The Case for a Giant E-Book Reader

Sometimes bigger really is better

Key Takeaways

  • The Kobo Elipsa is a 10.3-inch e-reader with a backlight and a pen for marking up. 
  • E-Ink screens are perfect for marking up PDFs and reading outside.
  • E-readers can last for weeks on a single battery charge.
A man using an e-reader/e-ink tablet.


Kobo’s new Elipsa e-reader is bigger than an iPad, runs for weeks on a charge, and comes with a pen for making notes, and marking up books and PDFs. 

If you love e-readers, you love them. I work on an iPad all day long, but when it comes to reading books and long articles, I switch to the Kindle, and there’s no way you’d get me to read the latest Jack Reacher on an iPad’s bright, glowing screen.

E-Ink screens are more restful on the eye, because they work like paper—by reflecting light, instead of shining it at your eyes. But what about giant e-readers like the Elipsa and the beautiful, slim, reMarkable 2 tablet? 

"I can’t recommend the reMarkables enough," technology journalist Andrew Liszewski told Lifewire via Twitter, "[It's] a brilliant note-taking tool that’s indispensable at trade shows, but the lack of any screen lighting makes it a terrible e-reader replacement, which it could be."

E-Readers vs E-Ink Notebooks

The Elipsa isn’t the first E-Ink notebook. There are plenty of those, like the above-mentioned reMarkable paper tablet, or the Boox, but those are note-taking and PDF markup devices, which can also read ebooks.

The Elipsa is the opposite—a Kobo e-reader which also can work with PDFs and take notes. It’s a subtle difference on paper, but huge in practice. And, as Liszewski mentioned, the Elipsa also comes with a built-in light. 

The Kobo Elipsa e-reader with e-in technology.


The Elipsa is hooked up to the Kobo book store, which is almost as comprehensive as the Kindle Store, plus it integrates with public libraries via the Overdrive service (Overdrive also comes from Rakuten, the company behind Kobo).

Many people would have a hard time spending $399 on an E-Ink notepad (or more), but plenty of people would be happy to spend the same $399 on an e-reader with such a huge, generous 10.3-inch screen.

The Kindle Oasis is popular enough to be in its third generation, and that has a 7-inch screen and costs $250. And the Elipsa comes with a pen and a case included in the price. 

The Case for a Giant E-Reader

So, why would you want a giant e-reader? First, perhaps you just want bigger pages. A 10.3-inch screen is in hardback novel territory, whereas the smaller Kobos and Kindles are barely as big as a paperback.

One of the biggest advantages of an e-reader over a paper book is that you can make the text bigger. Large-print paper books are rare and expensive, whereas every e-book is a large-print book if you want it to be. And a bigger screen means you don’t suffer through too few words on-screen when you crank up the font size. 

For many buyers, that’s enough. But a 10-inch screen is also big enough to display PDFs without having to take a magnifying glass to their text. And you also can highlight and mark up those PDFs with the included pen.

Perhaps the best part of the Kobo Elipsa news isn’t the product itself, but that the e-reader market is mature enough that there is room for such specialized products.

The Elipsa connects to Dropbox, so you can easily transfer PDFs to and from its 32GB local storage. Instead of having to review PDFs at the computer, you can transfer them to the Elipsa. It even beats the iPad, because you can use E-Ink in direct sunlight. 

Taking Notes

The last use-case for the Elipsa is as a notebook. You can write on the screen, doodle, and so on, and your handwriting can be converted into editable text. All this is also available on iPads, so what’s the big deal?

If you ever used an iPad for general note-taking, you’ll know that it can be slightly stressful having to leave the screen powered up the whole time. Not so with E-Ink. Just like paper, it can sit there, visible, forever. Even if the battery dies, E-Ink can stay on the screen, because it only requires power to change the display. 

It may be a subtle point, but if you’re already fully invested in high-end e-readers, you are already well into the realm of subtle differences.

If you’re really into taking notes, then you might prefer the reMarkable, which is quite beautiful, as well as being a great note-taking device. 

The reMarkable tablet and pen.


"[reMarkable says] adding a light would diminish the excellent writing experience, so we’ll see if the Elipsa suffers because of the sidelight," says Liszewski. "I just wish Kobo had included a light that adjusts color temperature too, not just brightness."

Perhaps the best part of the Kobo Elipsa news isn’t the product itself, but that the e-reader market is mature enough that there is room for such specialized products. The majority of readers (the human kind) will be happy with the excellent Kindle Paperwhite, but for those that aren’t, there are now options.

You can go fancy, with the Kobo Libra or the aluminum Kindle Oasis, both of which have hardware page-turn buttons. Or you can opt for the huge Elipsa. 

And the Elipsa has one other killer feature. It integrates with the Pocket read-later service, so you can save articles from your phone and computer, and read them like a magazine. That might be enough to sell it to many people.

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