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Kobo Libra Colour review: Day and night

Kobo Libra Colour review: Day and night

Kobo Libra Colour

It has taken a while, but Kobo is finally adding colour to your ebooks with two new ereaders: Libra Colour and Clara Colour. Besides having a 7-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 screen — the state of the art when it comes to colour E Ink screens — the Libra Colour also boasts a number of upgrades, including a faster processor and support for note-taking via an optional stylus. It's as different as day and night, if you read colour ebooks, that is.

Quick specs

  • 7-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 display with FastGLR and Dark Mode
  • Kobo audiobook support via Bluetooth headphones/speaker
  • Supported file formats (EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR)
  • 199.5g

The Libra Colour's screen isn't as sharp when displaying colour, going from 300 PPI for black and white to 150 PPI for colour. This is due to the colour filter on top of the usual black and white E Ink layer. To my naked eyes, the colours produced by the Libra Colour aren't as vibrant, and look washed out compared with a tablet. On close examination, you can also see a slight screen-door effect. It's not too obvious unless you go looking for it. I quickly learnt to ignore it.

In addition, the contrast is not as good as the older Libra 2 when the backlight is off. Basically, the page doesn't look as pristine white on the Libra Colour, which may bother some folks. But since I always have the backlight turned on, this is not an issue for me. In short, the Libra Colour's E Ink Kaleido 3 display has some drawbacks. But if you're a big reader of comics, it's a small price to pay for colour, right? Well, its 7-inch screen is the perfect size for manga. But in order to fit a page from a graphic novel like Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise, the text ends up being too tiny for most folks.

Kobo Libra Colour
The Libra Colour (left) isn't as white as the older Libra 2 (right) when the backlight is turned off on both devices.

Physically, the Libra Colour looks very similar to the previous version. At around 200g, it's also a bit lighter than the Libra 2, despite having a larger 2,050mAh battery, up from 1,500mAh. Kobo says the ebook reader will last up to 40 days if you use it 30 mins a day at 30% brightness (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off). I didn't manage to drain the battery in my short week with the Libra Colour. But according to my test, it lost 6% battery life after an hour of reading at 80% brightness.

Unlike its predecessor, the Libra Colour supports last year's Kobo Stylus 2 (S$99.90, sold separately), which lets users mark up and highlight their ebooks and other documents. The ebook reader also comes with a built-in notebook feature where you can scribble your thoughts. The notebooks are synced to Kobo's cloud servers — there's also integration with Dropbox and Google Drive. Previously, the stylus support and notebook feature were available only on the Kobo Sage, Kobo Elipsa, Kobo Elipsa 2E, which all boast larger screens. Great for those who wanted a more portable Kobo for note-taking. However, I didn't get to test the Libra Colour with the stylus.

9 May Update: I received the Kobo Stylus 2 for testing, and it definitely makes the Libra Colour much more useful. It's so convenient and easy to highlight (via a dedicated button), write, and erase text in ebooks and the Kobo notebooks. However, it's pricey. Apparently, Surface pens seem to work with the ereader, so if you have one lying around, it's worth trying.

Kobo Libra Colour
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Thanks to a faster 2GHz processor, the Libra Colour feels more nimble while navigating the interface. Turning a page by tapping the screen seems a fraction quicker on the Libra Colour compared with the Libra 2. But the speed seems near identical when using the physical buttons for page-turning. Of course, one of the best things about Kobo ereaders is that you can borrow books directly from public libraries that use the OverDrive digital platform, such as Singapore's NLB, via the device. But even with the improved performance and colour screen, I still recommend using a smartphone for a better experience, before syncing your loans with the Libra Colour.

See Also
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Is having colour worth S$30 to you? Because that how much Kobo is asking for the Libra Colour (S$329.90), which is available in black and white, compared with the Libra 2 (S$299.90). Personally, the difference is day and night. And the price is more than reasonable, since you'll also get a faster processor and a larger battery. It's a pity some of the Libra Colour's functionality is locked behind the stylus. But if you don't really care about note-taking, and don't mind a smaller 6-inch screen, consider the Clara Colour (S$229.90). Get the Libra Colour on Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG. Accessories include the SleepCover (S$59.90), or the more affordable but basic Clear Case (S$44.90).

Note: Review unit provided by Kobo.

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Upgrade for colour, performance and battery life

Buy it at Shopee
Buy it at Lazada
Available at Amazon SG

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