Entertainment Kindle vs Kobo | TechRadar
Kindle vs Kobo | TechRadar
If you’re after the best ereader, then you’ll likely already have encountered one of the biggest conundrums – Kindle vs. Kobo.
Kindle, of course, is owned by Amazon while Rakuten owns Kobo. Both make exquisite ereaders to suit all types of readers and budgets, but they are cut from different cloth. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.
Kindle vs Kobo price and available models
There are six ereaders in Kobo’s current range, from the basic 6-inch Kobo Nia ($99.99 / £89.99 / AU$149.95) and 6-inch Kobo Clara HD ($129.99 / £109.99 / AU$179.95), through the mid-range 7-inch Kobo Libra 2 ($179.99 / £159.99 / AU$279.99) and 8-inch Kobo Forma ($279.99 / £239.99 / AU$429.95), and finally to the high-end 8-inch Kobo Sage ($259.99 / £239.99 / AU$439.99) and 8-inch Kobo Elipsa ($399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95).
What’s the best Kindle? There are also six Kindle devices to consider right now, comprising with the basic 6-inch Kindle (£79.99 / $109.99 / AU$150), 6-inch Kindle Kids ($109.99 / £99.99 / AU$185), 6.8-inch Kindle Paperwhite (2021) ($139.99 / £139.99 / AU$260), 6.8-inch Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition ($189.99 / £179.99 / AU$289), 6.8-inch Kindle Paperwhite Kids ($159.99 / £139.99 / AU$232) and 7-inch Kindle Oasis ($249.99 / £229.99 / AU$399). It’s worth knowing that some of the Kindles are available for a slightly lower price if you don’t mind seeing adverts.
Kindle vs Kobo design, display and features
Though only Kobo makes an 8-inch device (the largest Kindle has a 7-inch display), most features are available from both brands. You can expect from 167ppi (pixels per inch) up to 300ppi displays, some covered in plastic and others glass.
IPX8 water resistance is available from both, as are adjustable illuminated displays for reading in the dark. However, only the Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition has a front light with an ambient light sensor that auto-adjusts its brightness. That device is also capable of wireless charging, which Kobo doesn’t offer at all.
A new and increasingly popular feature available from both Kobo and Kindle is Bluetooth, great for pairing wireless earphones, primarily for listening to audiobooks. The same goes for page-turn buttons, which make it easier to navigate a book while holding an ereader in one hand.
Kindle vs Kobo storage and connectivity
Current ereaders from both Kobo and Kindle go from 8GB through to 32GB of onboard storage. We’re not convinced it’s that important unless you intend to cram an insane number of audiobooks onto your e-reader at the same time, as otherwise, the basic 8GB can store many hundreds of ebooks.
Kobo devices offer basic WiFi across the entire range, which will suffice for most users, and that’s true on most Kindles, too, although dual-band WiFi is now available on the newer Paperwhite models.
Amazon used to give Kindle users cellular connectivity for downloading ebooks too (and checking email) while away from WiFi, though that’s now only an option on its flagship Kindle Oasis.
Kindle vs Kobo software, side-loading and storefronts
The most important differences between the Kindle and Kobo are in their software. Both devices are slick enough, but Kobo tends to have more options for customising everything from screensavers and ebook collections to font sizes and spacing.
Kindle’s recently-refreshed OS has two tabs, one for the user’s library of ebooks and the other for recommendations. Kobo’s OS is a bit more comprehensive, with multiple tabs for ebooks, notes and Kobo’s own store.
Both ereaders offer direct access to online stores hosting many millions of ebooks. The major difference between Kindle and Kobo is that the former is locked to the Amazon store and the latter offers a more widely accessible experience. Kindles are best for those happy to download ebooks (and Audible audiobooks) to their device only from Amazon, whether via one-time downloads or while using Kindle Unlimited and/or Amazon Prime reading.
However, Kindles only support AZW ebook files and not EPUB. While it’s possible to convert and transfer other document formats onto Kindle (principally by emailing documents for conversion or by using third-party software, like Calibre (opens in new tab)), it’s time-consuming.
Kobo offers unlimited reading via Kobo Plus while its ereaders natively support all kinds of file formats from EPUB and MOBI to PDF and CBZ and CBR Comic Book formats, all of which can be side-loaded.
Kindle vs Kobo note-taking
It’s not much talked about, but ereaders from Kindle and Kobo allow readers to highlight passages of text and type notes by pressing, holding and dragging a finger across text. On a Kindle those notes are fully searchable within an online notebook and accessible via the Kindle app on a smartphone.
For Kobo it’s more basic, with no online notebook. However, the step-up Kobo Elipsa, Kobo Forma and Kobo Sage are note-taking ereaders in their own way, with ‘digitizer’ screens that allow handwriting and drawings to appear when using the Kobo Stylus ($39.99 / £39.99 / AU$69.95).
You can scribble in the margins of ebooks, create virtual notebooks, convert handwritten notes to digital text and even sketch, but there’s no way to attach a scribbled note to highlighted text (you have to use an onscreen keyboard for that).
If you’re a self-confessed reading nerd who wants to customise the book cover that shows on your e-reader, curate collections and tinker with the parameters of text, go for a Kobo.
That goes double if you want to bring in other ebooks and documents in other formats. However, if you’re a bit less demanding and you’re fine with just downloading books from Amazon, a Kindle is probably going to be the most convenient option for you.
Either way, both of these brands make excellent ereaders and we’ve reviewed the lot. Check the links throughout this feature to find learn more on any of the ereaders mentioned.