Kobo recently announced two new e-reader’s in their existing line of e-reader models. In this article, we will look at what new features it has to offer. In addition to looking exclusively at the new models, we will also compare how it stacks up with their other model Libra H2O. The reason I chose Libra H2O for comparison with these two new models is based on popularity and price point. Therefore Kobo Forma and Kobo Elipsa are not discussed in this article
For someone new to e-readers, It could be overwhelming to decide whether to buy Amazon Kindle or Kobo. And then on top of that, once you have shortlisted the vendor you get further confused with the product lineup of that vendor to see which one you should go for. The following technical specifications for the three Kobo e-readers which are in the scope of this article will help you decide which specification you are looking for. This is helpful for both first-time buyers and existing users of Kobo e-readers. We will do a bit of drilling down on some of the features further in the article.
In terms of physical layout, both Sage and Libra 2 look the same. Sage looks a bit bigger as it has a 1-inch larger screen size than Libra 2. Libra H2O, on the other hand, is also similar except that it does not have bulgy look at the button area although it has curved edges like its newer counterparts. The following images will give you a basic idea of what to expect from each. Sage and Libra 2 have USB-C interfaces, and Libra H2O has a micro-USB interface. All three have page navigation buttons which is a very convenient feature.
All three of them have a textured back which is helpful while you are holding it and reading. This helps with a proper grip. Notice that all three of them have different patterns of texture. Kobo branding and the power button are the same on all of them.
The side profile of all three of them is the same except on Libra H2O it’s slightly extended and not almost flat to the surface. I like the slight elevation of Libra H2O as it helps in better ergonomics when you are reading in portrait mode. In landscape mode, they all have the same ergonomics.
Now let’s look at some of the new features that are touted with Sage and Libra 2 and understand which ones are worth going for and which ones you can bypass and save that extra cash for something else.
- Audiobook was the feature that none of the previous Kobo e-readers had. Not even their costliest model Elipsa. By introducing this new feature, Kobo has now closed the gap that Amazon Kindle was showing as a differentiator, and that too at a price much lower than what Amazon Kindle Oasis sells at if you pick Libra 2 for that.
However, the point is if this is even a deal-breaker. Will you upgrade to the newer Kobo model just for this feature alone? This is a personal choice, but I want to put the following points in my defense of the “not-so” deal-breaker of a feature. Please note that this justification is only valid for existing Kobo e-readers be it Libra H2O or Elipsa or Forma.
- Kobo App which you can install on any mobile device such as your phone, laptop, or tablet already supports audiobooks.
- Audiobooks are preferred when you just want to listen and not stare at the device. For this matter then it becomes irrelevant if you are using it via e-reader or through a mobile device. More so because audio is supported only via Bluetooth and there is no audio headphone jack you can use. Also, this use case mostly fits when you are commuting or just lying down with closed eyes but want to listen to the book for better concentration and reduced distraction.
- Likely hood of someone carrying a mobile phone is more than a laptop, tablet & e-reader. And since the progress is synced on all the devices, you can be sure to pick up on another device from where you left off.
Bluetooth is however not 5.0. So do not expect a more extensive range. Also, the Bluetooth interface does not have a rescan feature. So if you do not see your Bluetooth-enabled device in the first scan, you must go back and forth. So it’s a bit quirky at this point & maybe a firmware update in the future might fix that.
Sage gets stylus support, but it’s not included with the purchase, unlike Elipsa. When you add the stylus price (around S$60), the price difference between Sage and Elipsa will narrow down, and at that point, Elipsa may be a better choice for some considering that Elipsa has a screen size of 10.3″. E.g. The price of Elipsa in Singapore including GST is about S$230 more than Sage. This would reduce down to somewhere S$170. Still a big gap however it depends on the individual and how they look at the price difference.
The processor is the same in the case of both Libra 2 and Libra H2O. However, Sage gets a processor similar to Elipsa which is a big plus considering the price difference between Sage & Elipsa. Generally, for books, the processor difference will not be evident but when you try to read PDF files, especially with images that is when the processing power shines.
To conclude, here are my recommendations for the existing users with Libra H2O or Forma.
First-time users who want to get into the Kobo ecosystem:
- Go for Sage as it has the processor of Elipsa and you can peacefully read PDF and EPUB or any other format books without getting into performance issues. You also get stylus support which is not that costly but may not be for everyone as your finger can do just fine.
- If your budget is tight then Libra 2 is the obvious choice. Libra H2O does not make sense as the price is almost the same as Libra 2. However, watch out for discounts on Libra H2O & Forma, and if you get a difference of anything between 50-100 in your local currency of residence then you can buy Libra H2O / Forma if you do not care about Audiobooks. There is no significant difference between Libra H2O/Forma and Libra 2 (Forma being 1″ more significant on-screen though), so you can save some cash and use it for something more meaningful.
Existing users with Libra H2O:
- If you have the budget then upgrade to Sage. Upgrading to Libra 2 is a no-brainer. It cannot be called an upgrade unless you want Audiobooks and USB-C then it’s a different thing. The E-Ink Carta 1200 claims to be 20% sharper than the existing E-Ink Carta on Libra H2O, but in reality, you will not miss it.