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7.8/10
Informr score
The Kobo Clara HD currently has an Informr score of 7.8 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 10 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

The Kobo Clara HD is a great budget e-reader with excellent performance and a beautiful screen. Unless you want access to the Kindle Store's massive line-up, the Clara HD goes toe-to-toe with nearly any low-to-mid priced e-reader out there.

What's good

  • Snappy performance
  • Adjustable front light color temperature
  • Long battery life
  • Sharp 300dpi screen
  • Ergonomic design

What's bad

  • Smaller library selection than Apple or Amazon
  • Not water-resistant
  • Awkward Overdrive interface

Kindle might be the main e-book reader on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. For 8 years, Kobo has quietly iterated and improved upon their own e-reader line up. The Kobo Clara HD offers a budget e-book reader to rival the Kindle Paperwhite.

You will not impress anyone with the design of the Clara HD, but it does its job. Measuring in at 6.3-by-4.3-by-0.3 inches, it’s slightly larger than your standard paperback, but the larger size is offset by the much smaller weight of 204 grams. It’s actually lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite and is even lighter than the iPhone 8 Plus.

The tapered back and textured pattern offers an excellent grip. The thick bezels, while somewhat dated, make it comfortable to hold while reading as you don’t need to worry about your fingers tapping the screen on accident. 

Speaking of screens, the 6-inch display offers plenty of detail with at 300dpi. As reviewers expected, the text was crisp and images were sharper than the Paperwhite

Though the 1GHz processor and 512GB of RAM might not sound impressive, the Kobo Clara HD offered seamless page transitions and quick book loading. It has 8GB of onboard storage -- double the Paperwhite and Kobo Aura. This means you can store up to 6,000 books in your digital library.

As with other current e-readers, the Clara HD also has front lighting. Its brightness and consistency impressed reviewers. The device even offers the ability to change the light from blue to yellow and anywhere in between. You can either set it manually or allow it to shift based on the time of day. 

As the display and processor aren’t as demanding as the ones you find on your phones or tablets, the battery life on the Clara HD is fantastic and lasted reviewers a few weeks on a single charge.

While this might sound great, but there are a few issues with the Clara HD. The first one, for fans of other Kobo devices, is the lack of water-resistance. That means you must be very careful if you enjoy reading in the bath or by the pool. 

The next is the omission of Overdrive Integration. This feature allows you to download library books directly to your e-reader. While you can plug in the e-reader to your computer to download the books, it’s an unnecessary step -- especially when this feature is included in the Kobo Aura One.

It’s also a no-frills reading experience. For some, that might be fine, but for others who enjoy Amazon’s X-Ray to keep track of the characters and plots or integration with Goodreads, it might be a letdown. With that said, it still has the main functions such as highlighting passages, changing font style, and size and marking pages.

And while the Kobo has their own bookstore, Amazon crushes them on e-book selection -- at least in the US. With that said, the Kobo store offers almost every book that Amazon doesn’t publish and is useful in countries outside the US. You can also read PDF and EPUB books as well.

Overall, the Kobo isn’t a bad device, but with Amazon’s stranglehold on the publishing market, it’s hard not to recommend a Kindle if you're already invested in the Amazon ecosystem. Still, for someone looking for something a little different, the Kobo Clara HD is a compelling choice.

PCWorld states, “If it were just about the hardware… the Kobo Clara HD is a superior e-reader in almost every way... If, however, you have an extensive Kindle e-book library, an Amazon Prime subscription, or an addiction to magazines, you’d be better served by a Kindle.” PC Mag adds, “The Kobo Clara HD is an easy, light and simple way to read e-books... That said, Amazon and Apple own 92 percent of the e-book market in the US... that makes Kobo more of a niche choice.”


Screen Size
6"
Backlight
Yes
Storage
8 GB
3G
No


What the Critics Are Saying...


The Wirecutter

If you insist on something other than a Kindle, the Kobo Clara HD is the option we recommend. The Kobo Clara HD’s specs are comparable to those of the Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s a bit smaller in every dimension.

- Nick Guy, The Wirecutter
Mobile Syrup

All things considered, the Kobo Clara HD is now the best value in an e-reader, combining really useful features like its adaptive front light, and baked-in Overdrive support, with a price tag that should make Kindle buyers think twice before getting a Paperwhite. If a new e-reader is in your future,...

- Simon Cohen, Mobile Syrup
Good Gear Guide

If it were just about the hardware, this would be an easy decision. Despite costing only a few bucks more than Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite, the Rakuten Kobo Clara HD is a superior e-reader in almost every way. But Kobo can’t compete with Amazon’s expansive bookstore offerings, period.

- Séamus Bellamy, Good Gear Guide
Tech Advisor

We like the Kobo Clara HD, but we don't like the hefty £109 price tag for what it does. Its greatest merits are its ComfortLight PRO feature, slightness, and battery life; but with the Paperwhite at the same price bracket, you would expect the Clara to compete with even more features, especially sin...

- Somrata Sarkar, Tech Advisor
Business Insider

The Kobo Clara HD is an incredibly well-designed e-reader, and should be strongly considered for people who don't have any ties to Amazon's digital book empire.

- Brandt Ranj, Business Insider


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Quick view

Screen Size
6"

The Kobo Clara HD's screen size is 6 inches with 1072 x 1448 pixels resolution.

Processor
1 GHz
OS
Storage
8 GB

Internal memory is 8 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
1500mAh

The e-reader is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 1500 mAh battery.

Clara HD Specs

Overview
Release date June 5, 2018
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Networks
No
SIM card size No
Operating System Custom
Processor Freescale Solo Lite 1 GHz
Internal Storage 8 GB
RAM 512 MB
ROM No
TTY/TDD No
SAR Body: 1.16 W/kg
Languages English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included Manual, Data Cable
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 1500 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time 1 hours
Reading Time Unknown
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black
Dimensions [H x W x D] 15.96 x 11 x 0.835 cm (6.3 x 4.3 x 0.3 in)
Weight 166
Water Resistant / Waterproof No
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Grayscale
Technology E-ink
Resolution 1072 x 1448 pixels
Pixel density 300 pixels
Size 6 inches
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch No
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Anti Glare No
Additional Display Features ComfortLight PRO
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Page Turn Key No
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock No
External Volume Control No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth No
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Encryption WEP/WPA/WPA2
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
Audio / Video
Audio Playback No
Video Playback No
Streaming Video No
External Speakers No
Headset Jack No
Vibration Alert No
Content Formats Supported
Content Formats Supported CBR, CBZ, EPUB, EPUB3, GIF, HTML, JPEG, MOBI, PDF, PNG, RTF, TIFF, TXT
More
Additional comments Other Names (AKA): Kobo N249

Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Kobo Clara HD Reviews
Where to buy Kobo Clara HD
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