Kobo Libra
by james | 8:11 pm

Howdy folks, it’s been a while since my last post but I’m back reviewing the latest EReader from Kobo; the Kobo Libra. It was released at the back end of 2019 and is packed full of great features. Let’s jump in!

Top Features

  • 7 inch screen
  • It’s waterproof
  • Natural light setting for ease of reading
  • No Ads

Overview Of Features

Comfort Light Pro – Fighting The War On Eyestrain

So let’s talk about Comfort light pro. This feature means the EReader screen changes colour throughout the day to ensure your eyes are not strained whilst reading. Blue light at the start of the day to keep you awake, orange at night when you’re about to go to sleep. I love the fact that Kobo are caring about the risks of long term eye strain and have built this into their product. Too much blue light at night will keep you awake and interrupt your sleeping patterns. This feature uses the time set on the device so it doesn’t require any data usage which is another handy benefit. The Kobo Libra also allows you to change this setting manually if you choose. Another bonus is that Kobo have done a great job in explaining this feature in detail in their manual. 

Beta Browser – Oh Dear

So those of you who have read some of my other posts regarding EReaders ‘experimenting’ with web browsers know my thoughts already on this topic. Don’t do it! Or if you’re going to commit to doing it, fully commit. Unfortunately Kobo have follow suit with Amazon in creating a browser where you can attempt to surf the web. It’s slow and clunky and tends to convert pages to the mobile version even though the device has a 7 inch screen. I hope to not see this feature in Kobo’s next EReader release.

Synchronisation – Oh The Possibilities!

Kobo have done a great job here on providing a number of ways you can sync your EReader with other tools, devices and the cloud. 

Pocket Support

So for those of you don’t know, Pocket is an application that allows you to save articles from the web to read later on other devices, including the Kobo Libra. In order to do this you’ll need to create a Pocket account here and then sign in to your account from the EReader. Any articles you save using Pocket will then be available on your Kobo device. More information can be found on getting this set up is on the Kobo website. I’m pretty impressed with the seamless integration here and how it requires minimal set up to get started.  

Kobo Libra

The Kobo Cloud

Kobo provides every user of their EReaders, a cloud account which has unlimited storage. This means that if you fill up your Kobo, you can move items to and from the cloud seamlessly. For example, you could remove an EBook from your device and it would still be in the Kobo cloud. I’m a big fan of this as personally I don’t like to have books I’ve already read cluttering up my library whilst I’m trying to pick my next good read.

Kobo Desktop

So Kobo have created a pretty comprehensive tool called Kobo desktop which allows you to Buy books, read books and manage your Ereader. It’s free to download and runs on both Windows and Mac. I tend to use this tool when I have a large number of books I want to add or remove. Also I personally find it easier to shop for new EBooks using the tool rather than on the device directly, especially when I’m browsing. The reading experience is pretty good too as it allows you the same level of customisation as if you were on your EReader, though personal preference here is reading from the device. Overall the tool is quick to load, easy to understand and generally has an intuitive layout. 

Overdrive Capability – We’re Off To The Library!

So those of you who don’t know, Overdrive allows you to borrow EBooks from your local library and read them on your EReader… for free! All you need is a library card and a WiFi connection. It does depend on if your local library supports this service. You can go to Overdrive and find your nearest library here

Customisation

So did I mention that the Kobo Libra has 48 fonts to choose from? If that wasn’t enough, you even have the ability to load your own! Whilst it’s great to have choice, I think this is a bit overkill. I’d struggle to see someone going through all 48 to see what’s right for them. The good thing is that the device allows you to preview the font beforehand so it makes it a little easier when making a decision. 

There’s a couple of other decent features to call out here too. Whilst reading, there’s a quick access menu at the bottom of the screen to get to common settings faster (e.g. font and brightness level). You can also adjust the brightness of the screen by scrolling up and down on the left hand side of the screen. I like the seamless integration here as the last thing you want to do when reading is navigate through multiple menus to change a setting. 

It’s Waterproof – Time For A Dip

So  at the start of the post I mentioned that the Kobo Libra is waterproof. So what does this actually mean you can do with your EReader? Well it’s been IPX8 certified which means it can be submerged in 2 meters of freshwater for up to 60 mins. This is great if you accidentally drop the device whilst you’re in the bath. What I’m not clear on is how the EReader would fare in swimming pools as there’s Chlorine in there too. Great feature for those who are a little accident prone like me. 

Security – Locking It Up

Thankfully Kobo is following the trend of making EReaders more secure. After All you’ve spend hundreds of dollars of it, why wouldn’t it have some level of security on it. At this stage it’s just a basic PIN but that’s better than nothing. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll get up to the level of face recognition you expect from your typical mobile phone. 

The Design

So the Kobo Libra comes in 2 colours; Black or White. Personal preference is White as it looks a bit more elegant. As mentioned already it comes with a 7 inch screen which is non standard for most EReaders and definitely a plus. The screen itself is 300 PPI (pixels per inch) which meets it’s the same standard as most modern EReaders. I’m still looking out for the next EReader that goes beyond this resolution as they will be a trendsetter here. 

The overall design has a professional finish to it. The page toggle buttons to the side are not intrusive to the reading experience and don’t feel cheaply made. You can also hold the buttons for rapid page turning. A feature not really offered by other EReaders. Given the size and shape of the EReader, EBooks can be comfortably read in either portrait of landscape mode. 

The final thing to mention here is the accessories. There is a decent range here, though my favorite is the sleep cover which sends turns the EReader off when it’s closed. A nice feature here, even if the cover is a little expensive. You can take a look at the latest design cases here

The Price

So let’s talk about the price. The Kobo Libra is definitely cheaper than it’s previous model, the Kobo Forma. With that said, it’s no match on price for something like an Amazon Kindle. It is priced more at the premium side, but given the features, I think it’s worth it.

To check out the latest price in your local area I’d recommend visiting the Kobo website

Some Specs To Compare Against

I’ve included a summary of some of the specs that I feel are personally important to consider when looking at getting a new EReader. Overall, it stacks up pretty well against the competition.


Kobo FirmaKindle PaperwhiteKindle OasisOnyx Boox Darwin 3
Size7 Inches6 Inches7 Inches6 Inches
Weight192g191g194g182g
Display300 PPI300 PPI300 PPI212 PPI
Colours availableBlack/WhiteBlackBlackBlack

What I Like

For me, the great things that stand out on this EReader are it’s design, unlimited cloud storage and the ability to borrow books from the library. I could see myself saving a ton of money by not having to buy EBooks and just returning books once I’m done with them. After all, I’m deleting them off my EReader anyway once I’ve finished with them. Few EReaders work well in landscape mode, so was happy to see this wasn’t the case here. 

What I Don’t Like

Using PDF’s is not a great experience, especially when you try to zoom in and out of pages. The lack of audiobook integration is a bit disappointing as this is the general trend that most EReaders are heading towards. Then there’s the browser, don’t bother.

Conclusion

Overall a solid effort by Kobo in producing a quality EReader. Despite some of its flaws, I’d still recommend this to the casual reader who’s looking for something a little different. 

For those of you who might be interested in purchasing it, you can find out the best prices here.

Until Next Time

Cheers

James

Any questions? Feel free to drop in a comment below

My name is James and I'm the founder on BestEReadersOnTheMarket.com. I wanted to create a site that makes it easy for people to choose what's the right EReader for them out of the hundreds of choices though writing in-depth reviews and guides.

Comments

Sarah

I bought a Libra about a year ago because I had manage to lose my Aura (sidenote: I found it about 10 months later; it had dropped between the two panels of a double radiator and got cooked there all winter but STILL WORKED, which is pretty impressive. But). I had c. 150 Kobo ebooks and c.400 ebooks from other sources, all backed up, so I just transferred them over. A week or two later the Libra stopped updating: it would start and then never finish, so that new books from Kobo would appear on the My Books list but were forever stuck in Pending mode, and the updates would go on for ever which drained the battery if I didn’t notice they were running for a while. After about a fortnight of to-ing and fro-ing with Kobo’s twitter customer support (sending error logs etc etc) they told me that the error was unrepairable, sent me a prepaid postage voucher to send it to their European HQ in the Netherlands, and posted me a new one. Great. So I re-downloaded my Kobo ebooks – all good. Replaced my backed-up non-Kobo ebooks. Spent a couple of days sorting them all back into my collections (these hadn’t updated either; I use my Kobo for research work, hence the complexity of my Collections system). And… the same thing happened. Locked into an update that doesn’t finish and any new Kobo books again stuck in Pending status. I really couldn’t be bothered with going through the whole rigmarole again, so I bought a second-hand Aura on eBay and use that for my Kobo books, and keep the Libra for my vast stock of other ebooks, with the wifi turned off so that it can’t drain the battery doing never-ending updates. Has anyone out there ever had this experience?

Nov 16.2020 | 07:34 pm

    james

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for sharing your story and sounds incredibly frustrating! I’ve personally not encountered that issue before but have made the comment public in case others have had this issue too.

    Nov 24.2020 | 08:32 pm

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