Saturday, 15 February 2014
Product Review: Kobo Aura HD
Price: £139.99 RRP
Stockist: WHSmith or Kobo.com
The Aura HD is a sophisticated e-Reader that delivers the best reading experience for the most discerning booklover. Available in luxurious Ivory, Espresso and Onyx, the Kobo Aura HD transcends comfort with a beautiful ergonomic design. Offering the highest resolution available on the market, its front-lit 6.8” Pearl E Ink touch-screen showcases stories in a way that only a true Reader can appreciate – it’s e-Reading re-imagined.
Kobo’s eReaders and tablets are designed for those who love reading. With this in mind there are some fantastic features which will make reading on your Kobo a joy. The unique Beyond The Book feature allows readers to explore books in more detail than ever before, by tapping on highlighted words to discover related books, authors, articles and more. If you want to use your eReader for more than just books, then Kobo’s partnership with Pocket is perfect for you. Pocket allows you to upload any articles or web content on to your Kobo to read at a time that suits you.
When I was offered the chance to try out the new Kobo Aura HD I jumped at it, I absolutely love my old Kindle Keyboard but it's starting to get a bit slow and I think I'm going to need to replace it soon so this was a great way to test a different type of eReader. The main advantage of the Kobo over the Kindle is that it can be used to read epub documents, the type of files you would get if you borrow ebooks from your library. Of course this means there is the disadvantage of not being able to read mobi files so for someone like me who has nearly 2,000 Kindle ebooks it would be extremely costly to make the switch and have to replace them all. You can use the free Calibre software to convert books to a different format but that won't work for any files that are copyright protected (e.g. the books brought directly from Amazon). You can read PDF files on both the Kobo and the Kindle but I have to warn you that they aren't particularly easy to read on either device so I would recommend converting them before sending to your device.
I was impressed with the quality of the Pearl E Ink screen on the Kobo, it was great quality and very easy to read in any type of lighting. The built in light was perfect and lights up the whole screen evenly making it a pleasure to read in bed without the aid of a night light. I have to admit I was worried that the comfort light would hurt my eyes (I can't stand reading on LCD screens which is why I refuse to buy a tablet) but I had no problems. In fact I preferred to keep the light on even in daylight because it made reading even more comfortable. One thing I will say is that I wasn't a fan of the touch screen, I found myself turning the pages by accident on multiple occasions because the sleeve of my jumper touched the screen which was incredibly irritating. There were other times when I was trying to turn the page with my finger and had to touch the screen several times before I got a response or where the screen responded so slowly that I thought nothing was happening and pressed again only to find that it then turned two pages at once. I'm not sure if that was down to how cold it was when I was using the Kobo, I have heard that these touch screens are effected by the cold and I live in a house with no central heating and was using it in the winter so that could be less of a problem for most people. I can't compare the responsiveness of the screen to the Kindle Paperwhite because I haven't tested that product but I have decided that for my personal tastes I'm not a fan of touch screens and will stick to an eReader with buttons to turn the pages. The other advantage to an eReader with buttons is that I can hold it with either hand and still be able to turn the pages easily, something you can't do with a touch screen.
One thing I really liked about the Kobo was the reading stats, you can see how many pages or books you've read and how much time you've spent reading which was quite interesting to keep track of. It also learns your average reading speed and is able to estimate how long it will take you to reach the end of your current chapter or book while you're reading which is quite a neat feature. You are given awards for reaching different achievements (such as reading for a certain amount of time or a certain number of books) which personally I felt was a bit daft but I can see it might help encourage a reluctant reader. I did find myself checking to see what awards I'd achieved so it wasn't completely pointless!
If you were to ask me if I'd switch from the Kindle to the Kobo then my answer would probably be no but that is more down to the fact that I'd loose 90% of my ebook library if I did so. If I didn't already have an eReader and was considering buying my first then the fact that the Kobo would allow me to borrow ebooks from my library would be a huge advantage. I haven't taken the time to analyse the price difference in buying ebooks via the Kobo compared to the Kindle but I can only imagine that the prices will be very similar so I don't see that causing a problem whichever product you choose. The Kobo Aura HD is a good product that I would recommend checking out when you are looking at purchasing an eReader.
Source: I was sent the Kobo Aura HD by Cherish PR on a 2 week loan so I could write this review. I did not get to keep the product.