Kobo’s Elipsa is the latest in the Amazon rival’s e-reading line, and it’s a big one. The 10.3-inch e-paper display brings it up to iPad dimensions and puts it in direct competition with the reMarkable and Boox’s e-reader tablets. It excels on the reading experience, gets by note-taking and drawing, and falls short on versatility.
Kobo has been creeping upmarket for a few years now, and though the cheaper Clara HD is still the pick of the litter, in my opinion, the Forma and Libra H2O are worthy competitors to the Kindle lines. The $400 Elipsa represents a big step up in size, function, and price, and it does justify itself — though there are a few important caveats.
The device is well designed but lacks any flourishes. The tilted “side chin” of the Forma and Libra is flattened out into a simple wide bezel on the right side. The lopsided appearance doesn’t bother me much, and much of the competition has it as well. (Though my favorite is Boox’s ultra-compact, flush-fronted Poke 3)
The 10.3″ screen has a resolution of 1404 x 1872, giving it 227 pixels per inch. That’s well below the 300 PPI of the Clara and Forma, and the typography suffers from noticeably more aliasing if you look closely. Of course, you won’t be looking that closely, since as a larger device, you’ll probably be giving the Elipsa a bit more distance and perhaps using a larger type size. I found it perfectly comfortable to read on — 227 PPI isn’t bad, just not the best.
There is a front light, which is easily adjustable by sliding your finger up and down the left side of the screen, but unlike other Kobo devices, there is no way to change the color temperature. I’ve been spoiled by other devices, and now the default cool grey I lived with for years doesn’t feel right, especially with a warmer light shining on your surroundings. The important part is that it is consistent across the entire display and adjustable down to a faint glow, something my eyes have thanked me for many times.
It’s hard to consider the Elipsa independent from the accessories it’s bundled with, and in fact, there’s no way to buy one right now without the “sleep cover” and stylus. They really complete the package, though they do add considerably to its weight and bulk. When naked is lighter and feels more petite than a standard iPad, it is heavier and larger once you put its case on and stash the surprisingly weighty stylus at the top.
The cover is nicely designed, if a bit stiff, and will definitely protect your device from harm. The body, secured by magnets at the bottom, flips off like a sheet on a legal pad and folds flat behind the machine, attaching itself with the same magnets from the other direction. A couple of folds also stiffen up with further magnetic arrangement into a nice, sturdy little stand. The outside is grippy faux leather, and the inside is soft microfiber.
You can wake and turn off the device by opening and closing the cover, but the whole thing comes with a small catch: you have to have the power button, charging port, and big bezel on the right. When out of its case, the Elipsa can be inverted, like the others of its lopsided type, and your content instantly flips. But once you put it in the case, you’re locked into a semi-right-handed mode. This may or may not bother people, but it’s worth mentioning.
The reading experience is otherwise very similar to that on Kobo’s other devices. A relatively clean interface that surfaces your most recently accessed content and a not overwhelming but still unwelcome amount of promotional stuff (“Find your next great read”). E-books are free and paid for display well. However, it’s never been my preference to read on a large screen like this. I truly wish one of these large e-readers would make a landscape mode with facing pages. Isn’t that more booklike?