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Old 03-14-2022, 08:34 AM   #1
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$100 eReaders compared

As far as I know, there are three (correction, 4) $100 eReaders offered. The PocketBook Basic Lux 3, the 10th Edition Kindle Basic and the Kobo Nia. (The Kindle Basic sells for $90 but, without ads, it's $110, so I figure it averages out to $100.)

I now own the PocketBook Basic Lux 3 — someone had a sealed one on eBay for a cheap price and I was curious. I don't own the Kobo Nia or Kindle Basic, so I can only go by specs on these two.

Screen Resolution: 167 dpi for the Kindle, 212 dpi for the Kobo and PB.
Front Light: Kindle and Kobo, white only. PB warm light (15 LEDs).
Touch Screen: Kindle and Kobo, yes. PB, no touchscreen, buttons instead.
Storage: All have 8 GBs internal storage, PB has a microSD slot, 32 GBs.
RAM: Kobo Nia, 256 MB, PB Basic Lux 3, 512 MB, Kindle Basic (10) unknown.
CPU: 900 Mhz for Kobo, 1 Ghz for Kindle and 1 Ghz x2 (dual) CPU for PB.
Battery: 1,300 mAh for PB, 890 mAh for Kindle and 1,000 mAh Kobo.
Weight: PocketBook, 155 grams. Kobo, 172 grams and Kindle 170 grams.
Dimensions: PocketBook, 161.3 x 108 x 8 mm. Kobo, 159.3 x 112.4 x 9.2 mm. Kindle, 160 x 110 x 8.6 mm.

Just realized the Tolino Page 2 should be included in this comparison as well. Currently Grooves is selling it for $82 with free shipping to the U.S. The specs are the same as the Kobo Nia, with these exceptions... It has a 1 Ghz CPU (instead of 900 Mhz) and 512 MB of RAM instead of 256 MB (probably because it runs Android instead of Linux). Tolino's website shows that it weighs 179 grams instead of the 172 grams the Nia weighs.

So much for the hardware specs. What about the software?

The Kobo has the Kobo Bookstore and Overdrive built in, in the U.S. (and several other countries). It does not have ADE built in (like the Tolino and Pocketbook), nor does it have DropBox integration (like the PB) or a "send to" feature (like the PB and the Kindle). One huge disadvantage for the Nia is that the Clara is priced at only $20 more. If you're going with Kobo, the Clara has the huge advantage of a 300 dpi "warm" screen, a bigger battery (1,500 mAh) and its slightly sleeker and lighter with more RAM and a slightly faster CPU. The same goes for the Tolino Page 2 vs the Shine 3, except in its case the CPU is the same (it's currently on sale at Grooves for $107, but normally around $120, like the Kobo Clara).

The Kindle has the advantage of Amazon's bookstore and infrastructure — in the U.S. borrowing from Overdrive is easy. It doesn't need ADE because it uses Amazon's proprietary DRM. You can store your books bought at Amazon in the Amazon Cloud. It does use something similar to PocketBook's "send to" feature, but your own books can not be stored in synced in the Amazon Cloud. If you like the widest selection of books available online and convenience, this may be a good choice, despite the 167 dpi screen. I would, personally, buy a used Paperwhite instead of this because the 300 dpi would be worth it to me.

So what advantages does the PocketBook Basic Lux have? First the disadvantage (for most) no touchscreen. But the advantage for me, page turning buttons. If you want a touchscreen, the Touch Lux 5 would probably be worth the $20 or $25 price difference. That's basically the only difference between the two models. So, unlike the Nia (or Page 2) upgrade to the Clara (or Shine 3), the Touch Lux 5 does not have a 300 dpi screen.

Software, in my opinion, is where the PocketBook shines. Unlike the Kobo, it has ADE built in (the Page 2 also has this). It also has DropBox integration, and a "send-to-pocketbook" feature. Unlike the PocketBooks with touchscreens, there is no browser, so you'll have to buy or borrow the book with your phone or computer and send the .acsm file (via email) to your Basic Lux 3. (On the PocketBook Touch HD 3 I can borrow directly with its browser, if I want to bother with it.) You can also transfer the .ascm file via a USB cable. The PocketBook also allows you to store your books (from any source) on the PocketBook Cloud, where you sync with an Android (or iOS, I believe) app, or on another PocketBook eReader. There are also four games included, Chess, Klondike, Snake and Sudoku. There's an RSS News app built-in (never used it or DropBox), a Calculator and a Calendar & Clock app (never used these either). You can load your own fonts and dictionaries (in .dic format).

The PocketBook does have direct eBook store support, but there's very few English in their stores. That's a disadvantage, except with ADE built-in, I can buy eBooks from anywhere without worrying about ADE on my computer (that's the advantage).

The screen is sharp and well lit. Unlike the PB Touch HD 3 (which is amber) it has more of a "pink" warm screen (like I've seen in other eReaders). The HD 3 has 13 LEDs (7 white and 6 amber) where the Basic Lux 3 has 15 (8 white and 7 amber). My old "Basic Lux" (Russian PB615) also had 8 white LEDs (no warm light) but the LEDs were located at the top instead of the bottom. There is a slight light leakage around the vertical edges that I don't have on the HD 3, but only noticeable in comparison. If I load the same book on both the HD 3 and the Basic Lux 3, and use the same font and settings, the pages will exactly match. Although the HD 3 has a higher resolution, you don't really notice the difference in the fonts. I can't says this when comparing Kobo (or Tolino's) 212 dpi with their 300 dpi. I'm especially impressed with the Basic Lux here. (PocketBooks render fonts very well.) The Pocketbooks can calculate page numbers (as screens) but it does it "on the fly" and it's much slower than the Kobo's scheme. The good news, however, is that you don't have to use this, it's optional (I use standard ePub page numbers). Like every other eReader (except the Kobos) you can go to a specific page number, which I like. Using the dictionary is a little clunky, since you have to use the direction keys (like the old Kindle no touch). The dictionary it comes with is kind of a joke, but I have loaded a Webster's Unabridged dictionary and it works well. I've also installed a Latin to English dictionary and the dictionaries can be changed out "on the fly."

Well, that's about it. Sorry about rambling forever.

Last edited by rcentros; 03-14-2022 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 03-15-2022, 11:51 AM   #2
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Thanks for sharing this.
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Old 03-15-2022, 12:03 PM   #3
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The Kobo Clara has occasionally gone on sale for roughly $100. And with "devmodeon" the Clara has Sudoku, Unblock It, Solitaire and Word Scramble.
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Old 03-15-2022, 04:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing this.
Sorry that it was kind of rambling. That's what I get for writing late at night.
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Old 03-15-2022, 04:20 PM   #5
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The Kobo Clara has occasionally gone on sale for roughly $100. And with "devmodeon" the Clara has Sudoku, Unblock It, Solitaire and Word Scramble.
The Kobo Clara is a good deal, especially when it's on sale for $100. I like some of the features of the PocketBooks (ADE built-in, buttons, send-to-PocketBook, battery life and other features) but if you want a 300 dpi, 6", warm screen, I don't think there is any better bargain than the Kobo Clara (or its sibling, the Tolino Shine 3). The Shine 3 even has ADE built-in, but has fewer font size choices than does the Kobo or PocketBook.
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Old 03-15-2022, 08:54 PM   #6
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The Kobo Clara is a good deal, especially when it's on sale for $100. I like some of the features of the PocketBooks (ADE built-in, buttons, send-to-PocketBook, battery life and other features) but if you want a 300 dpi, 6", warm screen, I don't think there is any better bargain than the Kobo Clara (or its sibling, the Tolino Shine 3). The Shine 3 even has ADE built-in, but has fewer font size choices than does the Kobo or PocketBook.
I prefer Nook button placement. I don't think I would use the buttons on the Pocketbook.
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Old 03-16-2022, 05:02 AM   #7
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I prefer Nook button placement. I don't think I would use the buttons on the Pocketbook.
I've gotten used to the bottom buttons, but I agree that the Nooks and the Voyage (and the Kindle Keyboard and no-touch basic) have better key placement. If you were used to Sony, however, you might like the PocketBooks better.
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Old 04-28-2022, 01:29 PM   #8
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In theory the Yiben P47L is also $99 but you will not get it at that price in the West haha
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Old 04-28-2022, 05:15 PM   #9
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The Kobo has the Kobo Bookstore and Overdrive built in, in the U.S. (and several other countries). It does not have ADE built in (like the Tolino and Pocketbook), nor does it have DropBox integration (like the PB) or a "send to" feature (like the PB and the Kindle). One huge disadvantage for the Nia is that the Clara is priced at only $20 more. If you're going with Kobo, the Clara has the huge advantage of a 300 dpi "warm" screen, a bigger battery (1,500 mAh) and its slightly sleeker and lighter with more RAM and a slightly faster CPU. The same goes for the Tolino Page 2 vs the Shine 3, except in its case the CPU is the same (it's currently on sale at Grooves for $107, but normally around $120, like the Kobo Clara).
By “does not have ADE built in” I assume you mean that you cannot purchase books wirelessly from anywhere but Kobo and have to use ADE to move it over USB cable to your eReader.

As for borrowing from Overdrive, I see the Kobo integration as inferior in the following ways:

1) you MUST use a Kobo eReader to add an Overdrive selection to your Kobo library by browsing using the ereader itself. Browsing for stuff is much more productive with a web browser or even the Overdrive/Libby app (I rarely purchase things on my Kindle for similar reasons). With Kindle platform you can use those to borrow and send it to any device or app registered (or more than one) to your account wirelessly.
2) if you want to read with Kobo app on phone or tablet, you also need to have a Kobo eReader to borrow it with, so it gets added to your library where any app or eReader you have on your account can use it.
3) you can only register with one public library at a time. Libby app lets you have multiple libraries and it is easy to switch between them. And it makes it easy to manage ‘tags’ and holds.

I did once have a Sony T1 with Overdrive integration, I think this was before Amazon & Overdrive had worked things out for Kindle platform, and it was nice. But the bar of convenience is much higher now.

Ironically, while Kindle ostensibly supports ‘Return this book’ on device, it doesn’t actually release the borrow from Overdrive. Conversely, Return using Libby app does not remove it from Kindle library. And if you leave WiFi off, you can keep reading after the loan expires. These don’t necessarily need ‘fixing’, especially the last thing.

Last edited by tomsem; 04-28-2022 at 05:24 PM.
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Old 04-28-2022, 11:48 PM   #10
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By “does not have ADE built in” I assume you mean that you cannot purchase books wirelessly from anywhere but Kobo and have to use ADE to move it over USB cable to your eReader.
No, it doesn’t have ADE built in, your can not download an ascm file and have the kobo process it into a book. Kobo does have Adobe Adept (I believe that’s what it’s called) which allows it to handle books sent from ADE.

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As for borrowing from Overdrive, I see the Kobo integration as inferior in the following ways:

1) you MUST use a Kobo eReader to add an Overdrive selection to your Kobo library by browsing using the ereader itself. Browsing for stuff is much more productive with a web browser or even the Overdrive/Libby app (I rarely purchase things on my Kindle for similar reasons). With Kindle platform you can use those to borrow and send it to any device or app registered (or more than one) to your account wirelessly.
Wrong you can use Libby (or Overdrive if you’re feeling like punishing yourself) or your libraries website assuming they use Overdrive. Then just sync your kobo you’ve logged in to your Overdrive account (not using a specific card but the actual account).

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3) you can only register with one public library at a time. Libby app lets you have multiple libraries and it is easy to switch between them. And it makes it easy to manage ‘tags’ and holds.
Also wrong, you can sign in with an overdrive account (note the actual account not using your library card info or login info for your library) and then use Libby to search any and every library you have a card for, borrow a book from any of them then sync your Kobo. The book downloads regardless of which library you picked in the set up of the kobo (but didn’t add any personal login info for) because the Kobo is tied to your overdrive account in general. I’ve a rather lengthy post which goes into greater detail and also rants about the “quality” of the overdrive appp (the Libby app is wonderful though) if you want I can find it and link to it.

But yes on your kobo itself you can only search one library at a time. Annoying sure, but pretty easy to get around.
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Old 05-01-2022, 06:24 PM   #11
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In theory the Yiben P47L is also $99 but you will not get it at that price in the West haha
There's also the 4.3" BK4304 (sold by many Asian vendors) that is essentially the Trekstor Pyrus Mini (or Liro Mini). Looks like the prices have gone up on these recently, but they're still (mostly) under $100. I always wanted to check one of these out, but never got around to it — the supplies may be dwindling.
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Old 05-04-2022, 02:01 PM   #12
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Thanks for clarification, it is hard to figure out how it works just by looking at Kobo user manual etc.
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Old 05-04-2022, 08:12 PM   #13
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Thanks for clarification, it is hard to figure out how it works just by looking at Kobo user manual etc.
yeah, being fair a lot of the features of Overdrive are undocumented or poorly documented. I've no idea why it tries to make you login using your card info as a primary and almost hides the login w/ OD option. Logging in w/ OD would make the most sense since it's then good to go for multiple libraries (with the above workaround), and works if you change libraries because of a move or something.

It's mostly through forum users contributing info (and my dogged determinism to get the absolute most out of features) that I've figured out everything.
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Old 05-05-2022, 10:35 AM   #14
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yeah, being fair a lot of the features of Overdrive are undocumented or poorly documented. I've no idea why it tries to make you login using your card info as a primary and almost hides the login w/ OD option. Logging in w/ OD would make the most sense since it's then good to go for multiple libraries (with the above workaround), and works if you change libraries because of a move or something.

It's mostly through forum users contributing info (and my dogged determinism to get the absolute most out of features) that I've figured out everything.
Multiple libraries has never worked for me on my Kobo. I can log into Overdrive just fine and I have multiple libraries listed in Overdrive, but my Kobos will only show one at a time and it will only sync to one at a time.
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Old 05-05-2022, 10:47 AM   #15
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Multiple libraries has never worked for me on my Kobo. I can log into Overdrive just fine and I have multiple libraries listed in Overdrive, but my Kobos will only show one at a time and it will only sync to one at a time.
Only showing one library on the device in the store is the expected behaviour. But, if you borrow books from your other libraries, they should be synced to the device. The caveat for this is that the books in the library must match to a book in the Kobo store. And it must be the same edition, which usually means the same ISBN.
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