The $100 Kobo Nia is one of the cheapest ad-free readers for digitization your reading library, but it lacks many features that can greatly improve your reading experience. For just $30 more, the new Kobo Clara 2E brings better screen lighting that’s easier on the eyes, more two significant upgrades that should put a dent in the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5domination.
Although the $120 Kobo Clara HD offers more screen resolution with crisper text than the $100 Kobo Nia, as well as the ability to shift its screen illumination to warmer tones that are easier on the eyes and supposedly more auspicious fall asleep at night, the Clara HD was released in 2018 and is four years old at this point. Feature for feature, it is now well behind Kindle Paperwhite 5 that Amazon released last October. With the new Clara 2E, Kobo is finally catching up and more or less matching the best features of the Kindle Paperwhite 5, especially now that Amazon has limited ebook downloads to wifi connection only.
The Clara 2E is Kobo’s first six-inch eReader to be completely waterproof, allowing it to be used at the beach, by the pool, or in the bathtub. without the risk of falling into the water causing serious damage. Kobo claims the Clara 2E can survive up to 60 minutes submerged at depths of up to two meters, so when playing underthe water in the pool is totally plausible (if you’re bored practicing your snorkeling I guess)you still won’t want to take it on a deep sea dive.
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The other major upgrade for the Kobo Clara 2E is the addition of Bluetooth, enabling wireless headphones, wireless speaker or wireless connection to a car stereo to be used to enjoy the contents of an audio book, which can be downloaded directly to the eReader itself from Kobo’s online store.
One of the reasons to keep going with the Kindle Paperwhite 5 is that Amazon press a larger 6.8-inch 300 PPI screen by shrinking the eReader’s bezels, whereas the new Kobo Clara 2E sticks with a 6-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 display instead. That’s not a huge difference, and the Kobo arguably makes up for it by including 16GB of built-in storage instead of the Kindle’s 8GB. That’s more than enough storage for a lifetime of eBooks, but for those who use audiobooks, this increased storage will be welcome.
Kobo also points out that the casing of the new Clara 2E is made from more than 85% recycled plastic; of which 10% is (was?) plastic bound to the ocean. DHowever, devices like this still lack user-serviceable rechargeable batteries, which limits their lifespan and means they could end up being sent back to the old heap of plastic again later. If companies like Kobo really wanted to do something useful to help the environment, they would start designing products that can take advantage of new features and functionality through upgraded components, instead of encouraging us to completely replace devices it already works very good but are a bit outmoded.
The Kobo Clara 2E is available to pre-order now for $130, with official availability starting September 22. A $30 SleepCover is also available in 97% recycled plastic. That can be transformed into a standbut there is also a basic $20 SleepCover if you just want to hold your book while you read it.