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Onyx Boox vs Kobo (2022): Comparing The Best E-Reader Models

E-readers are akin to having an entire library of books within reach. The best part is that they’re portable, too. While the Kindle remains the top e-reader, brands like Onyx Boox and Kobo have also carved a niche in the market. Both brands carry several models in their catalog, with Onyx Boox leading in variety. Given their respective lineups, choosing the right e-reader from either brand can be challenging. Below, we’ve narrowed down your options to some of their best.

Onyx Boox vs Kobo Comparison Chart

ModelProduct ImagePrice
Onyx Boox Note 5 
Kobo Elipsa
Onyx Boox Leaf
Kobo Libra 2
Onyx Boox Nova Air
Kobo Sage
Onyx Boox Faust 4
Kobo Clara HD

Onyx Boox Note 5 vs Kobo Elipsa

The Onyx Boox Note 5 has better hardware, while the Kobo Elispa has the edge in design.

Onyx Boox Note 5 vs Kobo Elipsa
A look at the Onyx Boox Note 5 (left) and the Kobo Elipsa pack (right).

Unlike Kindle, Onyx Boox and Kobo offer large-screen models of e-readers. For Onyx Boox, your best bet is the 10.3-inch Note 5. Kobo, on the other hand, brings the similar-sized Elipsa. Both e-readers use an E-Ink Carta touchscreen, delivering a resolution of 1404 x 1872 at 227 ppi. They’re bright, responsive, and immersive, thanks to the higher screen refresh rates.

Leaving e-reader territory and moving closer to today’s tablets, the Onyx Boox Note 5 and Kobo Elipsa support marking up your ebooks and files. Styluses are included out of the box. In terms of smart features, the Note 5 has the edge. Running on Android-based software, the e-reader supports the installation of third-party apps. However, in terms of software reliability, you’ll probably get better support from Kobo, seeing the short life cycle of Android devices.

Onyx Boox’s e-reader boasts a higher 8-core processor than Kobo Elipsa’s. This gives it the elbow room for features like a fingerprint scanner. Ergonomics-wise, Kobo wins. The asymmetrical design of the Elipsa provides a comfortable one-hand grip. When it comes to storage, the Note 5 has the edge. The device comes with 64GB of storage and support for 21 file formats.

Head-to-Head Comparison Chart

ModelOnyx Boox Note 5Kobo Elipsa
Storage64GB (supports 21 file formats)32GB (supports 15 file formats)
ConnectivityWi-Fi, USB-C with OTG support, BluetoothWi-Fi, USB-C, Bluetooth
DurabilityASAHI protective glassโ€”
Page Turn ButtonsNoNo
Audiobook SupportYesYes

Onyx Boox Leaf vs Kobo Libra 2

The Onyx Boox Leaf wins in software and file format support, while the Kobo Libra 2 has the advantage in design and durability.

Onyx Boox Leaf vs Kobo Libra 2
Both e-readers feature a wide side bezel for one-hand grip, with the Kobo Libra 2 also adding page-turn buttons.

While large tablets are great for notetaking, they’re not as good for one-handed reading. If your priority is comfort, consider the Onyx Boox Leaf or the Kobo Libra 2. These 7-inch e-readers use E-Ink Carta touchscreens for clear 1264 x 1680p resolution. They also have a wide side bezel for a better one-hand grip.

To make things more convenient, Kobo’s Libra 2 features page-turn buttons. It also supports portrait and landscape orientations. Under the hood, however, the Onyx Boox Leaf has the edge. The e-reader boasts an 8-core processor with 1.8GHz speeds. Like most Onyx Boox devices, the Leaf also runs on Android, allowing for third-party app installation.

In terms of storage, you’re getting 32GB of memory for both e-readers. However, you will get more file format support from the Leaf than the Libra 2 โ€” 17 vs 15. Transferring content goes the way of the Onyx Boox reader as well. The Leaf enjoys Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB-C with OTG support.

Head-to-Head Comparison Chart

ModelOnyx Boox LeafKobo Libra 2
Storage32GB (supports 17 file formats)32GB (supports 15 file formats)
ConnectivityWi-Fi, USB-C with OTG support, BluetoothWi-Fi, USB-C, Bluetooth
DurabilityASAHI protective glassIPX8, waterproof up to 60 mins in 2 meters of water
Page Turn ButtonsNoYes
Audiobook SupportYesYes

Onyx Boox Nova Air vs Kobo Sage

The Onyx Boox Nova Air is more of a multipurpose tablet than the Kobo Sage.

Onyx Boox Nova Air vs Kobo Sage
Onyx Boox’s Nova Air (left) comes with a stylus, unlike the Kobo Sage (right).

If you want a stylus-compatible e-reader that’s easy to carry around, consider the Onyx Boox Nova Air or Kobo Sage. The Nova Air is a 7.8-inch tablet constructed from magnesium alloy. It features an E Ink Carta Plus touchscreen protected by ASAHI glass. You also get a stylus with the device, compatible with note-taking on a separate app or directly on a document.

Kobo’s Sage is compatible with the Kobo Stylus, but the latter is sold separately. Like the Onyx Boox Nova Air, the device supports handwritten notes on ebooks and PDF files. For convenient reading, the e-reader features an ergonomic side bezel with page-turn buttons. The Sage is also IPX8-rated, making it waterproof in 2 meters of water for up to an hour.

The Onyx Boox Nova Air has a more straightforward design. What it lacks in ergonomics and durability, it makes up with its software. The e-reader is based on Android 10 software, making it a multipurpose device. Powering the tablet is an 8-core, 1.8GHz processor, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.

Head-to-Head Comparison Chart

ModelOnyx Boox Nova AirKobo Sage
Storage32GB (supports 17 file formats)32GB (supports 15 file formats)
ConnectivityWi-Fi, USB-C, BluetoothWi-Fi, USB-C, Bluetooth
DurabilityASAHI protective glassIPX8, waterproof up to 60 mins in 2 meters of water
Page Turn ButtonsNoYes
Audiobook SupportYesYes

Onyx Boox Faust 4 vs Kobo Clara HD

The Onyx Boox Faust 4 supports more file formats than the Kobo Clara HD.

Onyx Boox Faust 4 vs Kobo Clara HD
Onyx Boox’s Faust 4 (left) and Kobo’s Clara HD (right) more closely resemble a Kindle.

Aside from 7-inch models, Onyx Boox and Kobo also carry compact, 6-inch e-readers โ€” the Onyx Boox Faust 4 and the Kobo Clara HD. Both use an E Ink touchscreen with a 300 ppi, 1072 x 1448p resolution. With the Faust 4, you’re getting a tablet that weighs a little over 180g. The Clara HD is lighter at just 166g. Neither e-readers are waterproof.

Inside, the Onyx Boox Faust 4 and Kobo Clara HD offer 8GB of memory. While it’s considerably smaller than the other e-readers on this list, 8GB is still ample space for up to 6,000 books. You can even expand the Faust 4’s thanks to a microSD/microSDHC slot. Onyx Boox’s tablet also comes with 1GB of RAM compared with the 512MB on the Kobo Clara HD.

For a better reading experience, both devices allow font and font style customizations. They also offer adjustable brightness and color temperature courtesy of their respective front light systems. Lastly, the Onyx Boox Faust 4 supports more file formats than Kobo’s Clara HD. In addition, the Faust 4 can play music and audiobooks, although you’ll need wireless headphones or external speakers.

Head-to-Head Comparison Chart

ModelOnyx Boox Faust 4Kobo Clara HD
Storage8GB, expandable with the microSD/microSDHC slot (supports 17 file formats)8GB (supports 15 file formats)
ConnectivityWi-Fi, MicroUSB, BluetoothWi-Fi, MicroUSB
Durabilityโ€”โ€”
Page Turn ButtonsNoNo
Audiobook SupportYesNo

Verdict

Out of the e-readers reviewed, the Onyx Boox Nova Air and Kobo Libra 2 are the two that stand out the most.

Choosing an Onyx Boox or Kobo e-reader is challenging, given the variety of models available. On the question of which Onyx Boox to buy, however, we’re picking the Nova Air. With Kobo, our recommendation is the Libra 2.

The 7.8-inch Onyx Boox Nova Air represents the best of what the brand offers. First, it runs on Android, which allows for the installation of third-party apps. The reading experience is also great, owing to the plethora of customizations for brightness, font, and file format support. Moreover, it’s compatible with a stylus, so you get decent note-taking ability.

Meanwhile, the Kobo Libra 2 offers the best bang for your buck. It’s an ergonomically-designed e-reader with convenience features like page-turn buttons and a wide side bezel. The Libra 2 also comes with 32GB of storage and weeks of battery life. And if you’re one to read outdoors, Kobo’s tablet is IPX8-rated, too, so you’ll never have to worry about pool splashes again.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ When was Onyx Boox established?

Onyx Boox was organized back in 2006. Since then, the company has become an established name in e-readers.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the Kobo Libra 2 have a speaker?

No, the Kobo Libra 2 does not have a speaker. To listen to audiobooks, you’ll need to connect the e-reader to an external speaker or wireless headphones via Bluetooth.

๐Ÿ“Œ What software does Onyx Boox use to open file formats?

Onyx Boox uses BOOX software to open different text and file formats.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the Kobo Elipsa support Dropbox?

Yes, the Kobo Elipsa supports the import and export of documents via Dropbox.

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Mari Bassig

Senior Editor, writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, social media, and music.