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

Kobo has a observe report of manufacturing serviceable e book viewers. Last 12 months I examined the Kobo Nia, a powerful entry-degree product, and again in 2018 reviewed the Kobo Forma, which has, right up until now, been the Kobo flagship product and a competitor for Amazon’s Kindle Oasis. Though arguably residing to some degree in Amazon’s shadow, Kobo has now accomplished one thing Amazon has not — produced an e book reader that can settle for handwritten notes. The Kobo Elipsa comes with a stylus and a include for a rate of £349.ninety nine in the United kingdom, or $399.ninety nine in the US. 

The Kobo Elipsa has an E-Ink Carta screen, and this technology has previously been used to make devices that can settle for handwriting. I seemed at the reMarkable 2 E-Ink tablet previously this 12 months, for illustration, but this is the to start with time e book studying and note-taking have been merged in a one product, for the United kingdom market place at minimum. 

Kobo has a nicely-founded online bookstore, and like its most important rival Amazon there are no cost applications for Android and Apple devices so you can acquire your e book studying with you on an Android tablet or cellphone, and on Iphone or iPad, with the capacity to synchronise your area across devices. Compared with Amazon’s Kindles, Kobo devices have crafted-in support for OverDrive, Pocket and Dropbox, and can be used to go through ebooks borrowed from community libraries. That facility is highlighted correct on the property display screen of the Kobo program on the Elipsa, and if you now have the required information and facts and OverDrive account setup you can log in correct absent. Alternatively verify your have local authority’s site for aid. 


The Kobo Elipsa has a ten.3-inch E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen with 1404 by 1872 resolution (227ppi). It truly is driven by a one.8GHz quad-core CPU and has 32GB of storage, Wi-Fi (802.11ac) and a USB-C port. You can find no Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio jack, nevertheless.

Photographs: Kobo

Mainly because the Kobo Elipsa has been made for note-taking, it has to present a larger sized display screen than we are used to in modern e book viewers. The E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen measures ten.3 inches across the diagonal, and there are significant bezels all all-around the display screen, with one of the extensive-edge bezels quite broad without a doubt at 25mm. This tends to make for a product measuring 193mm broad by 227.5mm deep by 7.6mm thick. The Eipsa’s desktop footprint is quite near to that of the Impressive 2 (187mm x 246mm), despite the fact that the Elipsa is significantly thicker (7.6mm vs 4.7mm). Irrespective of staying thicker, the Elipsa is lighter — 383g vs the Impressive 2’s 403.5g. 


The SleepCover shields the Elipsa tablet and provides a property for the stylus. Equally of these items are bundled in the £349.ninety nine / $399.ninety nine rate.

Photographs: Kobo

That’s not the stop of it, simply because the Elipsa has a SleepCover which is a two-piece unit comprising a bumper model foundation and a include held in area by powerful magnets. Flip the include to the again of the Elipsa and it doubles as a very little kickstand. You can find a stylus holder crafted into the SleepCover, which provides a very little top to it, but holds the stylus securely. Put all this collectively and the Elipsa is a pretty big package deal.  


The SleepCover in stand mode.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The Elipsa alone has a plastic chassis, but feels solid in the hand the SleepCover is also (relatively thick) plastic. The electric power button, charge light-weight and USB-C port for charging and file transfer are all at the base of one of the Elipsa’s extensive edges, and there are corresponding access holes in the SleepCover. 

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The monochrome ten.3-inch display screen is excellent for e book studying, with a resolution of 1872 by 1404 pixels (227ppi). It truly is sharp and distinct, and text is easy on the eye. The one.8GHz quad-core processor is speedy more than enough to provide sleek page turns, and page refreshes are finish, with no ghosting of the previously go through page. 

Kobo’s program is an item lesson in simplicity of use. Tap the display screen when you happen to be in a e book and studying development, research instrument and chapter navigation seem at the base of the display screen, when at the top you will find a menu for altering different settings.  


Configurations and figures for e book studying.

Photographs: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

Adjustments are as you would assume from an e book reader. You can change font dimensions, line spacing, margin dimensions, justification and toggle car rotation on and off, as nicely as established the entrance-light-weight brightness. You can also see in depth in-e book figures — how extensive right up until the e book is go through, how extensive you want to go through to finish the recent chapter and how extensive to go through the upcoming one, and a graphical representation of your development by means of the e book.  

A lot more in depth studying settings are accessed by means of the cog instrument on this menu. Kobo even tends to make a acceptable stab at having over the e book reader challenge of staying not able to flick again and forth as you might with a printed e book: extensive-urgent the base remaining and correct corners to velocity-page forwards and backwards provides a passable approximation of skimming a paper e book. 

SEE: Technologies in education: The most recent products and tendencies (no cost PDF) (TechRepublic)

There are two noteworthy absences. A person is the capacity to change the colour temperature to make studying at night less difficult on the eye. This has been this sort of a regular element of e book viewers for so extensive that its absence here is surprising. A halfway home, potentially, is the capacity to flip from the standard darkish text on a light-weight background to the reverse. The other absentee is Bluetooth, or a 3.5mm headset jack for listening to audio books.  

I had no difficulty studying ebooks, and a good deal of file formats are supported for side-loaded files — EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ and CBR. 

That mentioned, the Elipsa is larger sized and heavier than any e book reader I at present use (and I use viewers from the two Kobo and Amazon consistently). I found it to some degree unwieldy when lounging on a couch or studying in bed, and a bit hefty for prolonged periods of one-handed use. 


You can write notes into freeform notebooks (with a small choice of models) or into a lined notebook all set for conversion to editable text.

Picture: Sandra Vogel / ZDNet

The stylus opens up the note-taking functions of the Elipsa. It is driven by a one AAAA battery, and comes with one suggestion. Extra guidelines price tag £/$9.ninety nine for a pack of 5. When studying a e book, you can push the reduced of the two stylus buttons to spotlight a section, and the upper button to erase highlights. Nonetheless, the authentic utility of the stylus comes in earning notes. 

Picking My Notebooks from the menu row at the base of the property display screen opens up the region for taking notes. Particular person notes are stored in notebooks, of which there are two forms: one is freeform, when the other will transform handwriting to text that’s editable off-product, when also accommodating freeform drawing. 

The producing method is difficult at to start with, as you will have to wait around for the display screen to catch up with the nib, but it didn’t acquire me extensive to acclimatise. Conversion to editable text was superb — faultless at my to start with attempt, and the precision degree was certainly value the transient wait around for processing to acquire area. 

When producing for conversion you have to write together pre-configured lines on the display screen, but in the freeform notebooks a few of ‘paper’ models are offered. It truly is a disgrace there usually are not much more models — the Impressive tablet has a large array. Hopefully Kobo will insert much more models by means of program updates. 

Particular person webpages and finished notebooks can be despatched to Dropbox or simply exported by means of a USB-C link as DOCX, plain text or HTML. You have to go by means of the method of selecting to export, deciding on a file structure and converting on the Elipsa alone. Applying the cable method, exports are neatly filed in an Exported Notebooks folder that shows up when the Elipsa and laptop or computer are linked. Wi-fi transfer would be a wonderful addition, but the wired method worked efficiently.  

The Kobo Elipsa has 32GB of inside storage and a battery that will provide ‘weeks’ of use, ‘dependent on specific usage’ — you will find absolutely nothing like hedging your bets, Kobo. I found, as with all e book viewers I’ve used from Kobo in the earlier, that I was equipped to get to charging services frequently more than enough to top up without staying caught small. As you would assume, toggling Wi-Fi off conserves battery capability. 

There are handful of bells and whistles as significantly as pen-dependent enter is concerned, handwriting-to-text conversion is a bit gradual, and you will find a absence of templates for non-convertible note taking. But the fundamentals are all included, which includes a conversion method that understands the change among words and phrases and pictures. I found handwriting conversion impressively correct, and when the SleepCover is potentially a very little unwieldy it does, at minimum, provide defense and stylus storage. 


The Elipsa employs the thoroughly clean, person-welcoming and navigable interface of other Kobo e book viewers. Its versatility is excellent – it is really as easy to go through loaned library books as those acquired from the Kobo retail outlet, file structure support is great, and simply earning a wired link is more than enough to transfer locally stored files to a laptop or computer. The handwriting functions are simple but nicely implemented, and conversion to editable text is impressively correct. For a to start with-technology hybrid e book reader/notetaker, the Elipsa is a quite great product. 

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