A pair of new Kobo e-readers are browsing the company’s high-end options, adding audiobook and Bluetooth stylus support to the now-familiar asymmetric design of its larger devices. The Sage and Libra 2 also get a new charging cover, so you only have to plug the device in every few months rather than every few weeks.
The Sage is the top of the line of the two models, being an evolution of the Forma, which I have reviewed here. The excellent 8 â³, 300 PPI display and color adjustable screen light are the same, so rest assured that the reading experience will continue to be excellent. Likewise, the Libra 2 is the sequel to the Libra H2O (they ditch the H2O, but it’s still waterproof), with the same type of display and a 7 â³ light instead. (If you want smaller, the Clara is still the better shot.)
New to both players is Bluetooth audio which can be used exclusively to send Kobo audiobooks to your wireless headset of choice. While it’s always nice to have new features, it’s a bit of a surprise that Kobo has decided to limit this to its own service. The company has generally been very open to different formats and services, allowing you to load any document formats you want on their drives – so it’s surprising that the approach here is more restricted. It is possible that links with other services (like the solid integration of Pocket devices) are just coming. Both drives come with 32GB of built-in storage to accommodate this new space-grabbing feature.
However, only the Sage supports Kobo’s new stylus, which was first used on the new large-type Ellipsa. It was useful there but mostly due to the larger format leaving the necessary space for sketching and taking notes. It’s hard to predict if this utility will go down to the smallest (but still the big side for an e-reader), but we should be able to gauge it when we take a look at it.
The form factor of the devices has unfortunately gained somewhat in size and weight. The Forma and Libra H2O stood out with what you might call their âside chin,â a wedge-shaped bezel that you can use to hold and operate the e-reader with one hand. Although I generally prefer symmetrical things, the form factor (pioneer, it must be said, by Amazon with the Oasis) grew on me, in part because the screen part of the device is so thin. that it looks rather futuristic and of course takes up very little space.
The new Sage and Libra 2 are definitely bulkier, without an extra-thin screen portion, instead of being as thick as the thickest section throughout. It’s a clean design in some ways and as far as I know it may even be more comfortable to hold, but it’s hard enough to find a pocket that the Forma fits into. And it doesn’t help that both are around 20% heavier. While technically that’s only a few tens of grams and 3 or 4 millimeters, part of the appeal of e-readers to start with is that they’re thin and light.
Either way, it might not matter once you’ve put a case on these things – there’s a new evolution of the SleepCover, which automatically turns the device on or off when you put it on. ‘open, in the PowerCover, which also loads the device it protects. Of course, that will probably add another few hundred grams …
While I do complain about those small design and dimensional changes, the screen and front lighting are still best-in-class and Kobo’s software is excellent and easy to read. We’ll see how these new devices stack up against the old ones as soon as we get a chance to review them.
The Kobo Sage will retail for $ 260 and the Libra 2 will cost $ 180 when they ship on October 19. You can pre-order them now if you’re feeling lucky.