The "1-Minute" Review
- No pinch-to-zoom capability for PDFs
- Impersonal store experience
- Loads PDFs slowly
In the market of e-readers, the first name that comes to mind is the Kindle. Kobo is trying to break that with the introduction of their latest e-reader, the Aura H2O. What sets this apart from other e-readers? It is IP67 certified, which means it is completely waterproof in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This is perfect for consumers who bring their devices in the bath, pool or beach. Not only can it be read under water but it maintains all of its general functionalities thanks to plastic covers for the microUSB and microSD slot. However, when submerged for over 10 minutes, Gizmodo states that, "For about five minutes after the fact, no matter what we hit, the device shuffled between slow loading and freezing entirely." They add that it worked fine after it dried off completely.
Design-wise, the Aura H2O is bigger than the Paperwhite due mostly to the larger 6.8-inch screen. Despite its slightly larger dimensions, experts found it comfortable to hold for long amounts of time due to the soft-to-the-touch surface and light weight of 227 grams. The screen itself offers a resolution of 1080p for a pixel density of 265ppi. More important than resolution is actual screen quality. When critics compared it to the Kindle Paperwhite 2, they noticed that the background was much whiter and the light distribution was very even.
Perhaps the biggest downside of the Aura H2O is its store. Amazon has had years to build up relationships with publishers and authors so it isn't any surprise that they have a bigger selection. However, critics also point out that the shopping experience is overall far easier and cheaper on the Kindle. TechRadar adds that there's very little in the way of personalization noting that, "The Kobo storefront…is dominated by a carousel of book covers of random authors in random genres."
Experts also ran into issues when trying to load PDF books. When attempting to load a book, it took them over a minute load large files and over seven seconds to flip through the pages. There is also no pinch-and-zoom capability so reviewers had to manually zoom in using a slider at the bottom of the screen.
Reviewers were impressed with the Kobo Aura H2O and recommend it to people who are not already invested in the Amazon ecosystem and want an e-reader with a great screen and protection against accidental drops in water. Tech Crunch states, "Rakuten-owned Kobo has executed perfectly on e-reader hardware with the Aura H2O."
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