The e-reader who wants to get on the iPad
two minute review
With a 10.3-inch screen, the Kobo Elipsa isn’t the biggest ereader ever — consider the 13.3-inch Onyx Boox Max3 for example — but it’s up to the Kobo. This ereader is also the only device from the manufacturer to sport a stylus. Kobo is touting the Ellipsa not just as a reader, but as a research tool on which you can write notes, putting it in competition with the likes of Remarkable 2. However, the difference here is that you need to jump through hoops. Use the Remarkable as a reading device – it’s more of a digital note taker than the eReader.
However, the Kobo Ellipsa is first an e-reader – one that can multitask. The Kobo stylus, while not responsive in real time, is fast enough to make writing an enjoyable experience, and the device’s ability to recognize handwriting to convert to text is remarkable. For the most part, Ellipsa does exactly what it says on the tin – it lets you read, create annotations, draw, make lists, buy eBooks, borrow eBooks from the public library, and read web articles through Pocket. However, there are some caveats that make it difficult to recommend Ellipsa.
Stylus support is turned off for e-books you buy directly from the Kobo Store, which means you can’t annotate sideloaded EPUBs. However, you can write and draw on sideloaded PDFs. For a company that has a reputation for not closing its ecosystem, it seems like Kobo is taking a step in that direction by allowing you to write only on closed eBooks.
And while Kobo has managed to use software that recognizes handwriting really well—no matter how bad your writing is—it takes a while to actually convert that handwriting to text. For example, it may take up to 30 seconds to convert a paragraph of about 30-50 words.
Then there are the size and weight considerations. Kobo says the Ellipsa is an ereader first, but with a 10.3-inch screen size and 383 grams in weight, it’s not quite as portable as a traditional ereader. It’s too big to use on public transport, even if you have a seat, and it feels heavy in the hand, even without a sleep cover. And, it is not designed for one-handed use.
However, using the stylus feels quite natural. It fits in the hand just like a regular pen and writing on the textured screen feels like you’re taking notes on paper (except for the solid feel of a plastic screen). The highlight and erase buttons are neatly placed near the index/thumb and there are different nib sizes and grayscale shades to choose from.
For a first attempt at a stylus-toting digital note-taker, Kobo did quite well with the Ellipsa, but for a device that comes with a hefty price tag and a few caveats, it’s hard to recommend it as research tool Kobo. wants it to be.
Kobo Ellipsa: Price and Availability
- Announced on May 20, 2021; Shipping from June 24, 2021
- Ships with slipcover and stylus
- Cost $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95
Kobo eReaders usually ship as a standalone device and you can then purchase accessories such as slipcovers separately. However, the brand has taken a different approach with the Kobo Ellipsa, selling it as a bundle, which includes the stylus along with the slipcover and tablet, called the Ellipsa Pack. This will set you back $399.99 / £349.99 / AU$599.95, which is pretty competitive considering you’ll also get the accessories.
In comparison, the ReMarkable 2 costs $399 / £399 / $679 for tablet-only. You’ll need to pay an additional $49 / £49 / AU$79 to get the marker (stylus). There is a folio available for the ReMarkable 2, but that, too, is an additional expense.
While it can hold its own against direct competition, the Ellipsa costs more than the current 10.2-inch Apple iPad (2020), a far more versatile device with a color screen, multimedia support, and access to the App Store.
The Kobo Ellipsa is currently available for pre-order directly from the Kobo Store in your area and will begin shipping on June 24, 2021. That too when it will be available for purchase from major retailers around the world.
Kobo Ellipsa: Screen and Design
- 10.3 inch screen
- no hot led
- USB-C Charging Port
If you’ve never used a Remarkable tablet or Onyx Books Note Air before, think of the Kobo Ellipsa as a sizable Kindle oasis on which you can write. We’re comparing the Ellipsa to a premium Amazon device because, like the Oasis, the Kobo’s screen is flush with the bezel, whereas all other Kobo devices have their screens set in a recess below the bezels.
With a screen resolution of 227ppi (1404×1872) – the 10.3-inch screen is one of the sharpest – similar to the Onyx Boon Note Air – and uses the new E Ink Carta 1200 technology designed specifically for note taking and reduces pen latency. According to E Ink – the company that makes the screens used by eReader makers – this screen has a better contrast ratio than the older Carta 1000 screen (as used in some older note-taking devices) and a 15% better contrast ratio. 20% better response time. .
Like all Cobos, the Ellipsa’s screen is also front-lit, but there are no amber LEDs here. This means that while you can turn down the brightness, there’s no way to change the color (temperature) of the light to a warmer tone at night as you can on most Kobo devices—a flagship design for a device. Defect which costs as much as Ellipsa. However, there is a ‘dark mode’ available on the board which turns black text from white to black on white text.
The Ellipsa’s large size means it’s heavier than most traditional e-readers. Where most e-readers weigh around 200 grams or less, the Kobo Ellipsa is a hefty 383 grams for a tablet alone. It’s lighter than the 10.3-inch Onyx Books Note Air (which weighs 420 grams) but still feels heavy in the hand. It takes time to get used to, but is a bit cumbersome when used in bed or on public transport. We also found that the most comfortable way to use it as a note-taking device was by placing it on a table.
Although its size and weight make it difficult to use single-handed, it would have been easier if there were page-turn buttons (like the Oasis and Kobo Libra H2O). There is enough room for them as the bezel on one side is wider than the other. It probably has the wider bezel to let you comfortably hold the device while you write, but if you lay it down to do most of the time, that space could have been used better.
On the edge of the wide bezel is the power button, which we found to be too small and awkwardly placed to locate. Also there’s a USB-C port – a second first for the Kobo – for charging and transferring files.
Unlike the plastic tablet, the Kobo Stylus is all metal, made out of aluminum. Two buttons are conveniently located where your thumb or forefinger would be – one for highlighting while reading, the other for erasing. Erasing refreshes the page, removing any ghosting or shading from the writing. The stylus is powered by a single AAA battery, which means there will be some ongoing cost to maintain the pen. It’s important to note that the Kobo stylus is proprietary and no other stylus will work with the Ellipsa. So if the nib is prone to wear and tear, you’ll need to purchase replacement tips from Kobo.
The slipcover for the Ellipsa is different than usual for most readers—instead of opening like a book, it pulls up vertically. It has folds that turn the folio into a stand and niche so that the Kobo stylus can be safely stowed away when not in use.
Kobo Ellipsa: Ease of Use
- Easy to set up and sync
- 32GB internal storage
- Notes are well organized
If there’s one thing that the Kobo does well, it’s device UX. It’s the same Linux-based software that’s in use here, so if you’ve used the Kobo eReader before, you’ll be right at home with Ellipsa.
Everything is streamlined, with the ability to organize your library as you see fit, with plenty of information on the home screen (including recommendations and access to the Kobo Store) and all-important settings at your fingertips. . To change the brightness settings on the Ellipsa, simply drag your finger up or down on the left edge of the screen, but keep in mind that this only works when a file is open and not on the home screen.
We also saw a mention of Bluetooth in the beta settings, but it was not available for use at the time of writing. If there’s Bluetooth support – which could be turned on via a future firmware update – it will be possible to pair a set of wireless headphones with the Ellipsa and listen to audiobooks, but we’ll have to wait and see if the Kobo enables This feature (which is currently available on all Kindle e-readers).
And speaking of beta settings: There are some word games on Ellipsa sitting within this pane and they are playable. They’re not complicated games, but for a little mild distraction, they’re not bad at all. That said, there are no instructions available and you’ll have to figure out the gameplay yourself.
While the setting options at the top of the home screen remain unchanged, there’s something new on the bottom navigation bar – a dedicated tab for your notes. The My Notebooks section is where you can draw, write, take notes or make lists, all organized the way you want. You can have notes with multiple pages or just one, add more later, change the background of the page, and more. Of course, you can also change the color of the ink to different grayscale colors, while also changing the thickness of the nib.
Connecting the Ellipsa to Wi-Fi is very easy and you can force sync whenever you want. Even using the stylus is intuitive, though it doesn’t work on all files (more on that later).
Kobo Ellipsa: The Reading Experience
- Adapted to big screen comics and graphic novels
- Detects full 360º movement
- dark mode
Reading up on the Ellipsa we’ve come to expect from any other Kobo device – …