Whether you're a casual reader or a complete bookworm, Readers like the Kobo Clara 2E are the ultimate accessory for anyone who enjoys a good book. And why wouldn't you love an eReader, they're small, compact and can hold thousands of books, so there's always something new to read when you've finished your latest page-turner.
But when it comes to eReaders, Amazon has absolutely dominated the market with their line of Kindles. Despite Kobo producing high-quality eReaders since 2010, its latest offering is good enough to rival the Kindle and could be the one to convince you it's time to leave the Amazon eco-system for good.
The Kobo Clara 2E sits neatly alongside its predecessor, the Clara HD. Although it's reduced its screen size to 6-inch, it has upgraded to the latest eInk technology, ensuring you get an almost paper-like experience when reading. Kobo has also listened to its users who want to be able to read by the pool or in the bath by making this model fully waterproof. And for users who'd rather listen to their books than read, the integrated Bluetooth solves all their problems. This eReader is also aimed at those who want to be more eco-conscious when buying their gadgets. It’s the first eReader ever to be made using recycled plastics.
I tested the Kobo Clara 2E for two weeks, reading books and listening to audiobooks for around one hour daily. I used it in various settings to see how well it performed in different lights and, of course, to see just how good the battery is and how easy it is to use when out and about.
Screen size: 6” HD e-Ink
Storage capacity: 16GB
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 ac/b/g/n (dual band) / Bluetooth
Special features: Waterproof, Comfort LightPro
Hard disk form factor: MicroSD card for internal storage
Size: 112.05 x 159.02 x 8.66 mm
Kobo Clara 2E: Design and display
Before you even take the Kobo Clara 2E out of the box, you can see how compact this little eReader is. Initially, I was concerned that the six-inch display would be a bit too small to read on, but after just a few days of usage, it feels just right. The size also means it's a great choice for anyone who likes to read on their commute or travels a lot as it can quite easily fit in the pocket of your handbag or even your coat.
The screen benefits from 300dpi resolution, which offers sharp, crisp text. The screen on this model has been updated to include the latest E Ink Carta 1200, meaning it's fast and responsive when flicking pages. There are also plenty of settings where you can adjust the font and size, so you don't miss that bigger screen.
There is no landscape mode on the Clara 2E, which is something that the Kobo Libra and Sage do so well, but unless you're used to reading books in landscape mode, you'll probably not find this much of an issue at all.
Getting around this Kobo is also very straightforward. You simply swipe left or right to move through the pages or tap the middle of the screen to pull up the menu options. The 1GHz processor is the only thing that lets this Kobo down, as there is a slight lag when moving through the menus, but it's not bad enough that it will ruin your reading experience.
Design-wise, this is a well-made eReader. It has a textured back for a better grip. It's also made using 85% of recycled plastics, with 10% of that being ocean-bound, so you can feel a bit smug that you're actually doing your part to save the planet. I did think that recycled plastics may make it feel a bit flimsy, but it doesn't look or feel any different, in fact, it's nice to handle. The Clara 2E measures just 112.05 x 159.02 x 8.66 mm and weighs 117 grams, making it one of the smallest and lightest eReaders on the market. And because of its petite size, you can comfortably hold and control it with just one hand.
The Kobo Clara 2E is only available in one colour: black on the front, with the back being ocean blue. But if you do want to add some colour, Kobo has released a range of SleepCovers to accompany this model, which are made using recycled materials.
Kobo Clara 2E: Features
The Kobo Clara 2E has a 1GHz dual processor, 16GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM, making it more powerful than its predecessor, the Clara HD.
Another massive upgrade from the previous model is that this eReader is now completely waterproof. That's good news for anyone who likes to read on the beach, by the pool or even while having a soak in the tub. It has a rating of IPX8, so it is waterproof for up to 60 minutes in a maximum of two meters of water. But be aware you'll be unable to use the touchscreen while underwater, so if you're planning to stop for a read during your next scuba-diving session, think again.
One of my favourite features of this eReader is the inclusion of Kobo's ComfortLight Pro. While it is easy to adjust the brightness manually, ComfortLight Pro provides automatic colour changes throughout the day. It's based on the time of day, not the lighting, but it's a great way of reducing the amount of blue-light exposure, and it makes a huge difference when reading before bed.
The Kobo Clara 2E now supports audiobooks, which is another crucial feature upgrade. There are no built-in speakers, so you have to use the Bluetooth function to connect to your wireless headphones or smart speakers. I found it connected quickly, and the sound was perfect, even at higher volumes.
Regarding battery life, Kobo rates it in weeks rather than hours, and I have to say it left me a little disappointed. I used this Kobo for around an hour daily to read and listen to audiobooks. After two weeks, the battery life was a little over 25%. But this could be because of audiobook usage. However, if you're an avid reader or planning on taking it on holiday, make sure you take a charger because you may have to charge it a lot sooner than you would with other Kobo models. That being said, it uses USB-C for charging, so you won't need a separate charger if you take it on holiday, saving you even more space in your suitcase.
There are also plenty of features to play around with whilst you have your book open. You can find out the meaning of any word by simply clicking on it and holding it until the menu appears. You can do the same thing if you want to add notes to your book; just drag the cursor along to highlight the passage and click add notes. This is handy for students or if you just want to remember something for later.
And finally, if you have the Kobo reading app downloaded on your smartphone or tablet, this will auto sync with your eReader, so you can pick up your book where you left off even if you've left your Clara 2E at home.
Kobo Clara 2E: eBook and audiobook experience
Reading on the Clara 2E is a comfortable experience. The whole layout is completely customisable, and with over 50 font styles and the option to change the line type, font size and margins, you’ll have the perfect setup every time. Audiobooks also work very well, they have a good volume range and sound crystal clear.
I do have to tell you something that I absolutely love about Kobo’s, and that is the built-in support for local libraries. It uses its own software called Overdrive, and so long as you’re a library member, you can borrow books from there and have them sent directly to your Kobo eReader. Once you’ve set up your account, then you just need to find a book you want to read from your local library’s catalogue, and it’ll give you a time limit for the loan. Once the time has expired, the book will simply disappear from your borrowed items list, saving you plenty of money on those late return fees.
Kobo has also teamed up with Pocket, so you can save articles from the web to read on your Kobo when it suits you. Just add the Pocket extension to your browser and save articles as you see them.
If you’re worried about whether the Kobo library can rival the likes of Amazon, then don’t. The Kobo store has around 600,000 eBooks and 94,000 audiobooks and those numbers are growing daily with new releases. But that’s not the only thing, unlike Amazon, where you’re limited to what can be downloaded from the Amazon store, Kobo supports over 15 file formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG and PNG. The e Ink Carta screen also makes it an ideal choice for those who enjoy Manga.
The one disappointment is that the Kobo+ subscription isn’t available in the UK at the moment. Kobo+ is very similar to Amazon Unlimited, where you pay a monthly fee for an unlimited amount of downloads. However, if you’re in Canada, Belgium or the Netherlands, you can access this feature.
Kobo Clara 2E: Price
The Kobo Clara 2E costs £129/ $159 / AU$229.95, just £10 more than the previous Clara HD model. However, it’s worth the extra money because you get many new features, including waterproofing, audiobook support and an upgraded processor. It’s also cheaper than the latest Kindle Paperwhite and has double the memory. Overall, a pretty good deal and Kobo often participate in seasonal sales such as Black Friday, so you could get an even better deal if you shop around. Plus, I think it’s important to factor in that this is an eco-friendly eReader and the more people who support it could push the industry to make more of these items with recycled plastic.
Should you buy the Kobo Clara 2E?
The Kobo Clara 2E has everything that you could want from an eReader. Aside from being lightweight and super compact, it’s also eco-friendly, thanks to the chassis being made from 85% of recycled plastics. This is a credible competitor for the Kindle, and if you’re trying to reduce your reliance on Amazon, then it’s the perfect option.
The inclusion of audiobook support is what makes this eReader stand out. It’s a budget eReader with high-end features, so if you can’t afford the Libra or Sage and are happy to forgo the extra screen space, the Clara E2 is for you.
The processor could be better, but the lag isn’t that bad, in fact, after a while, you don’t even notice it. It would be nice if it had the same gyroscope technology as some of the other Kobo models to allow users to read in landscape mode and enjoy that extra margin space, but unless that’s something you’re used to already using, you won’t miss it.
If you currently own a Kobo Clara or even an Amazon Paperwhite, then unless you need the audiobook or waterproof features, there’s little point in upgrading. But if you want to treat yourself or you’re heading off on holiday and plan to sit around the pool reading, then go for it and upgrade, you won’t be disappointed.