The $100 Kobo Nia is one of the cheapest ad-free e-readers for digitize your reading library, but it lacks many features that can greatly improve your reading experience. For just $30 more, the new Kobo Clara 2E offers better screen lighting that’s better for the eyes, plus two major upgrades that should make a dent the Amazon Kindle Paper White 5dominance.
Although the $120 Kobo Clara HD Offering more screen resolution with sharper text than the $100 Kobo Nia, as well as the ability to shift the screen lighting to warmer shades that are easier on the eyes and presumably more conducive to falling asleep at night, the Clara HD was released in 2018 and is currently four years old. Feature by feature, it’s now far behind the Kindle Paper White 5 which Amazon released last October. With the new Clara 2E, Kobo is finally catching up and more or less matches the best features of the Kindle Paperwhite 5, especially now Amazon has limited ebook downloads to just a Wi-Fi connection.
The Clara 2E is Kobo’s first 6-inch e-reader that is completely waterproof, allowing it to be used at the beach, next to the pool or in the bathtub without the risk of falling into the water and causing serious damage. Kobo claims that the Clara 2E can survive underwater for up to 60 minutes at a depth of up to two meters, so when reading underwater in the pool is perfectly plausible (if you are bored while snorkeling I guess)you still don’t want to take it on a deep sea dive.
The other major upgrade for the Kobo Clara 2E is the addition of Bluetooth, allow wireless headphones, a wireless speaker, or a wireless connection to a car stereo to use to enjoy audiobook content, which can be downloaded directly to the e-reader itself from Kobo’s online store.
One reason to choose the Kindle Paperwhite 5 is that Amazon’s squeezed a larger 6.8-inch 300 PPI screen inside by shrinking the edges of the e-reader, where:as the new Kobo Clara 2E sticks with a 6-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 display instead. It’s not a huge difference, and the Kobo arguably makes up for it by including 16GB of onboard storage instead of the Kindle’s 8GB. That’s more than enough storage for a lifetime of ebooks, but for those who use audiobooks, that storage bump will be welcome.
Kobo also points out that the body of the new Clara 2E is made from more than 85 percent recycled plastic; 10% of that is (was?) ocean-bound plastic. dHowever, such devices still do not have user-serviceable rechargeable batteries, which limits their lifespan and means they might just be thrown back into the old plastic pile again soon. If companies like Kobo really wanted to do something useful to help the environment, they would design products that take advantage of new features and functionality through improved components, instead of encouraging us to completely replaced devices that already works fine but are a bit deprecated.
The Kobo Clara 2E is available to pre-order now for $130, with official availability starting September 22. A $30 SleepCover made from 97% recycled plastic is also available. It can turn into a boothbut there is also a $20 Basic SleepCover if you just want to hold your book while you read it.