Kobo’s latest ebook reader, the 6.8-inch Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2, was released earlier this week on Monday the 22nd.
The one I ordered from Chapters.Indigo arrived a couple of days ago and I can’t help but be disappointed with the new Kobo Aura H2O.
Honestly I feel like the 1st gen model was better and I wouldn’t hesitate to choose it over this new one.
The first thing that jumped out about the 2nd gen H2O is the new design makes it look and feel cheap, especially compared to the much-nicer 7.8-inch Kobo Aura One with its flush glass screen and streamlined design.
The smooth plastic bezel on front of the H2O makes it seem like a budget device. It has that cheap plastic feel to it and it shows marks and smudges easily.
The original Kobo Aura H2O had a soft coating that covered the front and back that felt nice and gave it some personality.
Another disappointing aspect with the 2nd gen model is the screen isn’t as clear and sharp as the Kobo Aura One. Text has a fuzzy quality to it that makes it look like it’s behind a layer, whereas the text on the Aura One is clearer and more present like it’s on top of the screen instead of below it.
The Aura One has a 300 ppi E Ink Carta screen and the new H2O has a 265 ppi E Ink Carta screen, so some difference is to be expected, but it’s more than just a pixel density issue; everything about the H2O’s screen looks duller and fuzzier.
I think the reason for this is the fact the new H2O uses a capacitive screen instead of infrared like the original H2O and Kobo’s other earlier models. Somehow the glass layer on the Aura One isn’t as affected by it, since it has a capacitive screen as well.
I had assumed the new H2O would use an infrared touchscreen since it has an indented screen like the original model, but it’s only indented like 1 mm and there’s no sign of any infrared sensors.
To be clear there’s nothing wrong with the 2nd gen H2O’s screen—text is comfortably readable—but when you have it side-by-side with the Kobo Aura One the difference is more than I would’ve expected. Text on the Aura One just has a much clearer and cleaner look it. I had actually expected the results to be the opposite because ereaders with infrared screens typically look a little better than ereaders with capacitive screens because infrared doesn’t add a layer over the screen, but it turns out the H2O no longer uses an infrared touchscreen so there is no advantage there.
Another thing that surprises me is the new H2O feels heavier in the hand than the Aura One, despite weighing 23 grams less. The Aura One is quite a bit thinner and the larger area seems to disperse the weight more evenly or something. It’s weird.
I’ll post a comparison review tomorrow between the Aura One and new H2O for a closer look, but it’s pretty obvious at this point that the Aura One is the much nicer device and is definitely worth the extra $50.