Today I’m reviewing the Kobo Libra 2 which was released in late 2021 and is the upgrade of the Kobo Libra (released in 2019). Boasting great storage capacity, seamless audiobook and Overdrive support and a stylish design, will this be your next EReader? Let’s dive in and find out.
Before we jump into the detailed review, take a look at Kobo’s promotional video to get a flavor of the features available:
All The Storage You Could Ever Need
Get ready for this. The Kobo Libra 2 comes with a whopping 32gb of storage as standard. To put this into context it means you can roughly store 24,000 EBooks or 150 audiobooks! This should be more than enough for anyone’s needs. As a comparison the Kindle paperwhite comes with 8GB as standard and then you have to pay more if you want upgrades to 16gb or 32gb. I’m impressed that Kobo is offering this level of storage as standard and this may set the stage for all EReaders going down this route in the future.
So Kobo Plus allows you to download as many EBooks as you like per month for a fixed fee and usually does have some kind of free trial available. On the surface this all sounds fine but when you start looking at some of the restrictions, it starts to unravel. Firstly it’s not available in every country (available in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal). Secondly it doesn’t include all EBooks. While there are thousands included, if you’re looking for a specific book, it might not be on the list. Finally, It also doesn’t include audiobooks either which is a major downside. So when you add all these things together, it’s not a great deal in my opinion. The question to ask yourself, are you realistically going to get through an entire EBook in a month, every single month?
Now that we’ve gotten Kobo Plus out of the way, let’s dive into the Audiobook support which I’m much more impressed with. So given I have used Audible a lot in the past, I was keen to see how Kobo’s offering stacks up against the competition.
I’ve put this table below to give a summary of their similarities and differences:
Who has the bigger library size? Well it’s quite difficult to tell. Neither of the platforms call out specifically how many audiobooks they have in total. If I was a betting man, I’d probably say Audible just because of how big Amazon is but chances are you can probably find popular titles you’re looking for on both platforms.
The Audiobook controls are simple but just enough to be useful:
- Increase/Decrease volume
- Skip Fwd/Back 30s
- Skim Through Chapter
- Change Playback Speed (0.5x – 3x)
- Select Chapter
One thing to call out with the Kobo Libra 2 is that you can only play audiobooks from the Kobo store. You cannot sideload MP3’s or audiobooks from other platforms onto the device. Not great, but personally something I can live with.
One thing you should be aware of is that audiobooks are not available in every country and you should do your research before you purchase the device. You can find the list of countries supported here
Overdrive allows you to borrow EBooks and Audiobooks from your local library and download them onto your EReader. This is a great service if you don’t want to splash the cash on a specific book and are happy to borrow a book for a fixed time period.
Kobo has seamlessly integrated Overdrive into the EReader. Once your account has been set up, it’s just a couple of clicks to download an EBook or audiobook from your local library.
Like audiobooks, Overdrive is not available in every country. At the time of writing the following countries were supported:
- United States
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
Decent Level Of Customization
Once again Kobo has pulled out all the stops when it comes to customization of the device. To enhance your reading experience there are 11 fonts with a range of text sizes to suit all needs. If 11 fonts is not enough, you can always side load additional ones. There’s also a whole range of additional reading settings that you can customize which you can see in the gallery below. You can also invert which buttons select the next and previous page. The brightness of the device can be easily controlled by simply holding your finger on the page to scroll up and down. The final thing to mention here is that you can choose to lock the screen rotation to either horizontal or vertical depending on your preference.
Colour Changing Screen & Dark Mode
As mentioned in the intro Video, the Kobo Libra 2 supports ComfortLight Pro technology and Blue light reduction. The aim here is to reduce stress on your eyes during reading when natural daylight is fading. This works by gradually changing the colour of the screen depending on the time of the day. It can also be easily adjusted manually. This is a great feature if you’re a bit of a night owl when it comes to your reading habits. With ComfortLight Pro, you’ll still be able to easily fall asleep even after finishing that epic last chapter.
Let’s move onto dark mode. This is a new introduction which allows you to invert the colour of the text of the EBooks you’re reading. One thing to note is that dark mode only gets applied to the books you’re reading, not the menu screens. For me personally this is a bit weird. Either apply it throughout the whole experience or don’t offer it.
So there’s a section on the device which has included some beta features. The first is the web browser which has been a beta feature for about 10 years! Come on Rakuten! Make a decision! The other two which are slightly more useful are large print mode and My words which allows you to expand your vocabulary by looking up words in the dictionary.
The final thing to mention in the special features section is that the EReader is waterproof. It’s been certified up to a depth of 2 meters for 60 minutes. It’s worth calling out though it doesn’t float so if you drop it in the pool, you’re gonna have to dive down and get it. I can imagine this feature would be useful if you’re planning to read your Kobo on a lido in the pool.
Overall the design looks pretty professional. Personally I would have liked to see a metal backed case as opposed to textured plastic but that’s just me. I also feel that the power button is in a weird position (back of the device) but it is something that you get used to. Also with the physical layout of the screen and the buttons, I think the horizontal mode works well and doesn’t feel like a gimmick.
The screen size of 7 inches feels about right for how it looks. With a 300 PPI screen, the text looks crisp and makes EBooks very easy to read. One thing to call out here is that I struggled to read PDFs as the zoom capability isn’t great so if that is going to be your main usage of it, you may wish to reconsider.
As you would have seen from the intro video, the Kobo Libra 2 has physical page buttons which does make it stand out from the rest of the EReaders. These can be customized so that next and previous page turns feel comfortable for you. You can also hold down the buttons for rapid scrolling.
A couple of features that are missing which would have been a great addition. Stylus support would have been ideal if you’re planning to take notes and also the device doesn’t have a 3mm audiojack. You can still connect audio devices using Bluetooth but personally I like having the additional option.
When comparing the Kobo Libra 2 to the previous model not much has changed with the design. I think they’ve upgraded the physical page turn buttons, but that’s about it. Despite this, they’ve managed to somehow make it heavier (215g VS the original being 192g).
What About The Price?
So it ain’t cheap. You’re mainly paying for that extra storage. It’s always worth keeping an eye out for deals on Amazon. When looking at the price you need to take into account whether or not you’re willing to pay for that extra storage, the general design of the device and its level of customization.
Some Specs To Compare Against
The table below shows some high level specs which you might be interested in.
Comparing Against The Original
The table below highlights what the key differences are between the Kobo Libra 2 and the original Kobo Libra H20
Some Accessories That Are Available
So the main accessory you can purchase is the sleep cover which also acts as a reading stand when folded. I’ve included a collection of styles and colours available from Amazon:
What I Like
The unlocking of audio support and the storage to back this up are two of the key features that stand out for me. It just increases the flexibility and utility of the device which its predecessor simply didn’t have. I’m also a big fan of the seamless Overdrive integration so you don’t actually have to purchase the Ebooks or Audiobooks to enjoy stories.
What I Don’t Like
As I mentioned, I’m not impressed with the Kobo plus service. It just doesn’t feel a great offering for customers and it needs a rethink. The device is also more locked down than its predecessors (e.g. you can’t sideload MP3’s) and the number of countries where their subscription services are offered are quite limited. Finally, not a fan of the beta features section. Either commit to developing these or don’t include them.
What Amazon Customers Are Saying
At the time of writing, the majority of the reviews were 5 stars. Some issues have been reported with clunky software , although this can usually be fixed with updating it to a new version. You can check out the reviews in detail here
So what’s the verdict? Should you buy this device or look for something else? Well it’s certainly an upgrade on its predecessor, especially if you’re going to make use of the audiobook support. If you’re looking for an EReader with plenty of storage, plan to borrow books from the library and are willing to splash the cash then the Kobo Libra 2 is probably for you.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this in depth review and please leave a comment below if you have any questions or feedback.
Until next time
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Featured Image provided by Raymond Snijders