The "1-Minute" Review
VerdictWhile it's definitely an e-reader first and a digital notepad second, the Kobo Elipsa does quite well for Kobo's first foray into active stylus support. It's a big e-reader though, so we don't recommend it for on-the-go use or bedside reading.
- Stylus support
- Documents and books look great
- Good handwriting recognition
- No amber lighting
- Writing is restricted
Kobo aims for the Elipsa to be a research-friendly note-taking e-reader. That’s quite a specific mold for a single device to fit one device. Does it work? Or does it try to do too much and, in doing so, do nothing particularly well? Let’s look at what reviewers think!
Reviewers were clear here: the design is excellent, but the weight is not.
The screen is flush with the bezels instead of recessed, providing a clean aesthetic and paperlike appeal. But it’s pretty unwieldy when compared with other e-readers and digital notepads.
Reviewers noted it was not very friendly for one-handed use. The stylus, however, was responsive and comfortable to use.
The 10.3-inch e-ink display is one of the nicest currently available, according to reviewers. It has a 20% faster response time, making page flips and note-taking smooth and responsive with minimal visual artifacts. The display also offers improved contrast over previous models, making it perfect for viewing and reading comics and manga.
However, they also felt that not adding the amber LEDs for night viewing was a mistake. So if you’re using this e-reader at night, be prepared for a blast of blue light.
The Kobo Elipsa offers 32GB of internal storage. This is a fair bit of storage compared to other e-readers and should be more than enough room unless you plan to carry around a vast number of heavily formatted PDFs.
Battery life on e-readers varies considerably based on whether you use Wi-Fi often and how bright you prefer to keep your backlight. However, reviewers could get nearly a month on a single charge reading a few hours a day with moderate backlight settings and minimal Wi-Fi usage.
Software & File Format Support
As with most Kobo readers, the reader runs Linux. This means you can read many file formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, RFT, CBZ and CBR. However, you will not be able to Amazon’s Kindle formats unless you want to convert the files manually.
The stylus is a new edition to the Kobo lineup, looking to take on the likes of the reMarkable 2.
The stylus operates on a single AAA battery. Reviewers said that it has a nice feel to it. Because the screen is textured, it feels remarkably similar to writing on paper.
However, exporting notes from the device was a bit cumbersome with limited file format options available. It's definitely more of an e-reader than a digital notepad, but reviewers agree that it's more than acceptable for light notetaking or marking up the occasional document.
More to the point, reviewers agree that any shortcomings are things Kobo can quickly address with software updates in the future.
Specs at a Glance
- Aluminum chassis
- 10.3-inch, 227ppi e-ink display
- Front lighting, no amber filter
- 32GB of storage
- 2,400mAh battery
- EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, RFT, CBZ and CBR support
The Kobo Elipsa holds up to most of its promises, though its price point can cause some disappointment. The lack of amber lighting was a surprise to many reviewers. This is a standard feature on virtually all e-readers in 2021. It’s large and heavy as well, making it less suited to cramped quarters like public transit or laying in bed reading with one hand.
Tech Radar says, “The Kobo Elipsa, however, is an ereader [sic] first – one that can multitask. The Kobo Stylus, while not quite real-time responsive, is fast enough to make writing an enjoyable experience, and the device’s ability to recognize handwriting to convert to text is remarkable.”
Tech Crunch states, “Compared to the reMarkable, the Kobo is really just an easier platform for everyday reading, so if you’re looking for a device that focuses on that and has the option of doodling or note taking [sic] on the side, it’s a much better deal. On the other hand, those just looking for an improvement to that stylus-focused tablet should look elsewhere.”
What the Critics Are Saying...
- Sharmishta Sarkar, TechRadar
The Kobo Elipsa lets you read, take notes, draw and, of course, you can buy ebooks, borrow from a public library (in select markets), and read longform web articles on its 10.3-inch E Ink display. In fact, that large screen is perfect for comics and graphic novels. While the stylus is useful, its no...
- Angela Tricarico, Business Insider
For students looking to cut down on physical textbooks, notebooks, and the amount of items they carry to class and around campus, the Kobo Elipsa is the best e-reader option. It brings a lot of tablet functions — like note-taking, textbook access, and PDF support — to a screen that's much easier on...
- Jo Tann, Ausdroid
It is extremely easy to get content onto the device – simply link your Dropbox account and transfer the files. The Elipsa supports 15 different file types natively – EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR. (I had to look the last two up – turns out they a...
- Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch
The Elipsa is a considerable investment and comparably priced to an iPad, which is certainly a more versatile device. But I don’t particularly enjoy reading articles or books on my iPad, and the simplicity of an e-reader in general helps me focus when I’m making notes on a paper or something. It’s a...
- Matt Wille, Input
This is not to say the Elipsa isn’t worth $399 — it’s just that the casual reader has no good reason to pay for the luxury afforded by this particular e-reader. A college student or professor, on the other hand (or anyone who writes and reads seriously) will make much more use of the note-taking ext...
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