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Kobo Aura H2O review

7.7/10 AVG.
RATING



7.7/10
Informr score
The Kobo Aura H2O currently has an Informr score of 7.7 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 15 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

What's good

  • Uniform screen brightness and almost pure white background
  • IP67 certification for waterproofing
  • Large, high resolution display

What's bad

  • 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."


Screen Size
6.8"
Storage
4 GB
3G
No
Reading Time
30 hours


What the Critics Are Saying...


PCWorld

If you do a lot of your reading poolside, on a boat, in the bath, or in the desert, the Kobo Aura H2O's IP67 rating for water and dust resistance offers an impressive amount of protection from water and dust incursion. But other, less-expensive e-readers deliver better reading experiences.

- Séamus Bellamy, PCWorld
Tech Advisor

The main reason to buy the Aura H2O is for its water resistance. And for that you do pay a premium. In fact, it’s hard to find the H2O at its recommended price of £140 – many places are selling it for £25 more. For some people, this would be a price worth paying, but the H2O&...

- Jim Martin, Tech Advisor
TechRadar

Great for the beach and the bath, Kobo's latest is the only waterproof ereader we know of. There's no 3G option, the store isn't as good as Amazon's, and there is a slight lack of processing power, but there are other unique attributes aside from waterproofing that make the Aura H2O worth considerin...

- Jamie Carter, TechRadar
Computer Shopper

That's not to say the Aura H2O is a subpar choice—far from it. We laud Kobo for the hardware's beautiful design and usability. But unless you're not overly committed to any one platform, we can only recommend the Aura H2O to those who truly do intend to read near water, outdoors, or in the tub...

- Dave McClintock, Computer Shopper
Digital Trends

Reading in the bath is no longer a risky maneuver with Kobo's waterproof H2O.

- Malarie Gokey, Digital Trends


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Quick view

Screen Size
6.8"

The Kobo Aura H2O's screen size is 6.8 inches with 1080 x 1430 pixels resolution.

Backlight
Yes

There is a built-in backlight for reading in the dark.

Storage
4 GB

Internal memory is 4 GB. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 32 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.

3G
No

This model has no 3G wireless capabilities.

Reading Time
30 hours

The e-reader is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery. Battery life is rated for up to 30 hours reading time according to Kobo's.

Aura H2O Specs

Overview
Release date October 1, 2014
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kindom
Networks
No cellular data
SIM card No
Operating System Other
Processor 1 GHz
Internal Flash Memory 4 GB
RAM No
ROM No
Flightmode No
TTY/TDD No
SAR Unknown
Languages No
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual
Power & battery
Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity Unknown
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time Unknown
Reading Time Up to: 30 hours
Standby Time Up to: 60 days
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black
Dimensions [H x W x D] 17.9 x 12.9 x 1 cm (7.1 x 5.1 x 0.4 in)
Weight 233 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design Yes
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Grayscale
Technology LCD
Colors Unknown
Resolution 1080 x 1430 pixels
Pixel density 265 pixels
Size 6.8 inches
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock No
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Anti Glare Unknown
Additional Display Features -
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Page Turn Key Unknown
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock No
External Volume Control No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth No
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Memory Expansion Slot Yes
Expansion Slot Info MicroSD, MicroSDHC
PC Synchronization Yes
DLNA Support No
NFC No
Audio / Video
Audio Playback No
Video Playback No
Streaming Video No
External Speakers No
Headset Jack No
Vibration Alert No
More
Additional comments
Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Kobo Aura H2O Reviews
Where to buy Kobo Aura H2O
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Critic Reviews


PCWorld

This e-reader is pool and bathtub-ready

from PCWorld

If you do a lot of your reading poolside, on a boat, in the bath, or in the desert, the Kobo Aura H2O's IP67 rating for water and dust resistance offers an impressive amount of protection from water and dust incursion. But other, less-expensive e-readers deliver better reading experiences.

Read full review

If you do a lot of your reading poolside, on a boat, in the bath, or in the desert, the Kobo Aura H2O's IP67 rating for water and dust resistance offers an impressive amount of protection from water and dust incursion. But other, less-expensive e-readers deliver better reading experiences.

Read full review

Less

Tech Advisor

A waterproof eReader you can read at the beach or in the bath

from Tech Advisor

The main reason to buy the Aura H2O is for its water resistance. And for that you do pay a premium. In fact, it’s hard to find the H2O at its recommended price of £140 – many places are selling it for £25 more. For some people, this would be a price worth paying, but the H...More

The main reason to buy the Aura H2O is for its water resistance. And for that you do pay a premium. In fact, it’s hard to find the H2O at its recommended price of £140 – many places are selling it for £25 more. For some people, this would be a price worth paying, but the H2O’s unresponsive interface is a big problem. Unless you need an eReader that’s waterproof and has an SD slot, you’re much better off going for a Kindle Paperwhite which is both cheaper and much more responsive.

Read full review

Less

TechRadar

Reading in the bath has never been easier

from TechRadar

Great for the beach and the bath, Kobo's latest is the only waterproof ereader we know of. There's no 3G option, the store isn't as good as Amazon's, and there is a slight lack of processing power, but there are other unique attributes aside from waterproofing that make the Aura H2O worth considering...

More

Great for the beach and the bath, Kobo's latest is the only waterproof ereader we know of. There's no 3G option, the store isn't as good as Amazon's, and there is a slight lack of processing power, but there are other unique attributes aside from waterproofing that make the Aura H2O worth considering.

Slightly bigger and chunkier than any Kindle, the Aura H2O is able to display a plethora of file formats on its precise, detailed and nicely illuminated screen, its page turns are quick, the reading experience uniquely customisable, and the arrival of the Pocket app brings offline web pages.

However, the bottom line is this; if you want a waterproof ereader, but the Aura H2O. 

Read full review

Less

Computer Shopper

We laud Kobo for the hardware's beautiful design and usability

from Computer Shopper

That's not to say the Aura H2O is a subpar choice—far from it. We laud Kobo for the hardware's beautiful design and usability. But unless you're not overly committed to any one platform, we can only recommend the Aura H2O to those who truly do intend to read near water, outdoors, or in the...More

That's not to say the Aura H2O is a subpar choice—far from it. We laud Kobo for the hardware's beautiful design and usability. But unless you're not overly committed to any one platform, we can only recommend the Aura H2O to those who truly do intend to read near water, outdoors, or in the tub—and can justify the extra cost for this device as a kind of e-reader flood insurance.

Read full review

Less

Digital Trends

One of the most authentic reading experiences

from Digital Trends

Even though the ebook reader seems to be fading fast, Kobo and Amazon are still producing high-end devices for that market. If you prefer reading on an ebook reader to reading on a tablet, the Kindle Paperwhite and Aura H2O are really your best options. The Kobo Aura H2O offers one of the most authentic reading experiences of any ebook reader and it even has a cool design. The reader’s special features are what set it apart from Amazon’s offerings...

More

Even though the ebook reader seems to be fading fast, Kobo and Amazon are still producing high-end devices for that market. If you prefer reading on an ebook reader to reading on a tablet, the Kindle Paperwhite and Aura H2O are really your best options. The Kobo Aura H2O offers one of the most authentic reading experiences of any ebook reader and it even has a cool design. The reader’s special features are what set it apart from Amazon’s offerings.

We really enjoyed the Aura’s larger screen and the ability to put almost any file we wanted onto the device. The impressive battery life and waterproofing also offer clear advantages to those who like to read outdoors.

However, if you prefer a smaller size and don’t really need the waterproof feature, Amazon’s Kindle bookstore still outshines that of the Kobo when it comes to ease of use.

Read full review

Less

Gizmodo

A gorgeous, waterproof screen that no one needs

from Gizmodo

Retailing for about $190, the Kobo H2O is unquestionably pricey by e-reader standards. Still, it is a whole $50 cheaper than our favorite waterproof, Wi-Fi-only e-reader option, the Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite. And that's on top of actually being able to use the H2O's screen underwater, with Paperwhite's capacitive touch, once under the surface, you're effectively screwed....

More

Retailing for about $190, the Kobo H2O is unquestionably pricey by e-reader standards. Still, it is a whole $50 cheaper than our favorite waterproof, Wi-Fi-only e-reader option, the Waterfi-treated Kindle Paperwhite. And that's on top of actually being able to use the H2O's screen underwater, with Paperwhite's capacitive touch, once under the surface, you're effectively screwed.

However, if you're someone who buys a lot of books, it might not take you all that long to make up the price difference thanks to Amazon's notably cheap offerings. All-in-all, if you really need a waterproof e-reader to fulfill your pool/boating/baby-slobbering needs, Kobo's positively beautiful screen just isn't quite worth the awkwardness that comes with it. Especially if you're already an Amazon Prime customer and/or have hands that tend towards tiny (you won't be holding the H2O with one hand by any means).

Sorry, Kobo. You made a beautiful thing. It's just too bad no one needs it.

Read full review

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Culture Mass

Stability, extras, and security of waterproofing are well worth the price of admission

from Culture Mass

Whether you are in the market for your first device, looking to upgrade from an old model, or searching for that perfect book-worm gift, the Kobo Aura H2O is simply the best e-reader available to date. It may be a little more than a Kindle or Nook, but the stability, extras, and security of water...More

Whether you are in the market for your first device, looking to upgrade from an old model, or searching for that perfect book-worm gift, the Kobo Aura H2O is simply the best e-reader available to date. It may be a little more than a Kindle or Nook, but the stability, extras, and security of waterproofing are well worth the price of admission.

Read full review

Less

The Independent

A fully waterproof e-reader with a HD screen

from The Independent

The H20 feels a little bit more businesslike and it’s certainly unique in that you can take it pretty much anywhere without fearing spillages or dunkings (hey, you could even tile a roof with it if you were crazy and hated spending your money on sensible things or food). But the store is st...More

The H20 feels a little bit more businesslike and it’s certainly unique in that you can take it pretty much anywhere without fearing spillages or dunkings (hey, you could even tile a roof with it if you were crazy and hated spending your money on sensible things or food). But the store is still a bit of a let-down and the lack of 3G might be a problem for some. Still, it’s done more than enough to merit consideration in a market that has previously seemed dominated by Amazon and Amazon alone.

Read full review

Less

Laptop Magazine

An E Ink e-reader that's ready for a bath

from Laptop Magazine

Smartly taking into account that people like to read near water, Kobo made the Aura H20 water resistant. The bright and crisp screen is easy to read, and Kobo's awards are a fun, social twist. However, for $179, I would also want parental controls, better e-book prices and the ability to read a n...More

Smartly taking into account that people like to read near water, Kobo made the Aura H20 water resistant. The bright and crisp screen is easy to read, and Kobo's awards are a fun, social twist. However, for $179, I would also want parental controls, better e-book prices and the ability to read a newspaper. In this class, Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite still reigns supreme.

Read full review

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Recombu

HD screen, light and portable, and water resistant

from Recombu

If you want an eReader for chilling in the bath (or shower, or sea, or any other wet place) then the Kobo Aura H2O is pretty much your one and only choice. The water resistance is a great little feature that we can’t believe hasn’t been done before 2014.

With long battery l...More

If you want an eReader for chilling in the bath (or shower, or sea, or any other wet place) then the Kobo Aura H2O is pretty much your one and only choice. The water resistance is a great little feature that we can’t believe hasn’t been done before 2014.

With long battery life, a bright HD screen and an intuitive interface, there’s plenty to recommend here, especially if you want an eReader for enjoying graphic novels or offline webpages. However, the Kobo Store sadly falls flat compared to Amazon’s Kindle equivalent, with its overpriced books and lack of customer feedback, while performance is occasionally stiff. 

Read full review

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