Kobo beats Kindle with its first colour ebook readers

Kobo's new ebook readers deliver colour e-ink for a surprisingly low price

Kobo Libra Colour
(Image credit: Kobo)

As much as we love ebook readers such as Amazon's best Kindles and Kobo's Clara, there's one thing they don't do: colour. And while colour e-ink has been around for some time, it hasn't made it into mainstream ebook devices. Or at least, it hasn't until now. The new Kobo Libra Colour and Kobo Clara Colour, which are available for pre-order from today (10 April 2024), have colour e-ink displays.

The two models differ in three key ways. The Libra is a seven-inch model, has 32GB of storage and works with the Kobo Stylus 2 for annotating and jotting down notes, and the Clara is six inches, has 16GB, and doesn't. But they both have what Kobo calls a Kaleido 3 touchscreen, and that's the fun bit.

What's so great about colour e-ink?

It's more visually interesting, it can aid comprehension, and it's really great for graphic novels. However, the tech for colour e-ink isn't quite as affordable and advanced as its black and white equivalent, so when you go from grayscale to colour on your Kobo the resolution drops from print-like 300ppi to 150ppi. If that's a drop too far there's also a new grayscale Kobo Clara, the Kobo Clara BW.

Like their Kindle rivals, both devices have Bluetooth for headphone listening. They also work with the Overdrive app, which enables you to get ebooks from your local library – something Kindles don't currently offer, and a key reason to consider a Kobo over its Amazon rivals. 

According to Rakuten Kobo CEO Michael Tamblin, "For Kobo, colour is a way of deepening and enriching the reading experience, while keeping the daylight readability and battery longevity that E Ink screens deliver so well.”

I'm surprised by how keenly priced these ebook readers are. The Kobo Libra Colour is £199.99, and the Clara Colour is £139.99. If like me you're a convert to scribbling on e-ink, the closest Amazon equivalent to the Libra Colour is the Kindle Scribe. That's bigger, but it doesn't have colour and it costs considerably more: from £329.99. It's an excellent device – I have one and use it a lot – but the Kobo's colour makes it potentially a much better option for highlighting and doodling alike. I can't wait to try one out.

The new Kobo e-readers will be shipping from 30 April 2024.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).