Kobo Clara HD eBook Reader 2019 a Review

I got my Kobo Clara HD ebook reader a couple of days ago.   I’m nearing the end of reading my first novel on it and here are my observations.

The reader shipped from Canada via UPS, signature required.  I’m not a big fan of signature required, but I understand it in this instance because I had no prior customer history with Kobo and suddenly I order a $130 reader.  I did like the Paypal option on checkout.

You can order these from Walmart if you prefer, and Walmart has 2 day shipping.

Hardware

The Clara HD came with a USB charging cord but no transformer wall plug adapter.  This seems to be common practice now.  The reader is ultra thin, small and light weight.  It’s smaller than a mass market paperback roughly the size of a prayer book.  Small enough so it fits nicely in my large hands.  The whole thing seemed well built.  Setup was a breeze: just turn it on, connect to your Wifi network, sign in to your Kobo account.  Done.

The screen is much higher resolution than my old Kindle Touch yet the have the same size screens.  The typography is very sharp and clear.

The Clara comes with ComfortLight Pro which is a front lighting system that adjusts automatically to the light conditions around you.  You can set your usual bedtime and the blue light filter kicks in an hour or so before bedtime automatically.  This turns the front lighting sort of an amber color as it filters out the blue light.  Blue light spectrum is what can keep you awake in bed.  I’ve used this the last two nights and had no trouble reading even in a dark room.  I found the front lighting to be very uniform across the screen.  I like this ComfortLight Pro.

Using the default font and type size I am very comfortable reading this at the same distance I would hold a paperback.  The white on the e-Ink display is pretty white so reading is comfortable.

The case from Kobo looks very nice but I thought it a little expensive.  I ordered a Finite case for the Clara on Amazon for a lot less and I like it.  The case has a magnet in the cover which awakens the reader when opened.

One nice touch: when the Kobo is sleeping the screen shows the book cover artwork of the book you are reading.

There are no advertisements on the Kobo readers.

Software

The software is straight forward and easy to use.  Kobo starts you out with a quick tutorial.  You can either swipe or tap to turn a page.  Tap in the center brings up your menus.  Everything worked smoothly.

You don’t have to buy a reader if you don’t want to.  Kobo has free apps for smartphones running Android, iOS or Blackberry 10, plus apps for Anroid and iOS tablets and free reader software for Windows 10 and macOS.  Plus the Kobo ebook store has a bunch of free ebooks so you can try Kobo for free and read free ebooks.  I tried the app for Android phone and it works just fine.

Conclusion

I like the Clara HD.  I really like the front lighting.  I have no complaints.  The Clara is the perfect size for somebody that always carries a book with them.  The advantage of an e-ink reader is long battery life and you can read well outdoors in direct sunlight.  It’s easier on the eyes than a LCD screen and lighter than any tablet.

I would buy this again.

Review of the Kobo store coming.

 

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Ebooks, eBook Readers and Me

My recent decision to try a Kobo ebook reader and the research I did as part of that decision made me remember things about my history with ebooks.

1998 – 2003

Back in 2000 I owned a science fiction and fantasy web directory.  I started getting listings from amateur micro publishers of this new thing called “e-books.”  Most of the earliest ebooks were science fiction or fantasy novels which is how our paths crossed.

No major publishers were selling ebooks, the publishers were all small with varying degrees of expertise.  Most ebooks were being sold on CD-ROM disks usually in HTML, TXT and sometimes PDF formats.  Many ebooks were self published.  eBook publishing was tiny but growing rapidly.  I took an interest in the technology of ebook even though I wasn’t actually reading them myself.  Somehow, reading books on my desktop computer had no appeal.

But about this time I bought my first ebook reader: the Rocketbook.  The Rocketbook was actually a very comfortable device but the problems were lack of titles and very limited battery life.

2003 – 2008

Somewhere along the line, I switched to reading ebooks on a PDA.  Ebooks had grown. Publishing had become more professional, but the big publishing houses were still holding back.  I know there were many competing electronic formats to publish books in.  Reading on a PDA required having several reader apps that could translate different formats.  You had to download ebooks to your desktop PC, connect the PDA with a cable and then transfer the ebooks to the PDA.  It was all cumbersome, but the PDA was small enough that I could carry it anywhere and therefore read anywhere.  I read a heck of a lot of books on various PDA’s.

During this time I was mainly reading free public domain ebooks but I also started buying from publisher Booksforabuck which is still around!  I also started buying from the best ebook store ever: Fictionwise.  See what Fictionwise looked like at Archive.org.  I really liked that store.  Unfortunately it got bought up by Barnes and Noble and discontinued as reading on PDA’s declined in the wake of dedicated readers like Nook, Kindle and Kobo as well as the new iPhone and later Android devices.

Barnes and Noble was very good about letting me migrate all my 160 Fictionwise ebooks to their Nook platform and I can still access them using a Nook reader app.

2008ish – Current

In 2012 I bought a Kindle Touch which is still in service (knock wood) before that I was using the Kindle apps to read on smartphones and tablets.  More recently, I bought an 8″ Kindle Fire tablet to read on in bed because of the backlit screen.

I’m finding as I get older that I like reading on my smartphone less.  I kind of prefer a larger reader screen.  I also like some kind of lighting for the screen as my eyesight is weaker.   Full size tablets seem too heavy although I do like that smaller 8″ Kindle Fire tablet.

Which leads me back to the Kobo reader mentioned at the beginning of this post.  The Kobo accepts a lot of different formats for ebooks and lets you load them from your computer using software like Calibre.   With new books finally entering the public domain again in 2019 and each year from now on, I wanted a reader that would let me load these.

 

 

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Switching to Kobo for eBooks

Last night I ordered a Kobo Clara HD ebook reader.   The confirmation email told me to expect delivery in 7 to 10 business days.  That’s pretty slow fulfillment in 2019.  This is not an auspicious start to what I hope will be a long term relationship.  Hopefully it will arrive faster than that. We will see.

I am already heavily invested in the Amazon Kindle and also the Barnes and Noble Nook ecosystems but I always worry about DRM and silos so I have been contemplating diversifying further.   My intention is that all new ebook purchases will be through Kobo, although I’m by no means abandoning Kindle.  Eggs/basket – all that.

Kobo has only a small market share in the US, but is popular in Canada, Europe and Japan.  Kobo’s hardware gets good reviews.

Before buying the Clara HD, I checked out the Kobo eBook Store and I liked the clean less cluttered look.  They have many apps for reading ebooks on Android, iOS, and other operating systems.  So I tried the free Android app on my Samsung tablet and liked it although the Samsung is way to heavy for comfortable book reading.

All that convinced me to try a low end Kobo ereader.  The Kobo Clara HD is a big step up from my elderly Kindle.  Both are 6 inch screen models but the Kobo has these improvements:

  • Paper white screen background. My Kindle is murky grayish.
  • Light up reading screen.  No light on my Kindle.
  • Nighttime reading light.
  • Lighter, thinner, faster, more memory.
  • Kobo supports a lot more ebook formats than Kindle.  This is key because I can import books from elsewhere and read them on the Kobo.  With more books finally entering the public domain in the US this is important.

So I’ll see how this goes.  My goal this year is to spend more time reading and if I like Kobo and the Clara HD I might even upgrade to something like the larger Kobo Forma.

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Geoffrey writes from his Gmail address to ask how he can stop Google from intruding into almost everything

Like: How can I remove Google from my life? | Technology | The Guardian

Good article.  I’m anxious to see what the /e/ Foundation comes up with. They are developing not just a replacement of Android (minus the spywear) but a whole ecosystem of open source apps that will replace the Google Android apps and omit the spywear.

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This flexible device will voice-enable your life. Use Mark 1 to answer questions, control your IoT devices, drive a stereo system, or build a robot!

Bookmark: Introducing the Mycroft Mark II Pre-Order – Mycroft

I’ve linked to the hardware home speaker but there are really two products to take note of on this site.

  1. The hardware home speaker with software.
  2. The software Mycroft home assistant.

The first is important because you can have a home speaker/assistant thing that has privacy in mind.

The later is important in that it can run on Linux which means your Linux laptop and things like Raspberry Pi.

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The larger problem, it seems has much more to do with the general distrust for disruptive innovations. The European approach, consistently, appears to favor slowing (or stopping) innovation unless all possible “harms” are minimized, even if this comes at the expense of the benefits.

Bookmark: Why Europe Will Never Build Its Own Digital Giants | Techdirt

 

IMHO this goes beyond the digital.  This is one of the EU’s major flaws on everything: diplomacy, business, military defense, trade.  They can’t maneuver with any speed, even in a crisis.  This will be part of the EU’s undoing.

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Findx the EU Indie Search Engine Shuts Down

RIP Findx.  I came across the announcement just now while investigating why searches were not working with them.  I just discovered FIndx about a month ago and now it’s gone. This makes me sad.

You should read the announcement above.

Some takeaways:

  1. The open source Gigablast search engine script is not up to the job, they say.  Good to know if you are starting up a search engine project.
  2. It is very hard to get people to switch away from their preferred search engine.
  3. Too many major sites block small legitimate search engines by default.
  4. The web is awash in a sea of spam and it’s very hard to sort that out.
  5. Crawling the web, building your own search index is very expensive.
  6. Building a competent crawler is very hard.

To the Findx team, goodbye and thank you for trying.

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