Dithering between a new Kindle Paperwhite and a Kobo Clara HD
November 8, 2018 11:22 AM   Subscribe

I want to replace my old 5th gen Kindle, but I'm pretty meh on the new Paperwhite. I really like the look of the Kobo Clara HD but am hesitating because the software side seems clunkier. If you have a Kobo, tell me about how you get your books to your device!

I picked up the Paperwhite yesterday and it is fine. I don't buy ebooks often and use Calibre to manage my collection, but I do like how simple it is to send things wirelessly to the Kindle. I haven't found much information about the Kobo interface though, and what I've found is old, usually piecemeal forum comments, and not really encouraging.

I know there have been updates, including Overdrive integration. What is the process for getting books, especially sideloading content, like nowadays? If you've used both, how does it compare with a Kindle? What else do you love hate/about your Kobo?

Things I care about:
Clara HD
++ Warm lighting!
+ Comparable in size to the 5th gen Kindle
+ More customizable
- More things to fuss over and go wrong
- Seems to have more internet complaints about durability/stability?

Paperwhite 4
+ Sending things to my Kindle from the library/email/Calibre feels like magic
+ Reliable
- Feels big and heavy compared to 5th gen
-- HQ2 might be moving in down the street from me and I am angry my neighborhood/the world is going to be overrun by Amazon drones
posted by yeahlikethat to Shopping (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have had Kobo since Sony stopped making them, and I like the lighting, I've never had any issues with reliability, I mostly customise once (choose font size/spacing/etc) then stop so nothing to fuss over and go wrong.

You do need to either attach your Kobo to a computer or have your ebooks available online (eg Calibre server), and the Kobo will not recognise books you add if you don't eject your device from the computer. But other than that, I've had no issues.
posted by jeather at 11:30 AM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

Mobileread.com has forums for Kindle, Kobo, and (the one that might be most helpful in your case) Which One Should I Buy.
posted by elphaba at 11:43 AM on November 8, 2018

I hate Amazon's takeover of the world, but I must admit that my Paperwhite is awesome. It's sturdy, the battery life is excellent, and the integration of my Kindle account with Overdrive is the best thing ever. Now that the library has Libby, I can check ebooks out of the library on my phone and send them to my Kindle to be picked up really easily.

Side-loading from my Calibre directory on my laptop isn't quite as clean, but it's fine.
posted by suelac at 12:11 PM on November 8, 2018

I just got a Clara and really love it. (That warm lighting!) I manage loading ebooks through Calibre, and haven't had any problems, just plug Clara in, add ebooks and go.

The Overdrive integration is gorgeous -- you link your Overdrive account, and as books are borrowed, they automatically download. You can return them via the Clara too. I had a slight problem with one where it kept getting replaced by a Kobo preview and I had to re-download and find my place again, but I honestly think that was something I did, fiddling around with trying to get the book in the first place. Basically, if you leave it alone, it's fine.

(Oh, one thing that did kind of annoy me -- I had to do a firmware update upon unboxing to get the Overdrive capability. It took like 15 minutes and was fine after that, though.)

I've only ever had Kobo's, but I can say from experience that they're pretty hardy, and I have zero complaints.
posted by kalimac at 12:14 PM on November 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

I love my Kobo. I get most of my ebooks from the library. The Kobo store is pretty decent, and I just use Calibre to send any books I get from Amazon onto it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:54 PM on November 8, 2018

I have a Kindle. Mrs. Sourcequench has a Kobo. Household harmony is maintained using Calibre to accomplish DRM removal, format-shifting and actually loading the files on the devices.

For the Kobo, we use a direct USB connection. As mentioned upthread, it is important to explicitly "eject" the Kobo before disconnecting. It's also important to have a reasonable up-to-date Calibre version.

Oh, and use a non-crap USB cable. (I like the Anker Poweline series.)
posted by sourcequench at 2:18 PM on November 8, 2018

I find USB cables that come with kobos are quite nice.
posted by fimbulvetr at 3:28 PM on November 8, 2018

I've got a Kobo Aura One, not a Clara, but it's great. I normally use Calibre to handle most book management stuff, but have had my computer packed away for a while during some home construction work. I've been checking out and returning books from my library's Overdrive wirelessly, and it works well. The Pocket integration's also nice for when I want to read long articles. Unsurprisingly, actually buying books from the Kobo store also works fine.
posted by asperity at 3:39 PM on November 8, 2018

I can't speak for the new Clara HD, but I've had a Kobo for five years now and it's held up like a champ. The Kobo store is okay, perhaps a little clunkier than Amazon, but selection is all right. I mostly use Overdrive or documents converted via Calibre, though, and I've been nothing but pleased. A+ do recommend. Break out of the walled garden -- it's nicer out here!
posted by halation at 3:47 PM on November 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have a Nook Simple Touch that I’ve clung to unreasonably for about 5 years (in fact, I have two, because I bought a spare last year on EBay in case the first one broke). But I’m just about sold on the new Paperwhite for the following reasons:

1. Overdrive compatibility
2. Audible support, because I use Audible a ton
3. I like the idea of Kindle Unlimited
4. Fully waterproof (up to two meters for 60 minutes)

Right now I use my phone to listen to audiobooks, my laptop to manage Calibre, my Nook to read print books, and sometimes my tablet to browse libraries because the screen is more convenient, and it would be nice to bring all of that onto a single device, or at least fewer devices. And while I’ve long since mastered the art of positioning myself so that my Nook is less likely to fall in the tub, it would be an added bonus to not have that worry.

Love my Nook though. I’ve been using one since the first-generation e-reader with the LCD navigation, and the thought of switching is painful. But it can’t do everything that I want it to do.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:29 PM on November 8, 2018

I love my Kobo. Like others, I use it mostly with Overdrive, which is wireless and easy peasy. Downloading books from the store is similarly easy. Yes, sideloading requires a USB cable, but I haven't had any issues. I've also got a Kindle Fire and haven't found sideloading to be any easier there, fwiw.
posted by rednikki at 5:28 AM on November 9, 2018

Kobo Aura here. About 1/3rd of my purchases are direct from Kobo and synced over wifi. The rest get copied over USB using Calibre, although you can also just drag-and-drop with a file manager as well. You can also sideload using the built-in web browser but web browsers on e-ink are really sluggish. Calibre also has a plugin for pulling annotations from Kobo devices.

Don't have many complaints about the device's software, but I upgraded from an old Kindle with the four-way cursor buttons, and accidental page turns when I fumble it are a small compromise.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 6:09 AM on November 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I recently switched to a Kobo Aura after my Kindle died and I mostly like it. I primarily use it for library books.

++ Nthing the warm lighting!
+ Reading statistics
+ Overdrive integration
+ Waterproof
- I am slightly annoyed that when I check out a book from the library using the Libby Overdrive app the EXACT same ISBN needs to be in the Kobo store for it to show up wirelessly on the Kobo, otherwise you will need to sideload it with a cable.
- I don't find the interface as responsive as my Kindle.
posted by source.decay at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2018

I love my Kobo Aura One - it's my 4th Kobo (upgrades, not breakage, being what drove new devices for me.)

As others have said, the "Comfortlight" is great.

The Overdrive integration used to be exclusive to the Aura One, but has been extended to the rest of the lineup. I use the hell out of that. (If you intend to use overdrive, my recommendation: install the Libby app on your android/ios device of choice, and do your searching/checkout from there - the interface is a little less clunky than the kobo, and your books will just show up when you sync the Kobo. It works really well.)

I really like the larger screen size of the Aura One, but all of my previous Kobo's were the same 6" size as the Clara. I'm a bigger guy, and the Aura One is just pocketable for me, where the Clara would be easily pocketable.

Sending things to the Kobo via Calibre is as trivially easy as it is with a Kindle (having done both). The Kobo has much better native format support than the Kindle, though of course Calibre can convert for you on the fly.

For a long time, the Kobo's customization of the reading experience (font face / font size / line spacing / margins / justification) was light years ahead of the Kindle - not sure if that's still true, but you can definitely customize your reading experience to your heart's content.

Final bonus (for me, though admittedly I am a weirdo): You can invert the screen (it's a config file setting, but it's trivial to do). This means black screen and light text, if you enjoy such things.
posted by namewithoutwords at 9:44 AM on November 9, 2018

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