Kobo Libra Colour sitting on side table.

Kobo is releasing its first ever colour eReaders, coming in two distinct models: the Kobo Libra Colour and Kobo Clara Colour. This is something of a milestone for the company, which has never produced a device with a colour display before, as all previous models used monochrome E Ink Carta 1200 displays.

Introducing colour stands as an upgrade for both the Clara Colour and Libra Colour, though they are otherwise very similar to their non-colour predecessors. Rather than a major overhaul or upgrade, Kobo is tweaking the components inside to accommodate the new displays.

What to expect from the new Kobo Libra Colour

Starting with the Libra Colour, it uses a 7-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 display that brings a colour scheme to the screen. Bring E Ink, colours are more muted rather than the saturated kind you may be used to on a phone or tablet screen, but it should change what it’s like to view ebooks’ covers and coloured elements like maps, photos, etc. That makes sense since the gamut is only 4,096 colours compared to the millions on LCD and OLED screens.

The Libra Colour largely sticks to a familiar feature set, though Kobo upgraded the processor to a 2GHz chip and slotting in a bigger 2050mAh battery. It’s not clear how much additional battery power the Kaleido 3 display requires, but the specs indicate that resolution drops to 150dpi in colour mode compared to the standard 300dpi in monochrome, so text may appear sharper when there’s no colour at all.

Using Kobo Stylus 2 with Kobo Libra Colour.

The page-turn buttons are back for efficient one-handed use, and if you want, you can now use the (separately sold) Kobo Stylus 2 with this model to doodle or scribble notes onto the screen. Previously, only Kobo’s Elipsa models supported the pen, so this is a first in expanding compatibility that way. There is 32GB of storage on the device to store your library of ebooks and other documents. Now that there’s colour, comic books and graphic novels should look very different.

If you want audiobooks, you can get those too. The Libra Colour retains Bluetooth support to listen to audiobooks available from Kobo’s store. For those with a library card, OverDrive is also there to borrow ebooks from your local library. Pocket is another way to read articles and other text snipped from the web. Kobo is adding Google Drive into the mix for cloud access as an option together with Dropbox to access files you have stored on either platform.

What to expect from the new Kobo Clara Colour

Kobo Clara Colour sitting on a towel.

The new Kobo Clara Colour is very much an offshoot of the Clara 2E in that it sticks with the same design and form factor. The obvious difference is the 6-inch E Ink Kaleido 3 display to add colour, including the ability to use the Stylus 2 if you want that. What’s less obvious from image is the faster processor inside and the 16GB of storage to enable the Clara Colour to do things faster and store more ebooks. That also helps with audiobooks, given the Bluetooth support here as well. It’s worth noting that Google Drive isn’t available on this device.

Like the Libra Colour, the new Clara Colour has IPX8 protection, so you won’t have a problem reading anything in the pool or tub. Just don’t take it into saltwater. Kobo also made both from recycled plastic—particularly the outer frame—maintaining its commitment to manufacturing greener devices going forward.

In addition to the Clara Colour, Kobo also announced the Clara BW, an upgraded monochrome model that will use the newer Carta 1300 E Ink display, which should produce deeper blacks for sharper-looking text. It’s also faster technology so pages will refresh more quickly for smoother page turns.

Pre-order yours today at Best Buy

The new Kobo Libra Colour comes in black or white, while the Clara Colour comes in black, just like the new monochrome Clara BW. You can pre-order any of them now, with availability starting April 30.

Ted Kritsonis
Editor Cellular/Mobile Technology
I’m a fortunate man in being able to do the fun job of following and reporting on one of the most exciting industries in the world today. In my time covering consumer tech, I’ve written for a number of publications, including the Globe and Mail, Yahoo! Canada, CBC.ca, Canoe, Digital Trends, MobileSyrup, G4 Tech, PC World, Faze and AppStorm. I’ve also appeared on TV as a tech expert for Global, CTV and the Shopping Channel.


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