I just spent a few weeks reading books on three Kobo ereaders to learn which one is better in different situations. By situations, I mean reading in bed, or in the tub, or outside, or while sitting at the dining room table. During my time with these, I read in a variety of places including at home (inside and outside in the garden on a sunny day), on the ferry, in my truck …. My wife also used them, and her opinions surprised me a little. I learned some things about these devices that I did not know just from reading reviews. And though I liked reading on all three devices that Kobo lent to me, I did have a clear favourite.

What’s the difference between a Kobo Nia, a Kobo Libra H2O, and a Kobo Elipsa

Three Kobo ereaders

Firstly, I enjoyed reading on all three Kobo ereaders. I used to have a Kobo several years ago (one similar to the Nia). I loved it and was very upset to have it stolen. So I was looking forward to trying Kobo again. I enjoy pretty much everything about the Kobo experience: setting each of these up was simple, intuitive even. Creating an account with Kobo takes only a few minutes; however, I didn’t need to create an account. Instead, I recovered a long lost password from my old account. Happily, all of the books that had been on my old Kobo were there, and these immediately downloaded onto the three ereaders I was setting up. Also, finding new books I wanted to read, purchasing them, and downloading them could not have been easier.

While I had these ereaders, I regularly switched where and on what device I was reading. For example, before sleeping one night I might read on the least expensive Kobo Nia. The next morning, I might spend a half-hour with the Elipsa while I ate my breakfast at the dining room table. Over lunch, I might use the Libra on the patio in the sun. Regularly mixing it up allowed me to get a sense of which device I preferred in different situations. Let me break down some simple observations about each device:

Kobo Elipsa has the most complete ereader experience

kobo elipsa ereaderMany people think of the Kobo experience as limited to reading. However, there is much more to the Kobo than reading. The Kobo that I used to own was given to me complete with a protective case. I didn’t use the case all the time (it was bulky) but definitely had it when I was travelling, or reading in the car (where it was when stolen!). So if a protective cover is important to you, you can purchase a cover for any Kobo; however, one obviously great feature about the Elipsa is that is comes complete with a cover. Also included is a stylus for writing on the screen, that clicks right into the cover so it’s out of the way when you aren’t using it.

So, that is the first big differentiator for the Kobo Elipsa: it comes with great accessories! More importantly, though, is the size difference. The Elipsa is big: 10.3 inches, or basically the size of a piece of loose-leaf paper. That comparison is important because the Elipsa is excellent for making notes, either right on the book you are reading or in a notebook that you can create right on the Elipsa.

I have never been someone who writes on physical books. NEVER! My wife, however, marks up her books all the time … in pen (drives me nuts!). If you know someone like that, then the Elipsa might be perfect for them. Of course you can upload PDFs and other documents and mark those up too. For example, my wife is an English teacher who marks many essays each semester; she could easily upload those papers to the Elipsa, and mark them using the pen, then send them back to her computer to return the feedback to the students. The Kobo Stylus is easy to use, but not to lose since it securely fits right at the top of the device within the case waiting for you to use it.

Like all Kobo ereaders, the Elipsa is easy to set up and use. Turn it on or off using the small button located on the side. Charge it by plugging in the included USB-C cable to the port on next to the power button. It will hold a charge for a couple weeks. Over the three weeks that I tested these ereaders, using all three every day, I only changed each of them once.

Kobo Elipsa is perfect for travelling

Travellers love Kobo ereaders for many reasons: take dozens of books with you in a device that takes almost no space in your luggage and not even have to be concerned about charging it. The Elipsa, though, offers a more complete ereader experience. I often get ideas while reading, especially while travelling. The Elipsa gives travellers the opportunity to jot down notes right on the device they are using for reading. Switching back and forth from a notepad to a book you’re reading is so easy … tap the screen to bring up the notepads, make your notes using the stylus, then click the stylus back into place and go right back to reading. Kobo always remembers where you left off, so you never lose your place.

And I’m sure for many people the larger sized screen will be just what they were hoping to see arrive in an ereader for home and for travelling. Until now, ereaders were all sized similarly to most novels. The Nia and Libra H2O are the basic size we’ve come to expect. Now people have another size option in the Elipsa. And it has all of the features that people love in a Kobo but with a bigger screen, a Kobo Stylus, and a cover all included.

Kobo Nia is small, lightweight, and a great device for people on the go

kobo nia ereaderAs I stated before, the Kobo Nia is similar to the Kobo I had previously owned. You turn it on using a small button on the bottom of the device. Next to that button is the small USB charging port: it comes with a charging cable. There are no other buttons: navigation and controls are conveniently done right on the touch screen (as with all Kobo ereaders). I had no issues with responsiveness of the screen. In fact, this was one of the characteristics my wife liked best. She had used a kindle in the past and had told me that she did not like the ereader experience. However, she read a couple novels using these Kobo while they were in our home and now she said she wants a Nia (her preference because of the size and the lack of buttons).

The Nia is the smallest of the three devices at six inches diagonal. It’s really a perfect take-anywhere companion for reading. It fits in a jacket pocket; it is really lite, it’s easy to read in the dark thanks to its backlighting, and is as good as any paperbook in bright sunlight, thanks to the e-ink display. Also, this size is great for flipping pages with a touch of a finger while holding it in one hand. You can hold a cup of coffee in one hand and the Nia in the other and navigate the book, your library etc with ease. All told, if it was up to my wife, I’d be purchasing a Nia soon. However, the Nia was not my favourite ….

Kobo Libra H2O adds a couple features that I don’t want to live without

Kobo libra h2O ereader

It’s true, the Nia is a wonderful ereader and I liked its features a lot. However the Kobo Libra H2O has two additional features that stand out for me. First it’s waterproof and I like to read in the tub. If I had a Nia, I would take the risk and still read it in the tub, but spending a bit more (the Libra costs a little more than the Nia) is worth it for a waterproof device. More important for me is the extra large bezel on the one side with buttons. I had no idea how much I would love that feature. Clicking on the buttons to advance or reverse pages with my thumb felt natural. My wife, however, preferred the Nia and didn’t feel the buttons added convenience. I loved it and would get the Libra just for that feature.

The Libra is turned on using a button on the back, and charged via the small USB port on its side. As such the experience using it is very similar to the Nia and you can do pretty much everything you’d want in an ereader (apart from writing on the screen with a stylus—only the Elipsa allows that) from downloading new books, to touching a word on the screen to access the onboard dictionary: believe me this is a critical component if you read older texts (I’m thinking Dickens here) or writers with a brilliant vocabulary (e.g., Anthony Burgess, especially his amazing epic Earthly Powers). You can also make annotations using the onscreen keyboard. But if annotations are your thing, then you should really consider the Elipsa.

Kobo ereaders are perfect for anyone who enjoys reading

I have not read as many books since my Kobo was stolen several years ago and blamed it on life getting too busy. The fact is, I read more books with a Kobo. I read faster and with better comprehension … and I enjoy reading more. Just after these three Kobos arrived for my to try, I posted a query on Twitter asking people what I should read for this project. I received many suggestions. You can see two of those suggestions in the images above of books that I read. One thing I love about Kobo though is their email newsletter with suggestions for new books to read. Often it includes special offers, like the offer to purchase “Klara and the Sun” for only $4.99. These offers are usually time-sensitive and I jumped on that one! The book is Ishiguro’s newest that just came out this year and wow did I ever love it. My wife did too: she read it on the Kobo Nia.

After testing these out I told my wife that for a Christmas present she can get me a Kobo ereader and my preference is the Libra H20. She replied that we can’t wait for Christmas; as soon as I send these devices back to Kobo, she wants me to buy one for us. She wants the Nia, I want the Libra H20. Perhaps we will end up with two!

254 COMMENTS

  1. The Libra suits me as I work in construction and often take my current super old basic kindle with me to read while waiting for morning meetings or during breaks. The size is perfect for sticking in my glovebox or my lunchbag and the water resistance is great for Vancouver weather. Sometimes I stop to try new coffee shops or find beaches and parks on my commute home where I can stop for a quick few chapters. Before bed I will read physical books or with my phone because I don’t have a backlight on my Kindle. A Kobo eReader sounds like a wonderful gift for someone on the go who enjoys reading.

  2. Thank you so much for this contest. My old Kobo finally died and i have been using my husbands. Would love the Nia as it;s small and compact for my trips to and from work on the bus.

  3. Kobo Nia would be my go to since I’m constantly commuting to work using the TTC. During the winter time I normally wear a big jacket, which allows me to walk around with a novel in the pockets (yeah the pockets are huge!) so the Kobo Nia would be perfect for me. In addition I don’t like the additional buttons, so something slick with the lack of buttons would be great. In addition, the backlighting would be excellent to have when I’m waiting for the bus, or just want to read when my partner falls asleep and I don’t want to keep the light on in our bedroom. All in all, the hope would be to have my Kobo Nia in one pocket, my cellphone in the other, and my Air Pods on while I make my commute to work.

    • Hi Aman, sounds like a good plan. Like you I definitely like books and e-readers that fit my pocket. I used to commute to work, on buses or trains, and I like bringing my current reads anywhere I go without having to carry a bag.

  4. I’d love the Kobo Libra H2O. My mother is a huge reader and loves to read by the pool and in the pool. She also just renovated her bathroom and can now take baths in her new tub and this would be perfect for that as well. The physical buttons are also a welcome feature that she would love.

  5. I would choose the Kobo Elipsa Pack with 10.3″ Digital eReader, Stylus & SleepCover Case I love the bigger size of 10.3″ and a big one for me is the Comfort Light for an effortless reading experience Love it!

  6. I would be between the Elipsa and the Libra H20. The ability to write on pages would be pretty great but I find the majority of my reading is in the tub so the Libra might be the safer option. The Nia would be better if you did a lot of travelling and lacked extra room.

  7. As an older adult, the The Elipsa is big: 10.3 inches, or basically the size of a piece of loose-leaf, and so important for making notes and even larger letters for reading easier. This would be my choice. I have an older version but I don’t use it much as it doesn’t have the accessories this one would have. thanks for the opportunity!!

  8. The Kobo Elipsa would be my choice because it comes with the stylus and cover, not to mention that you can write notes on pages will be super handy.

  9. I think my favorite is the Kobo Elipsa. I love the bigger screen. Much easier on the eyes to read. I’m beyond caring if anyone see my big print lol. But honestly they are all really good. Thanks for the chance

  10. I’d love to win the Kobo Elipsa since I’m going into university very soon and it would be nice to draught down notes, that can’t be typed in

  11. Having an Elipsa would be great. I have spent some time doing mathematics in my spare time, and I would like to do calculations on an Elipsa rather than using a pen and paper; this would make it easier to keep my work and retrieve it if needed.

  12. Kobo Elipsa – as far as Ereaders go it is simply the best option for options. The ability to use a stylus in innovative and sure to be handy for an avid reader.

  13. The Kobo Elipsa would be my choice, 10″ is the perfect size for an E-Reader IMO and having a stylus for note taking in class or marking up textbooks would be a dream

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