Bottom line: Readers on a budget might be interested in Kobo's latest Kindle rival, the $99.99 Nia. While the former device benefits from Amazon's vast library of e-books, the Kobo Nia offers double the storage at a slightly higher price point and packs a sharper display. It'll hit the shelves next week, while preorders are currently live.
Amazon maintains a firm grip on the e-book market with its Kindle lineup, but rivals like Nook and Kobo give it some fair competition across various price points, offering users an experience unshackled from Amazon's ecosystem.
Kobo's new entry-level e-reader is meant to drive users away from Amazon's affordable 10th-gen Kindle, which currently offers the best-in-class reader experience to users old and new. The Nia could change that as it comes with a sharper 6" 212 PPI display (compared to the Kindle's low-res 6" 167 PPI screen), making it easier on the eyes for hours of distraction-free reading, further helped by a glare-free touchscreen and Kobo's ComfortLight lightening tech.
The Nia also comes with twice the storage of its Amazon rival (8GB vs. 4GB), that should be spacious enough to store up to 6,000 books from Kobo's built-in store and other sources, including OverDrive, which is a free book lending service for students and library cardholders in the US, UK, and a few other countries.
In terms of weight, Kobo's e-reader weighs an insignificant 2 grams less than the 174g Amazon Kindle and comes with a 1,000mAh battery, which should last weeks on a single charge, just like Amazon's offering.
Kobo followed similar cost-cutting measures as Amazon in keeping the Nia's price down. There's no water-resistance, for example, and it lacks the painted finish of its expensive sibling, the $109 Clara HD. There's also no Bluetooth nor audiobook support, features that the Kindle does offer, strictly making the Nia an e-book reader, albeit an affordable one with a better display for when it goes ships on July 21.