The Kobo Clara HD and Amazon Kindle Paperwhite are two e-readers that cost the same amount of money and have a fair bit in common. The Kobo model has a competitive advantage with its Comfortlight PRO display, which allows you to configure the color temperature of the front-lit display, to mute the bright white light. Can the Clara compete against one of the most popular e-readers in the world with the lighting system alone?
The Clara HD features an E-Ink Carta HD display with a 300 PPI display. The screen is not flush with the bezel, but there is a small dip. There is a USB port and power button on the bottom and the rest of the sides have nothing on them. The back of the Clara has a neat perforated design that makes it easy to hold and a high degree of grip.
Underneath the hood is a 1GHZ Freescale Solo Lite processor, 512MB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Kobo has suspended expandable storage a few years and there is no Micro SD on the Clara HD. In order to conserve memory you have a number of options in the settings menu to automatically delete books from the device when you are finished reading them and you can do the same thing with Pocket articles. Speaking of Pocket the Kobo experimental browser also has Pocket integration, so you can save Pocket articles directly on the e-reader, instead of exclusively relying on the plugins for Chrome or Firefox.
The Clara HD has a front-lit display that might be one of the best ones Kobo has ever released. It has even light distribution thanks to the 8 white LED’s and the Comfortlight PRO system has 7 orange LED’s. If you turn both the front-lit display and the Comfortlight on, all of the LEDS work in concert and it provides a really bright and vibrant reading experience. The comfortlight has an automatic setting that does not use an ambient light sensor, instead of relies on the time of day and your time zone to automatically configure itself. Auto brightness is optional and can be completely turned off, you don’t need to use it if you don’t want to.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 3 came out in 2015 and is getting a bit long in the tooth. It has a e-ink Carta display with a resolution of 1430×1080 and 300 PPI. When it comes to the visual aesthetics the new Paperwhite is virtually indistinguishable from the 2nd generation model. The only change on the hardware is very subtle, the Kindle logo on the front is piano black, while the older edition had it in pure white. The retail packaging also makes reference to 300 PPI, so this should aid you if you are looking to buy the latest edition and can’t really tell what model you are looking at.
Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ processor and 512 MB of RAM. There is 4GB of internal storage and the majority of your content will be held in the cloud. There is certainly enough space to have a thousand ebooks on your device at any given time.
Amazon has a larger bookstore than Kobo and has a wider array of self-published titles. You can also enroll in Kindle Unlimited and get a copious amount of free content with Prime Reading. Amazon has GoodReads integration, which allows you to talk with other readers and assemble reading goals. Amazon also introduced a firmware update that allows you to sideload in your own fonts.
Kobo does not have an unlimited program, but they do have really advanced features. You have always been able to sideload in your fonts and they have slider bars that allow you to manually adjust the line spacing, margins and font size. There are plenty of advanced features that allow you to customize your reading experience on an even deeper level and get a before/after preview of any settings you want to augment. I think the Kobo lighting system is better and more refined than Amazon, so if you read at night, Kobo might be the better solution.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.