A sized-up e-reading companion with clever note taking

Kobo’s Elipsa is the newest within the Amazon rival’s e-reading line, and it’s a giant one. The 10.3-inch e-paper show brings it as much as iPad dimensions and places it in direct competitors with the reMarkable and Boox’s e-reader tablets. It excels on studying expertise, will get by on note taking and drawing, however falls a bit brief on versatility.

Kobo has been creeping upmarket for a couple of years now, and although the cheaper Clara HD remains to be the choose of the litter in my view, the Forma and Libra H2O are worthy opponents to the Kindle traces. The $400 Elipsa represents a giant step up in dimension, perform and value, and it does justify itself — although there are a couple of essential caveats.

The gadget is effectively designed however lacks any prospers. The tilted “side chin” of the Forma and Libra is flattened out right into a easy broad bezel on the correct facet. The lopsided look doesn’t hassle me a lot, and far of the competitors has it as effectively. (Though my favourite is Boox’s ultracompact, flush-fronted Poke 3)

The 10.3″ display has a decision of 1404 x 1872, giving it 227 pixels per inch. That’s effectively under the 300 PPI of the Clara and Forma, and the typography suffers from noticeably extra aliasing in the event you look carefully. Of course, you gained’t be trying that carefully, since as a bigger gadget you’ll most likely be giving the Elipsa a bit extra distance and maybe utilizing a bigger sort dimension. I discovered it completely comfy to learn on — 227 PPI isn’t unhealthy, simply not the most effective.

There is a entrance gentle, which is well adjustable by sliding your finger up and down the left facet of the display, however not like different Kobo units there is no such thing as a method to change the colour temperature. I’ve been spoiled by different units and now the default cool gray I lived with for years doesn’t really feel proper, particularly with a hotter gentle shining in your environment. The essential half is that it’s constant throughout the total show and adjustable right down to a faint glow, one thing my eyes have thanked me for a lot of instances.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

It’s laborious to contemplate the Elipsa impartial from the equipment it’s bundled with, and actually there’s no method to buy one proper now with out the “sleep cover” and stylus. The fact is that they actually full the bundle, although they do add significantly to its weight and bulk. What when bare is lighter and feels smaller than a typical iPad is heavier and bigger as soon as you place its case on and stash the surprisingly weighty stylus on the high.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

The cowl is properly designed, if a bit stiff, and will certainly shield your gadget from hurt. The cowl, secured by magnets on the backside, flips off like a sheet on a authorized pad and folds flat behind the gadget, attaching itself with the identical magnets from the opposite course. A couple folds in it additionally stiffen up with additional magnetic association into a pleasant, sturdy little stand. The exterior is a grippy fake leather-based and the within is smooth microfiber.

You can wake and switch off the gadget by opening and shutting the quilt, however the entire thing comes with a small catch: you must have the facility button, charging port and massive bezel on the correct. When out of its case the Elipsa can, just like the others of its lopsided sort, be inverted and your content material immediately flips. But as soon as you place it within the case, you’re locked in to a semi-right-handed mode. This might or might not hassle folks however it’s value mentioning.

The Elipsa, heart, with the Forma and reMarkable 2 to its left and proper. Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

The studying expertise is in any other case similar to that on Kobo’s different units. A comparatively clear interface that surfaces your most just lately accessed content material and a not overwhelming however nonetheless unwelcome quantity of promotional stuff (“Find your next great read”). E-books free and paid for show effectively, although it’s by no means been my desire to learn on a big display like this. I really want one in all these giant e-readers would make a panorama mode with going through pages. Isn’t that extra booklike?

Articles from the net, synced through Pocket, look nice and are a pleasure to learn on this format. It feels extra like {a magazine} web page, which is nice whenever you’re studying a web based model of 1. It’s easy, foolproof and effectively built-in.

Kobo’s new note-taking prowess

What’s new on the underside row, although, is “Notebooks,” the place unsurprisingly you possibly can create notebooks for scribbling down lists, doodles, notes in fact, and usually use the stylus.

The writing expertise is ample. Here I’m spoiled by the reMarkable 2, which boasts extraordinarily low lag and excessive accuracy, in addition to way more expression within the line. Kobo doesn’t strategy that, and the writing expertise is pretty fundamental, with a noticeable quantity of lag, however admirable accuracy.

There are 5 pen ideas, 5 line widths and 5 line shades, and so they’re all superb. The stylus has a pleasant heft to it, although I’d like a grippier materials. Two buttons on it allow you to rapidly swap from the present pen fashion to a highlighter or eraser, the place you could have stroke-deleting or brush modes. The regular notebooks have the standard gridded, dotted, lined and clean types, and limitless pages, however you possibly can’t zoom in or out (not so good for artists).

Then there are the “advanced” notebooks, which you should use if you’d like handwriting recognition and different options. These have indelible traces on which you’ll be able to write, and a double faucet captures your phrases into sort in a short time. You can even put in drawings and equations in their very own sections.

Handwriting is shown on the Elipsa tablet before and after conversion to typed text.

Close sufficient. Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

The handwriting recognition is quick and ok for tough notes, however don’t count on to ship these on to your staff with none modifying. Likewise the diagram device that turns gestural sketches of shapes and labels into finalized flowcharts and the like — higher than the unique wobbly artwork however nonetheless a tough draft. There are a couple of clever shortcuts and gestures so as to add or subtract areas and different widespread duties, one thing you’ll most likely get used to pretty fast in the event you use the Elipsa commonly.

The pocket book interface is snappy sufficient going from web page to web page or up and down on the “smart” notebooks however nothing just like the fluidity of a design program or an art-focused one on an iPad. But it’s additionally unobtrusive, has good palm blocking, and feels good in motion. The lag on the road is unquestionably a con, however one thing you may get used to in the event you don’t thoughts the ensuing product being slightly sloppy.

A sketched diagram is turned into a real one by the Elipsa.

Image Credits: Devin Coldewey / TechCrunch

You can even mark up e-books, which is sweet for highlights however finally not that a lot better than merely deciding on the textual content. And there’s no method you’re writing within the margins with the restrictions of this stylus.

Exporting notepads will be accomplished through a linked Dropbox account or over USB connection. Again the reMarkable has a leg up right here, for even when its app is a bit restrictive, the stay syncing means you don’t ever have to fret about what model of what’s the place, so long as it’s within the system. On the Kobo it’s extra conventional.

Compared to the reMarkable, the Kobo is admittedly simply a better platform for on a regular basis studying, so in the event you’re searching for a tool that focuses on that and has the choice of doodling or note taking on the facet, it’s a a lot better deal. On the opposite hand, these simply searching for an enchancment to that stylus-focused pill ought to look elsewhere — writing and sketching nonetheless feels method higher on a reMarkable than virtually something in the marketplace. Compared with one thing like a Boox pill, the Elipsa is extra easy and targeted, however doesn’t enable the chance of including Android apps and video games.

At $400 — although this features a case and stylus — the Elipsa is a substantial funding and comparably priced to an iPad, which is definitely a extra versatile gadget. But I don’t significantly take pleasure in studying articles or books on my iPad, and the simplicity of an e-reader typically helps me focus after I’m making notes on a paper or one thing. It’s a distinct gadget for a distinct objective, however not for everybody.

It is nonetheless most likely one of the best ways proper now to step into the shallow finish of the “big e-reader” pool, with extra advanced or costly choices obtainable must you want them.

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