Kobo say in the test: screen, design, pen and audio quality of the new e-reader

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Evaluation: 8.5 / 10

  • Display: 8 inches
  • Warehouse: 32 GB
  • Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Dimensions: 160.5 mm x 181.4 mm x 7.6 mm
  • Weight: 240.8 g
  • Waterproof: Yes, up to 2m
  • Battery: At least six weeks
  • Benefits: Pen support, long battery life, audio book integration
  • disadvantage: The stylus is sold separately, the screen is not really big enough for writing

Prices and where to find content

The Kobo Sage costs £ 249.99, which is a significant jump from the Kobo scale, which costs just £ 159.99. Of course, this e-reader has stylus support, so we would expect it to be more expensive, but you might be surprised that the stylus is not included. An additional £ 39.99 is required to purchase a pen.

The accessories don’t stop there. The Kobo sage is compatible with the “Sleep Cover” and the new “Power Cover”. The Sleep Cover (£ 49.99, Uk.kobobooks.com) is a perfect match for the Kobo Sage and features a two-way kickstand that allows you to use your Sage hands-free in either portrait or landscape orientation. It will protect your screen and wake up automatically when you open it and sleep when you close it.

The Sleep Cover is available in different colors, while the Power Cover has its own built-in battery that automatically charges the Sage when the battery runs low. This cover also has a dedicated slot so you can dock your pen when not in use and protect it from falling out, especially when you are on the go. The Power Cover costs £ 69.99 and will be released in 2022.

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As with other Kobo models, books and audiobooks can be downloaded from the built-in Kobo eBook Store. The selection is large and there are many offers where you can buy e-books for as little as 99p. Unlike the Amazon Kindle, Kobo has made it very easy for you to enjoy e-books or documents you already own thanks to the built-in DropBox and support for 15 file formats including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG and PNG.

The Kobo saga also benefits from OverDrive, which allows you to borrow books from your local library for as long as you are a member. It’s really easy to set up; You simply search for your library and enter your membership details. After registration you will have access to the holdings of your local library. Better yet, it automatically returns the books so you don’t have to worry about late fees. And there is pocket support that allows you to save online articles and read them at a time that suits you.

Currently, the UK does not have access to the Kobo + subscription, which is similar to the Amazon Kindle Unlimited, which allows you to borrow books and audiobooks for a fixed monthly fee.

Screen and design

The Kobo Sage has an 8-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 anti-glare screen. The Kobo is one of the first e-readers with pen support. In contrast to the elipsa, which has a 10.3-inch screen, the compact 8-inch Sage is much easier to use, especially if you are taking notes with the pen. It has a resolution of 300 ppi so the text is very clear and you never know you are not reading a physical book.

The Sage has a flush screen with a large frame and its fluted back allows easy handling, even with one-handed operation. As with other Kobo e-readers, the bezel has two buttons that can be used to turn the pages. Using the buttons to turn the pages is quick and responsive. They are especially useful when you want to quickly jump to specific parts of your book. Just hold the button in the direction you want and it will launch Quick Navigation, turning the pages without refreshing the screen. Speaking of screen refresh, turning the pages at normal speed makes it quick and crisp with no lag, this is due to the combination of the Carta 1200 screen and quad core processor.

The only thing we found a bit off-putting about the design is the slight pull of fingerprints. This is especially noticeable when reading in full sun, as the fingerprints are highlighted despite the low glare of the screen. This could of course be fixed by just using the page flip buttons, but it’s something to keep in mind if you enjoy this swiping action while using your e-reader.

At 240 grams, it’s only slightly heavier than the Kobo Libra 2, so it’s very light and easy to transport. It also benefits from the gyroscope technology which allows you to use this eReader in either landscape or portrait orientation. Thanks to the wider margins, reading books in landscape orientation was much more pleasant.

The screen is also significantly better thanks to the “comfort light pro” technology, which enables the reader to easily select his own brightness and blue light level according to personal preferences using a slider system. But if you’re like us and just want to read seamlessly from day to night, there is an auto-adjust option that changes the color and temperature of the screen based on the time of day.

Software and functions

The Kobo sage has a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor with 512 MB of RAM and 32 GB of storage and is thus in line with the Kobo Libra, which was released at the same time. In terms of connectivity, you can connect to the internet via WiFi 802.11 and it has bluetooth too.

The Kobo Sage is one of the latest e-readers to support audiobooks. There are no internal speakers so you’ll need to plug in your wireless headphones to listen. You can also only play audiobooks purchased through the Kobo Store. So keep this in mind if you already have a collection of audiobooks or have an Audible subscription.

As with other Kobo devices, this is waterproof for up to 60 minutes in a maximum of two meters of water. Whether lounging by the pool or reading in the bathtub, the Sage is the perfect partner.

The pencil

The great feature of the Kobo Sage is now the pen, which allows the user to take notes, make annotations and highlight passages that are noteworthy while reading. The pen is made of aluminum so it feels very solid and has a textured area around the base for a better grip. It’s a very comfortable pen to use and operate. Because it’s made of metal, it has a nice weight, similar to what you’d expect from a regular pencil. It’s pressure sensitive so it may take you a while to get used to the amount of pressure to apply, but overall it works very well. There are two buttons on the side of the pen, one for activating the highlighting function and the other for the eraser.

This Kobo has a special note taking app built in, its functionality is limited, but you get everything you need, such as the ability to change the page background, erase the page and erase it. There are several pen styles to choose from, including ballpoint pens, fountain pens, brushes, and highlighter pens. You can also choose the pen size and there are five shades of gray for the color. One thing we found strange was that if you erase something, the stroke will be erased and you will still see the pixels on the screen until the whole thing is erased. However, these disappear after a page refresh.

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The pen runs on an AAAA battery, and even with our solid usage we haven’t even made a dent in the battery. Kobo states that a battery should last for several months with normal use. This pen only works on the Kobo Sage or elipsa, so don’t expect to buy it and use it with other tablets. The stylus is magnetic too, and when you buy the Power Cover there is a slot for it, otherwise it just rolls around so it could benefit from a mount for those who don’t have the expensive cover.

Tagging books and annotating PDFs is really easy. Any notes you take are automatically saved and displayed in the same font size that was used when the markup was created. If at any point you change your font size, the markup will be transferred to an icon which will display the markup in a pop-up window. We found a bit annoying that once the markup is created it is saved under Annotations and cannot be deleted unless you go in and delete each note manually. It would be great if we could just highlight the markup on the notes page and just delete it.

Screen size makes a difference when it comes to taking notes on books and documents with the pen. The 8-inch screen may be more ergonomic for reading compared to the 10.3-inch screen on the elipsa, but doesn’t have much space for notes in the sidebar. So, in reality, taking notes feels cramped. It works very well at highlighting passages, and we love the feature that when a single word is highlighted there are options to translate it into another language or look it up on google or wikipedia.

Battery life

As you would expect from an e-ink reader, the battery life is great and can last up to six weeks with normal use. Of course, if you use it a lot for notes or audiobooks, we expect the battery to drain a little faster. We used it at least an hour a day for two weeks and still have a lot of juice left over. This e-reader would surely take you through a two week vacation without worrying about recharging. But when it comes to charging, the good news is that the Kobo-Sage ditched micro-USB in favor of a USB-C charging port.


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