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Old 12-02-2021, 12:44 PM   #1
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Sage vs Forma: a Comparison

I ordered a Sage from Walmart.com and it arrived yesterday. I did a bit of a comparison between it and my Forma (8GB model) and thought I'd put my thoughts here in case anyone else was interested in moving from a Forma to a Sage.

The most obvious difference (and it's definitely perceptible) is that the Sage is thicker and heavier than the Forma. I knew this when I ordered it, but thought it wouldn't be noticeable. But, when you pick the Sage up, you definitely feel that extra thickness and weight.

The only other physical differences I see are 1) the Sage has a new power button (a round, "innie" button on the back as opposed to a rectangular, "outie" button on the side), 2) the Sage gets rid of the angle of the "handle" and replaces it with a thickening, and 3) the Sage slightly increases the spacing between the forward/back buttons (they're entirely separate from each other on the Sage and might be a tad shorter as well). I much prefer the Sage's power button and don't notice the differences in the "handle" or in the forward/back buttons at all.

Regarding the screen, the resolution and speed of the Sage seem the same as on the Forma. The blacks in thumbnails *might* be slightly darker than on the Forma. But, if the difference is there at all, it's barely visible. Paging through a book on the Sage side-by-side with the same book on the Forma seems almost exactly the same (no perceptible difference in speed or behavior). Again, with the two devices side-by-side, the Sage screen seems less white (more yellow at my manual "color" setting (just a tad short of halfway)) than my Forma screen. However, once I use the Sage on its own (i.e., without the Forma sitting there as a comparison), I don't notice any difference. I did have to increase the brightness from 30% on my Forma to 40% on the Sage. These observations are with standard, side-loaded text-based kepub books. So, if you use other kinds of books (PDFs or comics), maybe you'll see something different.

There are two other things that strike me as different between the devices. First, when bringing the Sage out of sleep, it doesn't prompt me to "Swipe to Unlock" (which I appreciate) as the Forma does. Second, the Sage's method of returning from a "Powered Off" state is weird. On the Forma, to power it back up, I just have to hold the power button for 6 seconds, it flashes to a white screen and I release the button. It then finishes booting. With the Sage, I'm not sure what happens. Sometimes, the behavior is the same (with a longer hold-the-button time (say, 9 seconds). Other times, nothing happens at all and I have to try again. It's not a matter of the power button being persnickety. But, I just don't know what's supposed to be happening with that process.

Regarding side-loading my library of books (as kepubs) from Calibre, there's not much difference. I transferred 558 books over and the actual transfer time (not including the processing time) was possibly 33% (5 minutes) faster. I'm pretty sure it takes about 15 minutes to transfer those books to the Forma via its USB 2.0 connection. It took about 10 minutes to the Sage via its USB 3.0 connection. Also, just as tends to happen with the Forma, the transfer of all those books didn't completely succeed. Once I Disconnected the device from within Calibre, the Sage went to its importing screen and stuck at 70%. I went away for about 15 minutes and when I came back, it was prompting to be connected to the computer again (I don't know if it rebooted or if it just decided to reconnect on its own). When I reconnected, 151 out of those 558 books hadn't made it over. I transferred them again and checked the database with Kobo Utilities and all was well.

And, finally, battery life. I charged the Sage to full. I read for an hour (lighting at 40%, refresh screen every chapter, and Wifi on). The battery went from 99% to 88% (11% per hour). I went away and came back to read for another hour. Again, another 11% per hour drop in battery (87% to 76%). I put the Sage to sleep (not powered down) for the night. The next day, it was still at 76% (so power draw while sleeping seems minimal). But, 11% of battery for every hour of reading gives me only about 9 hours of reading time on a single charge. That's quite a bit worse than what I get with my Forma (which uses about 8% of the battery per hour (i.e., about 12 hours of reading per charge) -- granted, that's at 30% brightness vs 40% on the Sage, but that's visually about the same level across the two devices). I'll fully discharge/charge the Sage several times over the next couple of days and see if anything changes. But, I was really hoping for better battery life, not 3/4 of the battery life.

EDIT on battery life: I fully drained the Sage's battery (until the unit shut down), recharged it and read for one hour at a time until it shut down again. I got a total of 8 hours and 12 minutes worth or reading time. Here's the breakdown of charge used for each hour:

Hour 1: 100% to 92% = 8% battery use
Hour 2: 92% to 79% = 13% battery use
Hour 3: 78% to 63% = 15% battery use
Hour 4: 62% to 46% = 16% battery use
Hour 5: 46% to 26% = 20% battery use
Hour 6: 25% to 18% = 7% battery use
Hour 7: 18% to 13% = 5% battery use
Hour 8: 13% to 1% = 12% battery use (and then 12 more minutes for that last percent of the battery to go and the Sage power itself down).

So, along with the battery life of the Sage being only about 2/3 of the Forma's, whatever algorithm they're using to determine the State of Charge of the battery needs work. The supposed battery use for any given hour of reading in the same text-based kepub should not vary from 5% to 20%.

Also, the Sage seems to charge faster than the Forma. But, the difference isn't anywhere near what it should be by using a USB 3 port vs a USB 2 port. My Forma charged from 0 to 94% in the first hour, 94% to 99% in the second hour, and then fully charged to 100% sometime thereafter. The Sage went from 0 to 99% in the first hour and then to the full 100% charge 50 minutes later.

So, in summary, I'd say there's not much of a reason to move from an existing Forma to the new Sage. Yes, the USB C connection is nice to have (just as a standard form factor). Yes, the new power button shape and location is better. And yes, if you do a lot of transfers to the book, maybe the slight speed increase might be worth it to you. But, that's counterbalanced by the Sage being perceptibly thicker and heavier and having only 2/3 of the Forma's battery life.

Last edited by DaveLessnau; 12-04-2021 at 08:32 PM. Reason: Included final battery life measurements
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Old 12-02-2021, 12:51 PM   #2
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Interesting, because I've read claims both here and elsewhere that the contrast on the Sage is clearly better.

Probably there are differences between individual units, as always.
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Old 12-02-2021, 12:53 PM   #3
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Good grief. There is already a 35-page thread on the Sage and obvious comparisons to the Forma.
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Old 12-02-2021, 12:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sirtel View Post
Interesting, because I've read claims both here and elsewhere that the contrast on the Sage is clearly better.

Probably there are differences between individual units, as always.
That is not what I have seen or read. From what I have seen on YouTube tester the difference is extremly small, if noticable at all. Some even favors the Forma screen sligthly over the Sage.

If anything, it seems to in practice be more or a less a draw.
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Old 12-02-2021, 01:32 PM   #5
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That is not what I have seen or read. From what I have seen on YouTube tester the difference is extremly small, if noticable at all. Some even favors the Forma screen sligthly over the Sage.
For example, the TechCrunch review here clearly prefers the screen of the Sage over the Forma:
https://techcrunch.com/2021/11/15/re...mise-on-design

And it's not the only one I've read.
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Old 12-02-2021, 01:37 PM   #6
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Good grief. There is already a 35-page thread on the Sage and obvious comparisons to the Forma.
I'm very grateful to the OP for taking the time to make a detailed comparison of these two ereader models. It would get buried in the main Sage thread among all the off-topic/side discussions that make up the majority of the posts.

Many of us are essentially stuck choosing between the small number of 8 inch e-ink devices on the market and the Sage and Forma are the two main contenders. I'd argue that for the type of user that is likely to visit mobileread, the Sage/Forma debate is the most relevant model comparison currently discussed.


The OP's conclusion about the relative value of the Sage compared to the Forma is exactly why I decided to buy a used Aura One shortly after the Sage was released. I decided the marginal difference between the new flagship and the older model wasn't significant enough to justify the price difference.
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Old 12-02-2021, 01:44 PM   #7
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That is not what I have seen or read. From what I have seen on YouTube tester the difference is extremly small, if noticable at all. Some even favors the Forma screen sligthly over the Sage.

If anything, it seems to in practice be more or a less a draw.
My perception is the Sage/Libra2 have superior contrast to the previous gen e-ink displays. Oddly, the new Paperwhite is said to have the same screen, but in comparisons I've read the Libra2's screen described as having better contrast.

I agree that the difference is small enough to make upgrading solely on the basis of the improved contrast to not be worthwhile. The new Kobos are a disappointment when compared to the improvements their predecessors offered. If there was ever a generation to skip, in one's ereader upgrade cycle, this would be the one.
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Old 12-02-2021, 02:16 PM   #8
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The most significant difference for me is dark mode. On the Forma, to get it you have to use developer options or NickelMenu (and in the latest software, you also have to restart the Forma). It's built into the Sage and you can change from normal to dark and back when reading a book. The main difference between the two is that on the Forma, the dark background is not very dark, while it's much darker on the Sage. That makes the Sage a worthwhile upgrade, since I read a lot at night and have trouble reading with the normal mode, which is too bright. In normal mode, I don't find much difference between the two.
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Old 12-02-2021, 02:43 PM   #9
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The most significant difference for me is dark mode. On the Forma, to get it you have to use developer options or NickelMenu (and in the latest software, you also have to restart the Forma). ...
Just to be clear, it is probably a one time restart. I use NickelMenu daily, and I don't restart my Forma. I do have to exit and renter the book.
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Old 12-02-2021, 03:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Sirtel View Post
Interesting, because I've read claims both here and elsewhere that the contrast on the Sage is clearly better.

Probably there are differences between individual units, as always.
It’s always down to differences between units. Remember my awful Sage
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Old 12-02-2021, 03:46 PM   #11
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Regarding any superior contrast on the Sage, it's very possible I'm not seeing it because all I'm looking at is text and the occasional glance at a thumbnail/cover page. Maybe that comes more into play with things like PDFs or comics. Again, I believe the blacks on my thumbnails/covers do appear a bit darker on the Sage than on the Forma, but with those alone as my comparison point, it doesn't leap out at me. Text looks the same on both.

Regarding dark mode, once I get more data on battery use, I'm definitely going to try that out. Looks like a good thing to me.

For additional information, I just read for an hour on my Forma (same book as I'm reading on the Sage). The battery went from 39% to 32%. So, 7% per hour on the Forma vs 10% per hour on the Sage. But, battery use might not be linear across the whole 100% range. I've got to test recharging times as well, so I'll be testing battery use at equivalent parts of battery "fullness" later.
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Old 12-02-2021, 08:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Josieb1 View Post
It’s always down to differences between units. Remember my awful Sage
And while there are differences between units, yours was not a good example. It was clearly faulty. If you want to use it as an example of possible QA problems, then that is one thing. But, I don't think it is a realistic comparison to the what the screen is like.
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Old 12-02-2021, 08:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Josieb1 View Post
It’s always down to differences between units. Remember my awful Sage
Which was so very bad it was clearly an OOBF and constantly trumpeting it as 'proof' of the Sage's poor quality in every single thread whenever anyone mentions that they like the screen quality of their Sage is not that helpful. Your bitterness and disappointment are understandable, but one VERY bad apple does not mean the orchard should be razed.
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Old 12-02-2021, 10:28 PM   #14
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For what it's worth, I tested my Sage vs. my Forma using a densitometer. I placed a quartered screen black/white pattern on both displays and checked at four spots in each quarter. Using the readings from the 8 black and 8 white points, I came up with a contrast ratio of 16.4:1 for the Forma and 19.6:1 for the Sage which comes pretty close to the 15% increase in contrast ratio claimed by Eink for their Carta 1200 screens. Both are slightly better than the 15:1 for the Forma's Carta screen and the 17.25:1 for the Sage's Carta 1200 screen (extrapolated from the 15% improvement claimed by EInk).

I also reversed the pattern and no significant changes were seen.

By contrast, one article I read years back claimed that a mass market paperback book had a reflectance of 65% and a contrast ratio of ~8:1. Though since the author was associated with E Ink when they were still in Cambridge, that might have shaped some of his conclusions.
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Old 12-03-2021, 03:21 AM   #15
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Which was so very bad it was clearly an OOBF and constantly trumpeting it as 'proof' of the Sage's poor quality in every single thread whenever anyone mentions that they like the screen quality of their Sage is not that helpful. Your bitterness and disappointment are understandable, but one VERY bad apple does not mean the orchard should be razed.
I mention it constantly because of the following:

1) I’m still peed off that I’m the ‘only’ one that seems to have had a dodgy Sage.

2) Although kobo have refunded me it’s still in my house as they can’t be bothered to sort out a label or collection.

3) I ordered a 32GB Forma from Kobo two weeks ago (in stock) and they can’t be bothered to ship it.

4) I can’t get any of the new kobo unless I buy from Kobo as nobody in the UK has any stock

Right now I’m peed off with kobo. I can honestly say I hate them. I’m also fed up of hearing how fabulous the new Kobo are and how bad the previous versions are. It’s alright for everyone who’s been able to get a nice new kobo but perhaps once in a while people could appreciate that we are not all that lucky. If I had a decent alternative to a kobo e-reader that wasn’t a kindle I would happily avoid kobo.
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