Kobo Clara 2E Review: Affordable eReader Gets Big Upgrades Including Audiobook Support, Waterproof Rating, And Eco-Friendly Design

Kobo Clara 2E Review: Affordable eReader Gets Big Upgrades Including Audiobook Support, Waterproof Rating, And Eco-Friendly Design

In the Kobo eReader lineup, the Clara series has occupied something of a sweet spot. It’s compact, affordable and a step up from the entry-level Nia. While other models like the Sage (reviewed here) target hardcore digital reading fans with features like a super-sized 8-inch screen, and physical buttons, the Clara is aimed at delivering a solid mainstream eReader experience. It even includes premium features from the more expensive Kobo eReaders, namely the company’s excellent ComfortLight PRO. The latest version of the Kobo Clara is the new Clara 2E, and it offers some serious upgrades over the previous generation Clara HD.

Upgrades For the Clara 2E

The basic form factor of the Clara 2E hasn’t changed much from the model it replaces. It’s a black, hard plastic device with a 6-inch display. There are minor changes like a different textured pattern to its back and it’s ever so slightly larger (fractions of an inch and a fraction of an ounce heavier).

It still has advanced Kobo features including the excellent ComfortLight Pro (with adjustable color temperature), TypeGenius, and built-in OverDrive support (for borrowing eBooks from libraries). It’s designed to be a no frills eReader, but one that delivers some high-end features for a better user experience.

For 2022, Kobo managed to keep the $129.99 launch price of the Clara HD (no small feat in these times), while also delivering an impressive list of upgrades. Here’s what’s new:

  • Gets a new E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with dark mode
  • Onboard storage doubles to 16GB
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth with audiobook support
  • USB-C charging
  • IPX8 water resistance (up to 60 minutes in six feet of water)

Any one of these would be a win, but put together they make for a much improved eReader equipped for modern users. However, there’s one more change that’s worth spiking out on its own.

Kobo’s First eReader Made With Ocean-Bound and Recycled Plastic

It’s not a functional feature, but the Clara 2E may sway you with its green approach. Kobo says the Clara 2E’s case is comprised of more than 85% recycled plastic, including 10% ocean-bound plastic. The company states its goal in making this move is to divert over 200,000 plastic bottles from oceans and to keep more than one million CDs and DVDs out of landfill sites over the next year. SleepCovers for the Clara 2E will also be made from recycled material.

Being eco-friendly isn’t going to make your reading experience any better, but it may make you feel better about using an electronic device as opposed to a paper book.

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Hands-On With the Kobo Clara 2E

The Clara 2E is a compact eReader. It’s small enough to slip into a pocket (it will into both the front and back pockets of most of my shorts), so you can bring it anywhere. That includes in the bath if you choose — I verified that being dunked in water was no issue. The patterned back provides some grip, but it’s a hard plastic so you won’t get the same effect as softer material. That being said, this eReader is small enough that I simply held it in one hand like a smartphone, so I had a secure grip on the sides.

The E Ink Carta 1200 screen (at 300 PPI) makes for crisp text and the touchscreen responds perfectly to a tap for turning pages. I did notice the Clara 2E was just a little sluggish compared to the Sage when it comes to flipping pages and changing screens, but I may not have noticed anything if I didn’t have the other eReader to compare it to. That may be one area where Kobo kept costs down — there’s no specification listed for the processor other than 1GHz, and that’s the same speed as the outgoing model.

The customized reading experience with Kobo’s TypeGenius remains the best in the business, and the ComfortLight PRO (with its ability to shift to a warm amber hue to avoid sleep-disrupting blue light when reading at night) remains one of my favorite Kobo features. That new display also supports dark mode if you prefer.

I’m not an audiobook fan, but if you like to listen to books, then the addition of Bluetooth will be a big win.

Kobo Clara 2E Key Specs

  • 6-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen @ 1448 x 1072 resolution (300 PPI)
  • Dark Mode
  • 16GB onboard storage
  • Dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • IPX8 water resistance
  • ComfortLight PRO with adjustable brightness and color temperature
  • Charging via USB-C, battery life rated at weeks
  • TypeGenius (12 fonts and > 50 font styles)
  • Supports 15 file types including EPUB, PDF, and TXT
  • Supports Kobo Audiobooks
  • Integrated OverDrive support, integrated Pocket support for offline reading
  • 4.4 x 6.3 x 0.34 inches, weighs 6.0 ounces
  • Sleep covers sold separately
  • MSRP $129.99

Recommendation

The usual disclaimer for any Kobo eReader applies here: if you’re an Amazon Kindle owner and you’ve been building a library of Kindle eBooks (with their proprietary file format), you’re not likely to jump platforms.

If you’re not stuck on Kindle and looking for a solid eReading (and audiobook) experience in a compact and affordable package — and one that is “greener” than most — the new Kobo Clara 2E is well worth considering. You’re getting a lot of features for that $129.99 price. And if you’re looking for a more upscale experience, don’t forget that Kobo also has the Libra 2, Sage, and the unique Elipsa in its lineup.

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