Kobo Clara Colour with ebook cover in colour.

The Kobo Clara Colour is the company’s first budget-friendly eReader to bring colour to its E Ink display. That’s right, its 6-inch screen no longer displays everything in monochrome, changing how more than just ebooks appear on it.

Despite adding colour to the Clara for the first time, the device doesn’t come across as any sort of trendsetter when you judge it on its face. Dig deeper, however, and the Clara Colour comes stacked with value adds worth considering.

Familiar design, new screen

Compare the Clara Colour’s body to that of the previous Clara 2E and you’ll find the same dimensions. This is still very much a one-handed device that’s easier to slip into a pocket or bag than other Kobo models, save for the Nia, which hasn’t seen an upgrade in years.

Made from recycled materials, the outer shell feels sturdy and well-built, and the back features a textured finish to help a little with how you grip it. It’s a matte and smooth finish, so comes with the potential for the Clara Colour to slip out of your hands, and why Kobo also offers a separately sold silicone slip-on Clear Case for a little extra grip and protection. Kobo sent me one as part of this review and it did make a difference that way.

Kobo Clara Colour eReader laying on table.

The bigger difference, of course, is the fact you can see in colour on this thing. This was a long time coming for Kobo, and apart from the more premium Libra Colour, the Clara Colour is currently the only other model in the company’s lineup with a colour screen. It’s an E Ink Kaleido 3 display capable of showing up to 4,096 colours, which is why they’ll look more muted here compared to an LCD or OLED panel. For that reason alone, don’t expect visuals comparable to tablets or phones because that’s not how E Ink tech works.

Still, colour opens up more content on the device, like graphic novels, comics books and images or maps that may appear in ebooks. Moreover, you can highlight passages and choose among four different colours to organize them how you want.

Reading on the Clara Colour

Highlighting a passage on Kobo Clara Colour.

The Clara Colour retains the IPX8 protection from the Clara 2E, so you can use it in a pool or tub without issue. Just don’t do it in saltwater because there’s no protection from sand and salt. General controls stay the same, where you just tap on either side to turn the page. Tap up top to access the main menu or at the bottom to scroll through the book or get to the table of contents. Hold on a word to get a definition, or hold and slide to highlight a passage. Tap on the right-hand corner to bookmark a page.

Despite colour thrown in, you can use Kobo’s ComfortLight Pro settings to adjust colour temperature for the whole display, letting you go with a warmer tone in darker surroundings, whereas bright sunlight doesn’t affect the screen’s anti-glare finish. You can also choose Dark Mode in the settings to invert the black and white portions of the screen if that’s easier on the eyes. You may get the odd bright light bulb reflecting off the display but you’ll rarely run into issues reading anything here.

Comics are a bit small on the 6-inch display, which can require zooming at times, but it’s never been more convenient to read visual mediums like that on a Kobo device. Plus, Kobo’s file format support extends to a variety of options, including EPUB, EPUB3 and PDF, but also MOBI, TXT, HTML, CBZ, CBR and RTF files, along with JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG and BMP images. If you have comics on your computer in CBZ or CBR, you can quickly transfer them over when you plug in the Clara Colour to a Mac or PC.

Expanding content choices

Looking at an audiobook on Kobo Clara Colour.

Apart from ebooks you can get through Kobo, you can always sideload your own through a computer or borrow some from a local public library. OverDrive support continues here letting you browse and borrow ebooks available from the public library. Really helpful if you want to read something and save a little money in the process.

One key difference between the Clara and Libra Colour eReaders is the latter lets you access Dropbox and Google Drive to load up documents from the cloud, whereas the Clara Colour doesn’t. While you can read articles you saved from the web through Pocket, there aren’t other unique tie-ins with this device.

That also goes for audiobooks. Kobo’s audiobook store is readily available, and all you need is a pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds to start listening. It’s just that the audiobooks must come from that store because there’s no way to sideload your own.

The Clara Colour comes with 16GB of storage—the same as the previous Clara—good enough for up to 12,000 ebooks or 75 audiobooks. Mix it up between ebooks, audiobooks and your own files, and you may need to be mindful of how much storage you have. For the most part, though, it should be enough.

Battery life

Back of the Kobo Clara Colour.

Battery life is a little tough to completely nail down because of all the variables involved. Kobo says the Clara Colour lasts up to 42 days, based on 30 minutes of reading per day with the screen at 30% brightness. Plus, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both off. You’re likely getting less than that if you’re reading every day or listening to audiobooks on it regularly, but I would say you can still measure the battery in weeks rather than days.

You can easily charge it via the USB-C port, and it takes two hours to fully charge. Note that it takes about an hour to get to 95%, with the remaining 5% taking another hour. Why so long? Because trickle-charging the last bit is better for the lithium battery’s longer-term health.

Final thoughts on the Kobo Clara Colour

The Kobo Clara Colour replaces the Clara 2E in the most obvious way, which is the colour screen. They otherwise share a lot in common, right down to design, dimensions, interface, and accessories. It’s also the more affordable choice compared to the Libra Colour if you want colour but not necessarily all the features that one offers. Small enough to fit in a pocket or bag for a commute or trip, it makes it way easier to take your library with you, especially now that it’s no longer monochrome.

The Kobo Clara Colour 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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