After using an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for a good number of years, I finally caved in and bought a Kobo Clara 2E instead. Apart from missing out on the eBooks that I had in the Amazon ecosystem, it wasn’t much of an issue as most of my collections are pretty scattered – a mixture from Google Books, Kobo, Humble Bundle sales and others. It could be an issue for those who are heavily vested into Kindle eBooks. What piqued my curiosity was the Pocket and Overdrive functionalities in Kobo readers, not to mention, it is the first eco-friendly reader built from recycled plastics.
Why not buy an Android tablet or an iPad? Or even use my smartphone? To be honest, I did contemplate on those options and it will certainly reduce the number of electronic devices I owned. The fact that the reading experience is far nicer than on a smartphone/tablet screen as well as E-ink is a good approximation of paper, being far easier on the eyes, contributed to the decision. There are also no distractions like Tiktok, Youtube and advertisements that degrades your reading experience.
Why not the new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (Gen. 5)? Sure, it has a bigger screen and the hardware specifications are in everyway comparable. In some cases, it might even be cheaper than the Clara 2E. But I do not want to be restricted to Amazon ecosystem and live with the limited supported file formats. I want to have the option to borrow eBooks from the library (NLB) and better warranty support. To my knowledge, warranty for Kindle does not apply to Singapore, hence you will need to send back to the states, that is if you buy from Amazon. For some other sellers, they might just offer you a seller 7 day warranty or at best a 3 month warranty. Kobo offers a 1 year local warranty.
The Kobo Clara 2E
The Kobo Clara 2E is a 6 inch eBook reader with support for a wide range of formats – with the exception of AZW/AZW3 for Kindles. It supports EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBILE, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBR, JPEG, TIFF, just to name a few. It provides IPX8 waterproof protection for those who like to read in the bath or by the pool. There is also the Comfort Light Pro feature that lets you adjust the brightness and temperature of the screen for the transition from night time reading to bed.
Besides eBooks, it supports audiobooks as well, but those are limited to purchases via Kobo’s own store. As such, the reader comes with 16GB storage to store all those data. Although I have not tried audiobooks yet, it is a nice to have feature for the future. There is no headphone jack, I supposed in part due the waterproofing of the reader, your option for listening to audiobooks would be via Bluetooth audio devices (headset, earphones, speakers).
It sports a 1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, Wi-Fi, Blutetooth, 6″ E-ink display and weighs about 171g. The hardware is not top of the line but it is good enough. Text and images appear at a crisp, readable 300ppi on the latest E Ink Carta 1200 and most importantly, unlike its Kindle competitor, you don’t have to pay extra to remove lock-screen ads!
Kobo Clara HD vs Kobo Clara 2E
Though I do not have a Kobo Clara HD, based on specifications, Clara 2E seems to be a minor upgrade for folks who have no need for waterproofing and audiobooks capabilities. Clara 2E seems to be slightly smaller in physical size too. That being said, if you have to own the latest and be on the leading edge of technology, the price difference is about $20-30 SGD. But I would think that if you have a Clara HD, it should suffice for now.
What is inside the box? It comes with a small quick guide, the reader itself and an USB C cable. Covers are sold separately and not included.
The first thing I noticed during the unboxing was how light it is. Though eBook readers are supposed to be lighter than tablets and most smartphones, I was caught off-guard by it. It feels kind of “hollow”? Perhaps, I’m guessing, it could be the recycled plastic they used and the design in which they minimize the amount of plastic to build this device. It has a textured back for a better grip and comfortably hold and read with one hand. Nice.
I do like the placement of the power button. For most devices, they can be found at the sides, Kobo Clara 2E has it as a big, friendly, round button at the top right corner on the back. It feels more natural and avoids accidental triggers. Another thing I like is that USB-C port. It should be a standard for all modern device and Kobo didn’t disappoint in this area.
The initial font size is rather small when I load my first eBook but that is easily solved by tapping the top of the screen and then the ‘Aa’ icon. There will be a couple of sliders for font size, line spacing, margins and others. As compared to my experience with Kindle, Kobo Clara 2E offers more customization options.
While not a functional feature, it might appeal to some who are concerned about climate change and wanting to do their part. Kobo says the reader is built with 85% recycled plastic, which includes 10% ocean-bound plastic. The company states its goal in making this move is to divert over 200,000 plastic bottles from the oceans and to keep more than one million CDs and DVDs out of landfill sites over the next year. Their SleepCovers will also be made from recycled materials.
In my humble opinion, arresting climate change should not be just limited to recycling. It should also involve extending the life span of devices via reduce and re-use. From what I understand, Kobo do provide software updates to most of their legacy products, keeping them usable. We should give them credit for that too.
Overall, the Kobo Clara 2E is an excellent device with a highly attractive value proposition. No compromises had been made in quality to achieve that. At S$219 (retail), the Kobo Clara 2E is competitively priced and a solid alternative to Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Together with Pocket and OverDrive support to get free books from library, the Clara 2E would be a better deal if you are not too deep in Amazon ecosystem.
The Kobo Clara 2E is only available in one colour: black on front, with the back in ocean blue. Kobo has released two types of SleepCovers for it, which are made using recycled materials. The basic version act as a basic flip cover at (S$29+) while the other can act as a flip cover and a stand at (S$49+).