tech4xmas Review: Rakuten Kobo Sage & Kobo Libra 2 E-Readers

An e-reader makes a fantastic Christmas present for an avid reader. I’ve gotten my wife the latest Rakuten Kobo Sage for this year’s X’mas. For those who prefer a slightly smaller form-factor (and lower price-tag), the Kobo Libra 2 is also an excellent e-reader.

The Rakuten Kobo Sage (left) and Kobo Libra 2 are both waterproof to IPX8 rating so you can safely read by the pool and in the bath. In this photo, the new Dark Mode is enabled on the Kobo Sage. Notice that the text is clearly legible even under bright sunlight.

The Rakuten Kobo Sage (left) and Kobo Libra 2 are both waterproof to IPX8 rating so you can safely read by the pool and in the bath. In this photo, the new Dark Mode is enabled on the Kobo Sage. Notice that the text is clearly legible even under bright sunlight.

The Kobo Sage (S$399.90) and Kobo Libra 2 (S$289.90) are the two latest e-readers that Rakuten Kobo launched in October.

The Kobo Sage is slightly cheaper than Amazon’s flagship Kindle Oasis, while the Kobo Libra 2 is similarly priced to the latest Kindle Paperwhite.


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Christmas prezzies for the wife and son who are avid readers. The 8″ Kobo Sage (left, in Dark Mode) and 7″ Kobo Libra 2 (with an audiobook) in their sleepcovers which protects them and doubles up as a stand.

The 8-inch Kobo Sage is the new flagship of Kobo’s e-reader line-up, taking over the baton from the Kobo Forma (S$349.90) which is still available.

The 7-inch Kobo Libra 2 is the new version that succeeds the Libra H2O that my wife has been using, with great satisfaction, for the past year – it was her Christmas present for last X’mas.

So what are the key improvements of the two new e-readers?

Both the Kobo Sage and Libra 2 now have a faster E Ink screen, Bluetooth support for audiobooks (new), 32GB internal storage (up from 8GB) and USB-C (instead of micro-USB).

HD E-Ink Carta 1200 Touchscreen

The new HD E-Ink Carta 1200 touchscreen is faster than the previous HD E-Ink Carta 1000 touchscreen.

Compared to the touchscreen for the Kobo Libra H2O, the touchscreens for Sage (1400×1920 pixels @ 300ppi) and Libra 2 (1264×1680 pixels @ 300ppi) felt more responsive for both flipping pages (especially if you’re browsing or flipping rapidly forwards and backwards) and typing on the screen keyboard.

The new display promises a 20% increase in response time and 15% improvement in contrast ratio over the previous touchscreen.

To my naked eye, the new display looks that bit sharper with blacker blacks.

Audiobooks Through Bluetooth

New to both Sage and Libra 2 is Bluetooth support for audiobooks (Bluetooth headsets and speakers not included).

I found Bluetooth connection to my Huawei Freebuds 4 smooth and easy and the audio quality was good.

Onscreen playback controls for listening to audiobooks include a play/pause button, two buttons to jump forward/backward by 30 seconds (can also use the hard page-turn buttons) and a slider to scrub through the timeline.

Playback speed can be varied from 0.5X (half the original playback speed) to 3X (three times faster than original).

One thing to note is that, at the moment, the audiobook function can only work on eBooks bought from the Kobo Store.

So you can’t listen to your own audiobooks or those from the library.

Also, audiobooks tend to use more storage (because the files are bigger) and consume more power, compared to just reading eBooks (which usually lasts for a few weeks).


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The Rakuten Kobo Sage (left) & Kobo Libra 2 fresh out of the box, together with their sleepcovers.

So to extend the battery while listening, I’d put the e-reader to sleep or close the SleepCover and control stop/start and volume through the Bluetooth device earbuds or speaker.

For Kobo Sage, the e-reader comes with two additional features compared to the Libra 2 and Libra H2O: stylus-enabled annotation and Dropbox integration (which Forma also has).

Kobo Stylus

After the Kobo Elipsa (S$629.90 including the stylus) which costs almost twice as much as Kobo Sage (S$399.90), the Sage is the only e-reader in the Kobo line-up that’s compatible with the Kobo Stylus.

Apart from annotating non-DRM e-books and PDFs, the pressure-sensitive stylus enables some rudimentary note-taking ability in the Sage.

My Take

Both the Rakuten Kobo Sage and Kobo Libra 2 make fantastic gifts for the avid reader – offering all the things you need in an e-reader.

The Libra 2 is light and compact and great for bringing along when you’re out and about, queueing in line, or riding in a train.

The Kobo Sage has a bigger screen and offers Dropbox integration and Stylus annotation and note taking. Both now support Kobo Audiobooks through Bluetooh.

As my wife is only interested in a pure e-reader without any need for annotating or note-taking, we do not have the Kobo Stylus and have not tried it out.

I suppose for my daughter in school, the note-taking and annotation might come in useful during lessons and studying.

Dropbox Integration

The Dropbox Integration in the Kobo Sage (and Kobo Forma, but not the Kobo Libra 2) enables the sharing of documents (ePub eBooks and PDFs) between the e-reader and other devices – via the Cloud.

The integration creates a Rakuten Kobo folder within the Apps folder on Dropbox, and any ePub eBooks and PDFs inside that folder are automatically synced with the Kobo Sage.

So, in addition to connecting the computer to the Sage via the USB-C cable, you can now sideload eBooks using Dropbox.

Enjoying the Kobo Sage and Kobo Libra 2

ComfortLight PRO enables the brightness and colour temperature of the e-readers to be controlled to taste, making it easy on the eyes.

Reading the E-Ink is definitely less taxing on the eyes than the LCD screens of phones, tables and monitors.

There is now a dark mode with white text on black – good for reading in bed with the lights off, to avoid disturbing your partner who may have already turned in for the night.

The e-readers are waterproof to IPX8 rating, meaning it can survive submerged in 2m of water for up to 60 minutes.

That means you can read by the pool and in the bath (and in the rain?!).

And you can survive spillage on the breakfast table – either from the spilt water or from rinsing it with tap water.

One key strength of Kobo e-readers is the built-in OverDrive integration which makes borrowing books from local libraries a breeze.

You can borrow eBooks remotely by connecting to your local public library — all you need is an active library card.

You can search for the eBooks you want and choose to borrow or buy, right from within the Kobo e-reader.

OverDrive is only available in select countries including: Canada, the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Kobo eBookstore, with more than 7.5 million eBooks and audiobooks in its collection, is also available directly from the e-reader.

With Wi-Fi, online articles that you read on a phone or computer can be saved to Pocket so you can continue reading on the e-reader.

As per other Kobo e-readers, eBook navigation is intuitive and user-friendly (see the Libra H2O review for more details).


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Rakuten Kobo Sage (left) and Kobo Libra 2, with sleepcovers.

What I like are the two hard buttons along the thicker side of the e-reader for turning pages forward/backward, which also facilitate one-handed page-turning.

I personally prefer the hard buttons to swiping left/right on screen, which is also available on the Kobo e-readers.

With 32GB of built-in memory, you can carry the entire library with you – up to 24,000 eBooks and 150 audiobooks.

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5 Responses to “tech4xmas Review: Rakuten Kobo Sage & Kobo Libra 2 E-Readers”

  1. Libby McCain says:

    just curious, why didn’t you get your wife the Libra 2 since she was using the H2O? and isn’t the H2O only a year old… i mean is it broken or something? that would be quite fast. My kindle died on me less than a year from new, so I’m never gonna get another one. Was wondering if the Kobo readers are any good. Thanks

    • tech4tea says:

      Her Libra H2O is working great – as good as new. But the sleep cover is pretty run down from the daily wear and tear though after a year. Why Sage? Well, due to work from home, she hasn’t been going to the office anymore so for reading at home, the Sage with a bigger screen is actually better. She’s still keeping the H2O as a backup, and as a more portable reader (than the Sage) when she goes out – to the office or to the mall etc.

      For yourself, give the Kobo readers a try… they work great for reading ebooks and is really convenient if you read a lot of books from the library. If you’re not too entrenched into the Kindle books, you can still make the switch.

      • Libby McCain says:

        Thanks for sharing about your rationale for your wife’s use case! 🙂

        I do read a lot from the library in hardcover books and it’s a pain to get them on my kindle. I’m gonna get my hubby to get me the Sage for Christmas. Thanks for the recco!

  2. […] Rakuten Kobo Sage (S$399.90) & Kobo Libra 2 (S$289.90) The Rakuten Kobo Sage and Kobo Libra 2 are great Christmas gifts for the avid reader. Now with Dark Mode and Bluetooth support for Audiobooks. […]

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