Kobo, the Canadian e-book company, offers a minimalist alternative to Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite in the Clara HD. For £109 you get a 6in touchscreen e-reader with a 300ppi resolution screen, Wi-Fi connectivity and an impressive backlight control feature– all packed into a small, lithe body. It is a simple and straightforward option for those on the go.
Kobo Clara HD price and availability
The Kobo Clara HD is available directly from Kobo for £109.99 in the UK and $129.99 in the US. UK retailers includes John Lewis, Currys PC World and Argos. You can also find it on Amazon (UK only). An additional case (not included) for the Kobo Clara HD can also be found for £24.99 or $29.99 in the US.
Kobo Clara HD design and build
The Kobo Clara HD combines a light (166g) and compact body with an ergonomic design. The slim device fits comfortably in one hand and is textured on the back to improve grip. For those counting, Kindle’s Paperwhite is slightly heavier (at 205 grams) and larger in comparison.
Kobo perhaps anticipates owners will want a case and has streamlined its e-reader design with this in mind. The bezel around the screen is thin too, so you’re not confronted by a thick, bulky border.
The Clara HD charges via a micro-USB connector, which is included in the box. A single charge should last you for a few weeks if you’re a light user. Our review model was half-way charged when we received it. With nearly consistent use for over 2 weeks, it had about a third of battery life left.
Kobo Clara HD display
The Clara HD features a 6in touchscreen with a 300ppi resolution, thanks to Carta e-ink. Carta e-ink is a type of e-ink that allows high resolution text and reduces the need to refresh the page. This ensures the text remains crisp and clear while not draining battery life.
We did occasionally see a faint imprint of the characters from the previous page when we turned the page, but this is something you can expect from any e-reader. The Clara HD does let you adjust how often the page should refresh in the settings.
In terms of screen sensitivity, we found the Clara HD struggled at times. For instance, it took a bit of fiddling around to understand how to access the Reading Menu after launching a book (as all navigational buttons and arrows disappear when a book is active). You just have to tap the screen, as it turned out, but what threw us off was that the Clara HD didn’t react right away when we first tried this.
In all fairness, our review model of the Kobo came with a screen protector which limited responsiveness. Removing the protector seemed to help but there were still times when touching the screen didn’t prompt the Reading Menu right away.
We suppose those who want to keep the screen protector will need use a slightly heavier hand on the display at times. The Clara does let you choose where you prefer tapping to turn the page backwards or forwards, and where you want to tap to see the Menu.
Kobo Clara HD features
Apart from its 300ppi 6in screen, The Kobo Clara HD offers Wi-Fi connectivity, and 8GB of internal storage, which should allow you to stow away 6000 books. The Paperwhite in comparison offers 4GB internal storage and cloud storage. Unlike the Paperwhite, the Clara HD does not have an option for 3G connectivity (which would let you download books using data coverage instead of a Wi-Fi connection).
The Kobo Clara comes with a built-in dictionary, so you can look up words you don’t know by holding your finger on the word. This prompts additional options to search for that word in the book, on Wikipedia or Google. You can also highlight, annotate, and share (to Facebook only) any line that stands out to you.
Fonts and preferences
The Clara HD lets you customise the font, size, line spacing and margins of the text, so there is a lot of flexibility here. You can even adjust the boldness (i.e. weight) of the font you’ve chosen in the advanced settings.
You can’t, however, rotate the screen on the Clara HD, so you are limited to portrait mode.
ComfortLight PRO feature
The Clara HD shines, both literally and figuratively, when it comes to lighting the screen, thanks to its ComfortLight PRO feature. This lets you adjust the screen’s brightness and hue, which means you can customise the warmth anywhere from light blue to orange. This, in effect, limits how much blue light you’re exposed to at night. The Kobo can also be set to automatically go into “night mode” after a certain time.
You can increase or decrease the light’s brightness by simply dragging a finger up or down on the left edge of the screen, which is convenient, as you don’t have to navigate through a separate menu. However, with a slight delay in screen responsiveness, we found the Clara HD did not react quickly to this gesture – but only at times.
Reading statistics on Kobo Clara HD
Kobo offers useful visualizations on your reading progress. Tapping the bar graph icon at the bottom right of the Reading Menu reveals what percentage of the chapter you’ve covered, how long it will take to read the following chapter, how the lengths of each chapter compare, and how many hours you have left to complete the entire book.
The Paperwhite offers similar data, but it is not visualized, suggesting Kobo may be aimed more towards busy professionals who want to plan their reading time and be aware of how much time they would need to commit or have committed to a book. This does incentivise the reading process, which some may find fun.
In fact, under the Activity section, which gives you additional reading stats, you can win awards based on how you read and engage with your book. For instance, win the “Juggernaut Award” when you finish reading a sizable book like War and Peace, or get the “Afternoon Rush Hour Award” when you consistently read at the same time for five days. Feel free to get you nerd game on.
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