The newest pair of e-readers from Kobo present a modest however noticeable improve to the show, stylus help and Bluetooth for listening to audiobooks however take a step down in construct high quality from the admirable Forma. But the brand new capabilities could also be definitely worth the improve, and the Libra 2 particularly makes for a gorgeous little bundle.

The units are successors to the Forma and Libra H2O, the forma of which (forgive me) has been my each day driver since I cracked the display of my beloved Boox Poke 3. The important variations between the 2 new readers is dimension; many of the different options are the identical. At $260 and $180 the Sage and Libra 2 aren’t low cost, although I feel a minimum of the latter is value contemplating in case you use an e-reader commonly and like audiobooks and Pocket.

The most seen new function is the display, which is the most recent Carta 1200 E Ink show. Both readers have 300 ppi, which is greater than sufficient to make the textual content look sharp. Comparing the older Forma to the Sage (as they’ve very comparable builds) I used to be stunned to seek out that the brand new display actually does make a distinction; the distinction is noticeably improved and the Forma’s letters appeared barely gray subsequent to the a lot darker Sage’s. Both look glorious, to be clear, however the brand new display is an enchancment.

Operation is far the identical as earlier units, although the upgraded internals imply these are a bit faster to wake, navigate and reorientate while you flip them. Once in a e book, web page turns took about the identical period of time as older units, which is to say almost no time in any respect even when skipping just a few at a time. But when loading an entire new a part of the e book I discovered the outdated Forma is definitely sooner. All of this to say it’s fantastic however don’t count on iPad-like fluidity out of those or any e-reader.

Image Credits: Kobo

The audiobooks are a brand new factor for Kobo and the brand new units have Bluetooth connections to make it potential — no audio system. Syncing a pair was as straightforward as it’s on some other machine, and from there I listened to a little bit of one of many included books from Kobo’s retailer (you’ll be able to’t load your individual, for now) and it was just about as anticipated. You can velocity up and decelerate playback, skip ahead and backward, and it retains your house in case you disconnect or shut it down. Audio high quality was fantastic, other than the same old small glitches that occur with accelerated playback.

Using a stylus on a tool this dimension has by no means appeared sensible to me, however I can actually see it is likely to be helpful for an editor or one thing who likes to mark up their books. I discovered on the Elipsa that the performance is … properly, practical. Nothing fancy, just some methods to straight mark up your books and paperwork. An emblem or notation-based approach so as to add notes you’ll be able to reference later (like Sony’s stars) could be good, however they’re simply getting began. At any fee the stylus works simply fantastic, however since there’s no place to place it you’ll most likely lose it in brief order.

The Sage ereader on a table next to a laptop.

Image Credits: Kobo

Both units have gotten thicker than their predecessors, presumably to accommodate the brand new {hardware} and stylus detection layer. It’s not an enchancment, in my view, and the units really feel cheaper than the Forma and to a lesser extent the Libra H20. The physique feels extra like molded plastic than one thing sculpted, partly as a result of they did away with all of the decisive angles and wedges that made the Forma such an fascinating form. The new readers are additionally heavier than the outdated ones, which weren’t among the many lightest to start with.

Kobo has by no means been good at buttons, and these are not any exception. The web page flip buttons, particularly on the Sage, are mushy and indecisive and its recessed energy button, whereas an enchancment over the Forma’s terrible aspect one, continues to be not nice. The smaller Libra 2 fares higher, with clickier however not too clicky buttons.

Image Credits: Kobo

I’m not a fan of the modifications, as you’ll be able to inform, however it’s not prefer it ruins the entire thing. But I hope that Kobo reclaims a little bit of that premium really feel in its subsequent technology, as a result of this has positively been a step again.

The SleepCover makes it and/or breaks it

The Kobo ereaders in their sleep cases.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

The really helpful accent for each units is a $40 SleepCover or PowerCover. These leather-esque (undecided if actual or faux, however it feels good) folio covers connect securely and, like others in the marketplace, wake your reader or put it to sleep while you open or shut them respectively. These new ones add an origami-like fold system that lets them get up at an angle.

I choose my e-readers bare, so I wasn’t anticipating to love these — and on the bigger Sage, I didn’t. Already slightly massive, the Sage with the case turns into even bigger, the folding bit appeared too free and it lined up the ability button. Even although it’s type of superfluous, this bothered me. Yet with out it the Sage appeared a bit fragile and lackluster.

On the smaller Libra 2, although, I beloved the duvet. It turned the considerably plasticky machine into a way more premium-feeling one, and the purple colour is definitely fairly enticing (plus the ability button is accessible). Not solely that however the fold-out piece is nice for each setting it down and holding it — giving a bit extra form to it, like folding again the primary half of a paperback. The recessed display (I choose a flush one) is protected against grime as properly. While I nonetheless choose the Boox’s ultra-compact, ultra-smooth design, the Libra 2 shortly ascended to second place for instances once I’m not so nervous concerning the house it takes up.

There are “PowerCovers” for more cash, but when your machine already lasts weeks, I don’t see the utility in including extra weight and bulk simply so you’ll be able to final a pair extra weeks.

My remaining suggestion right here is to skip the Sage and the PowerCovers — in order for you massive, go massive and get an Elipsa or reMarkable. If you need Kobo and also you need audiobooks, seize the Libra 2 and a SleepCover — you’ll adore it. If you don’t want audiobooks, you’ll be able to nonetheless seize a Forma. All the units and equipment can be found now.

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