Image for article titled The Kobo Sage Is Proof E-Readers Can Do So Much More

Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

I just lately reviewed the brand new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 5 Signature Version and declared it the most effective devoted e-reader you should purchase. It’s true; it’s. However isn’t it time we begin anticipating extra from these gadgets than merely storing ebooks? With added assist for a stylus, the brand new Kobo Sage bridges the hole between e-readers and e-notes and provides probably the most reasonably priced E Ink notepad options available on the market.

The predictions of E Ink’s loss of life by the hands of the iPad and different LCD tablets have been approach off. Not solely have e-readers thrived, they’ve advanced into one other class of gadgets referred to as e-notes which are designed to exchange paper notebooks, too. The reMarkable 2 stays the most effective E Ink note-taking system available on the market, however at $400 it’s additionally probably the most costly, and it lacks a backlight, making it virtually ineffective as an e-reader. Alternate options just like the Onyx Boox Nova 2 and even Kobo’s personal Elipsa show that e-readers and e-notes can stay in concord as a single system, however why are all of them so large? That’s the query the brand new Kobo Sage asks and solutions. It seems an all-in-one E Ink system doesn’t should be tablet-sized to be nice.

Easy on the Eyes

Discovering printed books with enlarged sort for ageing eyes isn’t not possible, nevertheless it’s one of many many causes e-readers have remained widespread: Readers can customise precisely how a web page of textual content appears to be like for their very own preferences and desires, and Kobo’s gadgets have lengthy been particularly accommodating of that by permitting customers to even add their very own most popular fonts. The one downside is that the bigger you increase the textual content dimension, the extra usually you’re turning the web page.

The 8-inch Kobo Sage (center) is smaller than the 10.3-inch Kobo Elipsa (left) and slightly larger than the 7-inch Kobo Libra (right).

The 8-inch Kobo Sage (middle) is smaller than the 10.3-inch Kobo Elipsa (left) and barely bigger than the 7-inch Kobo Libra (proper).
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

With an 8-inch E Ink show, the Sage strikes a very good dimension steadiness between the bigger 10.3-inch Kobo Elipsa and the 7-inch Kobo Libra, which is a devoted e-reader. It offers a small increase within the quantity of textual content you may match on display screen, whereas nonetheless being a comparatively compact and light-weight system you gained’t thoughts tossing in a bag each day. As a lot as I like bigger e-notes just like the reMarkable 2 and the Kobo Elipsa, I merely discover them too large for an eachday carry, and solely pack them after I know I’ll want t0 be taking notes.

The Kobo Sage is powered by a 1.Eight GHz quad-core processor paired with 512MB of RAM, which is a reasonably highly effective duo for some of these gadgets. Following the brand new Amazon Kindle and the Kobo Elipsa, it’s additionally one of many first gadgets to make use of E Ink’s new Carta 1200 digital paper shows, which is what allowed Amazon to boast in regards to the new Kindle’s 20% sooner web page turns. The Kobo Sage advantages from these upgrades too, in addition to different enhancements that Carta 1200 brings with it. One of many causes the reMarkable gadgets lack display screen lighting is as a result of its creators imagine it could hinder the writing expertise (to their credit score, the reMarkable 2 nonetheless provides the most effective e-note writing expertise). The Sage not solely consists of display screen lighting, however colour temperature changes, too (which the Kobo Elipsa doesn’t) for these fearful about throwing off their circadian rhythms with late night time utilization.

The Kobo Libra’s screen (right) is slightly brighter than the Sage’s (left) when brightness settings are maxed out, but the upgrades screen on the Sage (left) offers noticeably better contrast.

The Kobo Libra’s display screen (proper) is barely brighter than the Sage’s (left) when brightness settings are maxed out, however the upgrades display screen on the Sage (left) provides noticeably higher distinction.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

When put next side-by-side, the Kobo Sage’s display screen appears to be like each bit nearly as good because the Kobo Libra’s, however whereas the Libra’s peek brightness appears to be like ever so barely extra intense, textual content on the the Sage’s display screen undoubtedly has extra distinction, and to the discerning eye, the brand new E Ink Carta 1200 display screen appears to be like like a particular improve.

The Kobo Sage (left, top) features the same raised lip on the edge as the Kobo Libra (right, bottom) making it easier to hold and grip single-handed, as well as a pair of page turn navigation buttons.

The Kobo Sage (left, high) options the identical raised lip on the sting because the Kobo Libra (proper, backside) making it simpler to carry and grip single-handed, in addition to a pair of web page flip navigation buttons.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

To make studying with a one-handed grip simpler, the Sage additionally carries ahead the Libra’s raised edge and though the lip is way much less substantial on the Sage, it really works simply as nicely. In contrast to the bigger Kobo Elipsa, the Sage additionally incorporates a pair of ahead and again navigation buttons for flipping pages with out having to the touch the display screen. I’ve stated it earlier than and I’ll say it once more: Navigation buttons on e-readers are at all times a very good factor and I’m glad to see Kobo nonetheless together with them.

The Kobo Sage passes the USB-C test with flying colors.

The Kobo Sage passes the USB-C take a look at with flying colours.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

The brand new Kobo Sage additionally passes the USB-C port take a look at with flying colours. Relaxation in peace, microUSB, minus the peace half—you should endure for what you place us by way of.

Word-Taking Is a Bonus

In case you’re a prolific note-taker and undergo authorized pads prefer it’s no tomorrow, the brand new Kobo Sage in all probability isn’t for you. Your wants will undoubtedly be higher met by bigger, fuller-featured e-notes just like the reMarkable 2 or the Kobo Elipsa.

You’ll need to dig into a “More” menu to find your notebooks on the Kobo Sage (top), whereas the Kobo Elipsa (bottom) includes a shortcut on the home screen.

You’ll have to dig right into a “Extra” menu to seek out your notebooks on the Kobo Sage (high), the placebecause the Kobo Elipsa (backside) features a shortcut on the house display screen.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

As is obvious by the truth that Kobo hasn’t even included the “My Notebooks” part on the Sage’s dwelling display screen prefer it does with the bigger Elipsa (it’s as a substitute accessible below the “Extra” choice), even Kobo sees note-taking as enjoying second fiddle to the Sage’s e-reader performance.

The Kobo Sage is a solid e-note device, but you won’t find the wealth of customizability that devices such as the reMarkable 2 offer.

The Kobo Sage is a strong e-note system, however you gained’t discover the wealth of customizability that gadgets such because the reMarkable 2 provide.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

However that’s to not say the Sage disappoints as an e-note. From my testing it performs simply in addition to the bigger Elipsa does, with fundamental choices for the kind of stroke you’re utilizing, in addition to the flexibility to transform hand-written notes into editable textual content. Neither system can evaluate with the note-taking customizability provided by the reMarkable 2—even the Sage’s alternative of background templates is restricted to simply 4 fundamental choices. While it carried out nicely with cursive writing, the simulated pen on paper expertise begins to lag only a bit after I’m rapidly jotting notes utilizing my very own terrible handwriting method that falls someplace between all-caps printing and hen scratch.

Kobo doesn’t use Wacom’s stylus technology, so not only does the Kobo Stylus require a AAAA battery, it’s also the only stylus that works with the Kobo Sage.

Kobo doesn’t use Wacom’s stylus expertise, so not solely does the Kobo Stylus require a AAAA battery, it’s additionally the one stylus that works with the Kobo Sage.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

Kobo additionally doesn’t provide the Sage as a bundle with the Kobo Stylus. In case you intend to make use of it as an e-note you’ll have so as to add $40 to the Sage’s $260 price ticket. On high of that, Kobo doesn’t make the most of Wacom’s battery-free stylus expertise that gadgets like the Onyx Boox Nova Air do. The stylus runs on a single AAAA battery that can often should be changed, and whereas it does embody very helpful shortcut buttons for highlighting or erasing textual content, for those who don’t just like the design, that’s too dangerous. In contrast to Wacom-based gadgets that work with any Wacom-compatible stylus, the Kobo Stylus is the one choice for the Kobo Sage.

A Robust Case For a Higher Case

For just a few years now, Kobo has made a folio-style case for its e-readers that does the same old methods like awaken or put the system into sleep mode when the quilt is opened or closed, with the added bonus of a lid that may be folded origami-style to create a stand.

The lid of the Kobo SleepCover cleverly transforms into a display stand.

The lid of the Kobo SleepCover cleverly transforms right into a show stand.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

It’s a easy gimmick however the $50 Kobo SleepCover works nicely in each panorama and portrait orientations, and with the Sage, Kobo has discovered a technique to make it work even higher.

Instead of snapping into the SleepCover case, the Kobo Sage magnetically attaches to it, making it much easier to attach and remove.

As a substitute of snapping into the SleepCover case, the Kobo Sage magnetically attaches to it, making it a lot simpler to connect and take away.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

As a substitute of the e-reader snapping right into a plastic housing, the brand new SleepCover magnetically attaches to the again of the Sage, making it particularly simple to take away (and rapidly reinstall once more) once you’re holding the system one-handed and wish it to be as gentle as attainable.

Kobo also offers a pricier PowerCover case for the Kobo Sage, which includes its own battery that will significantly extend the life of the e-reader.

Kobo additionally provides a pricier PowerCover case for the Kobo Sage, which incorporates its personal battery that can considerably prolong the lifetime of the e-reader.
Photograph: Andrew Liszewski – Gizmodo

A new $80 Kobo PowerCover can also be obtainable. Whereas we weren’t capable of take a look at it ourselves, it options a further battery that regularly expenses the Sage’s personal 1,200 mAh energy pack by way of a collection of small contacts. The PowerCover case dramatically extends the e-reader’s battery life, and offers a spot to securely retailer the Kobo Stylus must you go for it. In any other case, in contrast to different e-note gadgets, the Kobo Stylus can’t magnetically dock itself to the sting of the Sage for storage.

Is It Time to Purchase an E-Word?

In case you’ve been curious whether or not an E Ink system will lastly allow you to ditch the mountains of Moleskines, notepads, and random sticky notes cluttering your desk, the Kobo Sage is at the moment the most cost effective e-note choice available on the market, and may be the most effective place to begin. At $300 (with the stylus) it’s nonetheless removed from low cost, nevertheless it’s $50 cheaper than the Onyx Boox Nova Air, and $100 cheaper than the reMarkable 2. It’s additionally not probably the most feature-rich e-note obtainable—the Onyx gadgets run Android, which supplies customers entry to hundreds of apps, together with a number of eebook shops, whereas the reMarkable 2 consists of its personal cloud-syncing ecosystem as a substitute of merely counting on Dropbox like Kobo does. However must you determine digital note-taking on the Kobo Sage isn’t for you, you’ll be left with probably the greatest e-readers available on the market that includes the most recent and best digital paper expertise from E Ink.

If in case you have no real interest in saying goodbye to your fancy leather-bound tomes stuffed with inspirational concepts, the Kobo Sage is extra money than you want to spend on a superb e-reader. The Kobo Libra 2, which debuted alongside the Sage for $80 much less, provides you a similar wonderful E Ink Carta 1200 display screen, the same design that’s simple to make use of one-handed due to devoted web page flip buttons, and a bigger battery. In case you’re not already dedicated to the Amazon book retailer, Kobo’s e-readers stay a superb various.

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