There has suddenly been a spurt in activity in the eReader segment. Close on the heels of Amazon launching its new Kindle Paperwhite 5 series has been Kobo that introduced its new generation Kobo Libra 2 (and Sage) eReader devices. Both are aiming at the same market segment, which would make it extremely interesting to find out how one stacks up against the other. Here we are going to discuss how the new Kobo Libra 2 fares against the Kindle Paperwhite 5 base model as well as the Signature Edition.
Now, both the Libra 2 and the Paperwhite 5 come across as handy devices that have been designed for the primary purpose of reading digital content. For that, the Libra 2 features an E Ink Carta 1200 display while the Paperwhite 5 series makes do with the E Ink Carta HD. That way, the Libra 2 display has a resolution of 1680 x 1264, which when spread over its 7-inch display allows for a pixel density of 300 PPI. For the Paperwhite 5, the resolution stands at 1430 x 1080 pixels which too makes for a pixel density of 300 PPI. For the record, the Paperwhite has a smaller reading area, 6.8-inch compared to the 7-inch display of the Libra 2.
So, the Kobo seems to have a slight edge here compared to the Kindle.
Design, dimensions, and weight
The Paperwhite 5 sports a whole new design that is accentuated by slimmer bezels along all sides save for the bottom. The Libra 2 however is continuing with the same basic form factor of its predecessor, the Libra H20. That means fairly slim bezels on all sides but a super-thick edge along the right. The same is designed to serve as a nice place to hold the device while reading thereby ruling out chances of an accidental touch action on the display.
Further, the Paperwhite 5 has a portrait orientation while the Libra 2 has more of a squarish stance. For those who’d prefer numbers, it’s 144.6 x 161.6 mm for the Libra 2 while the Paperwhite 5 measures 124.6 x 174.2 mm. The Libra is also the thicker and heavier of the two, it being 9 mm in thickness and 215 grams in weight. In comparison, the latest Kindle has a width of 8.1 mm while tipping the scales at 205 grams for the base model and 208 grams for the Signature Edition. Interestingly, both the new-gen Kobo and Kindle devices are a bit heavier than their respective predecessors. The Libra H20 weighed 192 grams while the erstwhile Paperwhite weighed 182 grams.
In all, the Kindle seems to be on top here, albeit by a slim margin.
It’s 32 GB of the Libra 2 while the base Paperwhite has a puny 8 GB of storage to offer. If you want a bigger device, you will have to opt for the Paperwhite Signature Edition which too has 32 gigs of storage to offer but at a $10 premium.
This means a significant advantage for the Libra 2 here.
Amazon has gone to town trumpeting how its new Paperwhite 5 series is even more frugal on battery power, allowing for around 10 weeks of usage on a single charge. Kobo isn’t revealing the numbers here yet but should easily last around a month and a half comfortably under normal usage.
This makes the new Kindle best suited for the long haul.
You can indulge in some serious pool-side reading with either of the devices given that both come with IPX8 certification. That means the ability to survive submergence at a max depth of 2 meters for up to 60 mins.
This way, both the eReaders are on even ground on this front.
Page turn button
It’s present on the Libra 2 but not on the Paperwhite and shouldn’t be a big deal unless you love physical buttons. So, it’s largely a matter of personal choice. However, while the Libra 2 features an automatic rotation of page orientation, it’s missing on the Paperwhite. Again, that may not be a dealbreaker for the Paperwhite considering that the latter is designed to allow reading in portrait mode.
So, it’s basically a tie here.
eBook formats supported
For the Libra 2, its EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR. Besides, it supports Kobo audiobooks as well.
The Paperwhite 5, on the other hand, supports AZW3, AZW, TXT, PDF, HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, PMP, PRC, along with the Audible audio format.
Other reading niceties
Both the eReaders offer adjustable warm light which is great though it is only the Paperwhite, and that too the Signature Edition that has an auto-adjustable light feature available.
So, that’s a positive for only the Paperwhite Signature Edition which again comes at a price premium.
Here too, it is only the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition that supports the wireless charging feature. The charger though has to be procured separately and is not included in the box.
The Libra 2 supports Wi-Fi 802.11/b/g/n 2.4 GHz. The Paperwhite, on the other hand, supports 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz networks and is supposed to be the better performer here.
It’s Black or White for the Libra 2 compared to just Black for the Paperwhite. What that means is you have more choice with the Kobo offering.
The Libra 2 is priced at $180. With the Kindle offerings, the base Paperwhite is priced at $160 while the Signature Edition will set you back at $190.
Which one comes out on top
That depends. For those who’d prefer physical buttons and are drawn to the Libra 2’s form factor where you get a solid place to hold on to the device while reading, then the Kobo device is for you. What’s more, this will save you $10 as well.
The Paperwhite 5, on the other hand, sports a more compact dimension and is thinner and lighter too. Plus, if you are already invested in the Kindle ecosystem, opting for the Paperwhite 5 can be the better option.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.