EReader pen image
by james | 7:04 am

Intro

The Kobo Aura H2O was released October 2014 and is the first EReader to focus on being waterproof to avoid those accidental splashes in the bath. I’ll be focusing on the features, easy of use and its price relative to its competitors

 

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Special Features

So if would be wrong of me to skim over the fact that this is the only device that I’m aware of that is actually waterproof! This opens the device up to a variety of use cases that normally would be high risk for your EReader. Firstly, your bath which is traditionally your oasis of leisure has just gotten an upgrade. Now you can ready your favourite book to the scent of lavender candles, combined with inherent relaxation a bath can bring. Even if you accidentally drop the device into the bath, no problem! The Kobo Aura H20 has been built to withstand be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes (providing you have made use of the rubber seal to prevent water from getting into any of the ports). This is a big plus if you like nothing more than relaxing in the bath with a good book.

 

For those of you who are a little more tech savvy, you have the ability to upload your own fonts to the Kobo so you can read exactly how you want to. This gives you an enormous amount of flexibility to adapt books and documents to a format that suits your eyes for the best reading experience. A comprehensive guide on how to do this can be found here

 

Not too comfortable uploading fonts? Not a problem as the device comes with 24 font sizes and 11 fonts built in. This is considerably more than any Amazon device. This aspect of functionality is controlled with sliders which allows a range of combinations to be used to improve your reading.

 

The device also has a couple of beta features when you need a break from reading. It includes a sketch pad application which converts the text your write on the screen with your finger into words. A nice feature if you need to store notes quickly. There are also a couple of games included when you need a suitable distraction.

 

The adjustable brightness feature is also pretty impressive; allowing you to read day or night, which some of the more basic readers don’t support. I’d recommend going onto YouTube and searching “Kobo Aura H2o in dark” just so see what level of brightness you can expect.

 

One feature that distinguishes the device from similar Amazon models such as the Kindle Oasis or the Kindle Paperwhite is its integration with Adobe Editions.This means that you can actually borrow EBooks from your local library and hold onto them for a certain period of time, for free! I would recommend checking with your local library first to ensure they support this as a service.

 

 

 

For those of you of wish to take a ton of reading material on holiday, the Kobo Aura H2o has a microSD slot to expand its internal storage. This can come in handy for those books which take up a little more space.

 

A nice touch on the UI is the visual representation of reading progress. The chapters are divided into bars to give you an indication how large a chapter is and roughly how long it will take you to complete it, based on your current reading speed. Something that I haven’t see on Amazon devices.

 

 

Size

The device is certainly one of the larger ones in the market coming in at 7.04” X 5.07” X 0.38” (179 x 129 x 9.7 mm) giving the reader an impressive screen size to pour through their favourite books. This is a stark contrast to the Kindle Paperwhite which has gone with the fit in your palm approach 6.7″ x 4.6″ x 0.36″ (169 mm x 117 mm x 9.1 mm). So it’ll come down to personal preference as to whether or not this device size is right for you.

 

Weight

Given the size of the device, it’s no real surprise that it’s certainly one of the heavier ones out there, weighing in at 233g. This can cause issues when reading for long periods of time so make sure you’ve been pumping iron at the gym to take on this beast! If weight is your biggest concern, then it might be worth looking at the Kindle Oasis which comes in at a tiny 131g

 

Display

As the device has been around for a while, it does fall down a little short on the PPI. For those of you not in the know, PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch which means the more pixels you have, the better! The Kobo Aura H2o has a PPI of 265. Though, take this figure with a pinch of salt as this was taken from unverified sources due to not being on the Kobo website. This has the potential to impact your reading experience. So if you’re looking for something a little more modern in this area you could try the Nook Glowlight Plus which comes in at 300 PPI or the Kindle Paperwhite, which also comes in at 300PPI. The good news is that the Kobo Aura H2o is a touchscreen device, which makes navigation pretty easy.

 

Colours

Black only I’m afraid

 

Accessories

Even though Amazon don’t make the Kobo Aura H2O, they’ve done a great job at providing a broad range of cases, sleeves and skins for the the device so you can make it your own. You can find the best of the best on my accessories page

 

User interface

Compared to the Amazon UI, the Kobo’s UI does take a little more getting used to. But if this is your first EReader, then you’re unlikely to notice the difference. There are some also subtle differences in how books a categorised in the online store compared to the Amazon, which can making searching for your next favourite read a little challenging.

 

Formats it can read

The Kobo Aura H2o certainly shines in this area, supporting a wide range of formats including: EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR. If you’re a little bamboozled by this extensions, the main ones to note are EPUB and EPUB3 which are the Kobo’s native format.

 

Price

The Kobo Aura H2o is priced at:

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At the time of writing the Kobo Aura H2o was a little more expensive that the Kindle Paperwhite but still much cheaper than the Kindle Oasis. The main reason being is that you’re paying for it to be waterproof.

 

 

What I like

thumbs upThe waterproof functionality is pretty impressive and can I can envisage myself taking more baths just to use this feature. I’m I also like the fact you can borrow books on this devices so you can save a pretty penny on purchasing books. Finally the combinations of fonts, line spacing and sizes means it’s a pretty flexible device.

 

What I don’t like

Personally I’m not a big fan of the UI. This is down to my preference as I’ve grown up on the Amazon Kindle UI, so first time EReader purchasers are unlikely to notice this difference. The fact that the device is Wifi only and not Wifi + 3G which can limit where you can download books from is also a bit of a bugbear. Their experimental browser isn’t great too. However, like I mentioned in my Amazon Kindle Paperwhite review, if you need to browse the web, use you phone!

 

What Amazon Customers Are Saying

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There are some key things to highlight here. People love the size of the display and the fact that it’s bigger than most devices out there. There have been a few grumblings about the screen not working correctly after a period of time and issues with customer service when they have tried to get the issue resolved. Amazon customers also highlighted that books for the Kobo are generally more expensive compared to the Amazon store.

 

 

Conclusion

The device is great for those of you who want to make full use of the waterproof feature. Also for anyone who needs a high degree of customisation with their fonts sizes and types, then this device is for you. Something worth considering is the quantity of Amazon feedback this device has and whether or not you’re comfortable with that. If having a waterproof device with customised fonts is not your priority then I would recommend slightly cheaper devices such as the Kindle Paperwhite.

Own a Kobo H2o? I’d love to hear your feedback!

 

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Links to full technical spec here

(Tech specs halfway down the page)

 

Comments

TD Bauer

Nice review of the KOBO Aura. For years I have been using Kindles. I like them, but have been thinking about looking at something else for comparison.

I read a lot and travel for work routinely, so having an e-reader along is essential to me. Having one that is light and thin that travels well is a plus.

Sounds like from your review there are going to be some noticeable differences between the Aura and the Kindle, but I think that should be expected.

May 09.2017 | 01:07 pm

    james

    Although Amazon does tend to dominate this area, there are a few companies that do offer some strong alternatives. Certainly the Kobo Aura H20 is one of the more hardy devices for those on the go. Glad you enjoyed the review.

    May 09.2017 | 09:42 pm

Maria

I confess that I have never used any e-reader and at the moment I am exploring audio books. However, I noticed that not all books I would like to read are available in audio format and moreover some of them consist workbooks that can be used if listened only. That’s why I am searching for good e-reader.

The Kobo Aura h20 has nice features like the one being waterproof. Unfortunately, I don’t have bath tub in my home so can’t benefit from that feature. Another very interesting thing is the possibility to borrow books from local library. That sounds awesome.

Forgive me my ignorance, but to read any e-book is it necessary to use e-reader or are there applications for tablets or smartphones that makes occassional reading possible?
Thank you!
Maria

Jul 18.2017 | 10:40 am

    james

    Hi Maria,

    Despite not having a bath, there’s always the option of taking it on your next beach holiday or lounging around a pool sipping your favorite drink 🙂

    To answer your question, yes you can download apps for your phone and tablet for ereading. Both Amazon and Kobo have apps you can download from the app store. The only disadvantage is that due to the screen glare of these devices, long term reading is not recommended.

    Hope this answers your question and happy to answer anymore

    Cheers

    James

    Jul 19.2017 | 02:30 am

Megan

Thank you for this review as I’ve been researching eReaders of late. I’ve had a Sony eReader for many years and have been very happy with it. Unfortunately, Sony decided to no longer make eReader’s which means they aren’t updating software anymore. This is an issue as I can no longer sync it with my Mac as it is incompatible with the latest Mac upgrade. I’ve managed to find a workaround for now by using my son’s Windows computer but it’s only a matter of time before that’s an issue. I can no longer download books from my library direct from it either. I have been seriously considering the Kobo Aura h2o as a possible replacement when my eReader is no longer able to get books on it. The fact that Kobo allows me to not only purchase books from their store but supports ADE for me to download library books puts it way ahead of any Kindle’s.

Nov 01.2017 | 10:02 am

    james

    Hi Megan,

    Many thanks for your comment and glad you found the article useful. It’s a real shame that Sony decided to stop producing EReaders as they have some really nice features out there which other companies don’t support. I’m impressed with your workarounds but as you mentioned, it’s going to be a matter of time before those also start to fail. Happy EReader purchasing!

    Cheers

    James

    Nov 02.2017 | 10:56 pm

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