Kobo Clara HD review

Kobo introduces a new Kindle Paperwhite rival

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Our Verdict

The Kobo Clara HD offers a very similar experience to its biggest rival, but that's not an issue. If you're looking for a mid-range ereader to take on holiday or read on your commute, this could well be it.

For

  • Gorgeous screen
  • Easy to hold in one hand
  • Packed with storage

Against

  • More limited store than Kindle
  • Not waterproof
  • Divisive design

Competing against the Amazon Kindle brand is a difficult task, but Kobo is attempting to do so with its new Kobo Clara HD, which has a similar specs list and price to the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite.

If you want an alternative to the big A’s biggest selling ereader, the Kobo Clara HD is here to offer you all of the same features but with a slightly different design and reading experience.

Below we'll talk you through everything we like and loathe about the Kobo Clara HD, plus everything you need to know about it.

Kobo Clara HD price and release date

  • The Kobo Clara HD price is £109.99 / $129.99 / AU$179.95
  • On sale in the US, UK and Australia

The Kobo Clara HD's price is set at £109.99 / $129.99 / AU$179.95, which is a touch higher than the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite in the US and the same as the Paperwhite in the UK and Australia, as that comes in at £109.99 / $119.99 / AU$179.

You can get it now in the US, UK and Australia from a variety of retailers including Kobo's manufacturer, which is called Rakuten. You can also buy it in the UK from a variety of other retailers including John Lewis and WHSmith.

Design

  • Lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite
  • Strange looking rear that won't appeal to everyone

Comfort is one of the most important elements of an ereader, especially when you'll likely be reading books for long periods.

So you’ll be glad to know the Kobo Clara HD is comfortable to hold for long periods of time without it becoming too heavy in the hand.

At 166g this is a similar weight to the standard Kindle model, and quite a bit lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite. That's pretty much ideal.

We found it was easy to hold for long periods of reading, but also wouldn’t blow away in the slightest gust of wind. The size of the device also means it's easy to hold in one hand.

There’s still room for a 6-inch screen though, which is the most common size on ereaders at the moment. All of Amazon’s range sports a 6-inch display, but if you want something a little larger there’s always the Kobo Aura One, which comes with a 7.8-inch display instead.

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Despite the 6-inch screen, this is still a very compact device with dimensions of 157 x 111 x 8.3mm. It managed to fit in the back pocket of men's jeans, and it's easy to slot this into your bag ready for your commute.

Basically, it's a lot easier to pick up, carry and read the Kobo Clara HD than it is most of George R R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series in paperback.

It’s made of plastic, so doesn’t feel as premium as the latest version of the Kindle Oasis, but it’s easy to grip, with the rear of the device having an odd effect that helps your fingertips hold on.

We don’t fully know how to explain it, but there are lots of little dots that looks similar to the pointillism style of artwork. It sort of feels perforated, but it's made of solid plastic rather than a pliable material that feels soft to the touch.

It may be comfortable to hold, but the effect on the back doesn’t look great compared to many other ereaders - including Kobo’s own range - so don’t expect this to be the best looking device on the market from the rear.  It's also not waterproof - for that, consider the Kobo Aura H2O.

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On the front there’s the Kobo logo emblazoned just below the screen. There are then thick bezels around the edges of the ereader, and these don’t sit flush to the screen like on the Kindle Oasis.

The bezels are quite raised away from the screen, which doesn't look great. Those bezels give you lots of room to rest your fingers though.

You won’t find yourself tapping on any buttons around the edges while you're reading, as there’s only a power button on the bottom of the device that sits next to a micro USB charging port.