The Kobo Elipsa is a versatile iPad-sized e-reader that is surprisingly comfortable to hold – once you ditch the heavy and largely pointless SleepCover. If you love reading ebooks and feel the latest e-readers with 6-inch displays are too small (and you also like to jot down notes), then the Kobo Elipsa is really worth considering.
Comparisons between the Kobo Elipsa and the ReMarkable 2 e-reader are inevitable (they're both 10.3-inch e-ink tablets with a stylus) and to a large extent, pointless. The main purpose of the Kobo Elipsa is to be an e-reader with some note-taking capabilities, while the ReMarkable 2 is a creative, collaborative tablet device that happens to support ePub files.
Unfortunately, like the ReMarkable 2, the Kobo Elipsa falls short in a couple of areas as a large display e-reader with note-taking support.
Kobo Elipsa look and feel
The Kobo Elipsa dwarfs the Kobo Aura device but also delivers much more screen real estate for viewing large documents.
The 10.3-inch e-ink screen is clear and sharp, with hours of fatigue-free reading (unlike a tablet). You can control the brightness using the front lit ComfortLight, but you can't alter the contrast, which is a shame because some ebooks may have lighter text that you'll want to darken up.
Unlike some other premium e-readers, you can't alter the warmth of the light either, but you do get a Dark Mode which puts white text on black. This is handy for reading at night in bed without disturbing anyone else in the room.
The Elipsa's large display can be viewed in landscape or portrait mode, with the choice of automatic orientation or you can easily lock the display in either orientation. A larger bezel on one side of the device allows easy left- or right-handed use and at 383 grams, it's significantly lighter than the 10.3-inch iPad which is 490 grams.
However, most e-readers offering a 6-inch display weigh under 200 grams, so e-reader owners will notice the difference when holding the Elipsa after a few hours of reading.
Page turning is as simple as swiping left or right or tapping to move to the next page. You can also tap at the top or bottom of the screen to bring up a table of contents or use a bar to scroll through the pages with your finger or the stylus.
You can mark up and make notes as well as save them to your own Dropbox folder.
The Elipsa stylus, included in the package, allows you to mark up pages on your ebooks, PDFs and also create your own work. It works well and recognises the pressure you apply when you want to adjust your writing stroke.
You can draw on graph paper, a bullet journal background, lines, or a blank page, and individual pages can be organised in larger 'notebooks', Plus, you can create your own hand-written graphs, equations and notes, and have the content converted to text, illustrations and equations to export as a PDF.
We found the graph feature was very effective when simply drawing horizontal or vertical lines and writing numbers or letters on either axis, but the text conversion success was variable. You probably won't get 100% accuracy if you simply scribble all over the page.
The Elipsa also offers good PDF support for hyperlinks, table of contents and bookmarks, but all of the markups and notes can only be saved to the e-reader until you export a finished document. This inability to export a work in progress document with any of the annotations or comments limits the effectiveness of the Elipsa as a collaborative tool. Think of the Elipsa as a large e-reader with the ability to share finished documents rather than a collaboration tool.
Dropbox sharing is easy to set up and you can use your existing account or sign up on the spot. Dropbox is a good way to sync PDFs in one common virtual folder.
The SleepCover protects the screen, holds the stylus when not in use and can be folded to raise the device to read in portrait mode – but you don't really need it.
The largely pointless SleepCover, which is included in the package, adds bulk and price. While it does offer some protection for the screen, it adds needless weight to the Elipsa, which is much easier to hold and use without it. The SleepCover weighs in at 345 grams, which is a significant additional weight making the package over 720 grams to hold.
E-ink displays are much more durable than other tablet devices with glass screens, so a simple and light neoprene sleeve should provide all the protection you'd need.
Kobo Elipsa specs
- Screen: 10.3-inch E ink Carta 1200 touchscreen display.
- Resolution: 1404 x 1872 (227ppi).
- Battery: 2400mAh.
- Dimensions: 193 x 228 x 8mm.
- Weight: 383 grams (SleepCover weight is an additional 345 grams).
- Storage: 32GB (1GB RAM).
- Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 ac/b/g/n USB-C.
- Button: Power on/off.
- Type: 12 fonts and 50 font sizes.
- Processor: Quad Core @ 1.8GHz.
- Supported file formats: eBooks – EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, FlePub and MOBI. Images – JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF. Text – TXT, HTML and RTF. Comic Books – CBZ and CBR.
- Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Catalan, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Turkish, Japanese, Traditional Chinese.
- Content: Instant, 24/7 access to Kobo's eBookstore with over 6 million titles. Library access via built-in OverDrive access in select regions. Dropbox file sharing.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.