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Kobo Clara 2E review: Another brilliant Kindle rival, but there's a catch

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Kobo Clara 2E

The Kobo Clara 2E is the latest and greatest eReader from Kindle’s biggest rival (Image: KOBO)

Kobo has updated its Clara eReader with audiobook support at last, doubled the storage and made it more environmentally friendly

What we love

  • Easy To Read With One Hand
  • Kobo UI Is A Joy To Use
  • Audiobook Support
  • Bigger Storage
  • Sustainably Made

What we don’t

  • Same Price As Paperwhite
  • A Tad Heavier And Bigger Than Clara HD

Kobo has once again solidified its reputation as the best alternative to Amazon’s all-conquering Kindle range with the Kobo Clara 2E. This device is a direct rival to the popular Paperwhite and is an upgrade of Kobo’s Clara HD which Express.co.uk was very impressed with

This upgrade brings with it audiobook support, waterproofing and also doubles the amount of storage from 8GB to 16GB. That extra space will come in especially handy if you’re planning on downloading plenty of audiobooks to browse on your holidays or ease the boredom on a long-haul flight.

The Clara 2E is also fitted with the latest E Ink screen which provides better response time, improved contrasts and smoother transitions. And from our experience, the display on the Clara 2E also helped provide a more brilliant white from the front light which makes things better to read.

Elsewhere, the Clara 2E is made with sustainability in mind – with the exterior produced from over 85 percent recycled plastics. That’s seriously impressive and beats the Paperwhite’s eco credentials by 20 percent.

If you’re planning on getting your first-ever Kobo eReader the Clara 2E should be the device you choose.

However, if you already have the Clara HD the decision to upgrade will mainly boil down to whether you really need audiobook support or not.

Kobo Clara 2E

The Kobo Clara 2E is a sustainably made eReader (Image: KOBO)

Kobo Clara 2E review

The eReader market has long been dominated by Amazon and its all-conquering Kindle range, but there are some great alternatives. The most obvious candidate is Kobo with the Rakuten-owned firm having over a decade’s worth of experience in the eBook and eReader space.

If you’re after a comparable model to the Kindle Paperwhite then the Clara range is the option for you.

Kobo has just released an upgrade to its Clara HD device, which Express.co.uk previously described as a “brilliant” alternative to the Kindle Paperwhite. The Kobo Clara 2E is out now and is priced at £129.99 – but how does it measure up to its predecessor and the behemoth that is the Paperwhite?

What’s new with the Clara 2E?

The Clara 2E brings with it a number of key improvements over the Clara HD, and all for just £10 more. The headline addition with the Clara 2E is Kobo finally including audiobook support, which brings it in line with the Paperwhite.

Audiobooks can be purchased from the official Kobo store on your device and then you can listen in with a pair of Bluetooth headphones. You can even put the device to sleep while you listen to your audiobook to help conserve precious battery life.

To help you fit all of your audiobooks onto the Clara 2E, Kobo has also doubled the amount of storage, from 8GB on the HD to 16GB on the 2E.

It also now comes with IPX8 waterproofing, which certainly comes in handy if you enjoy a book in the bath or love reading by the pool. Elsewhere, the 2E features the latest E Ink Carta 1200 screen, which has a number of key improvements over the previous gen.

Kobo Clara 2E

The Kobo Clara 2E adds audiobook support and waterproofing (Image: KOBO)

This includes faster response time, improved contrasts and smoother transitions. From our experience, we also found the Clara 2E had a much more in-your-face front light than the Clara HD.

During our tests, the Clara 2E  offered a much brighter front light when compared to the older model even when the exact same brightness setting was turned on.

This helps provide more brilliant whites and also means you may not need to have the brightness up as high as usual, which should help you save on battery life.

Kobo Clara 2E vs Clara HD

We found the front light on the 2E offered more brilliant whites than the HD (Image: KOBO)

Kobo Clara 2E vs HD

Here’s a comparison of the 2E (left) and HD (right) with the same brightness setting (Image: KOBO)

The Clara 2E is also ever so slightly larger and heavier than the Clara HD. Going from using the Clara HD a lot recently to the 2E we could immediately feel the difference, which made reading with one hand a bit less comfortable.

However, the more time spent with the eReader the more we got used to it, and if the 2E is your first Kobo you won’t notice the extra weight.

Price

The Kobo Clara 2E has an RRP of £129.99, which puts it in line with the 8GB Kindle Paperwhite.

The Kindle Paperwhite is widely regarded as the best all-round eReader money can buy, with Express.co.uk awarding it a full five out of five marks in our Kindle Paperwhite review.

This, along with the Kindle brand being most people’s go-to choice for an eReader and how much larger the Amazon eBook store is may sway more people to a Paperwhite than a Clara 2E.

But the devices have their own individual strengths that could make you choose one over the other.

Kobo Clara 2E

The Clara 2E is Kobo’s direct answer to the Kindle Paperwhite (Image: KOBO)

Clara 2E vs Paperwhite

The Clara 2E and Paperwhite are both priced at £129.99 but there are some key differences between the two Readers. The most obvious thing is the size, with the Paperwhite boasting a larger 6.8inch screen than the 2E’s six-inch display.

This alone may be enough for some people to choose Amazon’s eReader over Kobo’s.

If you’re paying the same price for both devices but one has a much larger screen it could be an easy decision to make. Especially since both eReaders have the exact same pixel density (300 PPI), which is a sign of how sharp the screen is.

While Amazon has a much larger eBook store, which houses over 12million eBooks compared to Kobo’s over six million eBooks and audiobooks.

Despite all this, there are some other key differences to bear in mind.

Firstly, the £129.99 price tag we mentioned for the 8GB Paperwhite is for the version with ads – for the ad-free model you’ll have to spend an extra £10.

Kobo devices, meanwhile, don’t feature any adverts. So when you put your device to sleep you’ll get a nice screen showing the cover of the book or audiobook you most recently opened, along with stats on your progress – instead of an advert.

Elsewhere, the Clara 2E comes with 16GB of storage whereas the £129.99 Paperwhite has 8GB of space.

If you’re planning on using your eReader to download plenty of audiobooks this extra space will come in really handy.

Besides this, the Kobo UI has some unique quirks which Amazon doesn’t have like easily-accessible reading stats which can super-charge your reading experience, the ability to borrow library books (something which Kindle eReaders can’t do in the UK), quirky bookmarks and more.

You can read more about some of the differences between the Kobo and Kindle UI in our Kindle vs Kobo article.

And finally, we found Kobo eReaders tend to have a softer front light and display which helps better replicate the kind of experience you get from reading a regular book than Kindle does.

Woman reading a Kobo Clara 2E

The Kobo Clara 2E is a great alternative to Amazon’s Paperwhite eReader (Image: KOBO)

Final verdict

The Kobo Clara 2E is undoubtedly a great eReader, which gives the Kindle Paperwhite a run for its money.

There are pros and cons for choosing the Kobo over Kindle and vice versa.

The Paperwhite’s larger screen and bigger eBook library are major reasons to go with Amazon, while Kobo’s unique software flourishes along with more storage and the Clara 2E being ad-free all work in Kobo’s favour (when comparing the £129.99 models).

Plus, being able to read easily the 2E with one hand is another big bonus.

If you’re picking up your first Kobo eReader then the Clara 2E is the standout option

If you’re curious about Kobo and fancy a change from Amazon, or would just rather try an eReader that’s not a Kindle, then the Clara 2E is a great choice.

If you’re picking up your first Kobo eReader then the Clara 2E is the standout option – offering great features at a reasonable price. However, if you already own a Clara HD the decision to upgrade is a little more complicated.

It will ultimately boil down to whether you’re excited about the new audiobook support, waterproofing and larger storage.

If these sound like things you can live without then you should just stick with your trusty Clara HD.

And for any new Kobo fans not too fussed about audiobook support the Clara HD is still a great option, and it can be picked up for cheaper than the 2E.



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