Review Date: October 2013 – Review unit purchased from Kobo.com
The Kobo Aura is the latest ebook reader from Kobo. It has a 6" E Ink Pearl screen and is the little brother to the 6.8-inch Kobo Aura HD that was released earlier in the year. The Kobo Aura is a new addition to Kobo’s line of ebook readers and is being marketed as more of a premium ebook reader along with the HD; it does not replace the Kobo Glo, which still remains available for $20 less.
The Kobo Aura is the first Kobo ereader to use a capacitive touchscreen instead of an infrared screen. Additionally, the screen and bezel are all on the same level and not indented, a first for E Ink ebook readers everywhere. This gives the device more of a tablet-like appearance, which is quite nice, but there are some drawbacks.
Kobo Aura Quick Review
I’ve decided not to do a long in-depth review this time describing all the features of the Kobo Aura. The software is 95% the same as Kobo’s other ebook readers, including the Kobo Glo, Kobo Mini, and Kobo Aura HD, all of which I’ve reviewed over the past year so I really don’t feel like writing the same things over again for the fourth time. The video review below shows some of the software features, and you can refer to the Kobo Aura HD review for more information about the software because it’s virtually identical. I also plan on posting some follow-up reviews for the Kobo Aura for specific features, like PDFs and the Pocket integration, as well as comparison reviews between the Kindle Paperwhite, Kobo Glo, etc. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section too.
The one thing that’s different with the Kobo Aura from a usability standpoint is that it has pinch-zooming. None of the other Kobo ebook readers have that, even though it’s a pretty common feature on other brands. Pinch-zooming works well for PDFs; zooming in and out is relatively smooth and the zoom level even remains consistent when turning pages. But results aren’t nearly as smooth when pinch-zooming with the web browser or with CBR files. In fact outside of PDFs it’s very jerky and difficult to use, and the comic I tested actually made the Kobo Aura freeze up and stop responding when trying to pinch-zoom. Twice. After that I stopped trying.
- Small, sleek, sexy design. One of the best-looking ebook readers from a design perspective, especially with the edge-to-edge-screen. It’s more elegant and sophisticated than earlier Kobo models.
- Feels very thin and lightweight, and sits in your hand comfortably.
- The Kobo Aura offers a pleasant reading experience, and the screen and text is easy to read, despite some of the cons listed below.
- MicroSD card slot for expansion.
- Supports ePub format and Adobe DRM, meaning you can get ebooks from numerous sources, including public libraries.
- The screen is darker and yellower in tone than similar ebook readers, including the Kobo Glo, Kobo Aura HD, and Kindle Paperwhite 2.
- Under bright lighting a pattern is slightly visible on the screen, sort of looks like fine scratches.
- Some light leakage is visible around the outside edges of the frame. It’s more noticeable in a dark room with the brightness higher up.
- The upper half of the screen is noticeably yellower than the lower half (frontlights seem to vary from unit to unit so it’s unpredictable what you’ll get, and it goes to show they still haven’t mastered the process of producing consistent screens).
- Virtually no retail presence in the United States, so you can pretty much only order them online without going to a store and seeing it in person and trying it out first.
The Kobo Aura brings a new design that makes it one of the most appealing ebook readers on the market. It looks great and it feels even better in your hands. But there are some hardware inconsistencies that make it a tough call. The screen is noticeably darker than previous Kobo ereaders, and the color of the frontlight isn’t as uniform either. Those things tend to vary with frontlit-equipped ereaders so it’s hard to say. I can only go off of my experience, and from what I’m seeing on my Kobo Aura its screen is not up to par with other Kobo ereaders or the Kindle Paperwhite 2. Otherwise the device itself works well and is a pleasure to use and read on, but it’s hard to justify the extra expense when the display isn’t quite as nice as other less expensive ebook readers.
Kobo Aura Specs
- 6" E Ink Pearl display.
- 1014×758 screen resolution (211 dpi).
- Capacitive touchscreen.
- Built-in LED frontlight for reading at night.
- 1 GHz Freescale processor.
- 4GB internal memory.
- MicroSD card slot, supports cards up to 32GB.
- Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n.
- Colors: Black and Pink.
- Supported formats: Adobe DRM, EPUB, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, TIFF, TXT, HTML, XHTML, RFT, CBZ, CBR, MOBI (consider the last three experimental; they don’t work very well from my experience).
- Battery Life: up to 2 months, according to Kobo (2-5 weeks is more likely).
- Languages supported: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese, Japanese.
- Weight: 6.1 oz – 174 grams.
- Dimensions: 150 x 114 x 8.1 mm.
- Price: $149