Kobo is releasing its new Clara Colour and Libra Colour eReaders, sporting the new Kaleido3 E-Ink display. We’ve got our hands on them for a couple of days, so here are our quick impressions on how the new devices stack up against their predecessors.

While the headlining feature of the new devices are their colour displays, there are some other changes under the hood worth mentioning. So let’s get those out of the way first.

For one, both devices get a bump in processors, from a 1GHz CPU to dual core 2GHz. Not that this will make a huge difference in everyday use, but the added processing power will be welcome for those who felt that performance was somewhat sluggish. In my testing, I found the devices to be snappy, particularly when waking up from sleep, which was practically instant.

The Libra Colour is also ever so slightly slimmer and lighter than its predecessor – 8.3 vs 9mm and 199.5 vs 215g. The Clara, however, actually gains a bit of thickness and weight – 9.2 vs 8.66mm, and 174 vs 171g.

Finally, the Libra Colour also adds support for the Kobo Stylus 2 for annotations, which is sold separately for S$99.90.

On to the displays. The new Kaleido3 panel displays black-and-white content at 300ppi, while colour content is rendered at 150ppi. In practice, I didn’t notice the dip in resolution. The Avatar comic that came preloaded on my devices looked plenty sharp, and the text was crisp despite its small size.

The benefit from having the colour display comes in reading comic books and highlighting text in different colours. While the colours are not particularly vibrant, they definitely bring images to life more so than greyscale.

However, one thing that I did notice from my time with the Kobo Clara Colour and Libra Colour is that the displays are noticeably less legible than my Kindle Paperwhite. Side-by-side, the Kindle’s display boasts higher contrast and seems to reflect the ambient light more compared to the Kobos.

The display on the Kobo Clara Colour (left) appears darker than the Kindle Paperwhite (right) in the same lighting conditions, with the backlight turned off.

As I don’t have a Clara 2E (or the new Clara BW) to compare the Clara Colour to, I’m not sure if this was a compromise that had to be made to add colour to the display.

Either way, it’s not a dealbreaker, but I found myself having to turn up the backlight more often, which may in turn negatively impact battery life. The batteries on these last for weeks however, so I’m not too concerned.

Of course, the new offerings from Kobo also come with all the features that Kobo is known for that takes it just a step beyond what Kindle offers. This includes Pocket and OverDrive integration, the latter of which lets you borrow digital books from your local library (NLB here in Singapore). It also includes USB file transfer, a basic feature which is surprisingly missing on Kindle, and no lockscreen ads.

The Libra Colour retails for S$329.90 while the Clara Colour retails for S$229.90. For those who want a more classic black-and-white experience, Kobo is also releasing the Clara BW for S$199.90, which keeps the 1GHz processor but updates the display from a Carta 1200 to a Carta 1300 while dropping the price by S$20. [Ed Note: We’ve seen reports that the Clara BW upgrades the processor to the dual core 2GHz, but Kobo’s official website states otherwise. We’ve reached out to Kobo for clarification.] The devices will be available for purchase from 30 Apr onwards from Kobo’s official website.

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