It’s 2017, and the marketplace for e-book readers isn’t what it as soon as was. There have at all times been solely a handful of main gamers, however Amazon has widened its hole and nonetheless reigns king. Kobo is reaching again to its well-reviewed 2014 Aura H2O to supply an alternative choice to the widely-popular Kindle.
In contrast to the e-book reader market, the newly-refreshed 2017 Aura H20 hasn’t modified a lot in any respect. It’s nonetheless waterproof, and it has the identical backlit 6.Eight-inch display screen, with the identical decision. The key change? It loses the MicroSD card slot current on the unique in favor of double the inner storage.
That’s not a foul factor, although. The brand new H2O’s design and options aren’t any much less spectacular than they had been the primary time round. However on some stage, the H2O seems like a missed alternative. Kobo had an opportunity to disrupt a stagnant market, however decidedly performed it protected. The result’s a reliable e-book reader that delivers on its guarantees, however does nothing extra.
Comfy and light-weight
The Kobo Aura H2O gained’t be mistaken for a Kindle. It has a definite, angular design that’s barely feels extra rugged than its rivals. Thick bezels border its 6.Eight-inch E Ink display screen, and a rubberized dimpled materials stretches the size of its ergonomic again cowl. It’s comfy within the palm, and exceptionally mild.
The bezels present ample room to relaxation your thumbs, however we’d’ve appreciated to see Kobo trim them a bit.
The Aura H2O is minimalist. Kobo has taken care to hide the Aura H2O’s ports and buttons, going as far as to recess the ability button and transfer it from e-book reader’s high to its again cowl. It’s not as indented as we’d like, making it slightly robust to seek out — the extra you employ the gadget, the extra you’ll get used to it.
Testing the H2O with H2O
What hasn’t modified in regards to the Aura H2O (fortunately) is its water resistance. Similar to the 2014 mannequin, Kobo’s new e-book reader is waterproof — it ships with the corporate’s patented HZO Safety, which ought to present as much as 30 minutes of safety at a depth of three toes.
It’s comfy within the palm, and exceptionally mild.
We put Kobo’s waterproofing claims to the take a look at by submerging the Aura H2O in a big bowl of water for 5 minutes. After we completely dried it off with paper towels, it was good as new — the ability button and the IR touchscreen labored in addition to that they had earlier than, and we didn’t observe any indicators of harm on the charging port.
It is best to observe the display screen does grow to be slightly unresponsive, and the gadget has bother registering touches till it’s utterly dry. Regardless, water resistance is at all times a welcome characteristic as a result of it will increase a tool’s longevity and sturdiness. Be at liberty to learn with the Kobo Aura H2O within the bathtub — one thing it is advisable to be much more cautious with when utilizing Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers.
A crisp and sharp display screen
We’re happy to see the Aura H2O’s display screen is simply as crisp and sharp as the unique. The decision and pixel density is unchanged at 1,430 x 1,080 pixels and 265ppi (pixels per inch), and we discovered textual content and ebook covers to be sharp — sharper than the cheaper 6-inch Kindle, which has 167ppi, however not as sharp because the Kindle Oasis, which packs 300ppi (and has the next, barely extra comparable worth level).
All Kindles include a 6-inch display screen measurement, so it’s good to see Kobo providing a bigger measurement for big-screen lovers who need extra display screen actual property.
The gadget options Kobo’s ComfortLight expertise, which produces a vivid, tonally-consistent mild throughout the Aura H2O’s whole display screen. It additionally boasts a Pure Mild characteristic, which adjusts the display screen’s hue (from bluish-white to orangish-grey) to attenuate eye pressure. We discovered the “bedtime” characteristic, which routinely switches the display screen to hotter, non-blue hues at a selected time, a pleasant contact.
The Aura H2O performs simply as effectively exterior. Because of Kobo’s proprietary glare-reducing expertise, it’s straightforward to learn in direct daylight.
Powering the Aura H2O is a 1GHz processor like final yr’s Kobo Aura One, and it packs 512MB of RAM. That places it kind of on par with Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers.
Be at liberty to learn with the Kobo Aura H2O within the bathtub.
Regardless of the upgrades from the unique 2014 gadget, the Aura H2O isn’t as snappy as we hoped. It took as much as a full second longer to load books than Amazon’s 6-inch Kindle, for instance, and it generally stuttered in menus — particularly the search display screen. In ebooks, the E Ink display screen refreshed slightly too incessantly for our liking — about each six pages. For comparability, the $80, 6-inch Kindle refreshes each 5 pages, and the $200 Kindle Voyage refreshes each 14 pages. The Kobo Aura H2O is $180, and it’s disappointing to see it doesn’t have a web page refresh charge extra corresponding to the competitors.
One considerable enchancment is the inner storage. The brand new Aura H2O can retailer twice as many books as the unique, as much as 8GB value. That interprets to about 6,000 ebooks, which is greater than sufficient for the typical reader. The unique did have a MicroSD card slot, which meant you would maintain much more, nevertheless it’s extremely unlikely anybody would ever go above 6,000 — we’re not complaining in regards to the omission.
One-month battery life
One of the vital interesting options of e-book readers is their unbelievable battery life, and the brand new Aura H2O doesn’t disappoint. Kobo says it ought to last as long as one month off a charger, which works out to about thirty minutes of studying every day (if you happen to flip the web page as soon as per minute).
The battery life estimate appears spot on. We examined the Aura H2O for a few week, utilizing it for thirty minutes to an hour every night with the brightness set to 50 p.c and Wi-Fi enabled. By day 5, the battery life had dipped to about 56 p.c.
Intuitive software program
The best solution to load books onto the Aura H2O is over Wi-Fi by way of Kobo’s retailer. It boasts about 5 million titles, the corporate says — about one million wanting the the Kindle retailer’s roughly six million. It’s organized logically by part, and options curated collections (e.g., “nice reads below $5”) that make narrowing down new titles straightforward.
The Aura H2O has the added benefit of strong help for third-party e-book codecs. Should you join it to a pc by way of the MicroUSB wire, you possibly can switch ebooks in EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, and MOBI out of your laptop’s laborious drive to the gadget’s inside reminiscence.
Free e-book sources like Undertaking Gutenberg and MobileRead will work simply high-quality. Nevertheless it’s vital to notice that Digital Rights Administration (DRM) software program will stop you from transferring most books from third-party e-book shops. Some might be transformed utilizing Calibre, a free e-book administration program, however if you happen to obtain an e-book from the Barnes and Noble retailer that’s formatted for a Nook e-book reader, for instance, you’ll have bother getting it to a format the Aura H2O can use. Sadly, ebooks from Amazon’s Kindle library are additionally not supported.
The Aura H2O’s software program is intuitive, for probably the most half. We particularly just like the common search characteristic, which trawls by means of the Kobo’s on-line retailer, offline downloads, saved annotations, and the built-in dictionary for ebook titles, authors, collection, and ISBN numbers. It helpfully supplies autocomplete strategies as you kind too, which is useful for prolonged titles like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
Kobo’s TypeGenius software program, which powers the Aura H2O’s font-rendering engine, is impressively sturdy. It presents 11 fonts in 50 sizes, completely different weight and sharpness settings, margin and justification changes, in-book search, and note-taking instruments. A preview window makes it straightforward to see modifications earlier than they’re utilized, and TypeGenius’ web page navigation instruments make flipping again just a few chapters a breeze.
The Aura H2O isn’t as snappy as we hoped.
An energy-saving characteristic routinely turns off the Aura H2O after a couple of minutes. Studying controls allow you to fine-tune the looks of pages. An online browser — at present in beta — lets you peruse websites on the H2O’s display screen, thought we wouldn’t suggest it — the sluggish refresh charge will take a look at the bounds of your persistence.
The Aura H2O’s Exercise characteristic gamifies your studying. You possibly can see stats like what number of minutes you spent studying every day of the week, what number of pages you common a minute, and the way a lot progress you’ve made in your present ebook. An “Awards” tab presents badges unlocked by finishing duties like creating a Kobo account, utilizing the built-in dictionary, and studying Proust.
Guarantee data, worth, and availability
Kobo presents a typical restricted guarantee for the Aura H2O. If a defect arises one yr from the date you bought it, the corporate will substitute it with a brand new or refurbished mannequin of equal or larger worth, or restore it utilizing new or refurbished components. You’ll need to contact Kobo to make a guaranty declare and supply a proof of buy, and ship the Aura H2O to Kobo’s restore facility.
Kobo Aura H2O Version 2 In contrast To
The Kobo Aura H2O prices $180, and you may pre-order it now. It is going to be accessible on Could 22 within the U.S., Canada, the U.Ok., Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, and Turkey. It’ll come to extra nations later this yr.
The Aura H2O is each bit nearly as good as the unique, however we’d have appreciated to see higher efficiency. It’s a fantastic possibility for individuals who favor large-screen e-book readers.
How lengthy will it final?
The Aura H2O’s construct high quality is phenomenal – and the physique’s waterproof. If the first-generation Aura H2O is any indication, we count on it to final greater than three years.
The DT Accent Pack
On the software program aspect, Kobo’s units have a tendency to enhance over time. The corporate introduces experimental new options by way of the beta menu, and simply in February rolled out a revamped residence display screen interface to all the lineup of Aura units.
Is there a greater different?
Sure. The Aura H2O is a superb e-book reader, however there are cheaper options.
Take Amazon’s Kindle lineup, for instance. The entry-level Kindle has a smaller show and a decrease decision than the Aura H2O, nevertheless it boasts built-in Bluetooth, and begins at $80. The subsequent step up, the $120 Kindle Paperwhite three, bumps display screen sharpness to 212ppi and provides 3G connectivity. The bigger $200 Kindle Voyage packs haptic sensors, and there’s the $290 Kindle Oasis with a two-month battery life.
The $120 Nook Touch Glowlight, one other Aura H2O competitor, has a display screen with 212ppi and a battery that lasts between three to eight weeks on a cost.
The largest benefit of the Kobo, although? It’s waterproof. Different e-book readers additionally should not have built-in blue mild filters, both.
Must you purchase it?
Sure. The Aura H2O is a superb e-book reader — it’s waterproof, has a blue-light filter, a big, sharp display screen, and it helps a variety of e-book file codecs. If these options curiosity you, the Kobo Aura H2O is a superb match. It’s much more costly than the entry-level Kindle, although, so you might have considered trying to try Amazon’s choices first.