Kobo Elipsa review: A versatile E-Ink ebook reader and notetaker Review

Kobo has a observe document of creating serviceable e-book visitors. Very last year I examined the Kobo Nia, a powerful entry-stage product, and again in 2018 reviewed the Kobo Forma, which has, right up until now, been the Kobo flagship product and a competitor for Amazon’s Kindle Oasis. Whilst arguably residing considerably in Amazon’s shadow, Kobo has now performed anything Amazon has not — produced an e-book reader that can settle for handwritten notes. The Kobo Elipsa comes with a stylus and a address for a price of £349.99 in the Uk, or $399.99 in the US. 

The Kobo Elipsa has an E-Ink Carta screen, and this know-how has beforehand been utilised to make gadgets that can settle for handwriting. I looked at the reMarkable 2 E-Ink tablet before this year, for example, but this is the first time e-book looking through and take note-having have been blended in a solitary product, for the Uk industry at the very least. 

Kobo has a properly-founded online bookstore, and like its most important rival Amazon there are no cost applications for Android and Apple gadgets so you can get your e-book looking through with you on an Android tablet or telephone, and on Iphone or iPad, with the capability to synchronise your position across gadgets. Compared with Amazon’s Kindles, Kobo gadgets have created-in guidance for OverDrive, Pocket and Dropbox, and can be utilised to browse ebooks borrowed from public libraries. That facility is highlighted appropriate on the home display screen of the Kobo application on the Elipsa, and if you currently have the necessary information and OverDrive account set up you can log in appropriate absent. Alternatively check your possess neighborhood authority’s web-site for help. 

The Kobo Elipsa has a ten.3-inch E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with 1404 by 1872 resolution (227ppi). It is really run by a one.8GHz quad-core CPU and has 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and a USB-C port. You can find no Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio jack, nevertheless.

Photos: Kobo

Because the Kobo Elipsa has been built for take note-having, it has to offer you a greater display screen than we are utilised to in today’s e-book visitors. The E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen actions ten.3 inches across the diagonal, and there are important bezels all close to the display screen, with a person of the extended-edge bezels very large certainly at 25mm. This would make for a product measuring 193mm large by 227.5mm deep by 7.6mm thick. The Eipsa’s desktop footprint is very shut to that of the Exceptional two (187mm x 246mm), although the Elipsa is substantially thicker (7.6mm vs 4.7mm). Even with becoming thicker, the Elipsa is lighter — 383g vs the Exceptional 2’s 403.5g. 

The SleepCover shields the Elipsa tablet and provides a home for the stylus. Each of these merchandise are provided in the £349.99 / $399.99 price.

Photos: Kobo

Which is not the stop of it, since the Elipsa has a SleepCover which is a two-piece device comprising a bumper design and style base and a address held in position by powerful magnets. Flip the address to the again of the Elipsa and it doubles as a minor kickstand. You can find a stylus holder created into the SleepCover, which provides a minor peak to it, but holds the stylus securely. Put all this together and the Elipsa is a pretty significant package.  

The SleepCover in stand mode.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The Elipsa itself has a plastic chassis, but feels reliable in the hand the SleepCover is also (reasonably thick) plastic. The electric power button, demand gentle and USB-C port for charging and file transfer are all at the bottom of a person of the Elipsa’s extended edges, and there are corresponding obtain holes in the SleepCover. 

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The monochrome ten.3-inch display screen is terrific for e-book looking through, with a resolution of 1872 by 1404 pixels (227ppi). It is really sharp and clear, and text is easy on the eye. The one.8GHz quad-core processor is rapid ample to supply smooth website page turns, and website page refreshes are total, with no ghosting of the beforehand browse website page. 

Kobo’s application is an item lesson in ease of use. Faucet the display screen even though you happen to be in a e book and looking through progress, research resource and chapter navigation surface at the bottom of the display screen, even though at the prime you will find a menu for modifying a variety of settings.  

Settings and statistics for e-book looking through.

Photos: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Adjustments are as you would assume from an e-book reader. You can adjust font measurement, line spacing, margin measurement, justification and toggle automobile rotation on and off, as properly as set the front-gentle brightness. You can also see thorough in-e book statistics — how extended right up until the e book is browse, how extended you need to have to browse to finish the existing chapter and how extended to browse the upcoming a person, and a graphical illustration of your progress by the e book.  

Far more detailed looking through settings are accessed by means of the cog resource on this menu. Kobo even would make a sensible stab at acquiring around the e-book reader challenge of becoming not able to flick again and forth as you could with a printed e book: extended-pressing the bottom remaining and appropriate corners to velocity-website page forwards and backwards provides a satisfactory approximation of skimming a paper e book. 

SEE: Technology in instruction: The newest products and solutions and developments (no cost PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are two notable absences. 1 is the capability to adjust the color temperature to make looking through at night much easier on the eye. This has been these a common feature of e-book visitors for so extended that its absence right here is astonishing. A midway house, perhaps, is the capability to flip from the usual dim text on a gentle background to the reverse. The other absentee is Bluetooth, or a 3.5mm headset jack for listening to audio books.  

I had no trouble looking through ebooks, and plenty of file formats are supported for side-loaded documents — EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR. 

That mentioned, the Elipsa is greater and heavier than any e-book reader I currently use (and I use visitors from both Kobo and Amazon consistently). I found it considerably unwieldy when lounging on a couch or looking through in bed, and a bit heavy for prolonged periods of a person-handed use. 

You can create notes into freeform notebooks (with a modest range of styles) or into a lined notebook prepared for conversion to editable text.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The stylus opens up the take note-having features of the Elipsa. It is run by a solitary AAAA battery, and arrives with a person idea. Extra ideas cost £/$nine.99 for a pack of five. When looking through a e book, you can press the decreased of the two stylus buttons to spotlight a part, and the upper button to erase highlights. However, the real utility of the stylus arrives in earning notes. 

Choosing My Notebooks from the menu row at the bottom of the home display screen opens up the area for having notes. Specific notes are stored in notebooks, of which there are two kinds: a person is freeform, even though the other will change handwriting to text which is editable off-product, even though also accommodating freeform drawing. 

The writing process is tough at first, as you have to hold out for the display screen to capture up with the nib, but it didn’t get me extended to acclimatise. Conversion to editable text was superb — faultless at my first endeavor, and the accuracy stage was surely really worth the transient hold out for processing to get position. 

When writing for conversion you have to create alongside pre-configured traces on the display screen, but in the freeform notebooks a couple of ‘paper’ styles are offered. It is really a disgrace there aren’t more styles — the Exceptional tablet has a large array. Hopefully Kobo will include more styles by means of application updates. 

Specific internet pages and accomplished notebooks can be sent to Dropbox or simply exported by means of a USB-C link as DOCX, simple text or HTML. You have to go by the process of choosing to export, choosing a file structure and changing on the Elipsa itself. Utilizing the cable technique, exports are neatly submitted in an Exported Notebooks folder that displays up when the Elipsa and pc are linked. Wi-fi transfer would be a good addition, but the wired method worked easily.  

The Kobo Elipsa has 32GB of inner storage and a battery that will offer ‘weeks’ of use, ‘dependent on personal usage’ — you will find practically nothing like hedging your bets, Kobo. I found, as with all e-book visitors I have utilised from Kobo in the earlier, that I was able to get to charging amenities routinely ample to prime up with no becoming caught small. As you would assume, toggling Wi-Fi off conserves battery capability. 

There are number of bells and whistles as considerably as pen-based mostly enter is involved, handwriting-to-text conversion is a bit slow, and you will find a deficiency of templates for non-convertible take note having. But the basics are all protected, such as a conversion method that understands the change between words and phrases and visuals. I found handwriting conversion impressively precise, and even though the SleepCover is perhaps a minor unwieldy it does, at the very least, offer protection and stylus storage. 


The Elipsa employs the clear, user-pleasant and navigable interface of other Kobo e-book visitors. Its flexibility is terrific – it is really as easy to browse loaned library books as people acquired from the Kobo retail store, file structure guidance is fantastic, and simply earning a wired link is ample to transfer locally stored documents to a pc. The handwriting features are standard but properly implemented, and conversion to editable text is impressively precise. For a first-era hybrid e-book reader/notetaker, the Elipsa is a very fantastic product. 

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