Review: Kobo Libra 2 (7-inch E Ink eReader)

Review unit provided by Kobo

The Kobo Libra 2 is a 7-inch E Ink eReader released in October 2021 together with the Kobo Sage (8-inch).

The changes from the previous model, the Kobo Libra H20, includes

  • Storage capacity increased from 8GB to 32GB
  • Weight increased from 192g to 215g
  • Support for Kobo Audiobooks
  • E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen

Below's the comparison table with other recent Kobo eReaders. Click for a larger picture.

Here's the main selling points for each eReader model:

If you just want to read, the budget Kobo Clara HD (review) is worth the money simply because of its affordable US $119 (SGD 199) pricing.

If you want to listen to audio books, I recommend Kobo Libra 2 over Kobo Sage unless you really want the larger display, pen support and battery charging case AKA PowerCover. Kobo Libra 2 is US $80 cheaper. Price difference is significant and even more so when you buy the pen and case.

If you want to read PDFs, the 10.3-inch Kobo Elipsa Pack is good since you can't control text size in PDFs, so having a larger display is highly recommended. You can zoom PDFs with the other Kobo eReaders but the experience is not smooth. It's better to have a bigger display where you don't have to zoom. This is more expensive at US$ 399 (SSGD 629) but pen and cover are included.


Kobo Libra 2 is available in two colours: black and white. Design looks good. Build quality is solid enough. The page buttons near the edge are easy to reach and have good feedback.

There's a nice matte texture which is better resisting fingerprints compared to the smoother semi-glossy surface on the Kobo Sage.


Power button's located on the back near the corner.


There's also a nice textured pattern on the back.


The eReader is almost flat on the table. You can see the slight curved edge for your fingers to grip.


Reflections will be diffused by the anti-glare matte screen. It's difficult to read when there are reflections on the screen.


The Kobo Libra 2 is not designed for gripping on both sides with your hand. Get the Kobo Clara HD for that.


The resolution of the 7-inch E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen display is 1264 x 1680, 300DPI. Text is sharp with no noticeable pixelation. Black levels or contrast seems good enough.


There's also Dark Mode if you need it.


The 4:3 aspect ratio works surprising well for reading letter or A4-sized PDFs. 7 inches is not a good size for reading PDFs because you can't control the text size of PDFs.


You can use the touchscreen to zoom and navigate the PDFs but the performance is not as responsive to tablets or computers. If you place your fingers long enough while navigating, a small navigator will appear to show you which part of the page you're looking at.

Reading PDFs is possible, but reading on a small 7-inch display is not a pleasant experience at least for me.

Speed of flipping through huge PDFs is slightly slower than flipping through eBooks.

Selling point of a Kobo eReader


Having OverDrive integration is the main reason to consider a Kobo eReader. OverDrive allows you to connect to selected libraries around the world provided you are a library member of the library. And you can borrow eBooks or audiobooks from the libraries which can save you a lot of money.

At the time of this review, OverDrive is available in Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. eBook availability depends on your library.

If you can't find the book you want from OverDrive, you can always buy them from the Kobo store. Prices are quite competitive and reasonable.

You can also load your own eBooks onto the Kobo Libra 2 by transferring them from your computer using the USB cable. File formats supported are EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR.

Update 24 Oct 2021: There are people in USA saying that OverDrive doesn't work for them. It's likely to be a software issue which I hope can be patched with a driver update. The driver I have on the Kobo Sage and Kobo Libra 2 is ver 4.29.18730 (Oct 18, 2021)


Transfer speed via the USB-C port is USB 3 which is fast. The high transfer speed is great for transferring huge audiobooks. Onboard storage of 32GB can hold plenty of eBooks or audiobooks.

About audiobooks

Only Kobo AudioBooks work on the Kobo Libra 2. In other words, Kobo Libra 2 cannot play MP3 or other audiobook formats (e.g. Audible audiobooks). Only files from the supported file formats (listed above) will appear on the Kobo home screen.

There's no 3.5mm audio jack so you'll need Bluetooth headphones or speakers to listen to audiobooks. Bluetooth connection is good.

Battery life drains 11-12 percent for each hour of audiobook playback. Total audiobook playtime is around 9 hours. If you're just reading eBooks, battery life can last for weeks.

Bluetooth will turn off automatically after a few minutes if there's no audiobook playback.

At the time of this review, Kobo Audiobooks are only available through their website. You can choose to buy Kobo Audiobooks individually or subscribe to the $9.99/month plan where you'll get a free audiobook each month. You can then download the Kobo Audiobooks to your eReader.

Hopefully Kobo will add the functionality to search for audiobooks from the Kobo store on the eReader.


There are two SleepCover models. One's called Basic SleepCover which is just a normal flip cover which cost SGD 49. The other is the SleepCover with stand priced at SGD 59.

I'm not sure how useful the SleepCover with the stand is though since I'll just hold the eReader while reading. If you need to use the device with the stand, at least there's the option to do so.

SleepCover Basic is only available in grey. SleepCover with stand is available in more colours.


The material used is some PU leather which covers the front and back. Texture is nice to hold.


Weight of the Kobo Libra 2 is 215g. Weight for the cover is not mentioned. Anyway, the eReader with the cover is still lightweight enough and comfortable to hold for long periods of time.


The foldable flip cover is quite versatile. You can deploy the eReader with the buttons on the top, bottom, left or right. And the stand is quite stable.

Content on the eReader will rotate automatically to the correct orientation.

Reading in the dark


In a completely dark room, I would go with 3-4% brightness. If there's some dim lighting in the room, I'll probably use 10 - 20% brightness.

The lighting is even with no waving light pattern near the edge of the display.

Brightness adjustment is sensitive. The change is brightness for each % point change is very small. You can adjust the brightness easily to your preference.

Brightness and colour temperature can be adjusted using the two side buttons.


To adjust colour temperature, you have to tap on the appropriate slider on the display first and the buttons will switch to adjusting colour temperature. There are 10 steps to the colour temperature slider. Shown above is the mid value, step 5 out of 10.


This is the maximum colour temperature where the display looks very orange.


This is how Dark Mode looks in (almost) complete darkness. The black is not completely black but contrast is good.


Lighting quality is similar to Kobo Sage. In this case, the colour temperature at default looks slightly warmer on the Kobo Libra 2 with a side by side comparison.

Conclusion

The Kobo Libra 2 is a good eReader that works well. The 7-inch display is a good size for reading. Text has good contrast, and you can adjust the brightness, colour temperature, and there's also Dark Mode.

I don't really see the audiobook playback feature as a strong selling point personally for me since you can always listen to audiobooks from your phone, tablet or computer. But if you want to play audiobooks on the same device you use for reading ebooks, Kobo Libra 2 is a good option to consider.

The main reason to buy a Kobo eReader is really for OverDrive so that you can borrow eBooks from the connected libraries. OverDrive integration works great. You can find books easily and there's always info telling you when you should return the book.

The pricing of US $179 (SGD 199) is quite competitive compared to the US $189 Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition but Kobo has OverDrive. In terms of value for money, yeah, I do think the Kobo Libra 2 is worth the money.

Availability

You can find the Kobo Libra 2 on Amazon via these affiliate links: Amazon (US | UK | CA | DE | FR | ES | IT | JP)

Here in Singapore you can buy it from kobo.com, Challenger, Courts, Lazada, Shopee and Sprint-cass.

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3 Comments

Just bought libra 2, it is

Just bought libra 2, it is good but will only download some of my libraries to reader, what most reviewers don’t know is kindle paperwhite is actually much easier to download library books, it is always easier to go on overdrive on iPad to look for books. Can’t wait to get my new model paperwhite in a few days and return libra.

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