Whether you like the idea of them or not, if you love books and reading, you must have at least had a good think about trying out an e-reader. A few options already exist on the market. While Kindle by Amazon may have been there first, others are catching up. Today we review the new Kobo Aura, which was only released on the 16th of September, last month.
Look and feel
The first thing you see with this is actually a screen that shows you where you were when you last stopped reading. This screen is actually shown when you have the device powered off, meaning that you actually get useful information without giving up any battery power. Such is the joy of e-ink screens!
Just to quickly mention, the technology behind e-ink only uses energy when you go from one screen to the other. As a result, very little battery life is used even when the screen is powered on.
At the back is a cleverly designed ergonomic finish to give you a good comfortable feel. The reader itself is also designed to be more like a book, so your reading experience is more comfortable to your eyes.
Other than that, you have the on-off rocker switch at the top, as well as a button that turns the reading light on. At the bottom is a micro-usb port to charge your device as well as transfer items on to it. Also included is a micro-SD card slot, allowing you to expand your device’s memory.
Handling and using the device
When you turn the device on, you are brought to the Dashboard. That not only tells you your recent books, it also points you towards other items like your recent apps (like the web browser, sketching app, etc). It also allows you to go for syncing options, look at recommended books, and other items.
Reading a book is extremely simple. Use the touch screen to click on a book, and off you go on to your book, exactly where you left it.
If you want to scroll around, you can obviously browse chapters, or bookmarks. One of the finer details I like is how you can hit the top corner of the book (display) to create a bookmark.
At the end of the day, you really want to use this device for reading. Now while a lot of use phones and tablets, the display on an e-ink device is quite different. In fact, it is actually quite good. The display is uniform through out, and looks more like how a book would. The screen also feels a bit more soft, a bit more paper like.
You can, of course, adjust your font, font size, and how the text appears on your screen!
Also included in the Aura is a built in reading light. A lot of work has gone into this, and this is evident. The light experience is uniform and smooth. Moreover, you can adjust the brightness to however you want it by sliding two fingers up or down on the screen. A good thing to have, specially if you want to read in the dark without waking up your partners or other people in the room!
The Touch Screen
The touch screen isn’t (and will not be, by design) as good as that on your tablet. However, once you get used to how it works, it actually works quite well. However, I think Kobo have been a bit optimistic by putting a sketching app in the tablet as an extra. I am sure there are people out there who can do excellent sketches using it, but I definitely struggled!
This is probably where the Kobo struggles, at least as of now. The Kindle library is simply a lot bigger than what is available for the Kobo. Having said that, Kobo works with a lot of different file types, and they even allow you to sign up to your local library, and transfer books to this directly. You can also copy PDFs and other file types to this, and read them.
Beyond the book
It also allows you to read more about the characters, and different elements about it by the feature called ‘Beyond the book’. This is data that is downloaded when you buy a book, and means you have all the information on your device, designed for each book, and it works without any internet required.
It connects to Wifi, and packs in a browser, but the usage is simple, and the screen will probably be a struggle to use for internet browsing.
It also comes with a sketching app, and Sudoku game!
You also have access to Pocket, meaning that you can sync your account with this, and read all the articles you may want to read later.
Kobo have also developed a special font called Dyslexie, which is designed to help readers with Dyslexia. Definitely a good touch.
Now this is the big one. It has a battery life of 2 months! Sadly, we weren’t able to test it. It hasn’t even dipped below 90% after a week of fairly heavy use!
Comparison with Kindle Paperwhite
Some quick numbers on how this compares with the Paperwhite:
- 39 gm lighter
- 10% thinner
- Twice the storage
- More battery life
- Beyond the book gives you more than just Wikipedia/internet stuff
This can be bought directly from Kobo, or from the various WH Smiths out in the UK, for about £120!
I love reading, and the ability to carry your books with you, without actually carrying a heavy backpack is really interesting. The ability to keep going for months and months, and browse the internet on the go, or read articles later, is all really good. Also cheaper and lighter than the competition, it does offer a lot. A definite recommendation for anybody who has been curious about e-readers!