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Bluehost Web Hosting review
8:13 pm | December 24, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

One of the world's largest web hosting providers, Bluehost has almost two decades of experience in helping users build a quality home on the web.

Bluehost is now owned by Newfold Digital (previously Endurance International Group), the company also behind major hosting names like HostGator, iPage, and

Bluehost has a real depth of knowledge which goes way beyond most competitors. The company doesn't just know how to install WordPress and launch the dashboard, for instance. It has developers working on the platform full-time, and has been directly recommended by since 2005.

It's a mix which has earned Bluehost major success. Datanyze' Web Hosting Share report places the company in 6th place amongst business users. Only hosting giants such as GoDaddy, Amazon and Google scored higher. 

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What types of hosting does Bluehost offer? 

Bluehost offers low-cost shared hosting, ideal for first-timers and personal or small business sites. 

A wide range of WordPress hosting plans could work for anything from a simple personal blog, to a feature-packed business-critical site or a leading-edge web store.

Bluehost's dedicated and VPS hosting give you a far more powerful hosting environment, delivering the maximum possible speed for the most demanding projects.

The company also offers a very full range of add-on products and services: website design, domain registration, email hosting, premium support and more.

Next, we'll break down these various ranges, look at what they offer, and explore which hosting plans are best for different types of sites.

Bluehost shared hosting homepage screenshot

Bluehost offers quality WordPress plans with some powerful extras (Image credit: Bluehost)

Share hosting

Opt for a shared hosting plan and your website is stored on a server which also hosts many other accounts. This scheme saves money, because the cost of the server is shared between many users. But it also reduces performance, because the server's resources - the processor, the RAM, the network connection - are also shared by all the accounts.

Bluehost's shared range is priced from $2.95 a month on the annual plan ($9.99 on renewal). This supports a single site and a lower than average 10GB storage, but the feature list scores free domain, free SSL, free CDN (Content Delivery Network), automated WordPress installation, a bundled website builder, and 24/7 support via live chat and telephone.

Upgrading to the other shared plans adds resources to improve speeds, and throws in some valuable extras. The top Pro plan ($13.95 a month billed annually, $28.99 on renewal) includes 100GB storage, supports unlimited websites, adds automated backups, domain privacy and a dedicated IP.

Whatever you choose, Bluehost offers top quality management tools. A well-designed custom control panel organizes account and hosting features, Softaculous reliably installs WordPress in barely a minute, and cPanel helps create email accounts, organize files, work with domains and more.

These are capable products, easy to manage, faster than most (more on that later) and powerful enough to handle many personal and small business sites.

But the plans are also more expensive than some, once the introductory deals end. The cheapest plans don't offer backups, and there are potential extra costs elsewhere. A free domain sounds great, for instance, but Bluehost’s above-average annual renewal fees ($18.99 for .com, $27.99 for, vs. $13.98 and $9.98 at Namecheap, for instance) mean you may pay more over time.

If it's important to make savings, consider Hostinger. The company's Premium shared hosting plan is priced similarly to Bluehost's cheapest plans, at $2.99 a month on the annual plan, $11.99 on renewal. It can't quite match Bluehost for management tools (no cPanel, no Softaculous), although its own control panels are still better than most. But it scores in other areas, with weekly backups, 100GB storage and support for 100 websites, and our performance tests found Hostinger and Bluehost deliver very similar speeds.

WordPress on all platforms

Bluehost offers WordPress hosting on all platforms (Image credit: WordPress)

WordPress hosting

WordPress is the world's leading website creation platform. It's not difficult for home users to learn, yet is also powerful enough to build and run powerful business sites, huge web stores and more.

Bluehost's $2.75 a month shared hosting plan can automatically install WordPress, and is fine if you just want to find out how the platform works. But it doesn't have many specialist WordPress features, and you can get similar plans from other hosts for less.

Bluehost's WP Pro range (from $19.95 a month over three years) extends your WordPress possibilities with premium themes to give your site a facelift, a staging environment for safer testing of website changes, and automatic WordPress updates. 

Additional hosting features include unlimited storage, support for unlimited sites, malware detection and daily scheduled backups. 

Business-friendly extras include marketing tools, site traffic analytics and SEO guidance, while the best plans include PayPal integration and a high-speed search tool.

This is a nicely-judged mix of features, with plenty of appeal for the target small business audience. But if you're looking to save money, and don't need Bluehost's business tools, HostGator's managed WordPress tools include free migration, domain, backups and malware scanning, and are priced from $5.95 a month on the three-year plan ($9.95 on renewal.)

Elsewhere, IONOS scores for its array of WordPress plans. Casual users can have a surprisingly capable plan for $0.50 a month in year one ($8 on renewal); at the top of the range, the $120 Agency plan offers speedy VPS hosting for up to ten demanding business sites, and there are plenty of mid-range options in between.

VPS hosting homepage on Bluehost

(Image credit: Bluehost)

VPS hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting is a scheme where a physical server is divided up into individual server environments. There are far fewer accounts on a server than you'll see with shared hosting, and your VPS doesn't have to share its resources with other sites. That's a real performance plus, and while some shared hosting plans might struggle with 10,000 visitors a month, a good VPS can usually handle hundreds of thousands. 

Bluehost has three VPS plans. The simplest gives you 2 CPU cores, 2GB RAM, 30GB storage, 1TB bandwidth and a cPanel/WHM license for $19.99 a month over three years, $29.99 on renewal. At the top of the range, a 4 core, 8GB RAM, 120GB storage and 3TB bandwidth setup is priced at $59.99 a month over three years, $119.99 on renewal.

There's nothing wrong with these systems, and we found that they deliver decent performance for most small and mid-range sites. But three plans doesn’t give you a lot of choice. 

On CPU cores, for instance (a measure of processor power), some providers have VPS plans ranging from one to 24 or even 32 cores. Bluehost’s two to four core plans will work for some, but there’s no way it can begin to satisfy everyone (and there are no ways to reconfigure the plans to suit more demanding users, either.)

IONOS' VPS plans are mostly for experienced users who know what they're doing, but they’re built to address a far wider audience than Bluehost. Prices range from a very basic 1 core, 512MB server for $2 billed monthly, up to an 8 core, 24GB RAM setup from only $24 a month for the first six months, $45 on renewal. 

But if you're not sure what you want, check out Hostwinds. VPS plans range from $4.99 a month for a 1 core, 1GB setup, to $395.24 for a hugely powerful 16 core, 96GB system with the power to run almost everything. Windows hosting is available if you need it, and most plans have some customization options to help ensure they suit your needs.

Bluehost cPanel

A full-featured cPanel setup is stuffed with web management features (Image credit: Bluehost)

Dedicated hosting

Selecting a dedicated hosting package gets you the maximum resources and control: an entire web server, for your use only. No more sharing, no more unexpected slowdowns because another user's site is busy, just consistent high speeds, day and night.

Bluehost has a tiny range of only three dedicated hosting plans. They're very similar, too. 

The Starter plan features a 4 core, 2.3GHz CPU, 4GB RAM, 2x500GB storage and 5TB bandwidth/month server for $79.99 a month over three years ($119.99 on renewal). 

The high-end Premium plan has a 4 core, 3.3GHz CPU, 16GB RAM, 2x1TB storage and 15TB bandwidth/month setup for $119.99 a month over three years ($209.99 on renewal.)

These plans are fairly priced, and should provide decent performance for your latest high-powered, speed-critical web projects. But as with the VPS range, they only cover a very small part of the market, and there many other needs Bluehost doesn't address.

IONOS has budget dedicated servers for experienced users from under $50, for instance.

Liquid Web's dedicated range is all about features and power. Its cheapest dedicated server (from $169 a month) is more capable than Bluehost's best, and these go up to dual CPU, 32-core, 64GB RAM monsters that can handle the most demanding of web tasks.

Alternatively, consider InMotion Hosting. It's a little more expensive than Bluehost, but has more plans, managed and unmanaged options, flexible billing (1, 3, 6, 12 months) and more, just some of the reasons it's top of the list in our Best Dedicated Hosting guide.

Bluehost website builder dashboard

Bluehost website builder dashboard (Image credit: Bluehost)

Does Bluehost have a website builder?

Bluehost offers a low cost WordPress website builder, with plans covering everything from small personal blogs to medium-sized business sites and even some capable web stores.

The reasonably-priced starter plan ($2.95 a month in year one, $10.99 on renewal) includes 300+ templates, prebuilt designs for various industries and site types, and a drag-and-drop editor to easily add pictures, text, videos, forms and other blocks to your page.

The plan doesn't include backups, and adding them bumps up the price by $2.99 a month. But there's a bonus in support for hosting unlimited websites (many budget WordPress plans limit you to one).

Worthwhile business-friendly extras include contact forms, social media sharing, and social review integration (show Google, Yelp and other customer reviews of your business directly on the site). Expert-level editing options include CSS editing, a powerful way to customize the site and make it suit your precise needs.

A couple of higher plans include a web store and various e-commerce options, and are priced from $9.95 to $12.95 in year one, $14.99 to $24.95 on renewal.

Bluehost's website builder is probably overkill if you're just looking for an easy way to create a simple family site. But if you're building something for a business, or you'd like more configuration and editing options, it's an appealing choice. 

HostGator's Gator website builder is also worth considering for its ease of use, and the support for a tiny web store in even the cheapest plan. Alternatively, if it's power you're after, try Wix. It has more templates, more features, just more of everything, and you can try it for free, no credit card required.

WooCommerce online stores with Bluehost

(Image credit: Bluehost)

Can you build a web store with Bluehost?

The Bluehost website builder offers a simple and low-cost route to building a web store, as we've discussed above.

The company also has a couple of WooCommerce hosting plans with even more features. (WooCommerce is a powerful WordPress plugin which gives access to every ecommerce feature you're ever likely to need.)

The Standard plan gets you payment processing and unlimited products for a reasonable $12.95 a month in year one, $24.95 on renewal.

Bluehost's Premium plan is the highlight here. Spending $24.95 a month ($39.95 on renewal) adds more product listing options, allows customers to make reservations or appointments, adds support for selling subscriptions, automatically calculates sales tax by country, and more. There's also a 'Plugin Bundle', which Bluehost says 'includes access to over $200 in top WooCommerce plugins.'

If you're a Bluehost fan (or a current customer), its WooCommerce plans provide a capable way to build a quality web store. But otherwise, there's not much here to justify choosing these plans ahead of other provider's WooCommerce hosting.

Consider InMotion Hosting for a wider range of WooCommerce plans, with more features and performance-boosting tweaks. A2 Hosting goes further, with optimized Magento and OpenCart software. But as we mentioned above, if you're just learning the basics, HostGator's Gator website builder supports a 3-product web store from $3.84 a month.

Bluehost performance overview

(Image credit: K61)

How fast is Bluehost? 

Performance matters in web hosting, even for the cheapest of plans. A slow site, regularly down, could be worse than having no website at all.

We measure uptime by first creating a test WordPress site on a shared hosting plan, then using the monitoring service to access it every five minutes for 14 days and log what happens.

Bluehost managed a perfect 100% uptime. We expect that for a short test, but it doesn't always happen: four of our last 15 providers had some downtime during the monitoring period.

We check website performance by using GTmetrix to load a test WordPress page, then measure how long it takes to load the main content of a page (a figure known as Largest Contentful Paint, or LCP). A low LCP is good news, as it means your website appears snappier and more responsive to visitors.

Bluehost's LCP was only 0.603 seconds, earning it second place in our last 15 tests, and noticeably ahead of budget providers including (1.5 seconds) and iPage (1.6 seconds).

Occasional download speed tests are important, but they don't tell you how a server performs when it has several visitors accessing your site at the same time. To measure performance under load, we use k6 to unleash 20 users on our site simultaneously, and watch how it copes. Bluehost's were mid-range but acceptable, with our site handling an average 15 requests per seconds.

These results are positive, and put Bluehost towards the top of our shared hosting performance rankings. But keep in mind that we only ran tests on a single shared hosting plan; if you're looking at a VPS plan, dedicated hosting or anything else, you may see very different results.

Web account control panel on Bluehost

Web account control panel on Bluehost (Image credit: Bluehost)

How easy is Bluehost to use? 

Bluehost's account control panel is a good-looking web home which makes it simpler than most to get started on your site.

WordPress comes preinstalled, for instance, no need to do it yourself. Handy shortcuts to 'Customize your design' or 'Write your first blog post' allow you to immediately begin work on your site, even if you've never used WordPress before. Alternatively, if you're more experienced, you can access the regular WordPress dashboard with a click.

Clicking 'Advanced' on the Bluehost sidebar gives you access to cPanel. Whether you're looking to create email accounts, upload or manage files, work with databases or find out how your site traffic has been this month, there are tools to help here.

Although Bluehost installs WordPress by default, it's not your only option. CPanel also includes Softaculous, a top-notch automated installer which can set up forums, ecommerce website builders, social networking platforms, wikis and hundreds of other apps, usually with just a click or two.

Web hosting can be a complicated business, and even experts might struggle at times. But Bluehost's well-designed website and industry-standard tools score higher than most for both helping users find the features they need, and then providing all the functionality necessary to get the job done.

Bluehost support resources

Bluehost support resources (Image credit: Bluehost)

What is Bluehost's support like? 

Bluehost offers 24/7 support via its website, live chat and telephone. There's no ticket or email option, potentially a problem with ongoing issues as you may have to explain your problem all over again with every support session. (In one case, with a non-critical issue which was annoying but didn't affect our website, we've spent around six hours across seven support sessions, and it's still not been fixed.)

Bluehost's web knowledgebase has a huge range of detailed and helpful articles, neatly organized into sensibly-named categories: WordPress, Domains, Email, Control Panel and more.

The site doesn't always present these in the best order. Choose the WordPress category, for instance, and the first hit is the release notes for WordPress 5.0, which first appeared in 2018. That's not going to help anyone at all.

You can use keywords to search the database, though, which delivers marginally better results. But you'll find what you need, even if it does take a touch more scrolling and clicking than we'd like. And once you do, we found most articles do a great job of explaining their issues and pointing us to the best solutions.

Bluehost's live chat support seems well staffed; we've never waited more than a couple of minutes for an agent to appear, and usually it's much less.

The agents are friendly and helpful, and happy to stick with you for as long as it takes (we've had sessions of an hour or more.) They generally give very good advice for common issues, but that's not always the case with unusual problems. 

For example, when presenting agents with the issue ‘your dashboard has been displaying the same Setting Up Backups message for three weeks’, the agents focused entirely on workarounds for the issue (access backups from this menu instead) rather than addressing the root concern (an area of the dashboard isn’t working or useable.)

The lack of a ticket system can be a problem. On a couple of occasions, we had agents tell us they'd escalate the Setting Up Backups issue to admins to get it fixed. The issue wasn't fixed, but because there was no ticket, we had no quick way to follow up on the escalation promise and check what was going on. 

Bluehost's telephone support is also easy to use, and again, it connected us to an agent within a couple of minutes. He displayed more knowledge than the live chat team, did a better job of handling the Setting Up Backups question, and explaining to us how to perform a complex troubleshooting task.

Overall, Bluehost offers decent all-round support in most situations. We'd really, really, really like ticket support, but the current setup should help you solve most common problems without difficulty, and that's far better than we see with most of the competition.

Final verdict

The company’s tiny and not-very-configurable VPS and Dedicated plans mean Bluehost is less likely to work for the most demanding business users, but overall, Bluehost remains a quality provider who delivers faster, more reliable and better quality hosting than most of the competition.

Bluehost’s underpowered VPS and dedicated hosting plans mean it may not work for the largest and most demanding business-critical sites, but it excels everywhere else, with all the feature-packed shared, WordPress, website-building and ecommerce plans you need to build fast and reliable personal and small to medium business sites.

Bluehost FAQs

What payment types does Bluehost support?

Bluehost accepts payment via card only.

Does Bluehost offer refunds?

Buy a Bluehost hosting plan, or some add-on products and you're protected by a 30-day money-back guarantee. That's typical for the hosting world, although a few providers offer more: InMotion Hosting gives you 90 days, HostGator 45 days.

We noticed one or two minor issues. Bluehost doesn't offer refunds on SSL certificates, for instance; Hostinger does. But generally, this is a straightforward, catch-free guarantee which gives you exactly the protection you'd expect.

Bluehost's uptime graph

Bluehost's uptime (Image credit: Bluehost)

Does Bluehost have an uptime guarantee?

Bluehost doesn't quote any target uptime figure, or have any formal method of compensating you if your server is down for a lengthy period.

That's a little disappointing. Most providers quote uptime figures of at least 99.9%, some 99.99%, and say they'll give you credits if the service doesn't hit the mark.

These 'guarantees' don't always mean very much, though. The small print might say downtime doesn't count if it's due to 'unforeseeable circumstances', for instance, something which could be used to rule out almost anything.

Overall, we'd prefer a host to have an uptime guarantee, but if this doesn't happen, it's not a disaster. We'll look at our own and other measurements of uptime, instead, and in our experience Bluehost scores very well.

Where are Bluehost's data centers?

Bluehost has local data centers for its various regions - USA, India, China - but your site is automatically assigned to the nearest location when you sign up. Buy at and your website is hosted in Bluehost's USA data center, for instance; use and it's hosted in India.

For comparison, GoDaddy has data centers in North America, India, Singapore and Europe, and you're able to choose which data center to use for each hosting plan. That can be an advantage, as it gives you a better chance of hosting your website close to its main audience, improving download speeds.

Bluehost IP address

(Image credit: Bluehost)

What is my Bluehost IP address?

Finding your website server's IP address can be handy, especially if you need to point a domain hosted elsewhere to your website.

There's no single way to manage this on Bluehost - it depends on your product and control panel - but if your plan has access to cPanel, it only takes a moment.

Log into your Bluehost account dashboard (

Click Advanced in the left-hand sidebar.

Browse the General Information box on the right. The server IP address is displayed as 'Shared IP address.' (If you don't see a General Information box, look for and click a Server Information link).

Log into your Bluehost account screenshot

(Image credit: Bluehost)

What are Bluehost's nameservers?

Bluehost's nameservers are:

If you need more help, the support site has several useful articles on nameservers  and DNS 

Bluehost cancel and auto renewal page

(Image credit: Bluehost)

How do I cancel a Bluehost product?

Log into your Bluehost control panel (

Click the account icon top right (it'll have your initials in a circle) and select My Products.

Find the plan you'd like to cancel, click the More icon to its right (three dots in a vertical line) and select Renewal Options.

Choose Manual Renew and you won't be charged again. Your subscription will expire at the end of its term.

If you think there's a chance you might want to cancel a plan, make the decision as early as you can. Bluehost's auto-renewal scheme takes your money 15 days before the plan expires, so if you leave this to the last minute, there's a good chance you'll be too late.

Kobo Libra 2 review
9:45 am | December 15, 2021

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Kobo Libra 2: Two-minute review

When it was announced back in October 2021, the Kobo Libra 2 didn't seem like much of an upgrade over the Libra H2O, at least on paper. However, what little changed made the ereader an absolute winner, particularly when it comes to value for money. And it remains so even after all this time and newer models having been released since.

In the time since its launch, Kobo has quietly increased the price of most of its current ereader models, but at launch the Libra 2 was almost the same price as the H2O – just $10 / £10 / AU$10 more in fact. However, the features the Libra 2 boasts still makes it worthwhile despite the price rise.

The Kobo Libra 2 uses the E Ink Carta 1200 screen that's still being used on newer models, 32GB internal storage, Bluetooth connectivity for listening to audiobooks via wireless headphones, and a USB-C charging port. That puts the Libra 2 in direct competition with Amazon’s 2021 edition of the Kindle Paperwhite, but the asymmetric design that allows you to use the Libra 2 single-handed just adds to its appeal.

Out of all those updates, the addition of audiobook support is arguably the headline feature. It’s taken Kobo a long time to catch up with Amazon in this regard, but Kobo fans can finally have their favorite titles read to them, as long as the audiobook has been purchased from the Kobo Store. Since the launch of the Libra 2, every other Kobo ereader has boasts Bluetooth support.

Additionally, Kobo has opened up its ebook and audiobook subscription service to more markets outside of Canada and select European countries but, at the time of writing, Kobo Plus has been made available in Australia and New Zealand, not in the US or the UK. Where available, you can sign up directly from the Libra 2’s home screen, giving you instant access to thousands of titles in digital or audio format.

Kobo has upped the internal storage capacity of its mainstream ereader, bumping it up from 8GB to a whopping 32GB (taking a leaf out of the Kobo Elipsa playbook). Another significant improvement over older ereaders is the replacement of the Micro-B charging port to a USB-C option, which has now become the norm across all ereaders. While that makes topping up the battery – which is a higher capacity compared to the Libra H2O – remarkably quick, it slows down dramatically after about 92%, which is our only complaint about the ereader.

There are some minor design changes to the Libra 2 as compared to its predecessor, but nothing to write home about. The thicker bezel has a cleaner look as the crease (found between the page-turn buttons and the screen) on the Libra H2O has been removed, and the new device is just a smidge bigger.

Despite the millimeter difference in size, the screen is still the same 7 inches of the Libra H2O, but is a touch more responsive because of the latest E Ink Carta technology. The difference in responsiveness between the older Libra and the new is minuscule, but if you’ve been using any other older Kobo, the Libra 2 is definitely worth the upgrade just in terms of performance and storage.

All the other Kobo perks are onboard, of course – a much wider file format support compared to the Kindles, a more streamlined user interface and, importantly, baked-in OverDrive and Pocket support.

Take all these individual ingredients, stir them into a single device and you’ve got the winning recipe for the best bang-for-buck ereader, despite the price hike. All we need now from Kobo is an ereader with a color display.

Audiobook player on the Kobo Libra 2

Audiobook support finally comes to Kobo ereaders (Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Libra 2 review: price and availability

  • Announced October 2021
  • Launch price of $179.99 / £159.99 / AU$279.99
  • Kobo Plus available in select markets

Kobo announced the global launch of the Libra 2 on October 6, 2021 for a price of $179.99 / £159.99 / AU$279.99. Since then, however, Kobo has upped the price tag to $189.99 / £169.99 / AU$299.99.

Despite the higher cost, the Kobo Libra 2 remains competitively priced, particularly when you take into account its storage capacity of 32GB. It's a lot cheaper than the 8GB Amazon Kindle Oasis’ $249.99 / £229.99 / AU$399 price tag, and even offers better value than the 2021 Kindle Paperwhite that will set you back $139.99 / £129.99 / AU$239 for 8GB of storage, a 6.8-inch display and no page-turn buttons. And it's priced well when compared to the 32GB Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition, but for $189 / £179 / AU$289, you are getting wireless charging on the premium Paperwhite model.

The Libra 2 is available to buy directly from the Kobo Store online or at major retailers worldwide.

The Libra 2 (and the Sage with it) debuted Kobo Plus, an ebook/audiobook subscription service to Australia and New Zealand for AU$13.99 / NZ$14.99 / CA$9.99. There’s no word yet on Kobo Plus availability in the US or UK, but it has been available in Canada since 2019 and The Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal since 2020.

Comic frames Kobo Libra 2 in landscape orientation

The Kobo Libra 2 lets you read horizontally (landscape orientation) or vertically (portrait orientation) (Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Libra 2 review: design and display

  • Minor design tweaks
  • E Ink Carta 1200 display
  • USB-C port

Amazon might have been the one to pioneer the asymmetric design now shared by several ereaders, but Kobo seems to have embraced it completely. Out of the eight ereaders in its current catalog (the Libra H2O is still available in some markets), four have the page-turn buttons that make single-hand use so easy – clearly Kobo means for that design to stay and we’re all for it.

That design, though, has undergone a slight refinement. In the Libra H2O, there was a crease clearly visible on the thicker bezel, which is no longer there on the Libra 2. Even the little recess between the two page-turn buttons on the Libra H2O is gone, instead giving the Libra 2 a slightly cleaner look despite the plastic chassis.

Speaking of bezels, the other three are oh-so-slightly bigger… by a millimeter or so. It’s hardly noticeable, but that means the Libra 2 has its own sleepcover range. It’s also marginally heavier than the Libra H2O, weighing 215g compared to 192g.

Kobo Libra 2 USB-C port

USC-B charging finally comes to Kobo (Image credit: TechRadar)

The charging indicator light – which also blinks when the device is being powered on – is now lower down the thicker bezel, sitting almost in a corner. And on the side of the thicker bezel, close to the indicator light, is the USB-C port. This replaces the Micro-B socket that was on the older Kobos and Kindles, and can be used for both charging the ereader and transferring files from a computer.

The rear is still textured, offering a very good grip, while the power button, which is still recessed but not as deeply as in the Libra H2O, is easier to press in the Libra 2 as compared to the older model.

Also still recessed is the screen on the Libra 2 as in the older ereader, not lying flush with the bezels as on the Kindle Oasis or the Kobo Sage.

The display is still 7 inches, but it’s the latest E Ink Carta 1200 screen that boasts a 20% increase in response time and 15% better contrast compared to the Carta HD display on the Libra H2O. In real-world use, that difference is marginal as compared to the older Libra model – likely because it uses the same 1GHz processor as the predecessor – but a significant improvement compared to the older models like the Kobo Forma or Kobo Clara HD. Screen resolution, however, remains at 300ppi, but the new screen tech adds a dark mode where white text appears on a black background.

Page-turn buttons on the Kobo Libra 2 and Libra H2O

The crease and recess between the page-turn buttons on the Libra H2O (right, in black) has been removed from the Libra 2 (left, in white) (Image credit: TechRadar)

The Libra 2 shares the patented ComfortLight Pro screen technology available on all Kobo ebook readers, comprising white and amber LEDs arranged along the bottom of the screen that project light evenly upwards. And ‘evenly’ is exactly how it works – there are no bright spots or shadow areas, not even a light gradient considering the frontlight is unidirectional.

As before, brightness can be adjusted on screen via a slider on the top menu bar or by sliding a finger along the display beside the thick bezel. There are no ambient light sensors aboard, but the ability to set the light temperature to change from cool to warm (or vice versa) depending on time of day is available – something that’s missing on the more expensive Kindle Oasis.

Black Kobo Libra H2O lying on top of white Libra 2

The Libra 2 (below) is just a teensy bit bigger than the Libra H2O (top) (Image credit: TechRadar)

Despite weeks of use of the white model of the Libra 2, we couldn’t see a single scuff mark or oily fingerprint. We’re unsure whether the black option holds up as well, but if the H2O was anything to go by, it would look just as clean unless your hands are particularly oily or sweaty.

The entire ereader can be submerged in a maximum of two meters of water for up to 60 minutes, thanks to its IPX8 certification. If you’ve got the skill to read underwater (an amazing skill indeed), you can easily do so in the pool – while the touchscreen won’t quite work because the water tends to interact with the display, the page-turn buttons will keep you going.

Comic frame on the Kobo Libra 2

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Kobo Libra 2 review: ebook and audiobook experience

  • Auto-rotates orientation
  • Easy Bluetooth setup
  • Sideloaded fonts supported

We’ve been massive fans of the Kobo experience here at TechRadar – the UX is clean and keeps on improving with each firmware release. The update that debuted with the Libra 2, however, moved the Wishlist tab from out of ‘Discover’ and nestled it under the ‘More’ tab on the home screen – we think it’s old spot under the Discover tab was better, but this is us just nitpicking, really, and it didn't take long to get used to it. 

It’s pretty hard to fault the reading experience of a Kobo, particularly one that can be oriented in either landscape or portrait mode, or locked into either orientation. No matter how you like to read, the text on screen rotates instantaneously. In similar fashion, page refreshes are clean and barely noticeable.

The screen renders copy in sharp lettering, with several font sizes to choose from. You can even change the font to any of the default options, or sideload your preferred ones without a hassle. 

Audiobook availability on the Kobo Libra 2

You can get audiobooks from the Kobo Store or, where available, from the Kobo Plus subscription service (Image credit: TechRadar)

It’s not just the font support that’s great here; file support has always been Kobo’s strong suit. 15 file formats are supported, including PDF, JPEG, GIF, TXT, HTML and the two comic fonts of CBZ and CBR.

While reading regular ebooks is an absolute pleasure on the Libra 2, comics can be a little difficult on the 7-inch screen. Depending on how the comic or graphic novel is laid out, some frames or speech bubbles can get cut off.

But no matter the file size, we never found the device to slow down, hang or lag.

If you’re a fan of dark modes on all your digital devices, then you’ll love the Libra 2. The Carta 1200 allows for a dark mode and you can set the tablet to display white on black by heading to the Reading Settings pane. This, however, only makes ebooks appear in inverted colors, not the home screen or the settings panes. Even the top menu options available by tapping on the screen will be in the usual black-on-white setup and not in dark mode.

It’s a similar situation with the auto-orientation as well – this works only for ebooks (in any format), but it does not change the orientation of the home screen, which is always in portrait mode. That’s really not much of an issue at all, but it’s well worth mentioning.

Audiobook stats on the Kobo Libra 2

Get audiobook stats while listening to your favorite titles (Image credit: TechRadar)

The latest screen tech hasn’t removed the issue of ‘ghosting’ though. This is where you can occasionally see a light image of the previous screen/page – particularly if there are pictures – overlaid on the current page. This is an issue with every E Ink screen we’ve seen and, to be honest, the overlay is so light, you’ll either get used to it really quickly (if you’ve never used an ereader before) or barely even notice it. 

When it comes to audiobooks, you can only listen to ones you’ve purchased from the Kobo Store. Some libraries might give you access to audiobooks, but if they’re in MP3 format, they won’t play on the Libra 2. This is the first time we’ve seen Kobo go against its claims about the openness of its ecosystem, but it’s also the first time the company has offered audiobook support, and we hope Kobo makes it more inclusive in future.

Pairing with Bluetooth headphones was remarkably easy for us – just like how you’d do it on a phone.

The controls available on the Libra 2 are the play/pause options and skipping 30 seconds back and forth. Like a chapter list on ebooks, there’s a track list as well, which corresponds to different chapters in the book, and you can select any of those if you wish to start in the middle. The audiobook control panel also gives you access to statistics on the titles you’ve listened to, including how long you’ve listened, how much is left and a graphical representation of the chapters.

Audiobooks continue to play if you put the screen to ‘sleep’ and you can use your headphones’ controls to play and pause too.

Dark mode on the Kobo Libra 2

The new E Ink screen allows for a dark mode on the Libra 2 (Image credit: TechRadar)

As with all Kobo ereaders, having OverDrive on the device means you’ll be able to borrow ebooks from a local library that supports the platform – all you need is a library card. This feature works in most countries that Kobo is officially available, unlike Kindles where borrowing library books is only for US customers.

For anyone who uses Pocket to save and read longform web articles offline can log into their account on the Libra 2 and use the tablet to read those articles. 

Kobo Libra 2 review: battery life

  • 1,500mAh capacity
  • Excellent battery life
  • Quicker charging than before... sort of

Another upgrade over the Libra H2O on the new model is the battery capacity – that’s been upped from 1,200mAh to a more generous 1,500mAh. On a single charge, we squeezed out an average of 54 hours of use, and that includes a mix of reading, listening and browsing the Kobo Store, plus with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi always on, screen brightness set at 15% at all times and pages set to refresh once per chapter. 

To put that number into perspective, that’s about seven weeks of use for anyone who reads about an hour a day. Even if you’re an avid reader and spend three or four hours a day reading and browsing the Kobo Store, you’ll still easily eke out three weeks or more, depending on how bright you like your screen to be and how often you've got page refreshes set up for (yes, that does consume battery). And that’s remarkable for an ereader.

Topping up the battery, however, is a different story – and a confusing one at that. In testing, we found the Libra 2 went from an almost empty battery to 92% in about 50 minutes (a significant improvement)... but then slowed way, way down. While 'trickle charging' a battery as it approaches its full state is theoretically a good thing for its health and lifespan, the sheer difference in speed was baffling: that last 8% often took up to an hour to complete.

Kobo Libra 2 battery indicator

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Another unexpected behavior is the battery percentage displayed on the device’s ‘sleep’ screen as soon as you plug in the charging cable – it shows you the percentage at the time you set up charging, then gets stuck there. It doesn’t update as the battery tops up and is rather misleading as it gives the impression that the Libra 2 isn’t charging at all. That’s exacerbated by the fact that the indicator light stops blinking a minute after the charging cable has been attached.

The only way to reliably know that the battery is being charged is to keep the screen on and tap on the battery icon. This brings up a box that displays the ‘estimated time remaining’. The timer ticks down to zero seconds at about the 92% mark, after which it just displays ‘charging from USB’ for the remaining 8% or thereabouts. So even the Libra 2 doesn’t seem sure whether its battery has topped up or not after a certain point.

We’re unsure whether this is a software glitch and fixable via a future firmware update, but these battery shenanigans don’t affect the performance of the Libra 2 in any way. You can continue using it while it’s charging, even listen to audiobooks. And, to be honest, even if you stop charging the ereader at 92%, there’s days, if not weeks, of battery life available for you to not really worry about it.

Should I buy the Kobo Libra 2?

Kobo Libra 2 in white on a table with books

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

[First reviewed December 2021]