Kobo Aura One is What Kindle Oasis Should Have Been

Kobo Aura One

I’ve been using the Kobo Aura One for a few days now so I thought I’d post some thoughts and first impressions about it.

First off, the 7.8-inch 300 ppi E Ink screen is absolutely fantastic. Kudos to Kobo for taking a chance on a larger ereader. If Amazon doesn’t follow suit and release an 8-inch Kindle they are absolute morons.

It took a grand total of about 5 minutes to realize that I much prefer the Kobo Aura One’s 7.8-inch screen to a 6-inch screen.

If you listen to Amazon’s reps they talk about making Kindles smaller and lighter, and they probably don’t want to come out with a larger Kindle because they think it would be too heavy.

Well, that’s complete rubbish. The Kobo Aura One is not too heavy at all. In fact it’s surprisingly light for the size. It actually weighs less than a Kindle Keyboard and it even weighs 8 grams less than the Kindle Oasis with the cover on.

Compared to a tablet with an 8-inch screen it is much lighter. The new Fire HD 8 that Amazon just released weighs 341 grams and the Kobo Aura One only weighs 230 grams.

So the argument that an 8-inch ereader is too big and heavy just doesn’t hold up.

The fact of the matter is the Kobo Aura One is what the Kindle Oasis should have been, especially considering the Oasis sells for $300 and up.

Lots of people were hoping for a larger Kindle, and with a name like Oasis, you would think that they’d finally come out with a waterproof Kindle. Not so. Luckily the Kobo Aura One fills both of those needs and it does so at a fraction of the price.

It’s not all roses, however. While the screen is great, Kobo’s software still suffers from a number of weaknesses when compared to a Kindle. For starters, PDF support is so pathetic that you’d be better off using a 4-inch smartphone. Plus Kobo still hasn’t managed to figure out how to make highlighting work smoothly and there’s still no landscape or full screen mode for some inexplicable reason. But at least that are lots more font and layout options than Kindles.

Stay tuned for reviews and comparisons of the Kobo Aura One over the next week.

28 Responses to “Kobo Aura One is What Kindle Oasis Should Have Been”

  1. But they would have had to added physical buttons too. I think that’s why many people “upgraded” to the Oasis. I tried it and didn’t care for it. (I want buttons on both sides.) 🙂

  2. My kingdom for a larger screen! I’ll be first in line if Amazon ever makes an eight-inch Kindle.

  3. I purchased an Aura ONE and couldn’t be happier. I enjoyed my Kindle PW3, but moving to the larger screen makes a massive difference. The only thing that I miss (admittedly a small issue) is that I can’t go to landscape orientation for EPUBS. This would be useful for the technical books that I read.

    The flush screen, waterproofing, night mode (red light) are all major reasons to upgrade.

    • For real? “can’t go to landscape orientation for EPUBS”. I’m shocked, or maybe just confused. What possible technical reason could there be for them not to support landscape for epubs?

  4. I was impressed by the sleek look and size but disappointed by the software of the kobo Aura one. It is so stale.

    It is still laggy. You need to long press to highlight a word. The kindle wins here. Practical no lag on the kindle paperwhite.

    Kindle allows notes and highlights to be extracted out from the device but not the Kobo.

    Oxford American dictionary on the kindle is so much better than the Merriam Webster dictionary providing more definitions and examples. The MW dictionary is the worst.

    Chinese translation still lacking on the kobo.

    The vocabulary builder feature on the kindle is fabulous.

    There is something of the software that Kobo wins. It is the ability to show how much time you have read a book.

    I have nothing against the kobo. It is very sleek and nice but the software needs a total revamp.

    I don’t mind even a bigger ereader. As big as a hardcover book. The aura one size is still not there yet.

    • I know what you mean. Once again Kobo’s software gets in the way of truly enjoying the nice hardware. They still have the same bugs and problems from like 4 years ago. They change little things here and there but nothing ever changes for the better. Loading up sideloaded ePubs still suffer from huge wasted space at the bottom of the screen. Text only fills up 3/4 of the screen most the time, leaving a huge 2″ white space. Plus margins are larger on the right than left for some reason. You never know what you’re going to get with sideloaded ebooks. Even with Kobo’s ebooks highlighting more than one word is still excruciating. Adjusting fonts sizes lags like no ereader I’ve ever used. No pinch zooming. No landscape mode. Some of the worst PDF support of any ereaders ever made. It’s like Kobo hit a point with their software a few years ago and said it’s good enough, no more major changes. Kind of like B&N did with the Nook. At least Amazon revamped their entire rendering engine last year and have been adding new features steadily for years. Kobo doesn’t seem to care about improving their software at all anymore.

      • Would you say that, as far as functionality is concerned….Kindle still wins? For some, I’m sure that’s more important than extra features….but, man…that screen is nice.

        • Indeed. Kobo has more layout and font options and it’s easy to sideload more fonts but Kindles still have the edge in overall features and general software performance.

      • “Some of the worst PDF support of any ereaders ever made.”
        Thank you. Couldn’t agree more.

      • I agree with you Nathan.

        I have my kindle paperwhite and I love it for the software. It doesn’t lag and highlighting text is a breeze. It is speedy. I like the ability to export notes and highlights. I use calibre to convert my books. I don’t mind the extra step. I hope it comes out with a bigger ereader as big as a hardcover.

  5. Hello Nathan,

    I like the big screen also a lot. But compared to my Kobo H2O, the screen of the Aura One looks pretty grey. And the fonts on the H2O look sharper than the fonts on the Aura One. Overall , I have the impression that reading on the H2O feels more like reading a real book than reading on the Aura One does. Reading on the Aura One feels more like reading on a tablet.
    I don’t know of you plan a comparison between both readers?

    Kind regards,

    • But at Night (When there is nog sunlight) the Aura One looks more like a real book, thans To the comfort pro light (the screen of the H2O looks more blueish at night, especially compared to the Aura One). Another remark: the battery of the Aura One seems week, I had To recharge it already after a couple of days).

    • E Ink screens vary a lot, even among the same model sometimes. Then when you add a glass screen to the equation it usually degrades clarity some. Screens with IR touch usually look a little better because there’s no layer over the screen. As for direct comparisons of Kobo ereaders, I’m not going to do them anymore because looking back at the numbers for past reviews there isn’t enough interest to take the time.

  6. Kindle is not option simply being locked into their library is not on. Its like being told you can only shop at one supermarket?
    Kobo side loading is a big plus and the larger the screen the better. A e Reader should be:- Easily reading in any light condition, water and sand proof and as light as possible.
    Of all the readers I have had the Sony PR650 was the Rolls Royce for build, and the Sony PR1 was lovely slim to hold. Kobo next model:- same screen size, solar charging, and slimmer with titanium case

    • Kindles aren’t locked into one library at all. That’s a myth that has been perpetuating for years. Lots of places offer ebooks in Kindle format for non-DRM’d books. It’s DRM that screws over the customer, and it can be removed easily enough so it’s really not that big of a deal.

  7. You still need to-do a workaround with Kindle. Official legal non-DRMs do not get latest good e books. Amazon have just undercut other makers till the do not make them. Then put what price they want on their readers. Kobo are at least still fighting them.

    • It is nothing to do with kindle, but with market. I live in Poland so no amazon, but there are about 14 independent platforms/ shops selling ebooks and competing which is nice and makes ebooks cheap. We dont have DRM, but a Watermark – so you can copy books, and all booksellers offer you send to kindle and majority you buy multiformat sa mobi forr kindle epub for others and pdf. Polish ebook market is so cool. Once you like the book you can set a price in “hunt” webpage and buy when it is low.

  8. Not me, love the Oasis, think the cover charger is brilliant, the feel of leather is always nice.

    One side wider than the other is good for these fat old fingers.

    Mainly I like it cuz it slips into the back pocket of my levis, just like an old paperback.

  9. I think the ereaders down to 9,7 inches are dead… Personally, I can’t read even at 8 inch ereader.

  10. Nathan: “PDF support is so pathetic that you’d be better off using a 4-inch smartphone.”
    I was a bit thrown by the imprecise nature of your comment. You mean the PDF app does not work well on the new Kobo? Or what?? “Support” is an odd word for a program. Please clarify.

    • Very few features, it’s super slow, zooming is wonky, text is faded, no reflow, no notes or highlights. It’s about as basic as it gets. I don’t think they’ve made a single improvement in over five years.

  11. I’m happy there are alternatives to Kindle.

    It’s not that the Kindle readers aren’t decent enough readers, my husband has one and likes it, and I’ve owned a couple myself. But I have never have truly enjoyed the reading experience on Kindle.

    Once your eyes get older and close vision goes, Kindle’s 8 font sizes to fit all is just a ludicrous assumption by Amazon! On a Kindle, my eyes have TWO choices, slightly too small and ridiculously large. There’s simply NO comfort zone. Further, the larger of my two font options on Kindle looks particularly horrid on the small screen!

    All the bells and whistles in world don’t make up for your eyes not being comfortable while you read!

    I went from a Sony T2 to the Kobo Aura HD and 6.8″ screen and never looked back. 3 years of faithful service at 100+ books yearly and no regrets. I love the slide to adjust the front light option and I love being able to set minimal margins and the font size that is right at the time.

    It would be nice if they’d upgrade the PDF handling, but it’s not a critical lack, my tablet can handle PDFs beautifully. I do highlights and annotations so rarely, I can live if that’s not ideal.

    I’m the sort who’d probably never bother with any of the Kindle bells and whistles anyway, my Kobo hasn’t even been connected to wifi in 3 years! Right now, the Aura One is ticking my boxes for things I’d like!

    Larger screen, flush screen, waterproofing and capacitative touch have been features I’ve been wanting! Add in library books and I’m SO there! Pestering for this as wedding anniversary present….

    Looking forward to even more immersive reading and fewer page turns!

    I think it very likely I’ll enjoy the color comfort light option for night reading as well. Keep it coming, Kobo! Choice is good!

  12. P.S. Won’t mind if Kobo upgrades the software, I do think they could and should do better with it, I’d particularly like improved dictionaries, but so far it hasn’t gotten in the way of my reading. Very little does, LOL!

  13. Kindle is an absolute f’in joke in comparison to the new Kobo. Like SLJ said in Pulp Fiction “Were not even in the same sport, not even in the same league” shame on those idiots that still buy an overpriced Oasis with such a better option available at a much lower cost. Amazon should be ashamed of themselves!

  14. Loving my new One since I don’t read pdf’s on a reader and rarely underline. I miss pinch to zoom and the more sensitive screen of my Voyage. Love the “on the fly” light adjustment and reading longer before i have to turn a page. Love the self adjusting light and red light for evening/night. Now I won’t feel guilty reading outdoors while hubs is doing his astro-photography thing!

    There is a slight page-turn lag compared to the Kindle V. Kobo is LUCKY Amazon doesn’t bother with a larger, waterproof reader with a flat screen and prices their “good” reader so expensively. Too bad the readers advising Kobo didn’t convince Kobo to fix all the annoying ongoing issues with their readers ;p

  15. Returned my Aura One today after the exchanged device had the same battery and touch issues, plus problem s with the screen the first unit did not have (orange on the left, green on the right).
    For £189 retail, I expect some form of quality control.
    A firmware update promised for the 26th has not yet materialised.
    At that price point, I don’t accept a bugridden piece of tech – that was the last time I touch a Kobo reader.

  16. “Plus Kobo still hasn’t managed to figure out how to make highlighting work smoothly and there’s still no landscape or full screen mode for some inexplicable reason”

    You nailed it, for me a nonstarter, its a pain in the ass to highlight something accurately on my Aura Hd, never buying another kobo until that BASIC thing is donde right.