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Monday, June 17, 2024

Kobo Clara BW Review – Is it Really Better?


Kobo Clara BW

Review Date: May 2024 – Review unit purchased from Walmart

Overview

The Kobo Clara BW is a 6″ ebook reader that was officially released on April 30th, 2024, along with the Kobo Clara Colour. Both models are virtually identical, except one has a regular black and white E Ink screen and the other has a color E Ink screen.

The Clara BW is the third black and white Clara model from Kobo, and it replaces the Clara 2E that was released in 2022. Kobo has a history of replacing models with “new” versions that are almost identical to the model they’re replacing, or even slight downgrades in some cases, and the Kobo Clara BW fits into that category.

The Kobo Clara BW is one of the first ereaders to come with the latest generation screen from E Ink, called Carta 1300, that’s supposed to be faster and have better contrast than previous screens, but as I pointed out in a comparison with the Clara 2E, the improved contrast claim simply isn’t true when compared to Carta 1200 screens, but the device is faster overall so I guess that can be attributed to the newer screen.

Outside of that, it’s basically a clone of the Clara 2E from 2022 with a few minor tweaks to the design. Software-wise nothing has changed.

Kobo Clara BW Quick Review

Pros

  • Faster than previous models when it comes to page turns and general navigation.
  • At $129, it’s one of the best value ereaders considering the overall set of features.
  • Small, lightweight, and highly portable.

Cons

  • Not an upgrade over the previous model in any meaningful way.
  • The screen looks fine but text actually appears a bit darker on the previous gen Clara 2E when compared side-by-side, so once again the “new and improved” screen is mostly just marketing hype.
  • Feels like a budget device with the basic design and plastic casing.

Verdict

I’m not sure why Kobo thought a new Clara was needed just a year and a half after the Clara 2E was released (the previous Clara HD was on the market for over 4 years before they replaced it). The new model is almost exactly the same as the Clara 2E, and I’m not convinced it’s actually better. One small benefit to the Clara BW is the fact that they made it user repairable, but replacing parts is fairly complicated and is probably more than the average person wants to deal with, and a new screen costs 70% of the price of a new Clara BW, plus shipping and the cost of a repair kit, so I don’t know how useful that really is in the long run.

The Clara BW is also a bit faster than previous iterations, so that’s a plus, but it’s not a significant difference by any means. The most perplexing thing about the device is the fact that text actually looks slightly darker on the previous generation Clara 2E, as shown in this comparison video, but contrast is a little better than older Kobos, and the screen is a bit faster to refresh so it is better is some ways.

Once you get past the fact it’s not really an upgrade over the previous model, the Kobo Clara BW is a nice ereader with a solid set of features for the price, and it’s a good alternative to the entry-level Kindle because it has several upgrades over it and it only costs $10 more than the equivalent ad-free version. Plus it sells for $10 less than the Clara 2E so at least Kobo managed to bring the price down a little.

It’s also a good alternative to the Clara Colour for those that don’t care about color and want to prioritize the appearance of the screen when it comes to reading regular text. It’s smaller and more portable than most ereaders as well so it’s easier to take with you wherever you go.

Kobo Clara BW Video Review

Related Articles
Kobo Clara BW vs Clara Colour
Kobo Clara Colour Review
Kobo Libra Colour Review

Kobo Clara BW Specs

  • 6-inch E Ink Carta 1300 HD screen (1448×1072).
  • 300 ppi.
  • Capacitive touchscreen.
  • ComfortLight PRO – frontlight with temperature control.
  • Waterproof – IPX8 rated.
  • CPU: 1.0 GHz single core.
  • 16GB storage space.
  • WiFi (2.4GHz + 5GHz).
  • Bluetooth for audiobooks.
  • USB-C port.
  • Battery: 1500 mAh.
  • Battery Life: Kobo says 53 days based on reading 30 minutes per day with the frontlight at 10% and wireless off.
  • User replaceable battery and other replacement parts sold on iFixit, including screens and motherboards.
  • Supported document formats: EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR, KEPUB, plus Kobo audiobooks.
  • Dimensions: 112 x 160 x 9.2 mm.
  • Weight: 174 grams.
  • Sells for $129 USD on Amazon.

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