Kobo has been the underdog in the e-reader market for a while. While their libraries are not as extensive as the ones found on their main competitors (ahem) their hardware has always given them a great run for money. The Aura One is the latest release from the company, and not only have they improved the water resistance on the device, the improved screen and integration with On Drive gives you a lot of hardware in a small package.
|Screen:||7.8” HD Carta E Ink touchscreen, 1872 x 1404 resolution 300 dpi|
|Size:||195.1 x 138.5 x 6.9 mm|
|Storage:||8 GB on-board memory, holds up to 6,000 eBooks|
|Front-light:||ComfortLight PRO – Reduces blue-light exposure and protects your eyes for the best nighttime reading experience.|
|Customizability:||TypeGenius: 11 different fonts and over 50 font styles
Exclusive font weight and sharpness settings
|Supported formats:||14 file formats supported natively (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR)
Read eBooks borrowed from Public Library
|Connectivity:||Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Micro USB|
|Battery Life:||Up to 1 month|
|Languages:||English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Portuguese, Japanese, Turkish|
|Other:||No advertising, no interruptions|
Look and feel
The front of the device looks like any other tablet on the market. The higher resolution and the uniform back light means that it is even harder to distinguish between the device and a tablet. The back has a textured and soft finish, with a blue button on the top corner.
There is a single micro USB port at the bottom, and Kobo have got rid of the protection flap on the device. Instead, the micro USB sits there, like most water resist phones these days. You may notice the lack of a micro SD card slot at the bottom.
The device is pretty light at 226g, making it lighter than most books to carry.
It is easy to hold, and if you do take it to the bath with you (or by the pool, or the beach), the textured back means you are okay regardless of how wet your hand may be.
The reading experience
The overall reading experience is pretty standard on the device. The general GUI is simple. You press left or right on the screen to switch pages, and in the middle if you want more options.
On top of that, you can tap in the middle of the screen to bring up more options. This lets you change the font, the size, and adjust the sharpness. You can also adjust margins.
You can also hold on to any words and a dictionary pops up that lets you know the meaning of the word you are holding.
Using two fingers, you can highlight text and annotate most words.
Most importantly, the 7.8″ screen offers a 300ppi resolution, giving you 1872 x 1404 pixels. This gives you an extremely high detail, meaning the books on your e-reader appear as good as, if not way better than, the books you hold in your hands.
The books on offer
This is probably the only area where Kobo struggles. They offer a great network and collection of books, but they just don’t have the same kind of library as their main competitor. On offer are about 5 million books, including many popular titles.
It isn’t all bad though. Kobo actually offers OverDrive integration. For those who don’t know, OverDrive is a service by which you can borrow books from your local library. The Oxfordshire library offers it, and there are quite a few titles available from there. The service is also available in other counties across the UK, and other countries such as Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. As the service develops, one can hope that even more countries will adapt it.
In fact, as far as I can see, this is one aspect where the Kobo seriously edges over Kindle.
Sadly, our review unit didn’t come with OverDrive activated on it. However, the service will be going live for all Kobo Aura One devices after the 6th of September.
Blue skies may be lovely, but blue shades of light coming from your devices actually get in the way of sleep and cause tiredness. As such, many devices are offering some kind of a way to fight this. Kobo offers the ComfortLightPro, which automatically adjusts brightness levels depending on where you are. Based on what time it is of the day, it also offers the colour temperature, making it warmer as it gets nearer to bed time, making sure your e-reader doesn’t cause you any tiredness, and doesn’t get in the way of a good night’s sleep.
You can also adjust these levels by hitting the ‘light bulb’ on top of your screen at any time, and adjusting the sliders.
One of my favourite features is the ability to adjust the brightness on the go, simply by swiping up and down on the left hand side of the screen.
The litmus test was to use this while reading at night. I can happily report that the experience was nice and warm, with very little affect on my sleep.
Bathing with your books
Oh yes. This one has been part of Kobo’s armoury for a while, and with the Aura One, they take it one step further. The Kobo Aura One comes with an IP rating of IP68, letting you leave the device 2 meters below for up to 60 minutes. While we doubt that you will do that while you read, it means that simply, you can read this wherever you like. Even if you drop it in the pool, you really don’t need to worry as long as you rescue it within an hour.
More information on the Kobo Aura One can be found on the Kobo website. It retails for £189.99, and can be bought from Kobo.com, WHSmith or Argos. Weirdly, you can also find it on Amazon for about 40 quid more than the retail price. We’ll skip the link on that one to save you the trouble.
If you can deal with the lack of books, or find the ones you want on OverDrive, this is definitely the E-Reader to go for. The features easily outweigh the competition.