Kobo Sage review: writes, reads and listens but gets paid

The e-book reader market travels with the wind in its sails, especially in Italy. The pandemic has accelerated its spread, as emerged from various analyzes. In a panorama that offers many alternatives, the Kobo Sage is certainly among the most interesting. Presented at the beginning October from the Canadian company, is one of the most complete models on the market.

The big news is represented by the possibility to play audio books. A possibility that goes hand in hand with Bluetooth connectivity (thanks to which it is possible to connect earphones and wireless headphones) and with the Kobo Stylus. The Sage can therefore also be used to take notes or to underline the key passages of a book. which opens up to practically infinite areas of use.

Costa 289, 99 euro, a price that brings a long-standing debate around these products back to topicality. The amount needed to buy it is in fact comparable to that of a tablet. As we will see, however, the peculiarities of a product like the Kobo Sage place it in a totally different segment. The fact remains that a positioning around the 200 euro would have made it more attractive to the target for which, in our opinion, it was conceived: students.


240, weight 8 grams, thickness 7.6 mm. Despite the 8-inch screen, Kobo Sage is a light and handy object. Not a good looking underestimate for an ebook reader, indeed. Reading a book may mean having to hold these devices for several hours, so the convenience of holding them in your hands is crucial to the experience of use.

In any way you orient it, it is comfortable. The choice of making the left side (where the physical buttons are positioned) with a greater width was a winner. In fact simulates the binding of paper books and it is natural to hold it. No problem for left-handers, who can simply rotate it, placing the wider side on the right. The choice of completely covering the front part with glass is beautiful, while the satin texture of the back makes it pleasant to the touch and little exposed to dirt.

It fits comfortably in the backpack, in the bags and, in some cases, even in the pockets of the coats . It is waterproof (IP certification 68), so no problem to take it with you to the sea or the pool. There is no tablet on the market that can offer the same carefree use: I have never felt the need to have a cover , unlike what happens, for example, with a compact product such as iPad Mini 2021.


The difference, in any ebook reader, the screen must do. That of the Kobo Sage does not disappoint and, indeed, is among the best we have had the opportunity to test. This is a Carta E-Ink panel 1200 , characterized by a resolution of 1. 440 x 1. 920 pixel (330 ppi). First-in-class visual quality, both inside and out. No problem of visibility under direct sunlight.

To convince is above all the homogeneity of the lighting . On this type of panels, in fact, the LEDs are often positioned only on one side. It is then up to the glass that covers the screen to diffuse the light over the entire display. This is particularly convincing in the Kobo Sage and is a real treat for the eyes. In addition, it is also possible to adjust the color temperature, with a special night mode that makes everything tend towards orange, allowing less eye strain when reading in the dark. But that’s not all.

The panel is in fact compatible with MPP pens ( like Surface Pen or Dell Active Pen), so you can take notes with Kobo Sage like a sheet of paper. The Canadian company sells separately (at the cost of 40 euro) an ad hoc pen, the Kobo Stylus. There are 4. 096 pressure levels and the use in combination with the e-book reader represents the real distinguishing feature of this product.

There is a special app to take notes and, thanks to the presence of Dropbox (pre-installed), it is possible to upload the files produced with the pen directly to the cloud. The Kobo Stylus can also be used to underline books, make notes on their pages , and you can also write on PDFs. However, this is not possible on text files in .rtf format. An incomprehensible choice.

The experience with the Kobo Stylus is good. Forget the fluidity and precision guaranteed by Apple Pencil or Samsung’s S-Pen. You still manage to write well, the shape of the pen allows you to grip it easily and there is no lack of palm recognition. No problem of involuntary touches on the screen therefore while you are taking notes.

The pen is powered by a mini stylus battery which, honestly, makes you turn up your nose. It is impossible to estimate the autonomy, but we would certainly have preferred the presence of a rechargeable battery. In any case, having the ability to underline books and make annotations is a priceless convenience, especially since the Carta E-Ink 1200 gives a feeling very similar to real sheets of paper. That’s why, as mentioned at the beginning, we consider this product tailored to the needs of students, especially university students.


The beating heart of the Kobo Sage is a 1.8 Ghz quad-core processor. A powerful chip for an e-book reader, which allows for a much better fluidity in carrying out operations than previous models like Kobo Libra. However, it is desirable that these devices make a further qualitative leap in this area, but the path taken seems to be the right one.

Responsiveness is however guaranteed by a well-developed software part conceived. The main page is in typical Kobo style: at the top the four books being read, the percentage of completion and the hours it takes to get to the end of the book (this last figure is only available for ebooks in .kepub format bought on the Kobo Store); in the center there is the shortcut to get to “My books”, therefore to the titles contained in the reader but also those that belong to the user; Below are two links that lead to the Kobo Shop. All very simple.

The navigation bar it is instead positioned on the bottom. C ?? is the link to ?? Home ??, to ?? My books ??, to ?? Discover ?? (i.e. the Kobo store) and ?? Other ??. This last item includes the Settings, the Clipboard, the ability to access various accounts. In this regard, the first setting of the Kobo Sage is very simple: just connect it to the Wi-Fi network and log in with a Kobo, La Feltrinelli, Google or Facebook account. After these two steps, the user is ready to use the player. There is also the possibility of browsing the internet via browser, but this functionality is still in beta.

We were only partially convinced by the implementation of Bluetooth. It goes hand in hand with the playback of audio books, another great novelty, as it allows you to connect wireless headphones and earphones. However, it is a pity that the range of the connection is not very large and that it is not possible to use it to listen to music without wires (despite the 32 Gigabytes of memory). However, it remains an important plus, also considering the overwhelming success of audio books.

The autonomy, never like on Kobo Sage, is strictly linked to the use made of the ?? e-book reader. With the simple reading, it is possible to cover well 14 hours of continuous use on a single charge. Playing an audiobook with the screen active, the device takes just over 4 hours to run out of battery. By carrying out the same operation but with the display in standby, 5 hours are exceeded. The possibility of recharging it via the USB-C port is excellent.


Before moving on to the conclusions, it is important to remember the new Kobo Plus service. It is a subscription divided into three offers, which start from common premises:

  • the offer consists of hundreds of thousands of eBooks in Italian and foreign languages , and tens of thousands of audio books;
  • eBooks can be read on any Kobo eReader;
  • audiobooks can be listened to on any smartphone (via the Kobo app) or with Sage and Libra 2 freshly presented and equipped with Bluetooth connectivity;
  • you can activate a free trial period of 30 days.

The three subscription variants are: Kobo Plus eBook (eBook only) a 9, 99 euro / month , Kobo Plus eBook & Audio (access to ebooks and audiobooks) at 12, 99 euro / month, Kobo Plus Audio (audiobooks only) at 9, 99 euro / month. The most convenient solution if you are interested in both eBooks and audiobooks, is necessarily the intermediate one, while you can save 3 euros by favoring only eBooks or audiobooks only.

For a reference, at the moment Kindle Unlimited (eBook only) is currently on promotion for 3 months at 9, 99 euro / month, against 29, 97 EUR/ month without promotion, while the price of Audible – Amazon’s service dedicated to listening to audiobooks – costs 9, 99 euro / month after the first 30 free days.

To create the catalog of Kobo Plus, Rakuten has partnered with main Italian publishing houses , including Mondadori, Rizzoli, Einaudi, Sperling & Kupfer, Piemme and Mondadori Electa, Garzanti, Longanesi and Feltrinelli; without neglecting independent publishers, such as Sur. Keep in mind that not all Kobo eBooks and audiobooks are included in the subscription, but the partnerships signed with the publishers are enough to create a good starting point that will be further expanded in the future.


We will never stop repeat: Kobo Sage can become a student’s best friend. It has an important price for an e-book reader, also because ai 289, 99 euro list it is necessary to add the 40 euro of the Kobo Stylus which, of done, it completes the user experience. Those who need to read books and take notes will find in this product an irreplaceable tool.

On the other hand, those looking for a simple e-book reader, it is good that look elsewhere. We are testing the Kobo Libra 2, for example, which costs 100 euro less and, in relation to reading the books, offers an experience very similar to the Sage. Without forgetting the Amazon Kindles, which among other things can count on the huge ecosystem of the e-commerce giant.

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