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

Victoria D. Doty

Kobo has a track file of developing serviceable book viewers. Past year I examined the Kobo Nia, a robust entry-degree system, and back again in 2018 reviewed the Kobo Forma, which has, right until now, been the Kobo flagship system and a competitor for Amazon’s Kindle Oasis. Though arguably living fairly in Amazon’s shadow, Kobo has now finished anything Amazon has not — produced an book reader that can settle for handwritten notes. The Kobo Elipsa comes with a stylus and a go over 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 engineering has previously been utilized to make equipment that can settle for handwriting. I seemed at the reMarkable 2 E-Ink tablet earlier this year, for instance, but this is the 1st time book reading and observe-getting have been merged in a single system, for the Uk industry at least. 

Kobo has a properly-set up online bookstore, and like its principal rival Amazon there are absolutely free applications for Android and Apple equipment so you can take your book reading with you on an Android tablet or cellphone, and on Apple iphone or iPad, with the means to synchronise your area across equipment. Compared with Amazon’s Kindles, Kobo equipment have developed-in aid for OverDrive, Pocket and Dropbox, and can be utilized to browse ebooks borrowed from general public libraries. That facility is highlighted ideal on the home display of the Kobo software package on the Elipsa, and if you already have the essential info and OverDrive account setup you can log in ideal away. Alternatively check out your very own neighborhood authority’s web page for help. 


The Kobo Elipsa has a ten.three-inch E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with 1404 by 1872 resolution (227ppi). It’s driven by a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU and has 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and a USB-C port. There is certainly no Bluetooth or three.5mm audio jack, though.

Photos: Kobo

Due to the fact the Kobo Elipsa has been intended for observe-getting, it has to present a greater display than we’re utilized to in present day book viewers. The E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen steps ten.three inches across the diagonal, and there are major bezels all all around the display, with just one of the lengthy-edge bezels very huge without a doubt at 25mm. This tends to make for a system measuring 193mm huge by 227.5mm deep by seven.6mm thick. The Eipsa’s desktop footprint is very close to that of the Impressive two (187mm x 246mm), while the Elipsa is considerably thicker (seven.6mm vs four.7mm). In spite of being thicker, the Elipsa is lighter — 383g vs the Impressive 2’s 403.5g. 


The SleepCover guards the Elipsa tablet and provides a home for the stylus. Both of these items are involved in the £349.99 / $399.99 price.

Photos: Kobo

That is not the finish of it, because the Elipsa has a SleepCover which is a two-piece device comprising a bumper fashion foundation and a go over held in area by robust magnets. Flip the go over to the back again of the Elipsa and it doubles as a tiny kickstand. There is certainly a stylus holder developed into the SleepCover, which adds a tiny height to it, but holds the stylus securely. Place all this with each other and the Elipsa is a really massive deal.  


The SleepCover in stand manner.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The Elipsa alone has a plastic chassis, but feels strong in the hand the SleepCover is also (rather thick) plastic. The energy button, cost light and USB-C port for charging and file transfer are all at the base of just one of the Elipsa’s lengthy edges, and there are corresponding access holes in the SleepCover. 

Major ZDNET Critiques

The monochrome ten.three-inch display is good for book reading, with a resolution of 1872 by 1404 pixels (227ppi). It’s sharp and crystal clear, and textual content is simple on the eye. The 1.8GHz quad-core processor is rapidly plenty of to produce clean site turns, and site refreshes are total, with no ghosting of the previously browse site. 

Kobo’s software package is an object lesson in ease of use. Faucet the display although you might be in a e book and reading progress, research device and chapter navigation seem at the base of the display, although at the top rated you will find a menu for changing many options.  


Settings and figures for book reading.

Photos: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Changes are as you would be expecting from an book reader. You can modify font sizing, line spacing, margin sizing, justification and toggle vehicle rotation on and off, as properly as set the front-light brightness. You can also see detailed in-e book figures — how lengthy right until the e book is browse, how lengthy you have to have to browse to finish the latest chapter and how lengthy to browse the upcoming just one, and a graphical representation of your progress by the e book.  

Additional complete reading options are accessed via the cog device on this menu. Kobo even tends to make a fair stab at finding about the book reader issue of being unable to flick back again and forth as you may possibly with a printed e book: lengthy-pressing the base still left and ideal corners to velocity-site forwards and backwards gives a passable approximation of skimming a paper e book. 

SEE: Technologies in training: The most recent products and developments (absolutely free PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are two notable absences. Just one is the means to modify the color temperature to make reading at night time less difficult on the eye. This has been these a regular characteristic of book viewers for so lengthy that its absence below is surprising. A midway residence, probably, is the means to flip from the regular dim textual content on a light background to the reverse. The other absentee is Bluetooth, or a three.5mm headset jack for listening to audio guides.  

I had no problem reading ebooks, and lots of file formats are supported for side-loaded paperwork — EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR. 

That claimed, the Elipsa is greater and heavier than any book reader I at this time use (and I use viewers from both equally Kobo and Amazon routinely). I found it fairly unwieldy when lounging on a sofa or reading in bed, and a bit significant for prolonged durations of just one-handed use. 


You can create notes into freeform notebooks (with a compact selection of kinds) or into a lined notebook all set for conversion to editable textual content.

Graphic: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The stylus opens up the observe-getting functions of the Elipsa. It is driven by a single AAAA battery, and arrives with just one tip. More guidelines value £/$9.99 for a pack of five. When reading a e book, you can push the decrease of the two stylus buttons to spotlight a segment, and the higher button to erase highlights. However, the authentic utility of the stylus arrives in producing notes. 

Selecting My Notebooks from the menu row at the base of the home display opens up the location for getting notes. Specific notes are stored in notebooks, of which there are two kinds: just one is freeform, although the other will convert handwriting to textual content that is editable off-system, although also accommodating freeform drawing. 

The creating method is tough at 1st, as you have to wait for the display to capture up with the nib, but it did not take me lengthy to acclimatise. Conversion to editable textual content was great — faultless at my 1st attempt, and the precision degree was definitely truly worth the temporary wait for processing to take area. 

When creating for conversion you have to create together pre-configured traces on the display, but in the freeform notebooks a pair of ‘paper’ kinds are obtainable. It’s a shame there usually are not extra kinds — the Impressive tablet has a substantial array. With any luck , Kobo will increase extra kinds via software package updates. 

Specific web pages and done notebooks can be despatched to Dropbox or just exported via a USB-C relationship as DOCX, plain textual content or HTML. You have to go by the method of selecting to export, picking out a file structure and changing on the Elipsa alone. Employing the cable technique, exports are neatly submitted in an Exported Notebooks folder that demonstrates up when the Elipsa and computer system are connected. Wireless transfer would be a nice addition, but the wired process labored smoothly.  

The Kobo Elipsa has 32GB of inside storage and a battery that will give ‘weeks’ of usage, ‘dependent on person usage’ — you will find nothing like hedging your bets, Kobo. I found, as with all book viewers I’ve utilized from Kobo in the past, that I was able to get to charging facilities routinely plenty of to top rated up with out being caught shorter. As you would be expecting, toggling Wi-Fi off conserves battery capability. 

There are several bells and whistles as much as pen-based enter is concerned, handwriting-to-textual content conversion is a bit slow, and you will find a absence of templates for non-convertible observe getting. But the basics are all protected, which includes a conversion process that understands the variance concerning phrases and images. I found handwriting conversion impressively correct, and although the SleepCover is probably a tiny unwieldy it does, at least, give protection and stylus storage. 


The Elipsa employs the cleanse, user-welcoming and navigable interface of other Kobo book viewers. Its flexibility is good – it’s as simple to browse loaned library guides as those people purchased from the Kobo retail outlet, file structure aid is great, and just producing a wired relationship is plenty of to transfer domestically stored paperwork to a computer system. The handwriting functions are standard but properly implemented, and conversion to editable textual content is impressively correct. For a 1st-technology hybrid book reader/notetaker, the Elipsa is a very great system. 

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