Rakuten introduces the $100 Kobo Nia to rival Amazon's entry-level Kindle e-reader

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When it comes to reading e-books, smartphones and tablets are equipped to handle most file types. However, most tech pundits recommend the use of e-readers to enhance the experience. Unlike AMOLED, IPS, and other display technologies, the ones used by Amazon’s Kindle lineup and Rakuten’s Kobo series are among the best, according to reviewers. While the online retailer’s platform is perhaps the most popular, the new Nia hopes to draw attention with it $100 ad-free alternative.

For $90, buyers could actually get the standard Kindle which now sports an illuminated display. However, the downside many point out is the fact that it ships with ads that occupy the lock screen during sleep mode. The Nia, on the other hand, does away with subsidisation from sponsors at a price that’s just $10 more than its competitor. Those who already purchased most of their reading material from Amazon normally stick with their products since these are protected by DRM.

However, with the help of third-party software, users can move their Kindle library and transition to the Kobo Nia without any issues. As described by Gizmodo, Rakuten’s e-reader supports most e-book formats such as PDFs or EPUBs. Compared to the $120 Kobo Clara HD, the 6-inch Carta E Ink display touts a lower 1024 x 758 resolution at 212 PPI. Nevertheless, this is hardly noticeable unless both models are compared up close.

The entry-level Kindle, on the other hand, ranks the lowest with its 167 PPI screen resolution. Meanwhile, those who have tested the Nia pointed out that the ComfortLight illumination does a good job for night-time reading in low-light or dark environments. However, unlike the Kobo Clara HD’s colour temperature setting, it only produces lighting in a cooler shade.


The Kobo Nia is powered by a 1,000 mAh battery which can last weeks depending on the owner’s usage pattern.
Photo: Rakuten/Kobo

While it is not exactly considered as a downside, studies have shown that blue light can induce wakefulness, which could affect the user’s sleeping habits. The Kobo Nia measures 112.4 x 159.3 x 9.2 mm and weighs 172 grams. The device is powered by a 1,000 mAh battery which can last weeks depending on the owner’s usage pattern. Its comes with 8 GB of internal storage which is enough for an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 e-books.