If you’ve bought the new Kobo Sage or Elipsa ereaders, you might think that you need to buy a Kobo Stylus as well if you want to use the built-in note taking features. However, this isn’t necessarily the case.

You see, you could save yourself the money if you already have a Microsoft Surface Pen, because I just tested and the Surface Pen also works on the Kobo Sage and Elipsa e-readers for writing, erasing and highlighting without any problems.

In fact according to other people on the internet any Pen/Stylus that uses the Microsoft Pen Protocol will work on the Kobo Sage and Elipsa – as anyone managing a number of small accessories will tell you, having an accessory that can be used with multiple devices is far preferable to needing a specific accessory with each device.

In simple terms, far simpler to have a single stylus in your bag that works with everything, than carrying a few for different needs!

If you don’t have a Surface Pen, then the Kobo Stylus I have borrowed for a few weeks to try out also does an excellent job. Note that in my testing the Surface Pen wasn’t quite as smooth to write with on the Kobo Sage glass screen as Kobo’s own Stylus was.

Depending on how much pressure you apply, you can create different types of lines just like a real pen.

  • To create thick lines, apply moderate pressure while writing.
  • To create thin lines, apply light pressure while writing.

Kobo software lets you write on books, make annotations, create separate notepads, convert even terrible handwriting to clear text and more eg: change drawn mathematics equations into proper numbers and symbols.


Note that you can use Kobo Stylus to make notes on these file formats:

  • Generic ePub (.epub). For ePub files, your notes remain on your eReader and cannot be exported to Dropbox or other sources.
  • Kobo ePub (.kepub)
  • Non-protected PDF files. For non-protected PDF files, you can export your PDF with your handwritten notes.

The main restrictions are that a Kobo Stylus cannot write notes on DRM-Protected PDF files or PDF files that disable annotations and markups. the highlights feature only works on .ePub and .kepub files.

Handwritten notes will only appear on your Kobo eReader and won’t transfer to your Kobo Books mobile/tablet app or other Kobo eReaders.

You can make notes in eBooks borrowed through your local library via the OverDrive/Libby app, but notes will not stay on the eReader after the eBook is returned to the library so it’s probably only useful for transient notes (or, revision notes while you’re studying something where it’s ok for those notes to disappear when you’re done).


If you buy a Kobo Stylus it uses one replaceable AAAA battery. Under normal use, this battery should last several months but if you plan on writing a lot, it might be sensible to  keep spare AAAA batteries around, as they’re not a common size and you mightn’t find them everywhere (though Bunnings, Officeworks and Woolworths seem to sell them, if you’re looking).

When your Kobo Stylus battery is low, you’ll see an onscreen message to remind you to replace the stylus battery soon.

When writing on Kobo Sage or Kobo Elipsa using your Kobo Stylus, your stylus should feel like a ballpoint pen gliding on a page. If you notice that your Kobo Stylus doesn’t feel smooth when writing on the screen, try replacing the stylus tip – it may have worn.

The Kobo Stylus tip is designed to withstand long-term use. It’s recommended to change your stylus tip when you notice that your Kobo Stylus isn’t as responsive as it once was.

You can also visually inspect the tip of your Kobo Stylus. There should be a wear layer that protects the stylus from scratching the screen. When you notice that this wear layer is thin, replace your stylus tip with a new one to avoid damaging your screen.

Should you buy the Kobo Stylus?

If you have bought a Kobo Sage or Elipsa e-reader and want to take notes on it then the Kobo Stylus is pretty good value at $69.95 from the Kobo Australia store. Replacement nibs are $19.95 for 5 (and it’s a good idea to probably buy some with your original purchase and keep them in a drawer).

Note that the Kobo Sage battery only lasts a couple of hours of continuous note taking so if you plan on doing that make sure you buy the Kobo Sage Powercover, which I will be reviewing soon.

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It would be nice to know why Kobo had to go and make their devices incompatible with the best known type of smart device stylus, the Samsung S Pen.