Kobo’s new waterproof e-reader could give Kindle a run for its money

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Rakuten Kobo

If you want an e-reader that isn’t locked to the Amazon store, the new Kobo Clara 2E might be your best low-cost option. It packs advanced features, including a beautiful display and waterproof design, into a $130 package. And unlike the Kindle, it lets you read any eBook file without a complicated download process.

Designed by Rakuten, the Kobo Clara 2E uses a plastic exterior made from 85% recycled materials (10% of which is ocean-sourced plastic). It has an IPX8 waterproof rating and offers 16GB of built-in storage. For reference, the similarly specced Kindle Paperwhite costs $140 and includes just 8GB of storage in its cheapest configuration.

Rakuten also put a very good screen on the Kobo Clara 2E. It uses a 6-inch HD E Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen panel with integrated backlighting and dark mode support. This display has a pixel density of 300 PPI (1448 x 1072 resolution) and a much faster response time than older E Ink panels.

But of course the Kobo is most notable for its open nature. Accepts e-books or documents from any source, which you can transfer to the e-reader using a USB cable. (Note that DRM-protected eBooks, such as those from the Amazon store, must have their DRM removed before transferring to the Kobo Clara 2E.)

The Kobo Clara 2E costs $130. Pre-orders are now available on the Rakuten web store and orders start shipping on September 22.