Kobo Unveils Kobo Aura HD eBook Reader with Unique Screen (Video)


Kobo Aura HD

Kobo just pulled a surprise move on everybody today by unveiling a new limited edition E Ink ebook reader called the Kobo Aura HD.

The most interesting detail about Kobo’s new ereader is the screen, which Kobo is calling ClarityScreen+. First off, the screen is supposed to be more durable than typical E Ink screens. Second, the Kobo Aura HD has a 6.8-inch E Ink Pearl screen with a resolution of 1440 x 1080 for an impressive 265 dpi.

By comparison, most ebook readers tend to have 6″ screens with 800 x 600 or 1024 x 758 resolutions. This past year Kobo and Amazon both started using the “HD” 1024 x 758 screens on the Kobo Glo and Kindle Paperwhite. Those have 212 dpi, so the Kobo Aura HD has an even higher resolution screen than that.

Like the Kobo Glo, the Kobo Aura HD also has a built-in frontlight called ComfortLight to illuminate the screen. The light can be turned on and off (unlike the Kindle Paperwhite), and has a minimal effect on overall battery life.

Other features of the Kobo Aura HD include a 1GHZ processor, 4GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot for cards up to 32GB, Wi-Fi for shopping the Kobo store and using the web browser. Battery life is rated up to 2 months, based on 30 minutes of reading each day.

The Kobo Aura HD is available for pre-order in North America for $169 from Kobo.com and select retailers, and will be in-stores in Canada and the United Kingdom starting April 25. International availability will begin in May. The device is available in three colors: Espresso, Ivory, and Onyx.

As you might expect, I will be posting a review of the Kobo Aura HD in couple of weeks after I receive my order.

Introducing Kobo Aura HD

43 Responses to “Kobo Unveils Kobo Aura HD eBook Reader with Unique Screen (Video)”

  1. Nathan,

    It looks like B&W e-readers are not “dead” yet. I’m finding this announcement quite interesting since the screen size is larger, almost equals my Sony PRS-950SC, and the screen resolution is the same as Apple’s Retina display. I’m wondering if you’ll get more than 16 shades of grey?

    I’m very glad to see a vote of confidence in having a larger screen with higher resolution. This makes viewing .pdf files a lot more practical.

    And your prior Favorite eBook Font article is very timely considering the Kobo “Type Genius” feature.

    Can’t wait to see your in the flesh review.

    • Yeah, this is exciting! It’s something new for a change. I’m glad to see some innovation.

      • You mean the pixel density, when you say “the screen resolution is the same as Apple’s Retina display”, right? The Apple’s HD screen has ~264 PPI, but way bigger resolution (2048×1536 px 264 PPI) …

        At one point of time i had PRS-950SC too, but that one was with 600×1024 px resolution only.

        In any case, this is very nice surprise from Kobo, but one thing that i dislike in Kobo’s reader app is the white border, or the deadspace at the bottom of the screen that is not used to display part of the book’s page. I gotta calculate approximately how many pixels are waisted because of that; at this moment it seems to me that it could be significant, because the vertical resolution on todays so called HD e-ink screens is 1024 and plus the dead space waisted by “status bar” (or whatever is called) could mean it gonna get close to 1440 pixels … Which is not good. People that read novels or poetry could care less what i’m babbling, but engineers like me would be disappointed. I have manuals, textbooks, IEEE articles that i would like to carry with me and any significant resolution increase (without waisting any space) would mean that i can finally use e-book reader for my work stuff …

    • Of course, you can have 50 shades of gray.

    • “I’m wondering if you’ll get more than 16 shades of grey?”

      Uh… you get 50 Shades of Grey if you buy the ebook edition LOL LOL LOL

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. It’s stupid, I know 😛

  2. This is what I have been waiting for. I just placed my pre-order for the onyx Aura HD. I am freaking excited. Everything that I have been wishing for in an eReader is represented here: a true HD E Ink screen with front light, fast processor, superior firmware, and a larger display.

    I knew that Kobo would pull out a winner eventually. This “limited production run” idea might just work from a business standpoint. Create a premium quality eReader and only make enough needed to fill pre-orders. Perhaps other companies will follow suit?

    I can’t wait till this shows up at my door.

    • just one consideration: I’m an happy owner of a Glo, the processor is the same 1GHz and the Glo is not exactly a “lighting bolt”, Im sometime frustating by the (slow) speed, hope the firmware will be updated soon ….

      • Yeah, Kobo readers have the longest start-up time of any E Ink device. I swear it takes at least 20 seconds from the time you hit the switch to turn it on until you can open a book. Hopefully there will be new and improved firmware that will continue to improve this. The initial setup is also a pain. But for 265 DPI on an E Ink display, I’m willing to wait. 🙂

  3. Oddly enough I see no reference whatsoever about this new reader on the Kobo webpage that I access from continental Europe. Somehow I think they block it from view outside the currently intended territory which is north America. If anyone has a better explanation, I’m listening …
    Oh and I’m very excited about this new reader 🙂

  4. Wow, this is great. I’m gonna preorder as well.

  5. Also, thank you Kobo for not royally screwing up this release, like with the Kobo Glo.

    It’s sort of pathetic to be saying this, but you can tell Kobo is improving because on the day they announce a new reader you can actually place a pre-order for it directly from their website. This could not be said of any of their other recent releases.

  6. Is it limited edition??
    Not for Sale to normal like a Kobo Glo?

  7. This is very exciting to me also. I bought the Kobo e-ink and the Vox as well. Why? Because after doing research and trying out both the Kindle e-ink and the B&N e-ink, the Kobo choice of font sizes and typefaces and the light weight of the Kobo e-ink touch worked better for me because I have limited vision and arthritis. With the Vox, I got even bigger font sizes, plus android app access.
    With a better processor, true HD e-ink with a front light, and better firmware, this Kobo sounds like the perfect upgrade to my e-ink. I’ll be looking forward to your review. Now I’m happy I didn’t rush out to buy an e-ink with front light from Amazon or B&N….and I had considered just that.

  8. specs are cool
    however .. the weight … 240g (without cover) its an halfway between the Glo and the iPad Mini, for long long time reader like me (more than 3 hours per session) sounds … well I will try 🙂

  9. This is really exciting news. My family has had Kobos since they first came out. The first gen Kobos were buggy but we are very happy with our Kobo Touch readers. We recently bought a Kobo Mini for $50CAD on sale for one of our kids.

    I’m wondering how this new Kobo will read pdfs and graphic novels. The current Kobos make those difficult to read.

  10. This sounds like a great bit of kit but the announcement leaves some questions unanswered. I’m wondering which version of Android it’ll be running and does it come already rooted, as the Vox does? Will we be able to install apps from Google Play easily? I’ve never used the Kobo reader program but I do love using Cool Reader on my rooted Nook Simple Touch. For PDF documents, will it have pinch-zoom? And while I recognise that side-loading content is not the main “raison d’etre” of any ereader, I would love it if the Aura HD came out of the box with an app designed to connect with a Calibre wireless server and allowing Calibre to manage the devices. library

    • Kobo’s E Ink ereaders run Linux not Android, so none of that’s going to happen… Maybe pinch-zooming, but I doubt it since the others lack that feature.

  11. OMG! I need it in Brazil! NOW! *-*

  12. Hi Everyone,

    If you read the details on the Kobo web page and specs about the device, there will be .pdf support (both with and without DRM). What’s indicated is the .pdf viewer will have tap to zoom which means you double tap the screen and the white borders are removed and the text is zoomed up to the borders of the screen (also known as auto cropping). The Mantano Reader has this feature for .pdfs. I think anyone who has issues with white borders will be pleased if it’s implemented properly.

  13. HD on Linux-based Kobo, really?!
    Obviously no video viewing option, absence of buttons means no proper pdf-s reading. Surely you don’t need higher definition to read epub-s, only photos & comics.
    Useless turn of evolution, imho.

  14. Went on youtube, saw the reviews; went to Kobo, read the specs and jumped. The Aura HD has everything I want–and don’t want–in an eReader.

  15. Nathan Have you received a shipping notice on your Aura yet?? Providing you ordered from the Kobo website??

    • No shipping notice yet, which is annoying considering I ordered one literally within minutes after they became available, before I wrote this post even. But that seems to be typical for Kobo; they are just as bad as B&N. Neither know how to properly handle pre-orders. Their devices often become available at retail stores before pre-orders even ship. And with Kobo they always seem to ship to Canada first.

  16. Nathan Just got off chat with Kobo. I never received any emails from them. The rep was able to verify my order. She stated that orders won’t start shipping until the 25th. You are right, as I read people in Canada got theirs the next day . Don’t they realize how much money they can make in the US if they really tried.

    • I guess I’m believing less and less what the Chat representative told me 3 days ago (when I asked), which is that my Aura had already shipped. (I’m in the US.) I had ordered on the first day of availability (though not as quickly as Nathan), and my credit card was charged within a couple of days. After a few more days of waiting and wondering (no emails received), I initiated a chat. Here’s the key part:
      [ME]: I’m not clear on whether it has actually shipped…
      [REP]: Yes it has been shipped already and this may take from 5-7 days.
      Prior to this (during the same chat), she’d indicated:
      “…please expect this device for April the 29th.”
      “…The date I gave you is an estimated time.”
      “…It could take less time.”
      Sigh…

      • D’oh! I just now got a shipping confirmation email from Kobo! (Two of them, actually. Go figure…).
        Shipped yesterday via Canada Post. Includes a tracking number.

        I’d requested the free shipping option, yet it’s showing up as:
        “Expedited USA”. I got less excited when reading elsewhere (in the tracking link) that this translates to “Expected delivery: 4-10 business days.”

        Clearly I was misinformed by the Chat representative when told it had already shipped as of several days ago. What a lousy way to set my expectations!!

        • That’s funny, I just got two shipping notices earlier today too. Different invoice number but the same order and tracking numbers. Kobo sure likes to make things more confusing than they need to be sometimes :).

          • Oh, you’re right; I hadn’t noticed that the 2 emails were not quite identical. For mine, the “Shipping number” is incremented by 1 in one of the emails.
            So, looking at all the emails (including initial order confirmation), I now have:
            2 Shipping Numbers
            1 Invoice Number
            1 Order Number.
            1 Tracking Number.
            If only I had:
            1 Device!!!

          • Nathan Have you gotten a tracking number yet ?? If not I suggest a quick chat with Kobo support with your order number.. I just got mine. Good luck

          • Yeah, mine is “in transit”. It’ll probably show up next week.

  17. Had so many problems with my Vox order last year.
    I was hesitant to order online from them again

    • That what killing me Rob, I saw how much troubles, though I know it a different company but they seem like there still having the issues of the older reign, so it will be total debating which way I want to go

      • Yes Robert we will see told it was supposed to ship the 25th but people are already getting them.. We shall see . I will let you know if I get a shipping notice by tomorrow night.

  18. Ordered the 18th from Kobo, received ship notice yesterday, arrival expected tomorrow. Hoping it might come early, tracking shows it as being about a 4 hour drive away.

    Shipped direct from Hong Kong.

  19. Cynthia never received any emails from kobo but got an order number from chat and my card was charged on the 23rd

    • I’d say just be patient if your card was charged. My Aura arrived today, one day earlier than tracking said it would. So it took about a week from order/charge to arrival.

      Definitely worth the wait!

  20. Just picked mine up at Staples. It is fully awesome! Too bad Calibre doesn’t support it yet – have to you Digital Editions.

    • I think there is supposed to be a Calibre update tomorrow that should support it. I just connected to the computer and dragged a few books on for “playtime” today.

      And I agree, I’m very favorably impressed. I love my Sony T1, but this is really a nice reader.

  21. I’ve received mine today. The very first thing i did was to try the PDF performance. I turns out, as i’ve feared, they waste too much space from the top and from the bottom, and with that said, i can hardly see any improvement over the paperwhite from readability point of view (how easy is to read equation subscript and superscript). There is a zoom functionality, but is not nearly as usable as iriver hd one. On iriver hd at least you can set zoom level and flip the pages without re-setting zoom level for every page. Too bad that i’ve lost it …

    Disappointed. It will go back.