What is the Kobo Aura One? – Review
This is the Aura One. A water resistant e-reader from Kobo, and I think it may just be the best Amazon Kindle alternative to watch for, in the foreseeable future.
Before I talk about the Aura One itself, I want to tackle the question that some of you might be asking.
Why get an e-reader if I already have a tablet?
After all, it’s common now to read ebooks inside an app, and it’s a lot simpler to carry one device that does it all. That’s where I’m coming from.
I’ve been reading my books on a tablet since I bought myself an iPad over 5 years ago, and if you’ve gotten used to that experience, it’s unlikely any e-reader would change your mind.
However there are definite advantages to ditching the tablet when it comes to books. The biggest one for me is giving my eyes a rest.
I stare at displays of various sizes, all day long, and when I want to read a book I don’t really want it to be on another display. At the same time I want something more portable and less clumsy than an actual book.
The Aura One Display
While the 7.8 inch e-ink pad on the Aura One is technically a display, it’s the closest thing you are going to get to looking at printed words on paper.
In day light it’s perfectly readable. The Aura One uses no battery power at all, unless you’re turning a page, and you can adjust the temperature of its back-light. This is a rarity, and also a big deal!
The warmer setting is much more comfortable than the bluish, white default when your trying to relax at night.
On the Aura One you have a variety of type faces to choose from too, and the pixel density is plenty high enough, no matter which one you pick.
Water resistance with a BIG display.
Almost 2 inches larger on the diagonal, compared with every modern Kindle. This makes the Aura One a bag device, not a pocket one, but it also gave Kobo the space it needed to make this e-reader water resistant.
Honestly, given how many people will make a habit of seaside reading, it’s surprises me that more e-readers on the market don’t offer this feature.
The Aura One isn’t dust proof though, so make sure you keep the sand out of the charging port.
Aura One battery life
Speaking of charging, this is another area that e-readers have tablets beat, because they typically measure battery life in weeks, rather than hours.
It took me 11 days to deplete the Aura Ones battery over 4.4 hours of reading. This reading figure is way low because I used I used a thing like a tech reviewer, you know I fiddled around with menus, explored the interface whilst keeping the wifi on through the whole process. 90% of my reading was done at night which the back-light turned on.
If you’re a little more cautious, you might even be able to hit Kobos estimate of 1 months use between charges.
A bonus, the big battery life doesn’t mean this device is a brick. The Aura One is lightweight, reasonably thin and the “basketball like” finish on the rubber, makes the Aura One easy to grip on to.
Now just as this device reaps benefits common to all e-readers, the Aura One suffers in familiar territory too. The slow refresh rate of e-ink means doing anything other than flipping a page is really slow. Especially when it comes to Beta features like the web browser. Also the automatic brightness is a little over sensitive. So you may even end up switching this feature off like I did. Also at very low settings, the panel has inconsistent back-lighting. I initially thought it was intentional texturing, but no it’s just kind of janky.
Kobo’s infra structure
Then there’s the Eco-system question. I consider my tastes to be quite diverse, so I found every title I was looking for in the Kobo store, until I dug just a little bit deeper.
If you do a search for “Deep Water Horizon” for example, you’ll see that not only does the kindle store have more available books, but several are even cheaper, some significantly so. That’s Amazons scale at work I imagine, and it’s important to consider if you’re thinking long term.
Kobo does make up for this a little by having better pocket integration, being easier to side-load ePub or pdf files using a computer, and there is also built in support for overdrive. This lets you borrow digital books from your local library, right on the device. It’s cool, works well and led to me getting my first library card in a long time.
Kobo also has partnerships with some Indie book sellers, so if you register with a certain store, they’ll get a small percentage of every purchase you make. This is a nice little gesture of support.
Should you buy the Kobo Aura One?
Still the stumbling blocks to the Kobo Aura One are significant. First it’s a $230 device. 3 out of the four currently available Kindles are cheaper. Yes they’re all smaller and none are water resistant, but the added depth of the Amazon Eco-system is a pretty big counterbalance. Now factor in that Kindle also works with Overdrive Pocket, all be it in a more clumsy way.
So for main-stream folks in the market for a competitive e-reader, I’ll still recommend the Kindle first in this review. However if you live in a market where Amazon doesn’t do business, or you don’t like how Amazon does business, or you just want to do something different, (I get it… I carry a windows phone) then the Aura Ones superior hardware, bookstore friendly attitude, and those little built in niceties, make it the best Kindle alternative there is.
If you own an Aura One, I invite you to share your experience in the comments.
Thank you for visiting my Kobo Aura One Review.
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