There were plenty of rumors that Kobo was planning on refreshing the Clara HD e-reader and they have done so in a big way. The second generation model is called the Kobo Clara 2e and there are numerous selling points. It has an E INK Carta 1200 display, which dramatically increases performance across the board and it features Bluetooth, so it is finally possible to buy and listen to audiobooks purchased from the Kobo Bookstore. USB-C is also onboard, which many people who have these cables will love. Finally, it is made of recycled plastic.
The Kobo Clara 2e features a six inch E INK Carta 1200 e-paper display panel. E Ink Carta 1200 delivers a 20% increase in response time over E Ink Carta 1000, and an improvement in the contrast ratio of 15%. E Ink Carta 1200 offers the same benefits as Carta 1000. E Ink Carta 1200 modules consist of a TFT (thin film transistor), Ink layer and Protective Sheet. Kobo has included the capacitive touch panel directly in the module stack.
The overall resolution of the new Clara is 1448×1072 and has 300 PPI. The body is a dark blue, which almost looks black on camera. It has a sunken screen, with exposed e-paper. Reading on this is really good and the font clarity is amazing. This is because there is no later of glass, so it will not reflect overhead lights or sunlight. The vast majority of new e-readers on the market have a flush screen and bezel design with glass protecting the screen. I wish more companies would forgo the glass and go with exposed e-paper. There are a series of white and amber LED lights that are positioned alongside of the bezel and they project light evenly across the screen and not into your eyes. Kobo calls this ComfortLight PRO adjustable brightness and color temperature system.
Underneath the hood is a 1 GHZ dual core processor and 512MB of RAM. There is 16GB to house ebooks and audiobooks. You will be able to connect to the internet via WiFi 802.11 ac/b/g/n. This is the first Clara model to have Bluetooth for listening to audiobooks, which are purchasable from the Kobo Bookstore, however you cannot sideload in your own audiobooks. What is most exciting is that it has a USB-C port. It has a protective film inside of the device, which is coated with waterproof material. This will give users the ability to read it in the bathtub or the beach and should not worry about random spills of water or tea. It is officially rated as IPX 8, which should be good for around 60 minutes in fresh water. It is powered by a 1,500 mAh battery and the dimensions are 112.05 x 159.02 x 8.66 mm and weighs 171 g.85
The major selling point behind this e-reader is that the body is made of 85 per cent recycled plastic— including 10 per cent ocean bound plastic, like water bottles or CDs. The retail box is made of recycled cardboard and opens up like a book, similar to a hinge. There is some paper documentation such as quick start guide and warranty information. It comes with a black USB-C cable with small twist ties, that are made of plastic. The Kobo Clara 2e also has a plastic protective covering on the screen. I think Kobo missed an opportunity here with using plastic inside the box. Many companies are now using wax paper to encase the e-reader and protect the screen and USB cables have a little cardboard hoop, instead of plastic ties.
What I like about the Kobo Clara 2e is the position of the power button, it is on the back. This is similar positioning of older Kobo e-readers, it is rare that you would inadvertently press it down, when reading. The color is also compelling, most e-readers are piano black, and this one is a really dark blue. Reading books is the main reason why anyone would buy this, and I think the overall experience is better than the Sage or Libra 2.
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.