Trying the new Rakuten Kobo Elipsa 2E, a two-in-one that’s a super-sized eReader as well as a superb e-notebook.
The new Rakuten Kobo Elipsa 2E, released in April 2023, is the Canadian eReader giant’s successor to 2021’s Elipsa. As large as its predecessor at 10.3” but now bundled with a much better stylus and illumination system, among other improvements, this large eReader is also the current top model for Rakuten Kobo. Correspondingly, it has a price tag (SGD 629.90) that declares “flagship status.”
If you’re a fan of eReaders, you’d probably already know the Kobo Elipsa 2E is also a direct competitor of the Kindle Scribe, which has many similar functions and is similar in size. For this review, though, I wouldn’t be doing a comparison—I’ll be focusing on my user experience with this eBook reader.
With the ability to mark up eBooks and create notebooks the foremost two features of this brand-new, higher-end device, I will also be looking at the question of, can it replace your traditional pen and paper?
In a nutshell, I feel this super-sized eReader can, as long as you don’t expect the writing experience to entirely be the same. Or as quick. But I jump ahead. Let’s first take a look at the key specs and features of the Kobo Elipsa 2E.
- Rakuten Kobo Elipsa 2E Specifications and Features
- Kobo Elipsa 2E Reading Experience
- Kobo Store, Overdrive, and Search Functions
- E-Notebook and the Kobo Stylus 2
- Beta Functions
- Price Consideration and Review Conclusion
Rakuten Kobo Elipsa 2E Specifications and Features
- 10.3” E Ink Carta 1200 Touchscreen
- 227 PPI, 1404 x 1872 Resolution with Dark Mode
- 32 GB Internal Storage
- 2,400 mAh battery
- USB-C Port
- WiFi and Bluetooth Enabled
- 193 x 227 x 7.5 mm
- Approximately 390 g
- Supported Formats: 15 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR). Kobo Audiobooks too.
- Bundled with the new Kobo Stylus 2 (USB-chargeable) for marking up of eBooks and PDFs*, and note taking.
- The Kobo Stylus 2 comes with an “eraser” tip that easily removes unneeded notations and drawings. You don’t need to rub too. You just need to tap.
- Instant highlighting of words for checking in installed dictionaries, Wikipedia, or Google.
- ComfortLight Pro illumination system with adjustable brightness and colour temperature.
- TypeGenius system 12 different fonts and over 50 font styles.
- New Dual 2GHz CPU for faster page turns, pans, and zooms.
- Ability to share documents with integrated cloud services.
- Ability to search for specific text in created notebooks and to view notebooks on kobo.com
- Quick conversion of handwritten text into typed text, with multi-lingual support.
- Exterior made with more than 85% recycled plastic—including 10% ocean-bound plastic—for environmental sustainability. Reduces your eco-footprint.
- Comes with a selection of free eBooks and audiobooks.
That’s quite a long list of key features, isn’t it? As befitting a top-of-the-range model.
It’s also obvious just from reading the features that the Kobo Elipsa 2E is very much a 2-in-1. It’s an eReader and an eNotebook, with impressive search, storage, and cloud-saving capabilities thrown in. Quite a comprehensive package too for users looking to replace the “paper” experience.
On the flip side, two features are notably missing. The Microsoft Word format is not supported. Unlike the Kobo Clara 2E or Libra 2, the Elipsa 2E is also not waterproof.
I don’t know the design reason for the latter; perhaps it’s because the Kindle Scribe, i.e., the main competitor isn’t waterproof too. To be clear, neither do I feel a pressing need for a high IPX rating too.
It just seems a little odd that a potentially device-saving feature is left out. I suppose users just have to keep their coffee further away when using this eReader, I guess.
Rather bafflingly, Kobo doesn’t provide a battery life estimate for the Elipsa 2E. They merely said “weeks of battery life dependent on individual use.”
I agree that battery life indications are no more than vague estimations, easily influenced by so many variables too. That said, something less abstract would have been better?
I can thus only share this. Out of the box and after a full charge, I used my unit for an hour, setting up and writing and reading and scribbling, and the battery level dropped to 91 percent.
Based on that, I believe a brand-new, fully charged unit is at least capable of lasting ten hours. The 2,400 mAh battery would probably last much, much longer too, if I’m just reading.
I’ve tried it right away and nope, it doesn’t work like a smartphone. You cannot plug in your favourite USB-C earphones and listen to audiobooks that way.
The moment you activate play for an audiobook, you’d be prompted for a Bluetooth (earphone or speaker) connection.
I do not listen to audiobooks so I can’t comment much on this. (I.E., audio on an eReader doesn’t matter to me) But off-hand, I believe some users would mind.
A quick review of the Kobo Elipsa 2E SleepCover, in case you’re wondering whether it’s worthwhile to get it.
I’d say … yes, if you don’t mind the price. It protects the screen and offers a handy way to store both the eReader and stylus. It is also made with 97 percent recycled plastic, including 10 percent ocean-bound plastic. That means it reuses plastic that would otherwise become landfill and ocean waste—you’d be doing your part for the environment.
Do note, though, that the SleepCover DOES NOT cover the back of the eReader. Kinda hard for me to explain so I’d just say the magnetic design has a mini cradle for the stylus and sort of, hooks onto the side of the Elipsa 2E. There is no segment for the back of the eReader, which, by the way, is textured to offer better grip.
(About the above pictures, the Elipsa 2E displays the cover of your last read book/document after it’s powered off. It’s quite a cool feature)
Kobo Elipsa 2E Reading Experience
Like its predecessor, the flagship eBook readeris the largest Kobo eReader at the moment—the “super-sized” member of the range as some reviews correctly describe it.
You would either love or dislike it for this.
Some users will find the Elipsa 2E too large or heavy. I, on the other hand, absolutely adore it for this. While it could be cumbersome to bring about, the size and weight deliver the lovely impression of reading a large-print, thick-cover book. Likewise, the size makes writing on it quite similar to writing on a full-size notebook too.
The matte, anti-glare E Ink screen furthermore delivers an enhanced reading experience, with the Dual 2GHz CPU enabling quick page turns, font resets, etc. The matte surface doesn’t completely prevent glares, of course it doesn’t, but reading this screen certainly feels far more comfortable than, say, reading a glossy AMOLED screen. For the unfussy, the matte surface is reminiscent of actual paper too.
There are also ComfortLight Pro and other customisation features. For the former, you’re able to manually adjust screen brightness and temperature to reduce harmful blue light, or if that’s too troublesome, just key in your usual bedtime and leave it to the Elipsa 2E to do the adjustments. (You can also enable vertical swipes on the side to finetune brightness; very nifty feature)
A tap at the bottom of the screen brings out various function buttons presented at the top of the screen. With these, you can then select fonts, tweak font size, modify screen refresh frequency, activate “Dark Mode” for late-night reading, and so on. There’s even a bar graph icon that’d tabulate the statistics of your current read. How much more time you’d need to finish your current book, etc.
And oh, while reading, you can highlight words with a long press. With that, the dictionary definition is immediately presented. If you’re connected to a WiFi network, you can subsequently do a Wikipedia or Google search with the word.
In short, I think the Elipsa 2E goes all out to present an enjoyable e-reading experience that’s highly customisable. Every associated function oozes the message: your comfort is paramount. I’m all about your reading comfort!!!
If you’re completely new to Kobo’s products or eReaders, you probably would need a while to figure out “which function is at where,” but it’s not rocket science. The best way to go about discovering the functions is simply to launch one of the included free eBooks and spend half an hour experimenting.
This discovery journey is in itself, extremely entertaining.
Kobo Store, Overdrive, and Search Functions
Needless to say, Kobo.com is integrated into the Kobo Elipsa 2E, allowing you to easily expand your eBooks collection. To access the store, one just needs to use the “Discover” tab of the interface. (You’d also need a WiFi signal, of course)
More useful, perhaps, is the inclusion of Overdrive. Singaporeans, for example, can use their National Library Board (NLB) digital login details to access Overdrive, and through that, borrow books from NLB’s vast collection. Whatever’s borrowed will be included in the “My Books” tab of the interface after tapping the sync button. The same for all Kobo.com purchases.
Better yet, once properly set up, the “Discover” panel allows you to search for titles in both Kobo.com and Overdrive, among other options.
From a marketing point of view, I think the inclusion of Overdrive puts forth an important message. (A smart one at that too) This large eReader isn’t just for buying and reading Kobo.com purchases. Even if you do not spend a single cent in Kobo.com, you can still extensively use this eReader.
It’s Kobo’s way of telling you they are not locking you to their bookstore when you purchase this eReader of theirs. It can be used in more ways than one.
For Singaporean NLB Members
For Singaporean NLB members, do take note of the following. I was briefly baffled by this.
You can use your existing NLB myLibrary username and password to login into Overdrive on the Elipsa 2E. Just select a NLB branch and key in your username even if Overdrive prompts you to input a library card number. There is no need to create a new account.
Once done, you can read your NLB loans under the My Books tab.
E-Notebook and the Kobo Stylus 2
(This section has been updated to reflect system updates of June 2023)
For some, the e-notetaking function of the Kobo Elipsa 2E is probably the most important function to examine. After all, this is one of the premium features that justify the higher price.
Before I begin, though, let me just highlight that this “writable” eReader does not work like a Wacom tablet, even though there are drawing functions. 😛 That’s not the way it works.
With the “improved” Kobo Stylus 2, there are three ways to write too. The first is directly on eBooks and digitally-unprotected PDFs. Just scribe away and your doodles and scribbles will immediately be saved.
Marked-up files that are not protected can then be easily copied to your PC, laptop, etc, too. (All your note are preserved) Doing so is no different from copying files from a tablet or smartphone to your laptop—you just need to connect using the USB charging cable. Do note, though, that the eReadercannot be used while connected to another device
More of interest is the actual e-notetaking functionality, and here’s where things get sophisticated. The main interface has a “My Notebooks” panel and once here, you are offered two choices with every creation of a new notebook.
- Basic Notebook: This is essentially an e-paper that allows you to write anything, anywhere. You can also erase errors using the eraser end of the stylus. If a blank slate doesn’t suit your needs, you could change the background to grids or classic notebook lines, or music bar lines. There is also a highly useful marquee tool that allows you to select entire groups of written text for copy-and-paste, repositioning, conversion to typed text, etc.
- Advanced Notebook: This comes with notebook lines and is where all the conversion functions and drawing magic are. As long as your text is neat enough and within the lines, you can instantly convert them to typed text with a tap. Diagrams drawn can also be magically tidied up—a misshaped circle can be made into a perfect one, and so on. You can even quickly adjust line spacing, shift text about, etc, with simple swipes.
Check out the latter part of my quick review video for demonstrations of the annotation, notetaking, and drawing conversion capabilities.
Frankly speaking, I would rate the e-notetaking and e-writing capabilities a straight five out of five—I’m that impressed. What the Elipsa 2E is capable of is amazingly fun to use, easy to pick up, and more than addresses my notetaking needs.
The ability to write on imported PDFs also means I no longer need to print out my draft scores when doing music arrangements. This helps me save money on printing and is incredibly convenient.
In the spirit of review objectivity, though, I must highlight that the e-notetaking experience of the Elipsa 2E is not flawless. Some users might experience the following issues:
- The matte surface is great at simulating the sensation of writing on paper but is ultimately not that. So don’t expect the same experience. If you’re new to writing with a stylus, you will need some time to adjust too.
- A simple Settings switch, found in the “More” panel of the main interface, enables you to write in Asian languages and have those text converted into typed text too. However, I found the conversion capabilities for Chinese and Japanese much less perfect compared to English. I tried for ten minutes and couldn’t get a simple character like 为 converted.
- The 10.3” size means you would probably have to rest your wrist on the Elipsa 2E while writing. This wouldn’t create a blotch rest assured but you might smudge the screen. Or accidentally tap the screen with the stylus.
- There is a slight, very slight lag when converting handwritten words, erasing large swathes of notes, etc. Doesn’t feel consequential to me but, I don’t know, a reporter interviewing an impatient subject might mind?
Kobo Stylus 2
For me, the bundled Kobo Stylus Two is just the right weight and texture. I would prefer it to be a little thicker but that’s just my personal preference.
The stylus is also USB-chargeable, which is a HUGE improvement over how it used to require a battery. Still, having yet another gadget to charge in this electronic age could be a nuisance, yes?
The good news, though, the battery life seems quite resilient. I used mine over four days and I didn’t once need to recharge.
The “More” panel of the main interface hides a Beta Features section. Found within this section are games like Scrabble and Sudoku. There’s also a Web Browser.
I briefly tested the web browser and yup, it’s “beta” indeed. It couldn’t load this website, not without extra tapping and loading time anyway.
I’m unsure whether this matters, though. Isn’t it oft said that eReaders are better than tablets for eReading because they provide far fewer distractions? Or is it soon going to be the other way around? eReaders provide superior reading experiences while having the same entertainment as tablets?
What I’m saying here: It’s nice to have these beta features. Who knows if the features would improve with firmware updates too? But don’t evaluate the Kobo Elipsa 2E using them.
Price Consideration and Review Conclusion
I conclude this review by (finally) examining something that I’ve been avoiding. The price.
At SGD 629.90, Rakuten Kobo’s largest eReader for 2023 is pricey, no doubt about that. At first glance, it also costs quite a bit more than other super-sized eReader competitors like the ReMarkable 2 and Kindle Scribe.
What you get for this price is a comprehensive AND premium package, though. One that’s largely able to replace your physical notebooks.
The reading experience is superbly customisable. The 32 GB storage is the max among the competition. The bundled Kobo Stylus 2 is very much “it” too. You don’t need to upgrade to another one, later on, to fully use all functions. The bundle even comes with two replacement tips for the stylus.
The notebook functions contain a suite of attractive features. From the instant conversion of handwritten text to typed ones, to diagram conversions, to direct export to Dropbox, etc.
Of course, the Kobo Elipsa 2E is not without shortcomings. It cannot read Microsoft Word files and its resolution isn’t the best in the 2023 market. The need to recharge the stylus could be a nuisance.
But as a premium, two-in-one package, it’s very much everything for the moment. Personally, I feel it’s also a great learning tool thanks to its speedy word search functions. Educators would likely find it a useful teaching asset as well.
For the environmentally conscious, the sustainable build is surely an attraction, one that goes hand-in-hand with how e-Reading is itself a way of reducing waste and eco-footprints.
Might seem superfluous for me to say this about a reading/learning tool, but the sustainable build complements the image of being environmentally responsible.