Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Kobo brings first colour eReaders with Libra, Clara Colour

By the end of April, Australians keen on having a full colour eReader built to be slim, light, and waterproof will find it in two Kobo models coming from $260.

Most books don’t have a use for colour beyond the title cover, and we get it. It’s largely why eBook readers have been able to run with a black and white screen for so long.

Electronic ink screens have long been made for monochrome, and come with other features that make them ideal for book reading, such as lower power usage leading to strong battery life in a thin design.

They are totally ideal for reading in black and white, and have been helped by feature improvements such as warm front-lighting to help the eyes adjust, note-taking features, and more.

But while most books are fine in black and white, there are times when you just need colour. That’s something eBook readers haven’t dealt well with… until now.

This week, Rakuten’s Kobo is introducing Australia to its first easily found colour eReaders, as Kobo updates both its Libra and Clara range to improve the screen technology considerably.

The latest models are the Libra Colour and Clara Colour, two generations aimed at delivering 7 inch and 6 inch screen sizes (respectively) of colour e-ink displays, able to carry thousands of books in one slim package.

At the low end, there’s the $259.95 Kobo Clara Colour, a 6 inch Kobo model with 16GB storage in an IPX8 water resistant design made from recycled and ocean-bound plastics.

The screen itself a 6 inch colour Kaleido 3 electronic ink display, and can run for reportedly up to 53 days provided the use is kept down to 30 mins of reading per day with the brightness down and the wireless off. You’ll need WiFi in order to download books, so expect that to drop a little, but it’s still suggestive of a decent amount of battery life with a full colour screen.

Slightly more expensive is the Kobo Libra Colour, a slightly bigger model that uses a 7 inch Kaleido 3 colour e-ink display and supports Kobo’s optional Stylus 2 for scribbling on books and notebooks, much like you could on the black and white Elipsa 2E.

Kobo’s Libra Colour also supports IPX8 water resistance, Bluetooth for audiobook playback through headphones and speakers, and 32GB storage for up to 24,000 books and titles.

The company notes the Libra Colour should get up to 40 days of life, based on a measurement of 30 percent brightness with 30 minutes a day of reading and WiFi and Bluetooth switched off.

Much like the Kobo Clara, you’ll need WiFi if you’re to download titles without a computer, and you might read for longer than half an hour daily, so we expect that battery life to sit closer to two weeks, which isn’t bad for a full colour tablet of sorts.

“We are pleased to be the first global ebook platform to offer affordable colour eReaders, bringing both your books and our bookstore to life with a beautiful spectrum of gentle hues,” said Michael Tamblyn, CEO of Rakuten Kobo.

“For Kobo, colour is a way of deepening and enriching the reading experience, while keeping the daylight readability and battery longevity that E-Ink screens deliver so well,” he said.

Perhaps most interesting is that any current book you have with colour pictures will load in colour on the new crop of colour Kobo models, largely because the EPUB files were encoded with colour in the first place. They’re not likely to be black and white only, with the only limitation being the screen of the eReader itself.

However, it’s worth noting that Kobo will still have monochrome eReaders out in the market, with the current larger Elipsa 2E out, as well as a new generation of Clara coming in the $239.95 Clara BW, which uses an e-ink Carta 1300 greyscale electronic ink screen and replaces the older generation of black and white Libra 2.

Clearly, not everyone will need colour, but if you do want it in an eReader, you’ll find both the $269 Clara Colour and $360 Libra Colour in pre-order from April 10, with in-store availability from April 30.

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