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Kobo Nia review: Is this entry-level ereader any good?

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Quick Verdict: Rakuten Kobo's new ereader, the Kobo Nia, has arrived in the ebook marketplace as a solid, if unspectacular, entry-level option.

  • Affordable at $149.95
  • Very light and portable
  • A significant step up from the Kobo Aura
  • 8GB of internal storage can hold up to 6,000 books
  • The Clara E-ink 212ppi screen is better than base Kindle
  • Can be a little slow
  • Screen often pulses an unsightly dark colour when thinking
  • The Kobo Clara HD offers a 300ppi screen and more RAM for only $40 more
  • Kobo doesn't have quite the same library as Kindle
  • Missing Bluetooth and audiobook support
Kobo Nia
Finder score: 3.5

The Kobo Nia is arriving at a good time for the ebook industry. Despite the movement towards a more environmentally friendly future, digital books haven't found the popularity we all expected when they first emerged on the scene a decade ago. However, that's all changing.

Kobo has seen up to 100% year-on-year growth of ebook sales since the coronavirus pandemic began. Stuck at home and distanced from buying new physical products, should we be surprised the world has responded in this way?

Into this environment, Kobo has launched the Kobo Nia. It's a new, entry-level ereader for the Kobo range that replaces the old Kobo Aura and sits just below the Kobo Clara HD. It's small, lightweight, affordable and provides a comfortable, streamlined way for readers to enter the vast Kobo ebook marketplace. However, it lacks the little extra kick in power that could have seen it truly find its place.

Kobo Nia design

Design

  • Slightly bigger than the palm of your hand
  • 6-inch Carta E-Ink 212ppi touchscreen
  • Lightweight 172g
  • Comfortable bevelled edge
  • Not waterproof
Kobo Nia Review 3

Kobo Nia performance

Performance

  • 8GB on-board storage holds up to 6,000 books
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
  • 1,000 mAh battery gives two to four weeks of life
  • Front ComfortLight
  • NXP i.MX 6ULL CPU with 256MB RAM
  • No blue light filter
Kobo Nia Review 2

Kobo Nia user-interface and features

Features

  • Access library books for free via OneDrive
  • Full store integration (except audiobooks)
  • Sync book position across multiple devices
  • Use Pocket to download articles from the Internet
Kobo Nia Review 4

Should you buy the Kobo Nia?

Finder score: 3.5
There's a fair argument to say that Kobo could have stretched its legs a bit better with the Kobo Nia. It's effectively a reskinned version of the Tolino Page 2, where the opportunity could have been taken to add a bit more oomph to help it feel like the next evolutionary step. Perhaps it could have even added support for audiobooks, given how they're booming even more than ebooks.

In this regard, it does feel like the Kobo Nia should have been a bit cheaper to better distance itself from the other models.

That said, it's a fully functioning, well-integrated entry point for consumers who want to get into the ebook space with a minimum of fuss and expenditure. While Kobo as a store doesn't have quite the depth of choice as Amazon, it's not far off, and the Kobo Nia ereader plugs into that massive library with a user-friendly interface.

Kobo also has the benefit of now being partnered with Booktopia, Australia's biggest online bookstore, which should improve access to local authors on the Nia. That's certainly something you can't help but be happy about.

If you're on a tight budget but have a reading habit that needs easy, simple, portable access, the Kobo Nia achieves that goal without ever over-reaching.

Pricing and availability

Price

RRP: $149.95

Where to buy

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