {that a} shade Kindle will likely be coming quickly. For now, although, Kobo’s Clara Color is the consumer-friendly shade ereader to beat. A beefier processor makes it zippier than its already-fast predecessor, and the addition of shade seems pretty, with out detracting from the crisp and easy-to-read textual content. I’ll admit, I’m not an ereader diehard; I usually return to my old flame, print. However a number of weeks with Kobo’s newest has me extra excited than ever about studying on this cozy, easy machine.


Kobo’s Clara Color has a phenomenal construct, a beautiful shade display and a useful and speedy working system. It’s the colour ereader to beat proper now…till we see what Amazon does.


  • Quicker processor makes menus load rapidly
  • Shade display makes guide covers pop
  • Glorious iIntegration with native libraries
  • OS makes it straightforward to search out books and customise settings
  • Permits entry to third-party ePub books

  • Display isn’t as sharp or vivid because the earlier era
  • Kobo’s library isn’t as giant as Amazon’s

$150 at Rakuten Kobo

Most e-paper gadgets depend on a show made by E Ink. The Clara Color makes use of the corporate’s new Kaleido 3 panel, which provides a printed Shade Filter Array (CFA) layer on prime of the prevailing black-and-white microcapsule layer. The colour layer can show round 4,000 colours, with a decision of 150 dpi. To be clear, a full shade web page on the Clara Color seems nothing like what you’d get from essentially the most fundamental LED display. E-paper colours are muted and saturated, harking back to ‘70s comedian guide covers. However, additionally in contrast to LED, E Ink shade panels really look higher beneath vivid mild.

The Kobo Clara Colour and the Kobo Clara 2E sit side by side. The Kobo Clara Colour and the Kobo Clara 2E sit side by side.

Evaluating the 2 generations on the similar settings. Kobo Clara Color (left) is hotter and barely dimmer at 100% than the Kobo Clara 2E (proper). (Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget)

The monochrome microcapsule layer creates sharp, 300 dpi textual content, similar because the earlier era. However set side-by-side with the Clara 2E, the Clara Color’s web page does look much less sharp. Get near the display and also you’ll discover noise within the white elements of the web page. The nice and cozy entrance mild is extra amber, too. That’s the character of the colour filter array: because it’s all the time there, any textual content you learn is filtered via that layer. I’ve to emphasize that it’s solely one thing I seen as a result of I’m penning this assessment and digging deep into the efficiency as in comparison with the earlier era. Relating to really studying, I discovered I most well-liked the softer, hotter impact of the Color. It jogs my memory of the pulpy mass-market Stephen King and Anne Rice paperbacks I grew up studying.

Kobo’s customization choices aren’t overly concerned, however they grant sufficient management so you may change issues just like the typeface, font dimension, line spacing and margin width, in addition to brightness and light-weight heat. On the skin, the Kobo Clara 2E and the Clara Color look almost similar. The display is barely extra recessed on the Color mannequin and the soft-touch plastic is extra textured, which is definitely a profit as a result of it reveals fewer fingerprints. The centimeter-wide bezels are simply large enough in your thumb, which, together with the textured again, makes the reader straightforward to carry from totally different positions. It’s sufficiently small I can grip it across the again, however I’ve bigger palms, so which may not work for everybody.

With an IPX8 score, the Clara Color can deal with full submersion in water. I haven’t gone that far with this assessment unit, however I did survive once I by accident splashed water on it when washing my palms within the rest room. Why was it within the rest room? As a result of I stash my guide close to the bathroom so I don’t sit there and stare at my cellphone. It’s the tactic that bought me studying once more after I had a child and was briefly satisfied I’d by no means end one other guide. I heartily suggest it, notably with a studying machine like this one that may deal with the watery surroundings of a restroom.

The Kobo Clara Colour and a trade paperback display the same page of a book. The Kobo Clara Colour and a trade paperback display the same page of a book.

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

The Clara Color’s new chip makes loading menus, performing searches and flipping pages a contact sooner than with the earlier era. The pace improve doesn’t quantity to a drastically totally different expertise, however faster web page turns maintain the motion going. Like if Murderbot is defending its people from HostileSecUnit1 and all of a sudden there’s one other SecUnit on the backside of the web page, that you must know as quick as technologically doable what goes down subsequent. Searching for a brand new guide and testing previews is speedier, too, one thing I respect when all the things on my dutifully curated TBR record seems like broccoli and I would like ice cream.

The UX is identical as all Kobos that don’t help stylus enter, with simply 4 choices alongside a backside menu bar: Residence, My Books, Uncover and Extra. Uncover takes you to the Kobo retailer, the place you may search for ebooks, audiobooks and titles from KoboPlus, the corporate’s month-to-month subscription for limitless entry to a number of books (aka Kobo’s reply to Amazon Limitless).

Uncover’s suggestion part has a working record of titles referred to as Only for You and, beneath Associated Reads, suggests books you would possibly like primarily based on works you’ve completed. The connective threads between the titles isn’t something stunning, however they provide a very good place to begin should you’re noodling on what to learn subsequent.

The Kobo Clara Colour sits on concrete in full sun. The Kobo Clara Colour sits on concrete in full sun.

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Kobo’s deep integration with OverDrive enables you to borrow any title your native library has accessible with just some seconds of setup and a library card. Clicking the three dots close to the Purchase button on any guide brings up the choice to borrow (or place a maintain on) the book out of your library. I like how deeply Kobo helps the characteristic, inserting one thing free and public on par with paid books and subscriptions.

Different options are good to have, like gathering your Pocket articles from the online so you may learn them later within the extra centered surroundings of your Kobo. There’s additionally a beta internet browser that I used to search for the Wikipedia entry on the Mason-Dixon line once I learn Percival Everett’s James and the one for rook (the chook) when studying Tana French’s The Hunter. The browser’s not geared up for heavy browsing, however that’s a very good factor. The additional effort it takes to browse retains me heading in the right direction with my studying. On the similar time, I’m completely happy to dig up slightly background data with out choosing up my cellphone, the place the distractions are plentiful and compulsive.

There’s no escaping the truth that a Kobo ereader just isn’t a Kindle. However the benefits Kindle has over Kobo are largely within the availability of titles, not in {hardware}. The Kobo Clara Color is most instantly similar to the usual Kindle. They’ve the identical fundamental form, the identical dimension display with 300 dpi textual content and 16GB of storage. However the Kindle is $50 cheaper.

Nevertheless! Amazon’s machine will serve you advertisements on the lockscreen and it prices $20 additional to take away them. It’s additionally not waterproof and has no heat mild. No Kindle has a shade show but, however there are many rumors suggesting that transfer is (fairly clearly) on the horizon. For now, although, shade is one other level in Kobo’s favor.

That stated, should you’ve spent the previous decade amassing a small library on Amazon, you gained’t have the ability to entry it on a Kobo with out some main, quasi-unlawful finagling. I solely have a number of Kindle titles from my previous, so beginning over with Kobo didn’t really feel like a loss.

Amazon’s book retailer is bigger than Kobo’s, boosted by Kindle Direct Publishing exclusives and self-published books. Kobo has its personal self-publishing program, but it surely’s far smaller. That stated, each in-print guide from a significant writer will present up in each the Kindle and the Kobo retailer. Each title I’ve looked for within the Kobo retailer was available.

The Kobo Clara Colour is propped up on a shelf with decorative doodads nearby. The device displays the cover of a fantasy novel. The Kobo Clara Colour is propped up on a shelf with decorative doodads nearby. The device displays the cover of a fantasy novel.

Photograph by Amy Skorheim / Engadget

Amazon’s subscription program, Kindle Limitless, is greater too, with 4 million mixed audio- and book titles accessible. Comparatively, Kobo Plus at the moment claims 1.5 million ebooks and 150,000 audiobooks. Kobo’s plan is a tad cheaper at $10 per 30 days to each learn and pay attention, or $8 for ebooks solely. Kindle Limitless is $12 month-to-month and provides you entry to each codecs. Neither subscription consists of bestselling titles from main authors, however there’s nonetheless lots to select from.

Nevertheless, Kobo’s book entry does outmatch Kindle’s in two methods: the power to buy third-party shops and a better OverDrive expertise. Amazon makes use of its personal digital rights administration (DRM) know-how, whereas most everybody else depends on Adobe’s DRM. Meaning should you purchase a guide from most main publishers on a third-party website (like or Google Books), you gained’t have the ability to learn the ePub file in your Kindle. There are a number of additional steps for studying these titles on a Kobo, but it surely’s straightforward sufficient. As for OverDrive, studying public library books on a Kindle isn’t arduous, however you need to first go to OverDrive’s or your library’s website, discover your guide and choose “learn on Kindle” because the supply choice. With a Kobo, you click on the three dots subsequent to Purchase, choose Borrow and begin studying seconds in a while the identical machine.

The large query is whether or not the addition of shade makes the Kobo Clara Color higher and definitely worth the $10 over the earlier era. The sooner processor alone makes up for the value hike and the waterproof construct, heat entrance lights and lack of advertisements makes for a extra premium ereader that justifies the $50 value disparity between the Clara Color and the essential Kindle.

As for the colour display, it doesn’t make a lot distinction once you’re studying a typical book. And the additional layer does add some noise to the whitespace and provides all the things a hotter glow. However I didn’t thoughts the minute drop in readability and truly most well-liked the softer, cozier look of the web page. Colours look pretty on the guide covers in my assortment and beneficial titles draw me to them with their muted blues and washed out reds.

You’ve most likely heard of that trick the place you turn your cellphone’s display to grayscale to scale back its enchantment. It appears to truly work, so I’ve to think about the other is true, too. Something that makes studying materials extra enticing — and higher in a position to compete with the technicolor onslaught of digital distraction — is a win in my guide.

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