The Kobo Sage is one of the most popular e-readers in the world and there were so many pre-orders for them, that Kobo is completely sold out on their website and their retail partners are too. This has resulted in them becoming scarce, but in the middle of November there should be more units available. The key selling points of the Sage is the large 8 inch screen, compatibility with the Kobo Stylus, which can be used to freehand draw and write inside of ebooks. Finally, you can finally buy and listen to audiobooks right on the device with a pair of wireless headphones or an external speaker.
The Sage features an E INK Carta 1200 display. This new screen tech delivers a 20% increase in response time over E Ink Carta 1000, and an improvement in the contrast ratio of 15%. In addition, faster response time enables smoother handwriting and animations displays. This is how the technology works, the 1200 modules consist of a TFT (thin film transistor), Ink layer and Protective Sheet. The capacitive touchscreen is incorporated into the module stack. Kobo is utilizing the Digitizer stack, which supports robust stylus integration. with the touch sensor sitting under the TFT. How does this affect the overall user experience? The background will have more gradients of grey and the black fonts will really pop.
The screen is 8 inches in size and has a resolution of 1440×1920 with a staggering 300 PPI. It has a series of white and amber LED lights which provide a nice candlelight effect when the two are blended together. Of course, the amber LED lights can be totally turned off and you can enjoy a vibrantly white screen. The screen is completely flush the bezel and protected by a layer of glass. There are physical page turn buttons on the right side, which can be used on their own, or you can simply swipe and gesture with the touchscreen. There are two color options for the Sage, light green and black.
Underneath the hood is a massive 1.8 GHZ quad-core processor , which is the first time Kobo has ever employed anything more than a single core. It has 32GB of storage and 512MB of RAM. You can connect up to the internet using the web-browser via WIFI 802.11 ac/b/g/n (dual band.) It has a USB-C port, so you can charge it with your PC/MAC or wall charger. It is powered by a slightly underwhelming 1,200 mAh battery, which should provide around three weeks of ebook reading and less if you listen to audiobooks. The dimensions are 160.5×181.4×7.6mm and weighs 240.8g. It is also rated IPX 8, so it can be totally submerged in fresh water for up to 60 minutes and a depth of 2 meters. This should be a boon to anyone who wants to read it in the bath or the beach, or are clumsy like me, and often spill things.
Speaking of audiobooks, this is something that Kobo is getting very bullish about. They have been selling them for a number of years and the Sage is the first e-reader that will allow users to browse the bookstore and purchase audiobooks, existing audiobooks that have been purchased, will automatically sync to the library. Audiobooks cannot be sideloaded, but of course ebooks can. The Sage supports EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, FlePUB, MOBI, CBR and CBZ. I was told by Kobo that Overdrive audiobooks are not available at launch, but I got the feeling they will, at a future date.
The retail packaging has a light green color scheme on the front, along with a full size image of the Sage. On the sides is the model name, company name and some FCC certifications. The back of the box is white and lists some of the key selling features, such as a 8 inch screen, waterproof, WIFI, Comfortlight system, Kobo Stylus compatible and audiobooks.
When you open the box up for the first time the e-reader is on the right and the left side of the box has a little container, which houses the quick start guide and warranty. There is a black USB-C cable underneath the Sage. It has a really nice design, the power button is on the back, along an argyle texture, which helps with grip, it doesn’t easily get oils from your fingers on it. On the side of the e-reader are 4 contact points for the Power Case. The Sage does not come with a stylus, it is an optional purchase.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve 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. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.