- Easy to use
- Doesn’t have the buttons that feature on the Libra 2 (though, not everyone likes those)
- The OverDrive Library app has a smaller range on Kobo devices, because the books need to be available in the Kobo store
- I dunno, it can’t make toast? There really isn’t much to complain about with this one. It’s good.
With ereaders, there are 2 camps: Kindle and others. Kindles are the most ubiquitous but are in a walled garden, requiring users to either purchase books from the Kindle Store or Kindle Unlimited subscription or upload their own books in the Kindle's format. Others are mostly Kobo users who have the option of the Kobo store or borrowing from the library using the OverDrive app, making for a more open and less expensive reading experience.
The Kobo Clara 2E is the latest Kobo ereader, succeeding the Kobo Clara HD. The Clara 2E ($229.95) fits just below the larger Libra 2 ($279.95) and above the budget Kobo Nia ($149.95). If you want to compare the Clara 2E to a Kindle, the obvious model would be the Paperwhite, which has a slightly larger display (6.8 inches) and is $10 more expensive.
The Kobo Clara 2E is aimed strongly at people who want to take a small and light ereader with them. After a week with it, it seems to be just right for that group.
Kobo Clara 2E review: Design
The big headline for the Kobo Clara 2E design is that it's largely made out of recycled plastic bottles that have been fished out of the ocean. In fact, at 85% recycled plastic, it's the "most environmentally friendly ereader ever".
I'm always suspicious about any company that claims their tech product is green when the company releases multiple devices a year without easily replaceable batteries and easy and obvious ways to repair the device yourself. However, being made out of 85% recycled plastic is better than the rest of the market. The durable design shows that it should last most people a very long time. So, that's nice.
Some people might assume that it looks and feels cheap because it's recycled, but you genuinely can't tell. It's similar to premium devices made out of virgin materials as opposed to the chad materials of this one.
The Clara 2E is the ereader for people who never want to be without a good book but also don't want books taking up too much room in their handbag.
At 171 grams, it suits the weight requirement, coming in at 44 grams lighter than the Kobo Libra 2 and 34 grams lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite. It's also got a smaller (but not too small) 6-inch screen compared to the 6.8-inch Paperwhite and 7-inch Libra 2.
One thing I love about the Kobo Libra 2 is its thicker right side which also accommodates 2 buttons for page turning. I find that a bit more comfortable to hold for long periods and I prefer the buttons for navigation when it's cold. However, not having that larger shoulder and buttons means the Clara 2E is much thinner and bag-friendly. The Libra 2's girth makes it slightly more difficult to fit into a bag while the Clara 2E can easily find a space in an overpacked carry-on bag.
Doing a direct comparison with the Kindle Paperwhite, it's hard to deny that the Paperwhite screen looks a tiny bit better. It looks ever so slightly more naturally like a page and having the screen flush with the bezel is more aesthetically pleasing. However, having the recessed screen means I make fewer accidental touches. Looking like a natural page is not as important as being easy to read, which the Clara 2E more than handles.
Without the folding case (sold separately) it's thin and super light. With the folding case, which I highly recommend you buy, it's a bit thicker, but it stands by itself. This allows plenty of comfortable reading positions without the risk of hand cramps (from the aforementioned thinness and lack of thick shoulder).
Kobo Clara 2E review: Performance
The main thing you're looking for in an ereader is that it's easy to read and gets out of the way of the reading process. The Kobo Clara 2E absolutely does that. The HD screen has a high enough resolution that the words are clear without going expensively overboard as some higher-end readers do.
Page turning does take a split second to register because e-ink is slower to respond than other traditional LED touch screens. But that's the price you pay for having easier-to-read and use e-ink instead of using a more expensive (and less eye-friendly) tablet.
In terms of battery, I haven't had time to test the claim of "up to 10 weeks battery life", but I also haven't had to charge it despite absolutely abusing the privilege of getting to read books for work.
The Wi-Fi connection is strong. It's easy to put books on the device, much easier than using a Kindle. You can buy books from the Kobo store, borrow books from your library using the OverDrive app or transfer DRM-free ebooks via the computer.
It would be nice if it could also have Dropbox and stylus support like the ereader of my dreams, the Kobo Sage. However, there is a reason the Sage is $439.95 and the Clara 2E is $229.95.
The one downside of the OverDrive app on the Kobo is it doesn't have the same range as the OverDrive app on mobile devices. It only accesses books available in the Kobo store. But it's still a good selection and also free and it's easy to get ebooks from other sources and put them on the device if there's something the Kobo store lacks.
The size is ideal too. Extremely portable. It fits nicely in the back pocket of a pair of Levi jeans if you don't like taking a bag with you on public transport.
Reading it in the bath is delightful, thanks to it being waterproof and reading anything in the bath being delightful.
Should you buy the Kobo Clara 2E?
- Buy it if you want a relatively budget, ultra-portable ereader that you can take anywhere.
- Don't buy it if you want an ereader with a larger screen and all the bells and whistles.
The Kobo Clara 2E is exactly what it says it is: a fantastic, ultra-portable ereader simply begging to be taken everywhere with you for those moments when you wish you had a good book. It is the ultimate companion for waiting rooms, planes, baths and sitting by the beach.
Up against the Kindle, I would pick a Kobo every time because of the library support through OverDrive. Sure, you can subscribe to Kindle Unlimited for money, but I think it's better to join your local library and read books for free while still supporting authors.
The Clara 2E is priced and built well. If this sounds like the kind of ereader you're looking for, I highly recommend it.
Pricing and availability
How we tested
I read a variety of books, including graphic novels, while giggling that this is my actual job. I was lent the Kobo Clara 2E by Kobo's PR company.
You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:
- Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
- finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
- We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
- Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked