The Amazon Kindle has the lion's share of the ebook reader market. But if you borrow ebooks more than you buy them, I recommend getting a Kobo ebook reader like the new Kobo Sage instead. The reason is simple. You can borrow ebooks from public libraries directly using a Kobo via the built-in OverDrive feature (available in 12 countries, including Singapore). That can save you a pretty penny, especially if you're a voracious reader.
- 8-inch E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with ComfortLight Pro
- 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)
Despite NLB's extensive ebook collection, OverDrive is not the only reason to pick the Sage, which is also Kobo's latest flagship ebook reader. An updated, better-specced version of 2018's Kobo Forma, the Sage (and the equally-new Kobo Libra 2) are the first Kobo ebook readers to support audiobooks. This means you can connect Bluetooth headphones or speakers to the Sage and listen to audiobooks. Pairing a Bluetooth device is straightforward and easy. You can adjust the playback speed (0.75x to 2.75x). But there's no feature like Kindle's WhisperSync where you can switch between reading and listening to the same book. The Sage currently supports only audiobooks purchased from the Kobo Store. So you cannot load your own audiobooks or the ones borrowed from the library.
The Kobo Sage has an asymmetrical design with a thicker, curved wedge at one side that makes it easy to grip. A USB-C port is located here, an upgrade from micro-USB on older models. This thicker part also has two physical page-turn buttons. They are clicky, but are a bit close to the edge. The Sage is waterproof for up to an hour in two metres of water so you can read while soaking in the bathtub. Its 8-inch E Ink Carta screen is nicely flush with the bezel, not recessed like others. It also has a ComfortLight Pro feature that adjusts the display's colour temperature according to the time of the day. This means the screen looks warmer at night as the display automatically reduces blue light that keeps you awake. There's also a new Dark Mode option that changes the text to white and the background to black.
Compared to my two-year-old Kobo Libra H2O, the new Sage with its quad-core processor feels more responsive. I generally dislike typing on ebook readers because of the lag, but the Sage is much more tolerable. Page turns are fractionally faster, too. Browsing books in the store or the library is still rather slow. Hence, I usually browse and borrow ebooks via the Libby app before syncing with the ebook reader. The amount of internal storage has also increased from 8GB on older Kobo readers to 32GB on the Sage. This increase is likely because audiobooks requires more storage than ebooks. If you're the type to jot notes in your books, Sage works with the optional Kobo Stylus (S$59). You can then share your documents (ebooks and PDFs) to other devices via the cloud through the Sage's Dropbox integration.
Currently, the Sage is the only Kobo ebook reader to have the PowerCover (S$119) accessory. This cover — listed as coming soon on Kobo's website — has a built-in battery to charge the ebook reader and a slot for the Kobo Stylus, though it does not charge the pen. I did try the SleepCover (S$69), which wakes and sleeps the device, and has a stand that keeps the ebook reader upright. Overall, the Kobo Sage has everything you'll want from an ebook reader. It improves over older Kobo models, notably audiobook support. Meanwhile, the paper-like E Ink screen is as good as ever. At around S$400, the Kobo Sage is slightly cheaper than Amazon's top-end Kindle Oasis. Get it now at Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Kobo.
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