Kobo Aura HD: First Impressions

Kobo Aura HDSpotted my first Kobo Aura HD this weekend! My local Indigo had added the new 30-percent larger 6.8 inch reader to its in-store display, and I got to play with one for a few minutes. And my first impression? It was fine.

That’s it. That’s all I can really say about it.

It’s bigger and it weighs a little more, but other than that, it was virtually identical to my Kobo Glo. It has the same font controls, the same general interface, the same glow light for reading in the dark. All of those were great features on my Glo, and they continue to be great features. I am struggling to think of much more to say about them other than that.

The Aura HD does have a higher screen resolution than the Kobo Glo, but I’ll admit that I’ve never had a great eye for that. The Retina screen on my iPhone doesn’t look any better or different to me than the non-Retina screen on my two iPads. If you are a connoisseur and you really notice these things, you may find the Aura to be a better experience.

Indeed, it seems to be to the connoisseur that Kobo is marketing this. They are billing this as a ‘luxury’ reader, suited for those who want a bigger screen, better battery and more refined experience. Is there a market, or will most people buying a tablet-sized gizmo want…well, a tablet? Time will tell.

It looks like a nice little machine, but between my iPhone, my iPad and my existing Kobo (which, aside from its smaller screen size, seems virtually identical to this one) my reading needs are covered. I am passing on this one!

4 Comments on Kobo Aura HD: First Impressions

  1. Interesting, Joanna. I was waiting for your impressions. On paper, it looks like a nice device, but the Dear Author review pointed out one feature that made it a non-starter for me. Side-loaded books don’t show per chapter progress. One of the things I really like about my Touch is that as long as side-loaded books have a table of contents, it will give me a “time until end of chapter.” I love that feature, and I wouldn’t want to give it up, especially since I’d probably still buy most of my books from Amazon. I have so much store credit with them right now that it doesn’t make sense to buy books from anywhere else.

  2. Between the 30% larger screen and superior (IMO) lighting, that’s all it really took to sell me on it. I admit the higher res. wasn’t a big deal since I’m really only looking at text.

    The only real negative I have is that the case is very smooth/slippery. I actually worry about dropping it.

  3. As someone who has actually used the Kobo Aura HD at home, and not just fiddled with it for a few minutes in the store, I can report it’s a serious upgrade and easily the best of the glo/paperwhite models in Canada.

    The quality of the print can sneak up on you: it is really very, very good (higher res than the Glo or any tablet on the market). The backlighting is also improved, for a “flatter”, more evenly lit page. While the image area isn’t much larger than the Glo or Kindle’s Paperwhite, the higher res is a big like switching to a Trade paperback from mass market pulp edition.

    There are some home screen enhancements but the underlying software is the same as the Glo (and virtually the same as the Touch although it has a physical Home button). They have nailed interoperability: switching from device to device, current reading position is maintained.

    I also liked how my self-created Shelves are maintained across the devices and automatically imported into the Aura. It even figured out what books where archived on the Glo and only launched those when setting up the Aura. I realy like the ability to keep the Kobo (Glo/Aura) stripped down with a handful of books on the device and the balance one click away from downloading. Archived books can be hidden completely if desired.

    If you have a Touch, the Aura is a slick upgrade. If you already have the Glo, it’s less compelling. But if you read a good deal on an e-ink device, the upgrade will pay benefits in a more enjoyable experience right away.

  4. Wall Street Journal reviewed the Aura in their technology section May 3 and said: “The Best E-Reader: Kobo’s Aura HD
    With its remarkably sharp screen, a new luxury e-reader soars to the top of the nightstand, beating out the Kindle and Nook.”

    • The new Aura HD, from the Canadian company Kobo, is the first model that rivals the printed page.
    • The Aura HD also offers unprecedented control over how text is displayed.
    • For those who don’t just read books, but devour them, it’s a premium worth paying.

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