Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Kobo Forma Vs. Android e-readers

Is it better to choose the Kobo Forma or opt for one of Boyue or Onyx’s 7.8-inch e-readers? As with most technology, the answer depends on the user’s needs. Below I’ll list factors in which the Forma might be the better option and then, in another post, state when a Boyue or Onyx Boox e-reader might be the better choice.

Choosing the Kobo Forma

Better screen 

I’ve tested the Onyx Boox Nova and Likebook Mars and found the screens to be inferior in comparison to the Kobo Forma. The Likebook Muses – a note-taking e-reader – is the only Boyue e-reader that I found had a comparable screen to the Kobo Forma. Overall, if you want an e-reader, then you’ll get the best display with the Kobo Forma.

Better battery life

The Kobo Forma doesn’t have the biggest battery capacity compared to other e-readers but still has a better battery life in comparison to Android e-readers. Kobo has developed an operating system that is optimised for the Forma’s hardware. In contrast, Android is not designed for e-readers, and this affects battery life. Boyue and Onyx have developed their launchers, reading apps and added some battery saving options but without drastically changing the underlying problem that comes with not developing an operating system bottom-up to optimise performance and battery life.

Better e-book reading software 

If you want to read e-books, then Forma’s software is the better option. The software is intuitive and user-friendly. Onyx’s e-readers also have good e-reading software, but it takes time to discover its different features. Boyue software, on the other hand, is buggy and restrictive in ways that compromise functionality. While Kobo’s PDF support is weak, it is relatively easy to install KOReader as an alternative.


Kobo’s software is developed and optimised for the device’s hardware. Accordingly, there aren’t ghosting problems that you get when using third-party Android applications on E-Ink devices.

Light and durable 

The Kobo Forma’s ergonomic slim design and Mobius screen make it light, durable and easy to hold. The Forma, despite its larger screen, weighs only 197 grams. In comparison, the Onyx Nova Pro weighs 275 grams, and the Likebook Ares weighs 268 grams.

Library books 

Kobo integrates library borrowing into the software. Thus, it is possible to borrow an e-book in the Libby app and then sync it to the Forma. To access borrowed e-books, on an Android e-reader, it is necessary to install the Libby application. The experience of using the Libby application on an e-Ink device, as it is designed for smartphones and tablets, is poor. Further, Libby’s native e-reader is not very good.

After-sale support 

Kobo, while not at the level of Amazon, is an established global vendor with greater reach. Consequently, its after-sale support is better than Boyue and Onyx. After-sale support is an important factor to consider when purchasing an e-reader. From experience, e-readers commonly have front-light and battery drainage problems.

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