The two e-readers are almost evenly matched in the physical features department. The only variable left out is the quality of the screens.

Both have great support structures (e-book stores) that may differ between several countries around the world (in my own country, the Kobo has two online stores that sell localized - translated - ebooks, while the amazon is rather lacking).

So I am going to compare only the devices technical specs.

Pros for each one (mostly taken from here):

Kobo Glo:  

28g lighter (13% lighter than Kindle)
9mm shorter
has Micro SD slot
dedicated light switch button


Kindle Paperwhite  

1mm thinner
USB mass storage (can connect to thumb drives?)
has a 3G version (I won't get a 3G e-reader though, but as reference)

Now, the real question is:

I had not the opportunity to put both devices side-by-side in front of me to test their screens. What is the contrast ratio on those two devices?

Bonus points if answer points me to tech sheets with the contrast info.

  • 1
    Not having an SD card slot would be a reason not to buy a reader. I have three different all with (micro)SD
    – Anthon
    Commented Mar 13, 2014 at 20:51
  • 1
    If you cannot decide by looking at them separately, and it is important for you, you should spent the money on mail-ordering them and pay for sending one of them back. Although contrast measurements are not a matter of opinion, your primary question is asking for what is 'better', and that is opinion based.
    – Anthon
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 6:41
  • @Anthon Had I the opportunity to put both side-by-side, the question would not have been written. Better not always means opinion, if it can be backed by facts, and that is what I asked. It is no doubt that a 20:1 contrast is better than 5:1, or that having 1,000 bitcoins is better than having five. ALSO, I do not live in the same country as you do, and even if I did, paying to send one back to just compare them sounds like something I would not do. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 11:31
  • And even if it was opinion-based, I am sure that this classifies as the "constructive subjective" referred in the Help Center. Backed by facts, that is. But I am just doing my best to dodge the flag-hunters. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 11:34
  • Kindle has a optional lock on internet (including Wikipedia and sharing on Facebook or Twitter), kindle store, good reads, and kindle cloud Commented Mar 16, 2014 at 16:39

3 Answers 3


The Paperwhite uses a Carta e-ink screen with a contrast ratio of 15:1 however, here's a German test that says the contrast actually is 12:1 (assuming Google translate was accurate -- my German is horrible). It has comparisons with other models, too.

The Kobo Glo uses a Pearl screen with a contrast radio of 10:1

Here is an older comparison of the two models that puts the Kindle Paperwhite's contrast ratio at 11.5:1

Also, in terms of lending Kobos are compatible with library lending systems.

  • Kindle's are compatible with Library lending systems too. At least, they are with mine.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:33
  • eInk Kindles will only work with Overdrive library ebooks. Other vendors (3M, Freading, Axis360) who don't have full Kindle format support have created apps that will run on Kindle Fire tablets. Most libraries use Overdrive, but not all. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:56
  • @mattrweaver Highly depends on the country. Here all public libraries use EPUB/Adobe DRM. Quite annoying to tell around 70% of interested customers that their device is not compatible.
    – his
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 22:36


The question is between e-ink Pearl and Carta.

Here's some screenshots illustrating the difference:



As I pointed out already, the improvements with each generation of e-ink were significant in the naughts, but are less significant now.

Focusing too much on HW specs and not on human factors is a tendency that all geeks are sometimes guilty of.

BTW, e-ink displays are still great and affordable. People have always predicted that LED tablets will make e-ink irrelevant, but e-ink devices are still useful and affordable. (My only regret is that after the Nook Simple Touch, the vendors have eliminated hard buttons to turn the page). My main "usability" problem on my current Kindle Touch is that I accidentally tap on the surface to cause the page to advance...

  • Nope. They don't use identical displays. The Kindle uses the newer Carta system.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:41
  • Yes (you're too fast for me -- I was looking at at out-of-date wikipedia page). Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:49
  • Thanks for the link, this image here blog.the-ebook-reader.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/… tells it all. BUT please stray away from these opinions on the answers. What you think is nice on a forum post, but stick those opinions on the comments. Thanks for your answer. Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 20:44

This is really an opinion question, but I can offer my superficial thoughts:

  1. Amazon has more free titles and lending capabilities (with Overdrive, etc). It's nice to have the cloud just deliver these things. I know you say that you don't care about the e-store, but prices on Amazon in USA are generally lower and discounted more often.

  2. SD cards let you store a lot more books than the Kindle does.

  3. Previously Kindle e-ink devices had an inferior format (and often looked like crap), but they updated the format after releasing the Kindle Fire. Kobo glo can read epubs -- though I don't think any epub3 features.

Both devices are basically in the same class of readers, and the technical differences between them are not significant. I suspect that Kindle would have better software running on it though and better add ons (dictionary, notetaking, social features, etc). Each generation of e-ink displays touts small differences, but I don't think they are not important at this point. (You could probably look it up, but refresh rates have improved a lot on the Kindle and probably Kobo too.

I would choose the Kobo over the Kindle if and only if:

1)I mainly bought DRM free titles and read a lot of public domain stuff AND 2)the price on the Kobo was more than 25% cheaper than the Kindle.

One more thing: avoid the Special Offers Kindles. They really take up too much space on the home page.

  • You seem to be missing the point: Is that "white e-paper" really that much better, and what is the contrast ratio on those two devices?
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 4:13
  • Ah, my friend, I understood your point quite well. I used to write and edit a journal about ebook technology for several years (called Teleread). We used to follow these microscopic advances in e-ink displays all the time. Each generation of displays were marginally better, but I haven't seen any notable changes in e-ink over the last 2 years. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:24
  • To put it another way: Amazon's new KF8 file format introduced in 2012 was much more important to the Kindle device than any improvement in e-ink displays. Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:27
  • The point is, that has nothing to do with the question.
    – Seth
    Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:33
  • Seth, see my alternate answer below! Commented Mar 14, 2014 at 19:40

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