The Kobo Sage is going to be released next week and this device is garnering a ton of attention. It has a large 8 inch screen and can be used to take notes and annotations with the Kobo Stylus. The hardware performance has been dramatically improved with a quad core processor and finally a USB-C port. This is the first Kobo branded e-reader to have an audiobook store, in addition to the regular bookstore. This will allow users to use their existing wireless headphones or an external speaker to listen to audio content via Bluetooth. This device, really looks like it has it all. Will you you buy the Kobo Sage?
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.
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.
This device is available on October 19th in a handful of countries, including Canada and the US. It will retail for $299.99 CAD or $259 USD. If you live outside of those regions you can order it from the Good e-Reader Store.
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.