The Kindle Paperwhite 2 and Kobo Aura are the latest ebook readers from Amazon and Kobo. Both have unique cutting-edge features, but are very similar devices overall, both from a software and hardware perspective.
For this comparison review I’ll point out the areas where one clearly stands out above the other. For more detailed information about each ereader individually, please refer to their respective reviews: Kobo Aura Review – Kindle Paperwhite 2 Review.
Kindle Paperwhite 2 Wins
During the last round of battle between the original Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo from last year, Kobo had the edge in frontlighting, but this year that title has turned.
The Kindle Paperwhite 2 has a better frontlight than the Kobo Aura by far. The lighting is exceptionally even across the screen from top to bottom on the Paperwhite. The Kobo Aura on the other hand has a frontlight where the upper half of the screen is much yellower than the lower half. The lighting also leaks through the edges of the frame, so it’s a double negative.
Keep in mind that frontlights seem to vary widely from unit to unit, so maybe I just happened to get a really good Paperwhite and a not-so-good Aura. With the Aura not being available in retail stores to see in person, I can’t go see if others look the same, so I can only go off of what I have in front of me.
Kobo Aura Wins
When you have the Kobo Aura in one hand and the Kindle Paperwhite in the other, it’s pretty obvious that the Aura is the more aesthetically appealing of the two. It’s thinner, it’s lighter, and it feels better in your hand. And the edge-to-edge screen looks really cool. I also like how the texture on the back of the Aura feels; it’s not rubbery like most ereaders and tablets. Another key design point is the convenience of a button to turn on and off the frontlight. Plus the Aura has the benefit of the microSD card slot, something the Kindle design team nixed a long time ago.
The E Ink Screen
Kindle Paperwhite 2 Wins
Both devices use similar HD resolution E Ink screens, but the Kindle Paperwhite 2 is the first ereader to use Carta screens, E Ink’s latest screen tech. While I don’t think the difference between Carta and Pearl is all that significant, the Paperwhite 2 clearly has the superior screen when both ereaders are side-by-side.
The Carta screen makes the background appear slightly lighter, but the biggest difference is the sharpness of the text. Text is noticeably clearer and sharper on the Paperwhite 2’s screen. For whatever reason the Aura’s text is more fuzzy, and kind of looks like you’re viewing it through a thin layer of glass. Both devices use capacitive touchscreens, so it’s hard to pinpoint what the cause is exactly. The Kobo also has issues with what appear to be small scratches on the upper portion of the screen.
Key Feature Differences
Kindle Paperwhite 2 Advantages
- Frontlight is more even in color and coverage.
- Has a Carta screen with better contrast and clearer text.
- Superior bookstore with better browsing and buying experience.
- Landscape mode option available for ebooks.
- Page scanning feature.
- Vocabulary builder.
- In-line footnotes (opens a window without leaving the page).
- Better PDF support, but neither device is very good for PDFs.
- Optional free 3G wireless (works for Amazon, Wikipedia, and Shelfari, but not with the web browser).
- Annotations backup and sync.
- There’s a handy screenshot feature (tap opposite corners at the same time).
- Borrow 1 free ebook per month for Prime Members.
- Send to Kindle apps and email address makes emailing ebooks and documents to the Kindle Paperwhite easy.
- Can have ebooks from public libraries wirelessly delivered (Kobo has to transfer via USB).
- Kindle Panel View for comics and manga.
Kobo Aura Advantages
- Smaller, thinner, lighter design than the Paperwhite.
- First ereader with an edge-to-edge screen.
- In addition to Kobo ebooks, it supports ebooks with Adobe DRM sold from a wide variety of ebook stores.
- MicroSD card slot.
- Supports the most widely used format: ePub.
- More fonts available, plus you can add additional font types.
- Pocket integration for sending web pages and articles to the device.
- More formatting options for line spacing, margins, justification.
- Easy to adjust frontlight brightness on the fly by swiping two fingers up/down the screen.
- Customize font weight and sharpness.
- Button to turn frontlight on and off (the light can’t be turned off entirely on the Paperwhite, just turned down to minimum).
- No screensaver ads.
- More options to set partial screen refresh.