TL;DR: Waterproofing an eReader is a no-brainer, and making sure it isn’t massive is another one. The (New) Aura H20 does both. I did run into issues with battery life, though.
Kobo, if you didn’t know, is the only other company going toe-to-toe with Amazon’s Kindle. I reviewed two of their eReaders earlier in the year, and I really liked both of them and mused that they could make the perfect eReader and beat Amazon at their own game if they would just put their ComfortLight tech into a smaller form and made it waterproof.
That’s what they did with the new Aura H2O.
The Kobo Aura One‘s screen is gorgeous, but too big for portability and just reading in bed at 7.8″. You really do have to hold it with two hands to be comfortable. The Aura‘s 6″ screen is much more manageable, but it doesn’t have the ComfortLight Pro or waterproofing.
The Kobo Aura H2O has a 6.8″ screen, which is way more manageable than the One, it has ComfortLight Pro, and it’s freakin’ waterproof (from the inside out with HZO Protection™ IPX8 – up to 60 mins in 2 meters of water). If you like reading in the pool, in the hot tub, in the bath, or on a boat I guess, then that should excite you. Reading to relax is kind of the point, right? So this gives you more relaxation options.
Physically, it looks like the other Kobo line — it has a textured plastic back, a power button on the back, and micro-USB for charging. It feels nice, isn’t too heavy, and is a pleasure to use.
Inside is 8gb of storage, enough for about 6,000 books. You can also use it to read PDFs and other file formats. There are no ads.
The Aura H2O’s screen is bigger than the Aura’s but smaller than the Aura One’s, so it’s easier to hold with one hand while still being very easy to read. At 256 ppi, the resolution is crisp and clear. With ComfortLight Pro, which filters out blue light giving it an orange-ish hue, I don’t have to worry about it exciting my brain too much to sleep, too.
I ran into a pretty major issue with the first Aura H2O that Kobo sent me — the battery life was so short that I was convinced there was a hardware problem. Despite trying to fix it on the software size with reboots, updates, and complete wipes, the first H2O would only last about 10 hours in standby mode.
That means I wasn’t even actively using it and it was draining.
Luckily, Kobo is really responsive when it comes to issues. I guess it could be said that they went above and beyond for me because I’m a reviewer, but I don’t think that’s the case. They sent me a replacement device immediately and there were zero issues with battery, and it aligns with the “weeks” of battery life they promise. The first one they sent was probably a ridden-hard review unit and anomaly, but I’d be curious to hear if anyone else has run into the issue.
The Aura H2O fixes every single one of the gripes I had with the Aura One and Aura. The size is perfect, the waterproofing is killer, and the ComfortLight Pro puts the Kindle to shame. It’s a smart device that you can truly take anywhere when you want to relax, and is worth every penny.
At $179.99 that’s a lot of pennies, but still, you can’t go wrong and it’ll last you years.