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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Kobo Libra Color and Clara Color are nice colour e-readers are held again by lock in

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The issue with most e-readers is that they’re probably not meant for studying books. They’re meant to promote you books. Amazon, which has the most important market share within the US, is particularly notable for doing this, however Barnes & Noble is responsible of the identical factor. Kobo is maybe the least offensive about this — it’s bought Pocket and Overdrive integration! However oftentimes, when I discovered myself completely enamored with Kobo’s attractive new colour e-readers, I’d abruptly get slapped with the reminder: this factor is right here to promote me books.

Which is a disgrace as a result of Kobo’s new Libra Colour and Clara Colour are the closest we’ve gotten to an ideal e-reader currently. Each the $219.99 Libra Color and $149.99 Clara Color are ridiculously mild, however with a sturdiness that makes them really feel snug and never flimsy. Each embrace Kaleido 3 shows, which suggests ebook covers are rendered in precise colour. Each flip pages and navigate shops a lot faster than the $249.99 Boox Page (the larger, slower sibling of the Palma) — spectacular, given the truth that the Kaleido 3 show is just a little slower than a extra conventional monochromatic E Ink show discovered within the Web page.

Coloration! Not… particularly vibrant colour.
Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

I did discover myself liking the dearer Libra as a result of I want asymmetrical e-readers with devoted buttons to ones that operate extra like conventional tablets. That it additionally has stylus help for note-taking is a plus. But, both one is a captivating and enjoyable-to-use e-reader, and during the last couple of months, I repeatedly discovered myself reaching for the Libra over the Boox — which, till now, has been my main e-reader. I similar to the texture of studying on it extra. Certain, Boox provides me each studying app obtainable (it’s an E Ink Android pill), however the Libra doesn’t have any of the bizarre little hiccups typical of Android on E Ink.


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The Libra Color is without doubt one of the latest e-readers from Kobo and one of many first with colour. With each Overdrive and Pocket help it give readers significantly extra choices that e-readers from larger manufacturers like Amazon.

Each Kobo e-readers additionally help highlighting textual content in colour, and their touchscreens really feel a lot snappier and extra responsive than the Boox Web page. These spotlight colours aren’t significantly vibrant, although. The Kaleido 3 show present in each will get you colour, however the colour is akin to what you see in a newspaper left within the solar for a number of days. Plus, that colour comes at the price of each making the black-and-white studying expertise rather less crisp. It’s nonetheless infinitely higher than earlier colour E Ink applied sciences, which often gave the whole display a green cast.

My actual subject with these gadgets isn’t the colour shows. It’s the lock-in.

Kobo’s e-readers really feel constructed extra for getting books than studying them. They’re tied to the Kobo bookstore, which is powered by Rakuten, a Japanese retailer that’s usually known as the “Japanese Amazon” or the “Japanese Barnes & Noble” when individuals wish to rapidly summarize the corporate. Rakuten is superb at shifting books, and Kobo’s built-in bookstore is comparable. It doesn’t have fairly the identical library as Amazon; Amazon has extra self-published books and carries extra area of interest content material from boutique publishers. But, Kobo’s bookstore has a good unfold. If it’s a remotely fashionable ebook, you’ll discover it on the Kobo.

The menu is straightforward to navigate for those who’re trying to purchase a ebook, however depressing for those who simply wish to browse your native library.
Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Not like different non-Android e-readers, Kobo e-readers even have a extra conventional library inbuilt through Overdrive. If you happen to’ve bought a library card from a library that works with Overdrive you possibly can borrow ebooks. Sadly, that is while you begin to run into Kobo’s bookselling enterprise butting heads with its e-reader enterprise. To borrow books, you both have to make use of your cellphone to search out them on an app like Libby, or you must use the Uncover tab, then select the Overdrive tab, and hope you possibly can browse for the ebook you need. Or you must seek for the ebook on Kobo’s retailer, and while you discover the ebook, you must faucet the Extra Choices button subsequent to the a lot bigger Purchase Now and Wishlist buttons after which really faucet the Borrow From Overdrive button to see if the ebook is borrowable out of your library. It’s depressing, and after I requested a usually very intelligent good friend to attempt to borrow a ebook, she couldn’t even work out how.

You can also’t have a couple of library card energetic on the Kobo at a time. As an alternative, while you end a ebook and wish to learn one other one which’s tied to a distinct library card, you must log off and log in with the opposite card. I needed to change repeatedly between my New York Public Library and Jersey Metropolis Public Library playing cards and was left deeply irritated. I don’t have to do that after I use the Libby app on my Web page or iPad.

You run into the identical subject utilizing the built-in “experimental” internet browser Kobo has. I can navigate to web sites simply high-quality, and if I wish to try to learn a ebook over the online, I can theoretically do this. No app obligatory. Solely the browser is painfully underdeveloped. It could be good if I might scroll or paginate utilizing the Libra’s built-in buttons as I can with the EinkBro browser on Android e-readers.

The Libra Color (on the left) is basically distinctive to carry within the hand, however the Clara Color (on the precise) is cheaper.
Picture by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Getting ebooks from different shops onto the machine can be a problem. You need to plug the e-reader into your pc and drag and drop recordsdata (although Calibre, the e book administration app, does make it a scootch simpler). However that drawback isn’t distinctive to Kobo. Amazon and Barnes & Noble additionally insist you sideload books. However after years of the Boox ecosystem (and the iPad), it feels bizarre that these techniques all insist you stick so carefully to their bookstores. It’s a level of lock-in that appears absurd, and with Kobo’s ecosystem, it feels extra absurd as a result of in so many different respects it actually looks as if the corporate is making an attempt to do e-readers proper.

The Kobo Libra Color and Koko Clara Color are quick and practically excellent for getting out of your manner while you simply wish to learn a ebook. Their colour shows aren’t as sharp as an iPad Mini’s LED one — or perhaps a monochrome E Ink show — however the colour provides a welcome zest to the expertise that black and white can not. The truth that they even provide issues like an internet browser and Overdrive and Pocket help may be very welcome when in comparison with what Amazon is doing. However the lock-in, man. The lock-in could be the norm within the e-reader world, nevertheless it shouldn’t be.

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