Kobo Clara 2E Review
A well-polished alternative to the Amazon Kindle (2022) with a great display and wide file support.
The Kobo Clara 2E is a considerable improvement over the Clara HD, with a fine E Ink display, a high-quality waterproof design, and Bluetooth for audiobook support. It’s not the strongest or most consistent when it comes to performance, and it’s a shame there’s no cloud support, but this is arguably Kobo’s pound-for-pound eReader champ.
- Tidy, easy to grip recycled design
- OverDrive and Pocket support
- Strong display
- Extensive file support
- Slightly sluggish performance
- Lacks Dropbox support from more expensive models
- Lack of storage options
- UKRRP: £129.99
- USARRP: $139.99
- EuropeRRP: €149.99
- AustraliaRRP: AU$229.95
- Compact, high-quality displayThe Kobo Clara 2E uses the same high-quality E Ink screen as the Kindle Paperwhite, but in a smaller 6-inch form factor.
- Extensive file supportThe Kobo Clara 2E offers native support for 15 file types, with the only real exception being Amazon’s AZW format.
- Long battery lifeThe Kobo Clara 2E keeps on going, refusing to run out of battery even after two weeks of testing.
The first port of call for any Amazon-eschewing eReader fan has to be Kobo. This brand, owned by Japanese retail giant Rakuten, has been providing Kindle-rivaling devices for some years now.
The Kobo Clara 2E is a new affordable option, sitting above the ageing Kobo Nia and the original Kobo Clara HD in the range, but below premium models like the Kobo Sage and the Kobo Libra 2. More importantly, with a price of £129.99 / $139.99, it sits right in between the Kindle (2022) and the equivalent spec of the Kindle Paperwhite.
In positioning the Clare 2E this way, has Kobo managed to hit the eReader sweet spot?
Design and Screen
- Made from recycled and ocean-bound plastic
- IPX8 certified
- 6-inch E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen
It might seem unfair to cast the Clara 2E in opposition to the massively popular Kindle (2022) and Kindle Paperwhite. But given that’s what most potential eReader buyers will be doing, we’re going to have to follow suit.
At 112.05 x 159.02 x 8.66mm, the Kobo Clara 2E is fractionally larger than the Kindle (2022) rival. It’s also a little heavier at 171g, with the Kindle (2022) hitting the scales at 158g, though it remains very easy to wield in one hand.
Besides, that extra density reflects the Kobo’s superior build quality. True, it’s made from (85% recycled) plastic, but it has a nicely textured rear panel in a nice dark blue colour.
The Kobo Clara 2E also benefits from being IPX8 certified, much like the Paperwhite, meaning it can stand submersion in up to two metres of water for up to 60 minutes. It’s perfectly suited to poolside and bathtime reading.
I prefer the Clara 2E’s power button to Amazon’s approach. It’s positioned high and recessed into the back of the device rather than being exposed on the bottom edge, and is a large, tactile, clicky button.
Ultimately, this means that you only press the Clara 2E’s power/sleep button when you intend to.
The Kobo Clare 2E employs the same high-quality Carta 1200 E Ink display as you’ll find in Amazon’s classier Kindles, such as the Paperwhite, though in a smaller 6-inch form factor. With a 300 PPI resolution, text really pops here, yet it’s much warmer than the icy-cool Kindle (2022), with inkier black text.
All in all, it’s just plain easier to read on the Kobo than it is on the cheaper Kindle, and will probably be less tiring on the eyes.
The front lighting is well-spaced and even, leading to a pure picture even in lesser lighting. It’s a shame there’s no auto-brightness function, but it’s a small matter of adjusting it manually, and you should only need to do so if you’re a nighttime reader.
Talking of which, there’s also a slider that lets you turn the tone of the Kobo Clara 2E’s screen from cool to extremely warm, which lessens the blue light output that can disrupt your sleep patterns.
Performance and software
- 16GB of internal storage
- Support for 15 file formats
- Battery lasts weeks
Performance with the Kobo Clara 2E is acceptable for a modern eReader, but that’s as far as I’d go. It’s reasonably fluid when flicking between the pages of an eBook, but somewhat less slick when navigating through the UI and between menus. Don’t go expecting smartphone-level snappiness from this set-up, which includes a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM.
There’s an ample 16GB of internal storage on board, though, which should prove more than sufficient for storing dozens of books and audiobooks. It would have been nice to have further storage options, but it’s not too much of an issue.
Kobo will only commit to a rather vague ‘weeks’ of battery life promise. There’s really nothing to worry about though. I failed to get anywhere close to running it down during the fortnight or so I had it on test. It’s certainly competitive with the Kindle (2022), broadly speaking, as you might expect given the similar hardware.
Just like previous Kobo eReaders, the Clara 2E offers wide access to 15 file formats, including the commonly used EPUB. Just about the only significant eBook format it lacks is Amazon’s proprietary AZW format, which will preclude you from ready Kindle books on it. No surprise there.
Unlike the Clara HD, you also get audiobook support, with Bluetooth connectivity enabling you to hook up a set of wireless headphones. Kobo’s audiobook offering isn’t the match of Amazon’s Audible service yet, though.
Accessing all these disparate file formats is made fairly easy, but not as easy as with the more expensive models. You’re forced to use the bundled lead to connect up to your computer and transfer the files that way.
For some reason, Kobo has opted not to include Dropbox compatibility to pull files in wirelessly, as you can on the likes of the Kobo Elipsa 2E. Those more premium Kobo eReaders are also set to gain Google Drive support, making them much better devices if your eBook library is scattered far and wide.
Of course, the easiest and most direct way to get something to read on the Kobo Clara 2E is to buy it through Kobo’s well-stocked storefront, which generally works as well as ever – though I’m not 100% sold on the in-built search function, which seems a little flaky.
Then there’s Kobo’s new (to the UK and US at least) Kobo Plus service, which is a monthly subscription offering that’s akin to Kindle Unlimited. The selection is somewhat limited, but there’s a whole heap of classics on there if you search for them (again, using that flaky search system).
Kobo’s more open approach gives the Clara 2E a couple of neat advantages over any Kindle. First, there’s Pocket support, which lets you read web articles you’ve saved for later on your phone.
Perhaps coolest of all, however, is OverDrive, which lets you access your local library’s digital horde and essentially borrow eBooks.
Should you buy it?
You source your eBooks and files from all over the place: Kobo supports all the main file types, and makes it easy to import them.
You have a lot of Kindle eBooks: Just about the only major eBook format the Kobo doesn’t support is Amazon’s AZW.
Kobo has offered a much-improved eReader package compared to the original Clara HD. Its E Ink display is better, audiobook support has been gained, and the provision of IPX8 certification makes it much better suited to poolside and bathtime reading.
The brand’s support for services outside of its own library continues to mark it apart from Amazon, with Pocket and OneDrive helping to widen out your reading sources. The arrival of Kobo Plus and that audiobook support further increases your options. It’s just a shame Kobo didn’t bring Dropbox cloud support across from the more premium models.
Meanwhile, iffy performance and a slightly flaky UI continue to haunt the Kobo Clara 2E as it has previous Kobo eReaders, which is perhaps the biggest area the brand needs to address.
All in all, though, the Kobo Clara 2E is the most impressive Kindle rival we’ve seen for a while.
How we test
We test every e-reader we review thoroughly. We use the device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Tested for two weeks
Read books to test battery life
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