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Hands-on review: Kobo Clara 2E eReader
Fri, 11th Nov 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The Kobo Clara 2E is an eReader made with recycled plastic. But is it any good?

I’ve never used an eReader before. I’m old school and prefer paper books, hardbacks if possible. You can’t get further from an eReader user than me. But I was keen to see if the Kobo Clara 2E would sway me.

I was surprised at first by just how small the eReader is. The device measures 112.05 x 159.02 x 8.66mm and weighs just 171g. It fits nicely in the hand and is small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.

The front of the eReader looks very stylish, with the Kobo logo on the bottom. There’s a USB-Type-C socket on the bottom for charging and connecting to a PC. Turning it over, the back is made of plastic that feels a little cheap, to be honest, and not very robust. This is likely the recycled plastic referred to in the marketing. There’s a round “on” button on the back.

As well as the Kobo Clara 2E eReader, I was also sent an orange “Sleepcover” protective case. I’d say that this folio-style case is an essential accessory. Not only does it serve to protect the screen, but it also makes the unit feel a lot more robust. The case is also partly made from recycled plastic. The device slips snuggly and easily into the case. The magnetised front of the case folds to create a stand that works both portrait and landscape. Within the case, the Kobo Clara 2E looks rather stylish and is still a nice pocket size.

From the official blurb, the device has a backlit monochrome 6-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen. The screen resolution is 1448 x 1072 with a resultant 300 pixels per inch. Incredibly, the Kobo Clara 2E is waterproof, meeting the requirements of IPX8, for up to 60 minutes to a depth of 2m. 

Reading books on the device is a very pleasant experience. The screen is very clear and does look like pages from a book. The high pixel count means that even small text is still very clear. It is backlit, so you can read at night, with adjustable brightness and colour temperature. I had it set to automatically eliminate blue light when it was nearly bedtime. 

There does seem to be a bit of image retention on the screen. It seems a bit random and not always present. It is noticeable, if inconsequential, but does fade quickly.

I did note that it can be painfully slow to update the display when browsing for books but, thankfully, once you “open” your book the eReader performs perfectly. The menus and settings also suffer from significant lag and take a bit of getting used to. As soon as you become familiar with the device, navigating becomes less of a pain.

The Kobo Clara 2E is primarily geared up to take advantage of the Kobo bookstore. Books can be purchased for a reasonable sum, no more expensive than that of other eBook stores. There’s also a Kobo Plus subscription service that gives access to thousands of eBooks for NZD$14.99/AUD$13.99. You’ll need access to a Wi-Fi network to access the Kobo store and other online facilities; setting this up is easy and painless.  

If you are a member of a public library that use OverDrive (which seems to pretty much be all of them), you can use the Kobo Clara 2E to access their digital collection. This is a great feature, giving users a vast collection of free books. This could be an advantage over the Amazon Kindle as there have been issues with using OverDrive library collections and the Kindle outside of the US.

As well as commercial eBooks from the Kobo store and public libraries, the eReader is compatible with 15 common eBook formats: EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR. 

The eBooks can be easily transferred by connecting the device to a PC via the enclosed USB cable. A message appears on the screen which needs confirmation, then books are simply dragged and dropped into the connected Kobo Clara “drive”. I tested the device with a few PDF and EPUB novels as well as a handful of CBZ and CBR comic books. The text was crisp and clear even when reading colour comics that are displayed on the screen in black and white. The zoom function came in handy for some of the smaller comic book text.

The menus and settings all suffer from significant lag and take a bit of getting used to. At soon as you become familiar with the device, navigating becomes less of a pain.

With a connected Bluetooth headset, earphones, or speaker, the device can play Kobo audiobooks. These can only be downloaded from the store. It does not support regular audio files. I had a bit of trouble, at first, with the eReader crashing whilst playing audiobooks. Changing to a different set of earbuds sorted out the problem. If you become invested in the Kobo ecosystem from your books, the ability to play audiobooks from the Kobo store is a great extra bit of versatility.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with the Kobo Clara 2E eReader and for AUD$229.95/NZD$259.00 it offers pretty good value for money. The screen is about as small as you’d want it to be, but it is still nice and clear. The huge number of compatible files is a plus, and using the device for borrowing digital library books is also very cool. The AUD$44.95/NZ$49.00 Sleepcover case is an essential extra that both protects the eReader and looks rather nice. On the whole, I’d say the Kobo Clara 2E is a very convenient way to read books and a great entry-level eReader.