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Review: the Kobo Clara HD E Ink Touchscreen E-Reader (2024)

My review of the Kobo Clara HD: screen, battery life, Overdrive integration, storage upgrades and feel in the hand.
Sid Metcalfe

Cartesian Mathematics Foundation


August 31, 2023


For reading books I have been using the Kobo Clara HD for quite a while now. Below I will elaborate on the performance, battery life, and other features.


Property Value Property Value
Brand Kobo Display Technology Electronic Ink
Screen Size 6 Inches Memory Storage Capacity 8 GB
Color Black Product Dimensions 6.28”L x 4.33”W x 0.33”Th
Item Weight 5.9 Ounces Ram Memory Installed Size 8 GB
Human Interface Input Touchscreen Supports Bluetooth Technology No


Click on photos to enlarge them:

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Performance and Battery Life Realities

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When evaluating the performance and battery life of the Kobo Clara HD, my experiences have been a mix of delight and frustration. To help you navigate my findings, I’ll break it down into a simple pros and cons list:


  • The device boots up and shuts down remarkably fast, just in seconds, enhancing convenience and saving time.

  • Battery life has been robust enough to last through 12 to 14 books of reading—assuming the Wi-Fi is turned off and the backlight is used sparingly.

  • ComfortLight PRO is a standout feature, allowing me to adjust the light to prevent eyestrain whether I’m reading in bright sunlight or in the dark.

  • The lack of glare is as promised–the E Ink display really does mimic paper and is great for outdoor reading sessions, even on the beach.


  • The battery life, while advertised to last weeks, hasn’t lived up to that benchmark for me, needing daily recharges with only an hour or two of reading each day.

  • PDF support is subpar, making it not the best choice for reading these types of documents, particularly for academic purposes.

  • The Overdrive integration, a feature I was looking forward to, proved to be challenging with repeated authorization issues and an overall cumbersome borrowing process.

Despite these issues, there’s a lot to like. The illumination by ComfortLight PRO truly enhances my reading at any time of the day, and I’ve noticed a significant reduction in eyestrain compared to backlit tablets or phones. The customization options for reading—such as being able to select different font choices and margins—offer a tailored reading experience that I appreciate.

The screen size, at 6 inches, gives me enough real estate to enjoy my books without the device feeling cumbersome. And the fact that I can essentially carry an entire library in my pocket with 8GB of storage is nothing short of impressive.

My device’s start-up speed is stellar; it powers on and off in mere seconds which is incredibly useful when I want to sneak in a quick reading session. And when I have the WiFi turned off, I’ve noticed the battery does indeed stretch much longer, sometimes allowing me to read several books before needing a charge.

Although I’ve been less than thrilled with the Overdrive experience, it’s important to note that your experience may vary, and some users report a much smoother process. Likewise, while I’ve had to charge more frequently than anticipated, this could be a result of a variable like screen brightness levels or perhaps a quirk of the refurbished status of my specific device.

In sum, while there are some drawbacks in the battery life and performance of this renewed Kobo Clara HD, the pros often outweigh the cons, particularly if you’re looking for an e-reader with a paper-like display and customizable reading settings. With its portability and a user-friendly interface, it’s a device I find myself returning to often, despite the occasional hiccup.

Library Integration and Ecosystem Experience

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The promise of seamless library integration via Overdrive is one of the standout features that attracted me to the Kobo Clara HD. The allure of quick access to my local library’s digital collection was too good to pass up. Here’s my breakdown:


  • Overdrive directly built-in makes borrowing books a breeze, without juggling multiple devices or apps.

  • Downloading eBooks from libraries adds convenience and saves money.

  • A boon for voracious readers who have easy access to their local library’s digital catalog.


  • Sometimes, the integration can feel clunky, with connectivity issues leading to frustration.

  • DRM authorization errors can pop up, requiring several attempts to resolve.

  • Not all libraries are supported equally, which can limit available content.

Let me be upfront—the frustration of connectivity issues, getting stuck in a ‘connecting’ loop, and tedious workarounds can dampen your initial excitement. Yes, the first book might download without a hitch, inducing a smile of success. But by the second attempt, you might be met with those dreaded DRM issues that have you questioning your choices.

I remember the first time I tried to borrow a book: anticipation fizzled into disappointment when facing multiple authorization requests, turning what should be a simple download into an epic ordeal. After repeating the authorization process way more times than reasonable, I couldn’t help but feel let down.

On the flip side, when things work as intended, it’s nothing short of e-reader bliss. Tapping into my library’s vast collection without spending an extra dime feels like a luxury. The convenience of carrying a library in my pocket is, frankly, why I stick with it despite the hiccups. You see, it’s not just about the hassle; it’s about the potential once those wrinkles are ironed out.

It’s clear that if you’re living in an area with a well-supported library, and you’re lucky enough to dodge technical mishaps, the Kobo Clara HD could be a godsend. And let’s not forget about the peace of privacy since there are no obtrusive ads popping up, unlike other readers.

The e-reader’s commitment to an open ecosystem, allowing for ePub and other formats, is commendable. It means I’m not shackled to a specific bookstore. Allowing users to consume content from diverse sources, including the capability to upgrade storage massively, speaks volumes about Kobo’s user-centric approach.

All things considered, for the persistent and resourceful, Kobo’s library feature is a game-changer. However, for those with less patience or less tech-savvy, it might drive you to consider other avenues. Despite the odds, I find myself rooting for Kobo, eager to see improvements that will streamline my digital library experience in the long run.

Storage and Customization Capabilities

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When I first got my hands on the Kobo Clara HD, one feature that particularly caught my attention was its storage capabilities. The device comes with 8GB of internal storage, which is quite substantial when you think about the average size of an eBook. For someone who loves to have a wide selection of reads at their fingertips, this is a significant plus. Here’s my quick rundown:


  • Ample storage for thousands of books.

  • Possibility to upgrade to 128GB via a storage card.

  • Easy transfer of books from various sources, such as public libraries or other platforms.


  • Navigating the upgrade process might be challenging for non-tech-savvy users.

Having the ability to expand the storage opens up the possibility to carry an entire library in my pocket, which is incredibly convenient. I learned that upgrading the storage requires some technical know-how, like using dd to clone the card and then expand the partition with GParted. It’s not the simplest process for everyone but definitely worth it if you’re comfortable with the tech side of things.

In terms of customization, the Kobo Clara HD does not disappoint. The various font options and margins allow me to tailor my reading experience to my preferences, which is crucial for long reading sessions. The built-in dictionary is also a lifesaver when I come across unfamiliar words without interrupting the flow of reading.

However, it’s worth noting that, while the customization features are robust, some users might find the process less intuitive compared to other readers on the market. This was not a major concern for me, as I value the flexibility that the Kobo offers and I found the settings self-explanatory after some exploration.

All in all, the storage and customization aspects of the Kobo Clara HD are quite impressive and have made a positive impact on my reading journey. Sure, upgrading storage might be a bit technical, but being able to carry a vast collection and tune the reading experience to my liking makes it a trade-off I’m happy to live with. The issues some users might encounter with library integration or others mentioned are real, but they’re for another section of this discussion.

Ergonomics and Physical Design Concerns

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In wrapping up my review, I want to focus on a vital aspect of any e-reader: its ergonomics and physical design. Despite the tech packed inside, if an e-reader isn’t comfortable to hold for long periods, it detracts from the overall experience. For me, the Kobo Clara HD hits mostly high notes, with a few caveats to mention.

Here’s the list where I’ve jotted down my ergonomic impressions:


  • Lightweight design at just 5.9 ounces makes it super easy to handle for extended reading sessions.

  • The small product dimensions (6.28”L x 4.33”W x 0.33”Th) mean that it’s compact enough to carry around anywhere – a real plus for readers on the go.

  • The 6-inch screen hits a sweet spot for a portable reader that’s still enjoyable to read from.

  • A touchscreen interface feels natural and intuitive, something I’ve really come to appreciate.


  • The slippery back finish can be an issue; it just doesn’t feel secure in the hand without maybe adding a grip or case.

  • Lack of Bluetooth support means you can’t pair it with headphones for audiobooks – a feature some users might miss.

  • Some folks might find the screen a smidge too small for comfort, especially if they’re used to larger tablets or e-readers.

One thing I’d like to emphasize is that its ComfortLight PRO technology truly stands out, reducing eyestrain with adjustable brightness and temperature – very handy for the voracious night-time reader like myself. And for those fearing the ghosting effect prevalent in some e-readers, rest easy; this Kobo display stays crisp and clear, page to page.

Regarding the physical design, I appreciate how Kobo has managed to maintain a sense of sturdiness despite the Clara HD’s lightness and thinner profile. However, as I turn page after page, I can’t help but wish for a more ergonomic grip. I’ve seen other readers mention they’ve opted for aftermarket solutions like a popsocket to mitigate this little quirk.

As you can see, it’s not all smooth sailing. There are areas where I think the Kobo could improve, notably in the grip department. But, when I consider the complete picture—it’s a joy to use, and the ergonomic design facilitates my late-night reading marathons without any hand fatigue.

So, even with the few drawbacks, the Kobo Clara HD’s ergonomic design largely measures up to expectations and should meet most users’ standards. After all, what’s more important than comfort and ease when we’re losing ourselves in a good book?