Kobo Aura H2O Review

The Kobo Aura H2O is the first premium waterproof and dustproof eReader on the market that can be submerged in 1 metre of water for up to 30 minutes.

Though it’s doubtful that users would be looking to read a book underwater in the first place, a weather-resistant, coffee-spill and child-safe eReader may very well be a worthwhile investment for an everyday reader.

I did some testing (and reading) to see if the Kobo Aura H2O - with features such as a high-res display, 4GB capacity, Wi FI connectivity and customisability settings - remains a serious competitor in comparison to established leaders in the eReader market.

See below to discover if your next tech purchase should be the Kobo Aura H2O, or if it’s better to stick with the classics.

Design

Design is an essential component when considering a new tech product that will satisfy your needs.

The Kobo Aura H2O device is 179 x 129 x 9.7mm and 233g, which is quite large in comparison to others in its category - namely, Amazon’s newest (and thinnest) Kindle Oasis.

Despite the larger size and weight, I found the Kobo Aura H2O quite comfortable to hold. I did, however, prefer a two-handed grip to a single-handed one - others readers may enjoy the latter.

As mentioned above, what sets the Kobo Aura H2O apart from competitors is its waterproof nature. Amazon has yet to release a waterproof version of the Kindle, aside from a waterproof case that users can purchase in addition.

When operating the Kobo Aura H2O near water, be sure to close the flap so water doesn’t get inside the charging port.

Display

The Aura has a large, high resolution 1430 x 1080 display with 265ppi. I didn’t have to strain my eyes and could read the text comfortably.

Other Kobo Aura models, such as the Aura One, have slightly more pixels per inch (300) - meaning that the sharpness in detail is a bit more than the Aura H2O. The difference in resolution is miniscule, so readers would likely notice a difference.

The Aura H2O does, however, offer a brilliant feature within its 6.8in Carta E Ink HD Touchscreen called ComfortLight. ComfortLight is a built-in, fully adjustable front-light with micro-thin coating. It acts as an ambient light sensor to automatically adjusts brightness and temperature based on the environment of the reader.

If preferred, readers may adjust lighting levels to their liking. The automatic ComfortLight adjusts quite nicely, but I opted for slightly lower brightness.

The Aura H2O also incorporates a bed-time setting that mimics the sun’s natural progression and reduces blue light exposure. I found the lack of blue light emission relaxing when reading at night, as blue light has been known to affect quality of sleep.

Lastly, a sensitive touchscreen makes it easy to flip through pages, and page-turning preferences can be altered in the ‘Settings’ section. If preferred, readers may change pages by tapping either the right or left side of the screen.

Hardware

The Aura H2O has a 4GB onboard memory, which allows for the storage of up to 3,000 titles.

The more expensive Kobo Aura One has double the storage capacity at 8GB; however, the Aura H2O provides an option to expand to 32GB with the purchase of an additional microSD card.

With the compatibility of 15 file formats, readers can download articles and even borrow eBooks from their local public libraries in PDF, ePub and TXT formats, among others.  

The Aura H2O does not offer 3G cellular connectivity at this time like its competitor, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. However, readers may connect to Wi Fi to download their desired content.

Features

The Aura H2O comes with a variety of customisable features that allow users to adjust settings and preferences to his or her personal liking.  

With the TypeGenius feature, readers can surely find the perfect style for them in choosing from a selection of 11 fonts and 24 sizes. You can also adjust margins, add notes, highlight, bookmark and discover the meaning of unknown words with a built-in dictionary.

In addition, the device tracks user’s reading progress. Tapping on the bottom of the screen displays the percent and minutes left to finish a chapter, along with the hours left to complete the book. Readers may choose ‘Reading Settings’ to alter page controls, page appearance and reading progress.

Users can download up to 3,000 eBooks from a library of 5 million+ eBooks with the Aura H2O. Like the Amazon Kindle app, the Kobo app allows readers to sync their books for access on multiple devices for on-the-go reading anytime, anywhere.

Lastly, users can set their Aura H2O in any one of the following nine languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Brazilian, Portuguese and Japanese.

Battery

Kobo advertises the battery life of its Aura H2O as capable of lasting for weeks. This is a  vague description, but eReaders can generally go a few weeks without needing a recharge. We found the Aura lasted absolutely ages - true to its word.

Of course it is important to note that battery life is subjective to the amount of usage per individual reader on any tech-related product, so if you have Wi-Fi on constantly and the screen brightness turned right up, you’ll need to reach for the plug more frequently.

Kobo Aura H2O: Specs

  • 6.8-inch (1430 x 1080-pixel, 265 dpi)
  • 1 GHz ARM processor
  • 4 GB flash storage
  • micro SDHC card slot (32GB max)
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Micro-USB port
  • 179 x 129 x 9.7 mm
  • 233g
  • 6.8-inch (1430 x 1080-pixel, 265 dpi)
  • 1 GHz ARM processor
  • 4 GB flash storage
  • micro SDHC card slot (32GB max)
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • Micro-USB port
  • 179 x 129 x 9.7 mm
  • 233g

SHOULD I BUY KOBO AURA H2O?

There are a few disadvantages to the Aura H2O that are important to note, such as processing power and unresponsive interface. Processing is quite slow and menus, settings and controls take a bit longer to display.

You can also see faint after-effects of previous images, pages or texts when you flip to the next page, though this is also common in Kindles

Overall, what sets the Kobo Aura H2O apart from its competitors is its water resistance. This device is the only one of its kind to be able to withstand 1m of water for 30 minutes.

The waterproof feature does, however, come with a cost - literally. At £149.99 it is £40 more than the Kindle Paperwhite, which can’t take a dip but is less expensive and more responsive than the Aura.

If you’re sold by the waterproof feature and willing to invest a tad more, then the Aura H2O is a solid competitor to Amazon’s Kindles.