The Kobo Forma is a Really Nice eReader Once You Get Past its Flaws

Kobo Forma

Kobo released the Kobo Forma in October 2018 so it’s been on the market for about 4 months now.

Since posting the Kobo Forma review in November, I’ve had a chance to use the device a good deal and I’ve come to appreciate it more than I did initially.

At first I was distracted by how the frontlight has a noticeable gradient with a subtle darker edge along the side with the buttons, but that seems to be something that’s easy to forget about after awhile, and while the PWM flicker with the frontlight might negatively affect a few people it’s not something that bothers me.

Some might argue that you shouldn’t have to accept any flaws on an ereader that costs nearly $300 (over $300 if you go with the 32GB model), and while that is true, there really aren’t any frontlights that are “perfect” so it’s hard to fault Kobo too much for that.

At first I also really disliked the fact that Kobo added a “swipe to unlock” screen when turning the device on, but lucky there is a way to easily get rid of that requirement.

The Kobo Forma definitely isn’t pocket-friendly with the 8-inch screen and offset design, but I do like how text lays out on the larger screen and the device is surprisingly lightweight for its size.

I also really like the page buttons and I like how the rubbery material on the back isn’t cold and slick like the metal on the Kindle Oasis. The Kobo Forma doesn’t look as nice as the Oasis but it is more comfortable to hold.

Kobo took a gamble with the Forma by doing something completely different than they’ve done before. It has a totally different design than previous Kobo models and it’s the first ebook reader ever to feature an 8-inch flexible screen, which is lighter and more durable than a typical glass-based E Ink screen.

It’s nice to see Kobo taking a chance and doing something different. I wonder if other companies will start using the same flexible 8-inch screen as the Kobo Forma. Kobo was the first company to offer an ebook reader with a 7.8-inch screen on the Kobo Aura One, and now there are several 7.8-inch ereaders on the market.

15 Responses to “The Kobo Forma is a Really Nice eReader Once You Get Past its Flaws”

  1. It really is rather surprising that Amazon, so creative in other spheres is really non-creative in the eReader area. If Amazon had to come up with a new model cell phone nearly every year like Samsung and Apple do, they would have to hire hundreds of designers and computer engineers because their state of art Kindles and Fires don’t excite anyone. They are dull, dull, dull, repeating the same thing with every new generation they turn out. I bought a Kindle Fire 7 in 2012 and another in 2014 thinking it would be far more advanced, but it came with only minor changes. Then I bought another in 2017 and it’s still nearly the same as my first. In 2018 I traded in my 3rd for a Kindle Fire 8. Again no real difference. I like them a lot, but if I didn’t have some budget restrictions I would go for a more expensive one long ago.
    Their only plus is their low price.

  2. I have bought the Forma and the First unit came with a lot of pixels broken (like 20) and the replacement unit once I turned on, a line crossing the screen suddenly appears. I accept the fact that May screen on a e reader is perfect but the darker edge line along the side is a completely different thing that i wouldnt accept in a 300$ “premium” device… I really thing that something happens with the quiality process in Kobo factories. Now ill go for the paperwhite 4 because the oasis 2 doesnt convinced me enough…

  3. Nathan,

    I’m considering buying forma and hope that you can answer a couple of questions.

    1. Has the pwm issue been a bother at all in the long run? How noticeable is it? Any adverse effects while reading at night?

    2. Have you ever paid any customs buying from chapters indigo? Have you had any issues with kobo support over devices bought from Canada?

    • According to this thread at MobileRead, the PWM frequency on the Forma is 1KHz, which apparently isn’t much of an issue. I’ve never had to pay customs on anything I’ve ever ordered abroad here in the US, including the 3 or 4 times I’ve ordered from Chapters.

      • I’ve come across that thread. Just wanted to confirm it. I just might go ahead and order from chapters. Thank you.

  4. Kenneth Trevorrow Reply May 3, 2019 at 5:23 am

    I purchased a Kobo Forma a couple of months ago. Fantastic so pleased with it. Big screen Light weight exellent battery life. This is my third e-reader. Expensive yes! but the best always is. I read on average a book a week. I would highly recommend the Forma.

  5. I don’t if I buy the Kobo Forma or the Nova Pro. Which one do you recommend? Thank you

    • They’re very different. If you mostly want to read ebooks and like having page buttons and waterproofing the Forma would be the better option, but for things like PDFs and notes and web browsing the Nova has more features overall.

      • Thank you for your quick answer. Basically I want a very nice device to read. Which one provide the best overall experience in reading (screen quality, battery, updates, technical support, reading app, grip, etc). It’s does not matter the waterproofing. Both devices are expensive…

  6. Which device displays text as sharper black against a white background, the Forma or the new Nook. I know both are 300 ddi.

    • I’m curious to know how it compares to the new Oasis as well.

      • Was comparing to the Nook. The Forma and Oasis 3 are about the same. Still think the Aura One screen is better than both. Partial to the feel of the Oasis screen and annotations though, so it gets the overall vote.

    • I have both and would have to vote Forma on that, but the Kobo Aura One is better than both in that regard.

  7. I currently have the new Kindle Oasis 32GB wifi but I find it’s just too small and insubstantial; in comparison the Kobo Forma screen looks huge so I’m considering switching to Kobo Forma.

    Although, I like the feature rich software of the Kindles, the functions I like (vocabulary builder, X-ray etc.) only work on kindle books. I tend to convert many of my purchased kindle books to pdfs to use in ipadOS annotation apps (GoodNotes, liquid text) then store in a pdf database for future reference…

    Would the Forma running koreader provide a reasonable pdf reading experience, and how does the Forma handle kindle comics that were imported/converted via Calibre?

    • I haven’t used KOreader in a long time and never used it on the Forma but when I used it on the Aura One it was a big improvement over Kobo’s stock software. However, Onyx’s software is a considerable step-up from KOreader, in my opinion, especially with the ability to write notes on PDFs, so you might consider something like the Nova Pro. I’ve never tried to convert Kindle comics so I can’t offer any advice on that. The Kindle app works well enough on Onyx’s devices to use it without having to convert anything.