Kobo has brought the Clara back in the form of the Clara 2E, an eReader that sits somewhere in the middle between entry-level and premium. It’s been four years since Kobo released the Clara HD, which was, at the time, the company’s entry-level eReader. Now with the Nia available as a more affordable option, the Clara 2E stands out as a step up from that. It also feels like a significant departure and upgrade from the Clara HD because it incorporates several features currently available throughout the rest of Kobo’s lineup.

How the Kobo Clara 2E looks

The previous Clara HD focused more on a sharper display and lighter body. That was really convenient at the time, except it didn’t include key features, like a water-resistant body. All that’s changed here with the Clara 2E, starting with IPX8 water resistance, making this device well suited for the pool or tub.

While a tad wider, the Clara 2E is pretty much the same size and weight as its predecessor. What makes it unique is that Kobo says 85% of the body was made with recycled plastics. Of that, 10% is ocean-bound plastic. The recycled materials are a mixture of water bottles, CDs, DVDs, and other single-use plastics. As someone who believes in the idea of reusing plastic for consumer goods, I think it’s a cool development. No word on whether Kobo will do this with other future eReaders, so we’ll have to wait and see.

What might simplify this process is how simple the Clara 2E’s body is. Apart from the power button in the rear and USB-C port at the bottom, there’s nothing else to note. The body wraps around the 6-inch E Ink 1200 Carta display, which is snappier and sharper than previous models. Plus, there’s ComfortLight Pro to change the colour temperature. If you want Dark Mode, that’s in here, too.

Kobo doubled the internal storage to 16GB, good enough for up to 12,000 ebooks or 75 audiobooks. Yes, that’s right, the Clara 2E joins the Libra 2, Sage, and Elipsa in supporting audiobooks. Pair headphones or a speaker and you can listen to a book rather than reading it.

Reading on the Clara 2E

The Clara 2E doesn’t really change how you read ebooks, it just offers a relatively smaller device to do it with. It shares similar dimensions to the Nia, so it felt very much like I was holding that device while reading on it, save for the very obvious differences. For one, the Nia’s display doesn’t change to a warmer tone at night. Not to mention the Clara 2E is also sharper to look at. Plus, the Nia isn’t waterproof at all.

Essentially, this device is a smaller variant of the Libra 2 and Sage because it shares in features they introduced. The key difference is the Clara 2E is far more portable—small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. Having also tested those devices, plus the Nia, I often felt like I was holding an amalgamation of all three. The Clara HD was about the same size, but the Clara 2E just feels like a different product altogether.

While I’m personally more a fan of 7-inch displays on eReaders, I really liked the Clara 2E. Sharper text is always nice, especially on a smaller screen, but I also appreciated the quicker feel in navigating my way around. Much of the interface is the same, though a software update did bring in a useful tweak—when reading anything, swipe down from the top and you will see your last three books, fast-tracking how you can switch between them. Features not fully polished fall under Beta Features in the More menu.

Kobo still supports integration with Pocket and OverDrive, the latter of which lets you borrow ebooks from your local library. Pocket lets you read articles you’ve saved through the app on your phone or computer. You can find those under My Articles inside Menu.

Listening to audiobooks

There are no real surprises here other than that you can just listen to audiobooks from Kobo’s own library. Unlike ebooks, where you can load your own EPUB or PDF, among other formats, onto the Clara 2E by plugging it into your computer, no such luck for audiobooks. It won’t accept audiobook files from other sources.

It was easy enough to pair the device with headphones, earbuds, or a speaker via Bluetooth to listen to the content. The Clara 2E doesn’t have its own speakers, nor a headphone jack, so wireless headphones or speakers are necessary. So is buying audiobooks or subscribing to Kobo’s audiobooks service. Note that this service is wholly separate from Kobo Plus, the all-you-can-read subscription service offering hundreds of thousands of ebooks to download as you please.

You can also read ebooks or listen to audiobooks using Kobo’s mobile app on iOS or Android. If you have a computer handy, the Kobo site also offers the same access.

Battery life and upkeep

Battery life will probably last days or weeks before you have to plug in to charge. Reading ebooks doesn’t tax the battery all that much, even if you do play around with screen brightness. Audiobooks are a different story, and will likely take more out of it if you listen consistently. Assuming you devote, say, an hour or two to reading or listening every day, the battery should last for a couple of weeks at minimum.

I did test the Clara 2E with a SleepCover case, and I do recommend getting one if you plan to commute with the device. An added benefit is the case’s cover immediately puts the eReader to sleep when you close it, thereby saving battery life in the longer term.

Final thoughts

The Clara 2E hits a sweet spot for Kobo’s lineup. Small enough to match the company’s smallest option (Nia), while feature-packed to complement the larger models, it’s a compelling choice. It doesn’t hurt that it has an excellent screen, lightweight body, and good access to content. There’s plenty of room for it anyway, as 16GB is a lot for any eReader, especially if your library will mostly consist of text.

The Kobo Clara 2E is available now, along with SleepCover cases to protect it.

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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