Kobo’s great color e-readers are held back by lock-in

Kobo's new color e-readers are aesthetically appealing but hampered by restrictive book purchasing systems.

: Kobo's Libra Colour and Clara Colour e-readers offer color displays and features like Overdrive, but their primary focus appears to be on selling books. Both devices are lightweight and sturdy, with the Libra featuring note-taking capabilities. However, users face significant frustration with their limited library integration and a cumbersome book borrowing process.

Kobo has introduced two new e-readers, the Libra Colour and Clara Colour, priced at $219.99 and $149.99 respectively, both utilizing Kaleido 3 displays for color rendering. These devices are both lightweight and sturdy, offering quick navigation and the ability to highlight text in color, a step up from previous color e-readers, although the colors are not especially vibrant.

Despite these advantages, the primary shortcoming of Kobo's e-readers is their focus on selling books rather than providing a seamless reading experience. Borrowing books through Overdrive is convoluted, requiring navigating multiple steps and dealing with a poorly developed built-in web browser that lacks convenient features.

Additionally, users are restricted to accessing books primarily from Kobo’s bookstore, and switching between different library cards adds further frustration. Comparison to the Boox ecosystem and iPad reveals that Kobo's approach to lock-in seems antiquated and overly restrictive, negating the benefits of their otherwise well-designed e-readers.