8.2/10
Informr score
The Kobo Forma currently has an Informr score of 8.2 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 8 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

Combining one of the largest screens on a mainstream e-reader with a unique design, the Forma is an interesting alternative to Amazon’s e-readers -- as long as you’re not already tied too much to Amazon’s ecosystem.

What's good

  • Extensive file support
  • Plenty of storage
  • Built-in light with temperature adjustments
  • Comfortable to hold
  • Large, crisp 300 PPI display
  • Overdrive and Pocket integration

What's bad

  • Squishy buttons
  • Software sometimes sluggish

While Kobo has pioneered several e-reader features in the Western market, most people see them as an alternative to Amazon -- not a direct competitor. With their latest release, they’ve aimed their sights at the top of Amazon’s lineup. But do the extra features justify the price of the device -- and is it enough to pull people away from Amazon’s massive e-book library? Let’s look at what reviewers across the Internet think.

Design

While most e-readers are simple, rectangular plastic devices, the Forma features an interesting asymmetrical design. The body gets thinner as you go across the body, with the thicker portion housing the physical page flip buttons.

The thicker portion and rear cover also include a grippy, rubberized treatment to provide a solid grip during long one-handed reading sessions. At just 197g, reviewers had no trouble holding the Forma for long periods of time either.

The e-reader is also IPX 8 rated for waterproofing so feel free to read beside the pool or in the bathtub.

Overall, reviews were mixed. Some found the buttons squishy and questioned the use of plastic and rubber in a device of this price. However, no one noted major issues that impacted usability or raised durability questions. Trusted Reviews was one critic of the design, saying, “The overall design is a little on the ugly side, with the perforated plastic picking up everything from dust to smudges in an instant.

Screen

Around front, you’re greeted with a roomy 8-inch e-Ink Carta display running at 1440-by-1920 pixels. This keeps the Forma on par with competing e-readers at a PPI of 300 while allowing it to offer one of the largest screens in the mainstream e-reader market.

Reviewers loved the extra room with many noting that an inch or two of extra space makes all the difference -- especially when reading visual novels, comics, or heavily formatted PDFs.

There we no issues of ghosting and refresh rates were nice and snappy. And, as an e-Ink display, there are no worries about glare when reading outdoors or near bright lights.

There’s also a front light on the display composed of 15 LEDs. Both cool and warm LEDs allow you to adjust the temperature of the display from cool blue to warm orange to suit your preferences.

Storage

Matching the Kindle Oasis, the Forma offers 8GB or 32GB of internal storage. While you won’t find microSD support on the reader, this is more than enough space for a nice collection of comics or other larger e-book files if you’re planning to be away from Wi-Fi for a while.

Battery Life

Kobo estimates that the 1200mAh battery is good for weeks of use on a single charge if you read an hour or two a day without Wi-Fi and keep the screen brightness at reasonable levels. Reviewers didn’t list exact run times, but many found they’d used only 15% to 20% of the battery after 6 to 10 hours of use.

Software & File Format Support

Kobo’s Forma features some of the most comprehensive file support around. You’ll find 14 e-book formats compatible with the e-reader, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, and CBR.

However, if you’re a fan of Amazon, note that the Forma cannot read books from the Amazon store. Fortunately, there’s both the Kobo and Walmart e-book stores to keep your reading list full. You can also sideload books from any other store with supported file types.

The software on the Forma is minimalist with no ads and a clean look that puts your files at the forefront. Unfortunately, some reviewers found navigating the interface slow.

Trusted Review says, “The basic UI is great: easy to navigate, visually interesting and heavy on the imagery. It doesn’t try to push new and suggested reads on you quite as frequently as the Kindle, instead focusing on books you already have… It’s a shame then that, in use, the Forma feels a bit sluggish.

Extra Features

While responsiveness annoyed a few reviewers, the extra features available pleased everyone. If you like to clip articles from the web, Pocket integration makes it easy to send your favorite blogs, news stories, and other web content to your e-Reader.

Overdrive integration also allows you to access your local library’s e-book collection. And unlike Amazon, you can do everything directly from the Forma. No web browser or PC required.

The Natural Light automatic screen adjustment feature also received plenty of praise. Once you tell the Forma what time you would like to go to bed it will adjust the temperature of the screen’s light to reduce blue light exposure near bedtime.

Also, if you’re worried about the physical buttons being on one side of the display, you’ll be pleased to hear that the screen rotates and the buttons flip based on how you’re holding the e-reader.

_

Summary

The biggest questions about the Forma center on its software and plastic design. If you’re looking for a more upscale experience -- or you’re heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem -- the Oasis might be a better buy.

But if you’re looking for a premium e-reader experience with better file support and more customization options than the Oasis, the Forma is an interesting offering.

ZDNet says “The on-device controls are intuitive, and the slightly angled bar for holding the device is cleverly designed. If you're considering a Kindle Oasis this Christmas, check out this worthy rival too.

Ars Technica sums up opinions well, saying, “Kobo made a premium e-reader that will capture the attention of those who lust after the Kindle Oasis. It's a well-built e-reader with a large, crisp display, comfortable Natural Light, a convenient way for users to borrow library books on-device, and an ad-free experience.


Screen Size
8"
Storage
8 GB
3G
No
Reading Time
-


What the Critics Are Saying...


Gear Diary

I love the Forma, not because I received it to review, but because I don’t want to be stuck in a single ecosystem for my reading. Open source is the way to go, and the Kobo Forma checks off all of the things I need.

- Greg Alston, Gear Diary
ZDNet

It doesn't have the 3G option for updating its library that's on offer from the top-end Kindle Oasis, but it does support the ePUB format and public library loans, and it should be possible to arm it with enough books to see you through until wi-fi is available. The on-device controls are intuitive,...

- Sandra Vogel, ZDNet
Ars Technica

It's a well-built e-reader with a large, crisp display, comfortable Natural Light settings, a convenient way for users to borrow library books on-device, and an ad-free experience. But in general, $279 is a lot to ask for an e-reader that has most of the same stand-out features as a $129 device—Amaz...

- Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica
TrustedReviews

The Kobo Forma is a good e-reader. It has a lovely big screen with a crisp resolution and a design that offers something different to your typical Kindle. It’s just a shame then that it’s let down by a slow UI and a price that’s far too high for the quality of device you’re getting.

- Max Parker, TrustedReviews
Digital Trends

At $280, the Kobo Forma is on the expensive side of ebook readers. While we wish the build quality reflected its premium price point, it is still an excellent value for serious readers.

- Steven Winkelman, Digital Trends


Prices (Where to Buy)





Resources


Manuals / User Guides Helpful Links Share / Embed

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Quick view

Screen Size
8"

The Kobo Forma's screen size is 8 inches with 1440 x 1920 pixels resolution.

Backlight
Yes

There is a built-in backlight for reading in the dark.

Storage
8 GB

Internal memory is 8 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

3G
No

This model has no 3G wireless capabilities.

Reading Time
-

The e-reader is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 1200 mAh battery.

Kobo Forma Specs

Overview
Release date October 23, 2018
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kindom
Networks
No cellular data
SIM card No
Operating System Custom
Processor Freescale IMX6 Solo Lite 1 GHz
Internal Storage 8 GB
RAM 512 MB
ROM No
Flightmode No
TTY/TDD No
SAR Body: 1.04 W/kg
Languages English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included USB Power Adapter, Manual, Data Cable
Power & battery
Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 1200 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time Unknown
Reading Time Unknown
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black
Dimensions [H x W x D] 16 x 17.77 x 0.85 cm (6.3 x 7 x 0.3 in)
Weight 197
Water Resistant / Waterproof Waterproof
Rugged design No
IP Rating IP X8
Display / Screen
Type Grayscale
Technology E-ink
Colors No
Resolution 1440 x 1920 pixels
Pixel density 300 pixels
Size 8 inches
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification No
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch No
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Anti Glare No
Additional Display Features
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Page Turn Key Yes
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth No
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Encryption WEP/WPA/WPA2
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
DLNA Support No
NFC No
Audio / Video
Audio Playback No
Video Playback No
Streaming Video No
External Speakers No
Headset Jack No
Vibration Alert No
Content Formats Supported
Content Formats Supported BMP, CBR, CBZ, EPUB, EPUB3, GIF, HTML, JPEG, MOBI, PDF, PNG, RTF, TIFF, TXT
More
Additional comments
Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Kobo Forma Reviews
Where to buy Kobo Forma
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Critic Reviews


Gear Diary

Fantastic reading experience

from Gear Diary

I love the Forma, not because I received it to review, but because I don’t want to be stuck in a single ecosystem for my reading. Open source is the way to go, and the Kobo Forma checks off all of the things I need.

Read full review

I love the Forma, not because I received it to review, but because I don’t want to be stuck in a single ecosystem for my reading. Open source is the way to go, and the Kobo Forma checks off all of the things I need.

Read full review

Less

ZDNet

A compelling product

from ZDNet

It doesn't have the 3G option for updating its library that's on offer from the top-end Kindle Oasis, but it does support the ePUB format and public library loans, and it should be possible to arm it with enough books to see you through until wi-fi is available. The on-device controls are intuiti...More

It doesn't have the 3G option for updating its library that's on offer from the top-end Kindle Oasis, but it does support the ePUB format and public library loans, and it should be possible to arm it with enough books to see you through until wi-fi is available. The on-device controls are intuitive, and the slightly angled bar for holding the device is cleverly designed.

Read full review

Less

Ars Technica

Covers all the basics plus extra perks that Kindles don't have

from Ars Technica

It's a well-built e-reader with a large, crisp display, comfortable Natural Light settings, a convenient way for users to borrow library books on-device, and an ad-free experience. But in general, $279 is a lot to ask for an e-reader that has most of the same stand-out features as a $129 device...More

It's a well-built e-reader with a large, crisp display, comfortable Natural Light settings, a convenient way for users to borrow library books on-device, and an ad-free experience. But in general, $279 is a lot to ask for an e-reader that has most of the same stand-out features as a $129 device—Amazon figured that out early in the life of the Oasis and lowered its price as a result. I predict Kobo will have to do the same with the Forma.

Read full review

Less

TrustedReviews

A few decent features aren’t enough to justify its steep price

from TrustedReviews

The Kobo Forma is a good e-reader. It has a lovely big screen with a crisp resolution and a design that offers something different to your typical Kindle. It’s just a shame then that it’s let down by a slow UI and a price that’s far too high for the quality of device you’re getting.

Read full review

The Kobo Forma is a good e-reader. It has a lovely big screen with a crisp resolution and a design that offers something different to your typical Kindle. It’s just a shame then that it’s let down by a slow UI and a price that’s far too high for the quality of device you’re getting.

Read full review

Less

Digital Trends

Comes close to being the perfect ebook reader

from Digital Trends

At $280, the Kobo Forma is on the expensive side of ebook readers. While we wish the build quality reflected its premium price point, it is still an excellent value for serious readers.

Read full review

At $280, the Kobo Forma is on the expensive side of ebook readers. While we wish the build quality reflected its premium price point, it is still an excellent value for serious readers.

Read full review

Less

Good E-Reader

The best features for serious readers

from Good E-Reader

It offers unparalleled flexibility to craft your ideal reading experience. There are plenty of super advanced features available for the daring, such as  changing the weight of the font and seeing a before and after picture of changes you want to make, before you make them. You can also sideload...More

It offers unparalleled flexibility to craft your ideal reading experience. There are plenty of super advanced features available for the daring, such as  changing the weight of the font and seeing a before and after picture of changes you want to make, before you make them. You can also sideload in your own ebook collection and have full access to the ebook rendering engine, manga engine and PDF engine.

Read full review

Less

Tech Advisor

An attractive premium eReader

from Tech Advisor

Strong if understated design, a lovely big screen and chunky handle yet a slim, lightweight (and water-resistant) body: the Kobo Forma eReader is a pleasure to hold and use, and goes a long way towards justifying its high price tag.

Read full review

Strong if understated design, a lovely big screen and chunky handle yet a slim, lightweight (and water-resistant) body: the Kobo Forma eReader is a pleasure to hold and use, and goes a long way towards justifying its high price tag.

Read full review

Less

Mashable

A great, but pricey Kindle alternative

from Mashable

The Kobo Forma is an excellent e-reader for anyone who doesn't mind paying a little extra. It looks outstanding and feels great to hold. But this is a classic case of form over function.

Read full review

The Kobo Forma is an excellent e-reader for anyone who doesn't mind paying a little extra. It looks outstanding and feels great to hold. But this is a classic case of form over function.

Read full review

Less



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