The Kobo Nia and Kindle Basic are entry level e-readers, designed for people on a budget. These two devices tap into massive ebook ecosystems that have similar books. The screen size, resolution and hardware is mostly the same. What is the better buy, the brand new Kobo Nia or the Kindle?
The entry level Kindle e-reader features a 6 inch E Ink Carta display with a resolution of 800×600 and 167 PPI. This is the first Kindle with a front-light display, which allows you to control the brightness using a slider bar. It has 4 white 4 LED lights that are on the bottom of the bezel and project light upwards, so it is not shining in your eyes. The Kobo Nia features a six inch E INK Carta HD capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1024×758 and 212 PPI The Kobo also has 5 white LED lights and 5 amber LED lights for a candlelight effect. SO, the Kobo wins with better screen resolution and also more options for the front-lit display.
The Kindle has a NXP 6SLL (Cortex-A9 @800M/1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. There is Bluetooth available for wireless headphones and you can buy audiobooks from Audible. The Kobo is employing a i.MX 6ULL processor, Arm Cortex-A7 core, which operates at speeds up to 900 MHz. The Nia has a paltry 256MB of RAM and but has more storage than the Kindle with 8GB. The Kindle basically has better hardware specs than the Kobo, but the Kobo has more storage, so it is a toss up.
On a software level, both of these devices run Linux and have vastly different user experiences. The Kobo has Overdrive available in many countries to borrow ebooks from the library, Pocket is great for reading blog articles, there are also reading goals/rewards and advanced ereading features, such as being able sideload in your own fonts. The Kindle is aimed at the casual audience, it doesn’t have many advanced features, but it makes up for it in different ways. You can setup user profiles have have different reading settings pre-configured. X-Ray is great for finding more about a book, Goodreads provides a social media experience for talking about books with your friends, or even strangers. The Kindle has a wider selection of ebooks, since more people self-publish with Amazon than Kobo, more publishers focus on the Amazon ecosystem, since this generates more revenue.
The reading and shopping experience is similar. Both of these have no physical page turn buttons, so you have to rely on the touchscreen. Page turn speed is similar, and so are number of options to adjust the font, line spacing or margins. You can make notes, highlights and annotations, although the Kindle has public highlights, so you can see what other people are doing. I feel the Kindle software is more stable, although they frequently discontinue support for older devices, whereas Kobo continues to support them.
Does the Nia or Kobo provide better long term value? I feel Amazon does a better job with selling the hardware and frequently discounts the Basic and Paperwhite on a monthly basis. The OS seems more stable and the entire experience is designed for new users. Kobo appeals to new, but also advanced users. You can have more control and deeper customization options. If PDF files are your jam, Kobo Nia does a better job than Amazon.
What is better? Check out our comparison review below.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.