March 03, 2020
E-book readers are designed to be an electronic substitute for a printed book. The main function of the e-book reader is to read books. There are several e-book readers from different manufacturers on the Canadian market. They are similar in size, shape, and weight, have very similar features and capabilities and perform well in regular use. This review is an attempt to make a comparison of the best e-book readers available in Canada in 2020.
Two major brands in Canada are Kindle from Amazon and Kobo from Rakuten. Nook from Barnes & Noble is another brand of e-readers available in Canada. Nook sells much fewer devices in Canada than Amazon or Kobo. There has been a constant battle between Amazon and Kobo, which of them will make a better e-book reader.
No e-book reader is perfect for everyone. In the following table, we compared major features of all Kindle and Kobo e-readers currently available on the Canadian market and, hopefully, it will help you make a decision about which one is right for you.
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Kobo Libra H2O
Kobo Clara HD
Kindle basic model
In this article, we will compare Kobo vs Kindle to find out the difference between them and what are the little and big things that set them apart. Depending on your requirements and budget, you can choose the Kobo or Kindle model that is a perfect match for your needs.
Amazon is one of the pioneers in the e-readers industry. It has dominated the Canadian e-readers market from the very beginning – in November 2009 first Kindle e-reader was released in Canada. Amazon is the largest manufacturer of e-book readers in the world.
Kobo is a Canadian manufacturer of e-readers. Its headquarter is in Toronto - it is a subsidiary of Japanese corporation Rakuten. It is the second-largest manufacturer of e-book readers in the world. Kobo launched its first e-book reader in May 2010, just a few months after Amazon.
Both Kobo and Kindle offer a full line of e-book readers for all kinds of budget. Each of them offers three different models of e-readers: basic model (the cheapest model), the mid-range model, and premium top-end model. (Kobo Aura was discontinued in December 2019, and Kindle Voyage was discontinued in July 2018).
Kobo models come in three different sizes (6 inches, 7 inches, and 8 inches) while Kindle e-readers come in 2 sizes (6 inches, 7 inches). Only the Kobo Forma comes with an 8-inch screen and it is currently one of the largest e-readers in Canada.
Kobo and Kindle e-readers share many of the same tech specs and features. They all have long battery life. That is one of the major advantages e-book readers have over tablets and smartphones. A fully charged battery can last for several weeks without a need for recharging.
One of the significant differences between these two brands is that all Kindle e-readers can play audiobooks. In contrast, none of the Kobo e-readers can play audiobooks. Kindle e-readers have built-in audio feature- listening to audiobooks is possible via Bluetooth. They have easy access to the Audible online store, which offers a large selection of audiobooks. A professional actor narrates audiobooks. One section of audiobooks on Canadian Audible is devoted to Canadian authors and narrated by Canadian actors.
All Kindle e-readers are waterproof. Kobo’s two high-end e-readers are waterproof, but Kobo Clara is not.
Kobo’s primary advantage is the front-lighting system. In essence, all Kobo models come with an adjustable color temperature of the front light. Only Kindle Oasis has the color temperature front-lightning system, and the other Kindle models do not have it. The front-lighting system consists of several white and amber LEDs. The color temperature of light can easily be adjusted to make the perfect reading condition in any ambient conditions. More yellow lights are added in dark ambient to reduce blue lights. Blue lights are the leading cause of eye strain and fatigue. Eyes strain more when reading in dim surroundings, so the quality of the front lights is a significant factor when choosing which e-book reader to buy.
Both Amazon and Kobo offer a massive selection of e-books. Amazon offers more than 6 million e-books on the Kindle store and Audible. Kobo is catching up with Amazon in a number of available books. Currently, Kobo offers almost 6 million e-books on Kobo and Indigo online stores.
Kindle e-readers primarily support MOBI digital format. Books on the Kindle store are in this format. However, Kindle e-readers do not support EPUB files. To be able to read an e-book in EPUB format, you need to download the e-book (in EPUB format) to your computer, convert the EPUB file to MOBI file, and send it to your Kindle e-reader. Software Calibre helps this conversion from EPUB to MOBI format. This is an extra step that requires some time, and the conversion is not always perfect.
Kobo e-readers support more digital formats than Kindle, including EPUB and PDF. Books on Kobo and Indigo online stores are in the EPUB file.
All recent versions of Kobo e-readers come with an integrated OverDrive feature. OverDrive feature allows you to access Canadian public libraries directly from your Kobo e-reader. You will be able to search for an e-book in the section of Kobo books in your local public library, choose a book and borrow it. Your e-book will be automatically returned to your public library when your lending period expires.
Kindle e-readers cannot access public libraries in Canada directly from the device – they have direct access to public libraries only in the USA.
So there is a big difference in approach between Kobo and Kindle regarding e-books. Since Kobo e-readers support more digital formats, you will be able to buy e-books from multiple online stores. You are not limited to purchase books only from Kobo or Indigo online stores. You will be able to open and read many digital files from open source.
Amazon has more control over its e-readers. Kindle e-readers can read much less digital formats and can download books from fewer websites. So Amazon’s approach is: only buy on our store and no library support. On the other hand, Amazon offers three subscription-based services that allow members access to the big selection of e-books and audiobooks at a popular price. These services are Prime Reading, Kindle Unlimited, and Audible. Prime Reading is automatically included with Amazon Prime membership with no extra costs. The cost of Kindle Unlimited subscription in Canada is $9.95, while the cost of the Audible subscription is $14.95.
Amazon devices have great support for Kindle books. They have the ability to remember your place in the book across different electronic devices. So you can start reading a book on Kindle e-book reader and continue reading via Kindle App on Amazon Fire or any other tablet or smartphone without losing the place where you left off. If you have an audio version of the same book on Kindle device, you can easily switch between reading a book and listening to the audiobook. So you can start reading a book on Kindle Paperwhite in bed in the evening, switch to the audiobook in the morning while you are driving to work, from the same place where you left reading. This is accomplished through WhisperSync for Voice feature and is supported across different digital devices.
In conclusion, Kindle e-reader is a better device overall, but you have to buy most of your books.
Kobo Libra H2O, released in September 2019, is the latest e-reader from Kobo family. It is very similar to Kindle Oasis, especially when comparing size, display resolution, front light, and waterproof body.
Both e-readers come with 7-inch screens and high display resolution of 300 PPI, which is sharp enough that text of all sizes and typefaces will look crystal clear.
Both e-readers come with a similar front lighting system, which automatically adjusts brightness and color temperature of light to the ambient condition. This makes it easier to read in the dark. Oasis’s front lightning systems consist of 25 LEDs – 12 white and 13 amber LEDs. Similarly, front light on the Libra (ComfortLight PRO) consists of a combination of white and amber LEDs that uniformly illuminate the screen.
They have similar weight, the Libra weights 192 g, and the Oasis weighs 188 g.
Another feature that both Libra and Oasis have is an automatic orientation of the screen. If you tilt your Libra or Oasis sideways, the text will switch from portrait to landscape mode. This is accomplished with a built-in gyroscope.
One of the significant advantages of Libra is that it comes with a built-in Overdrive feature. OverDrive feature on the Libra allows users to borrow books from public libraries directly from the device. Users who own Kindle Oasis cannot connect to their local public libraries in Canada directly from their devices.
On the other hand, Kindle Oasis can play audiobooks narrated by a professional narrator, and Libra cannot. Since audiobooks require much more space than e-books, Kindle Oasis is available in two versions depending on the size of storage space: 8GB and 32 GB. The Libra comes only in an 8GB version.
Libra can download books only via WiFi connection while Oasis can download via WiFi and via a free cellular connection. Downloading e-books and especially daily newspapers and magazines via mobile network is a useful feature for customers who often travel and therefore, most of the time, do not have access to WiFi.
In Canada, the Libra is available in two colors, white and black, while Oasis is available only in black.
Body of Kobo Libra is made of plastic with a bit of texture at the rear, while the body of Oasis is made of aluminum and glass for a fancy look.
There is a difference in price. The price of the Libra in Canada is $199.99, while the cost of Oasis is 329.99 for the 8GB version. The price of the other versions of Oasis is in the range of $329.99 – $429.99, depending on the storage size and connectivity (WiFi or cellular).