Kobo Clara HD review

Kobo introduces a new Kindle Paperwhite rival

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  • There's a 6-inch Carta E Ink display that's 300 pixels per inch
  • Easy to read in bright sunlight and has customizable brightness too

On the front of the Kobo Clara HD there's a 6-inch Carta E Ink touchscreen display that is great for reading books, as it comes with the standard 300 pixels per inch, which we’ve seen on lots of other devices including the Kindle Paperwhite.

The screen is the perfect resolution for ebooks and even suits if you plan to read graphic novels on the display, but note this will only show them in black and white. 

If you want to read comics in color, you'll have to opt for a reading app on a tablet.

The Kobo Clara HD has the perfect size display though, and you're easily able to navigate the books you're reading as well as having enough room to read at the same time. For example, you can hang your finger over part of the display ready to change page without having to stop reading and slowing down the action.

You can easily change the brightness on the display to make it easier to read in bright sunlight, or you can leave it on the auto-brightness mode, which we found worked well.

Kobo's own ComfortLight PRO technology will also change the color temperature and hue of the display depending on what time of day it is.

You can set your bedtime within the brightness section on the ereader and it will then switch to a more natural lighting that's easier on your eyes before you go to sleep. It turns down the blue light in the screen and brings forth the warmer, redder colors which are proven to help your brain switch off at night.

We had it set to come on at 10pm and it would immediately switch to a redder tint that's easier on the eye. You can also turn this on manually if you want, and there's a slider, so unlike some other products you can decide how much you want it to do.

Battery life

  • Should last for weeks without charging
  • You can recharge with micro USB at the bottom of the device

Ereaders generally have great battery life, lasting for around a month or so, and we’d expect a similar amount of time from the Kobo Clara HD.

We’ve used the ereader for a week now and found it dropped in battery by around 26%. With around an hour or so of reading a day you'll likely find this ereader to last roughly three weeks to a month, depending on how bright you have the display and whether it's connected to Wi-Fi.

Kobo has yet to provide an official estimate of how long the Kobo Clara HD will last from a single charge though. If you want to charge up the ereader, you’ll plug it in using the micro USB port at the bottom of it. 

We found this will take a few hours to charge, but you won't have to do this that often so it's not much of an issue.

Software and Kobo Store

  • Comes running Kobo's own software that's easy to set up and use
  • Kobo Store is more limited than competitors, but still extensive

The Kobo Clara HD comes with the company's own software on board, and it's easy to get your head around and set up.

Once you've got the Kobo Clara HD set up, you can find all of the menus you'll need by tapping on the three horizontal lines in the top left corner of the display.

Here you'll be able to find shortcuts to your books, your saved articles, the Kobo Store (so you can buy books) and much more. You'll also find the Settings in here, where you'll be able to set up Wi-Fi on your ereader.

The Clara HD will automatically sync with your Kobo account, so if you've used an ereader from the company or bought books on Kobo before you'll get them all automatically connected to your account.

You can then just tap on them to download. Scrolling through books is just an easy tap on the left or right of the display as there are no buttons here to help you navigate through the menus.

When you're in the book, you can tap at the top of the display to view different elements of it. The percentage read appears in the top left, while the bottom right is where you can change the size of the font or skip to different chapters.

The software on the Kobo Clara HD is accomplished and is perfect for what it sets out to do. It's simple and easy to use, so you shouldn't have many issues with reading on the Clara HD.

The easiest way to read books on your Clara HD is buying them directly from the Kobo Store, but there are a few other routes you can use to get titles. You can upload EPUB files by connecting the ereader to your computer, and some libraries also allow you to borrow ebooks too. 

Different libraries have different methods of supplying ebooks, so it's best to speak to your library about how to upload titles to the ereader.

It's worth noting the easiest way to read on your Kobo Clara HD is through the official Kobo store. You can buy and download them on the official website, connect them to your account and then access them from the ereader, or you can buy them directly on the device.

The Kobo Store is certainly more limited than the Amazon Kindle store. Kobo has over 5 million books on offer though, so you should be able to find the top-selling titles you'll want for the Clara HD, but more specialist titles may be missing here.

We tried to find ten popular books that people in the TechRadar office had read or planned to read and found that 9 out of 10 were available on Kobo's store. If you have particular favorite genres or authors, we recommend taking a look to see if they are on the Kobo store before buying this.

One thing worth pointing out is that the Kobo Clara HD comes with 8GB of storage. The Kindle Paperwhite only has 4GB, while if you want more than 8GB you'll have to opt for the 32GB and much more expensive Kindle Oasis.

That means there's lots of space on the Clara HD for ebooks, and Kobo expects there to be enough space for around 6,000 titles. It's unlikely you'll have that many, but it's good to know you've got enough space for as many as you want.

There's no 3.5mm headphone jack or Bluetooth audio on the Kobo Clara HD, which means you won't be able to listen to audiobooks on the ereader.

Considering this is a feature introduced on the Kindle Oasis and standard Kindle, and that Kobo launched its own audiobook service in 2017, we were hoping this device would be capable of playing titles. It can't though, so you'll have to opt for your phone and the Kobo app if you prefer the spoken word.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.