📅 2022-Feb-10 ⬩ ✍️ Ashwin Nanjappa ⬩ 🏷️ ebook reader, kobo ⬩ 📚 Archive
I generally read deadtree books, but a couple of years ago I decided to pull the trigger and try an ebook reader. Wanting to try something other than the Kindle series, I chose the Kobo Nia. Kobo is a company owned by Rakuten Japan, but is based in Canada that produces ebook readers.
Display: The Nia is Kobo’s smallest and simplest ebook reader, with a 6-inch display. Its resolution is 1024x758 and has 212 PPI. It is fine for reading text, but not sufficient if you are viewing images or reading comics.
Fonts: This reader has 12 fonts, of which I prefer Malabar. The rest are all too much like fixed width fonts or too narrow: Publisher Default, Amasis, Avenir Next, Caecilia, Georgia, Gill Sans, Kobo Nickel, AR UDJingxihei, Kobo Tsukushi Mincho, Kobo UD Kakugo and OpenDsylexic.
Size and weight: The reader was really small in hand and light! With a size of 112.4 x 159.3 x 9.2 mm, it is much smaller than a paperback book. And the weight of typical Android tablets and smartphones are much more than this reader. The reader is 172 grams, but distributed across its larger dimensions, this hardly feels like nothing when using it. This definitely not straining any hand when held for hours while reading.
Light: The rendering of text on the display, the brightness levels are great. One of the best features of ebook readers is how easy they are to read in sunlight and how easy they are on the eye (like paper). This reader also has a front light for reading in the dark called ComfortLight, which was barely adequate though.
Battery: Charging the ebook reader is easy by connecting it using a micro-USB cable. Once charged, the battery seemed to last for one month, for the little reading I do on it.
Copy ebooks from computer: The Kobo can be connected to a computer using a USB cable and no special software is required. It appears as a USB mass storage device with the drive name
KOBOeReader. By copying over ebook files to this drive, you can read them on the Kobo. This is another killer feature since you can read any ebook in any format (epub/PDF/comic) this way.
Calibre: The Nia is supported out of the box by Calibre through its driver (Kobo Reader Device Interface) and KoboTouch plugin, both of which are installed with Calibre by default. Nia is recognized and visible in Calibre when it is connected, enabling the transfer of ebooks/magazines/newspapers to the Kobo. When the Nia is connected to Calibre, annotations can be transferred to the computer by rigt-clicking on the ebook and choosing Send to device -> Fetch annotations (experimental). The annotations will be visible in the ebook metadata and can be viewed by right-clicking on the ebook and choosing Show book details.
Kobo Epub: Calibre transfers ebooks to Nia as epubs and I found epubs to be insufferably slow on Nia (very slow page turns, highlighting and navigation). Install the KoboTouchExtended plugin and choose Send books as kepubs in its options. This converts epubs to kepubs (Kobo Epub) when they are transferred to Nia (or any Kobo device). I found the kepubs to be blazingly fast on Nia. As a bonus Nia also displays an estimate of how much I would take to finish a partially finished kepub (“2.5 hours to go”), which I found to be motivating.
Buy ebooks: Ebooks can be purchased through the Kobo store app in the ebook reader.
Borrow library ebooks: A big selling point for me is that I can borrow books from my local library using the installed OverDrive app. I used the OverDrive app to read a few books from my library and the experience was good. It was a tad disappointing that the app did not support magazines, which it supports in its Android apps.
Pocket: The biggest selling point of the reader for me was the Pocket app. I can sync and read all my Pocket articles on this reader. The text view works great, but the web view might crash the inbuilt browser. Reading the articles also makes me wish this was a color ebook reader.
Reader software and UI: Ebooks you bought or borrowed from library or copied over and articles from Pocket - all of them use a single underlying reader software and the consistent UI of this software.
Dictionary: Long-pressing any word in an ebook or Pocket article will show its meaning using the ODE. I think the access to this high-quality Oxford dictionary with display of meaning, pronunciation, usage and etymology is a fantastic feature. There are also dictionaries in other languages (which I don’t use) and Spanish/French/German->English dictionaries (which I do use) that can be enabled in settings. Words from Spanish/German/French are common while reading English and so I find the access to all these European->English dictionaries to be a huge plus.