As the environmentally-conscious sequel to the Kobo Clara HD, the Kobo Clara 2E comes packed with a bunch of features that were noticeably absent from its predecessor. It’s now waterproof with an IPX8 certification, has audiobook support thanks to the addition of Bluetooth connectivity and double the storage capacity at 16GB. It’s also the first Kobo ereader to be made of 85% recycled plastic.
The Kobo Clara 2E’s 6-inch display makes the upgrade to the latest E Ink Carta 1200 screen, which makes text look really nice, and it responds well too. The crisp display and good contrast help details to stand out well on the smaller screen.
In keeping with its open ecosystem, Kobo’s latest ereader still offers wide format support that makes it easy to sideload your existing collection of ebooks and documents. It also brings over the same crisp and clean user interface that we’ve been big fans of since the beginning. The interface is something Kobo has really nailed, and navigating around the device is incredibly simple even for first-time users. It makes finding your library, the Kobo Store, settings or OverDrive (to borrow library books) really easy.
Like the newer Kobo ereaders, the Clara 2E also features Bluetooth support, so you can listen to audiobooks (albeit only those purchased from the Kobo Store). That said, you will need to pair a set of headphones or a Bluetooth speaker to it to enjoy them, as the device itself doesn’t have built-in speakers (like some Onyx and PocketBook models). Interestingly, its Bluetooth connectivity holds up well and has a decent range, as we found out when leaving the Clara 2E on the kitchen counter while we were cleaning the living room.
Overall, Kobo’s latest Clara model features some sweet upgrades for a relatively small markup. That’s right – the Clara 2E’s starting price is higher than the Clara HD. However, it does slip in cheaper than its competitor – Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite – in both the US and Australian markets.
Kobo Clara 2E: price & availability
- $129.99 / £129.99 / AU$229.95
- Released late September 2022
- Available to buy now
Announced in September 2022, the Kobo Clara 2E is available in all markets right now for $129.99 / £129.99 / AU$229.95. Given the stack of upgrades from its predecessor, a price rise of only $10 / £10 / AU$40 isn’t too bad.
This price point puts the Kobo Clara 2E between Amazon’s 6-inch Kindle (2022) with 16GB ($99 / £84.99 / AU$179) and 6.8-inch 8GB Kindle Paperwhite ($139.99 / £129.99 / AU$239). While we haven’t reviewed the latest Kindle, on a quick glance both it and the Clara 2E have similar features including 16GB of storage, audiobook support and a 6-inch display. While the Kindle (2022) is a little lighter than the Kobo Clara 2E, it doesn’t have a waterproof rating. In this regard, the Kindle Paperwhite is a better comparison to the Clara 2E feature-wise.
Value score: 4.5/5
Kobo Clara 2E review: design & display
- 85% recycled plastic
- E Ink Carta 1200 screen tech
- 6-inch display with basic design
Screen size: 6 inches
Display type: E Ink Carta 1200
File formats: 15 file formats & Kobo Audiobooks
Connectivity: Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
At first glance, the Kobo Clara 2E looks just like the Clara HD – the same tablet-like plastic chassis with a 6-inch display – however when flipping the ereader around you can distinctly see the difference. The back panel is navy in color with a wavy pattern on the back for some texture. It’s a nice and subtle touch, perhaps alluding to the fact that 85% of the plastic used to make its body is now recycled material, a lot of which was destined to end up in the ocean. Unfortunately, the rear panel doesn’t really give the device any additional grip, and tends to pick up a bit of dust and dirt – something to keep in mind if you don’t plan on popping it in a case.
There’s only one button and one port on this device. The power button has moved to the back of the device, rather than on the bottom bezel like the Clara HD. This change makes the edges of the device look sleek and neat from the front. The USB-C port replaces the micro USB slot on the bottom of the device.
Like its predecessor, the Clara 2E is light and compact. It’s super easy to slip into a backpack or small purse, and we even managed to fit it into a pocket on a pair of cargo pants. The small size of the device made it easy to hold in one hand, meaning even while standing on crowded public transport we were still able to enjoy reading a novel while holding onto an overhead handle.
The E Ink Carta 1200 screen is a crisp display with a 300ppi resolution, and sufficiently avoids glare in the brightest of days. It’s also got a snappy response that makes selecting text, typing in your Wi-Fi password and page turns an absolute breeze.
Speaking of page turns – because the bezels aren’t flush to the screen, this is comfortable to do even while being held in just one hand as they provide ample space for a decent grip on the device.
Design score: 4/5
Kobo Clara 2E: user experience
- Audiobook support
- Clean and easy-to-navigate interface
- Great reading and listening experience
Reading on the device is a pleasant experience. We found it super convenient to whip out on a packed bus, or to have in a bag playing an audiobook with headphones on. We used the books that came preloaded with the review device that was sent to us, but you’re also able to sideload digital books and documents in 15 different formats from your computer.
Not only that, the fact that you can access ebooks from a public library is a big selling point – this, however, is contingent on the fact that your library of choice has OverDrive support (which many do in several countries). This is simple to use and all you need is your library card number to set up, then head to the OverDrive feature easily found on the device’s home screen.
Kobo’s own store is also easy to access directly from the home screen. While Kobo will pop up a few recommendations based on your collection, you also have the option for signing up to Kobo Plus, which is the Japanese-Canadian company’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited.
You also get a massive 16GB of space on the Clara 2E. That’s double the space of both the Clara HD and the Kindle Paperwhite. While you can access the books you’re currently reading directly off the home screen, you can easily find your entire collection under My Books on the bottom navigation bar, and they can all be organized into Collections or sorted by authors and a whole load more.
This makes it super easy to find your next story, with a variety of filters and different subheadings available to narrow down your search. The library shows the front cover of each title, and also gives you some information on how much you’ve read of each book and an estimate on how long you have left to finish your current reads.
Not only does the Kobo Clara 2E’s clean interface make using the device a breeze, but reading on the device is also a delightful experience. You can customize the font by type and size, plus adjust the brightness of the screen to your liking. There’s also a feature that adjusts the light temperature of the screen when you’re getting close to bed, yellowing the display at the time you set to reduce sleep-disrupting blue light. We found the contrast on each page to be great.
Listening to audiobooks is also a great experience. As with most mainstream ereaders, there’s no built-in speaker here, but Bluetooth connectivity lets you pair a set of wireless headphones or a portable speaker. We found that connecting headphones was a breeze, and the range was good enough for us to leave the ereader in one room and move into another while still listening to a narration. You can purchase audiobooks directly on your ereader from the Kobo Store.
You can also see how you’re tracking in each book and total reading hours under the Activity section in the settings menu. While this may not interest everyone, it’s a great little ego booster for some avid readers. Kobo also has this neat little awards section that earns you badges for various achievements, but note that both the Activity stats and awards work only for titles purchased via the Kobo Store and not for sideloaded ones.
User experience score: 4.5/5
Kobo Clara 2E: battery life
- 1,500mAh battery
- USB-C charging
When it comes to battery life, the Kobo Clara 2E was a little erratic during our testing period. The brand-new device had 74% battery life right out of the box and it took us two weeks of reading one to two hours every day to bring it down to 1%. This is with the screen brightness at 25%, page refreshes set to each chapter, and with a mix of reading and listening.
The first time top-up took 3.5 hours to go to 100% when plugged into a computer. After that, though, the battery drained down to 0% in five days with the same settings and same amount of time spent with the device. In a weird twist, plugging it in for a charge showed there was still 35% left. We’re really not sure what happened there, but we didn’t encounter this issue again (thankfully).
Over the next few weeks, the battery issues seemed to smooth over. Used for just over an hour each work day, both listening and reading, we got it down to 48% after about two weeks, indicating that the battery could just be settling down after initial hiccups.
We’ll need a little more time with the ereader to fully assess its battery life and we’ll update this review as necessary, but we can currently estimate that you’d get up to four weeks when using it for about an hour each day on the default settings (screen brightness at 25%, page refresh rate set to each chapter and both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on).
Compared to the Libra 2 which also has a 1,500mAh battery, that gave us about 7 weeks per charge when used an hour each day during our testing, it’s a little lackluster. That said, this might get better with use, or Kobo could roll out a firmware update to sort battery issues if this is more widespread.
While the battery appears to be sufficient for a reader who likes to read in short bursts, it’s potentially not great for someone who reads for multiple hours a day and wants a device that can last for weeks without charging. There are battery saving settings and ways to maximize battery life, so you can adjust these to help support longer usage if need be. We also noted that topping up the battery was quicker when using a wall socket rather than plugging the device into a laptop’s USB port which, of course, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Despite the lackluster battery performance, the USB-C charging port is a welcome upgrade from the Kobo Clara HD’s micro USB, and you get a USB A to C cord included with the device.
Battery life score: 3.5/5
Should I buy the Kobo Clara 2E?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
Kobo Clara 2E: report card
|Value||While it starts at a higher price point than its predecessor, the Kobo Clara 2E packs a punch with its new features which justify the hike. And it’s cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite in some markets.||4.5 / 5|
|Design||Despite a stale design, the Kobo Clara 2E has made some overall great improvements where it really counts – a snappier screen, waterproofing, a little splash of color and the use of recycled material.||4 / 5|
|User experience||Snappy, clean and easy to use, the Kobo Clara 2E offers users a simple experience when enjoying their favorite stories.||4.5 / 5|
|Battery life||The one big upset with this device was its erratic battery. Whether this will get fixed in a future firmware update remains to be seen, but until then, this could be a bit hit and miss.||3.5 / 5|
|Total||Overall, the Kobo Clara 2E comes with a huge variety of features for not much of a markup from its predecessor. Boasting an environmentally-conscious and waterproof build, Bluetooth connectivity and 16GB of storage in a compact ereader, it really packs a punch where it counts.||4 / 5|
[First reviewed October 2022]
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