I love my iPad Mini Retina, but reading on it for hours bugs my eyes! :(

My mom has the basic Kobo reader, and I envy her in that it possesses no backlight, and is ergo, easier on the eyes!

However, she is limited to what books she must find on the Kobo library.

And so I'm just wondering if there are any e-readers out there, which are not 'locked' to any platform, and for which I might view/upload my own PDFs?

Or if there is any way to 'hack'/'jailbreak' a Kobo reader?

  • In my experience, a backlit e-ink reader is as easy on the eyes as an unlit one.
    – CL.
    Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 11:15
  • If you're talking about stuff like the Kobo Glo or the Kindle Paperwhite, I agree with you, though technically those are side-lit rather than back-lit.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 9:09
  • Is it not sufficient to just switch of the backlight?
    – Anthon
    Commented Mar 28, 2015 at 5:52

1 Answer 1


There is no need to 'hack' or 'jailbreak' a Kobo reader—they can read PDFs natively. The following comes from their site:

You'll find some differences when you're reading PDF books compared to regular books, including the option to read in landscape orientation, and to zoom in on the page.

Here are some things you can't do with a PDF book: Select text Add highlights Look up words in the dictionary Change the text size or style

This applies to Kobo Mini, Kobo Original / Kobo Wifi, Kobo Touch, Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura HD, Kobo Aura, and Kobo Aura H20.

Also on their site, there are instructions for how to load a PDF onto a Kobo Original:

The Kobo Wireless and Kobo Original eReaders support documents in PDF format.

You can transfer them to your eReader:

By drag-and-drop On an SD card If your PDFs are protected by Adobe DRM, you must use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer them to your eReader.

For use with the SD card:

If your PDFs are not protected by Adobe DRM, you can transfer them to your eReader using a SD card.

Insert the SD card with the PDF files on it into your eReader's SD card slot. Turn on your eReader. Wait for your eReader to process the content. Find the documents under Documents.

while for drag and drop:

Connect your eReader to your computer using the USB cable.

On your eReader select Manage Library.

Press the centre of the Navigation pad.

Open Finder (on a Macintosh computer) or Explorer (on a Windows computer), and look for KOBOeReader. This may be listed as a hard drive or as a removable storage device.

In another Finder or Explorer window, locate the files you want to transfer. Drag these files to KOBOeReader. You can now eject your eReader and read your documents.

Since PDF is now a standard, most e-readers support it, so Kobo is not unique in this regard—Kindle and Nook both read PDFs as well. Also, you might check out the sidelighing of the Kobo Glo—it's not at all bright or glaring, but offers comfortable reading in any light level. Looks really nice—my mom loves hers.

  • 2
    I agree with everything Tom said, but try reading a PDF on your mom's Kobo before you run out and buy one. I find that trying to read a letter/A4 size PDF on a 6" screen, even with zoom, can be challenging.
    – beaker
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 21:45
  • Good point! PDFs can definitely be challenging on smaller screens, depending on the format of the original.
    – Tom
    Commented Mar 29, 2015 at 21:52
  • 1
    @beaker PDF is not a really good format for readers: It is rendering for a fixed format (e.g. A4 sized paper) which looks horrible if you choose a significantly different (smaller) screen-size.
    – Greg
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 2:37
  • @Greg Exactly my point.
    – beaker
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 2:56

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