November 26, 2013

My thoughts on the Kobo Aura

You may recall that I reviewed the Kobo Aura HD earlier this year, and absolutely loved the product. Needless to say I was excited to check out their newest eReader, the Kobo Aura.

First of all, I love how Kobo markets themselves to readers, and continues to make devices that are primarily for reading. I don't mind reading on my phone sometimes, but I like having a device that's meant strictly for books. And I like how Kobo is reaching out to the blogging community, because it just makes sense. I would trust a real review of a product from someone whose blog I follow, because they're using the device in the same way I would. They probably have similar needs and wants for an eReader, more so than a tech reviewer.

So Kobo is marketing themselves to bloggers, and appealing to book lovers, which is something I like. I was excited to check out this new device and compare it to ones I had used before, but I was even more psyched when this is what I received:

You can't really see from the photo, but the package was YA themed, with a The Perks of Being a Wallflower quote on the tag, and the items inside all related to being on a journey (slippers to keep you grounded, tumbler & tea to remind you of home, and popcorn for a snack along the way) -- very cute.

Now onto the Aura itself. I'll separate my review into categories, like I did last time.
The Screen:
Kobo describes it as "6" ClarityScreen and a high res, edge-to-edge low-glare Pearl E Ink screen". The screen on the Aura is decent, but it's not as good as the Aura HD. I mean, obviously the Aura HD has an HD in its name, which lets you know it's good. The Aura HD has 265 dpi, 1440 x 1080 resolution while the Aura has 1024 x 758, 16 level grey scale. It's an actual, considerable difference if you're used to text that's incredibly crisp and clear. In that way, it's a bit of a downgrade, though that's not to say it's not good. It's all about what you're used to.

The actual screen itself is both awesome and strange. What's awesome is how the screen is all one flat level (see more in the Body Design section), but what's strange is the screen itself. It has a "micro-thin coating for durability and even light distribution", but that coating is very visible in certain kinds of light. It looks like a glaze, and in the sunlight it makes the screen look a bit uneven. And yet other times you don't even notice it.

While the Aura HD was incredibly touch sensitive, I find the Aura to be hit or miss. Sometimes I can turn the pages with ease, and other times there's very little response, and I have to tap the screen in certain places for it to work.

Comfort Light:
I think because of the crispness of the Aura HD text, the light looks much nicer on that eReader. However, it is still a fabulous feature on the Aura, one that I use all the time. After almost 8 months of using front lit eReaders I don't think I'd ever go back to one without. I love how it doesn't hurt your eyes like a back-lit device (e.g. iPhone, or most colour tablets), yet it gives you the convenience of being able to read anywhere.

The processor is 1 GHz, same as on the Aura HD. I find it slow to delete books off the device, and lately I've noticed a lag of a couple seconds between shutting the eReader off and when the sleep page actually shows up. However, it's very good with opening books and turning the pages. There's no real blinking when turning the pages, even when you're making use of the Comfort Light. Compared to the Kobo Touch or other original models, it has a very quick response time.

Body Design:
My first thought when I picked up the Kobo Aura is: "It's so light! It's so thin! It's TINY!!!" My biggest complaint about the Aura HD (which you can tell that I really like overall) is that it's so heavy. The Aura HD is 240 g, so the Aura is a breeze to hold at 174 g. You seriously wouldn't believe the difference 66 g can make. I also never cared for the back of the Aura HD, the thick plastic being so slippery and smooth. Here the Aura has a bit of an angled back, but far less so than the Aura HD's. It's fairly flat, but it has a bit of a texture to it, making it much easier to keep a grip on. I think my favourite back is still the quilted one on the Kobo Touch, but the Aura's texture definitely grew on me over time.

As I mentioned when talking about the screen, the whole front of the Kobo Aura is flat. Visually I really like this! At first I thought it was a bit tough to hold the black edge of the device without turning a page, but I've gotten used to it. It's also nice not to have a lip over the screen, because I can tell you from personal experience how much cat hair gets stuck in there. The screen, as previously mentioned, is 6", which is the same as the Kobo Touch, but the body design is smaller overall, making it super easy to throw in your purse, without it being as small as the Kobo Mini (4 x 5.2 x 0.4 in -- which I consider too small).

Operating System/Interface:
The way the Aura works is basically the same as the Aura HD, and I really love it. You can read more of my thoughts here. With this update to the system there was a change of how you can sort your books from "Shelf" to "Collection", but they work the same way. They also added the ability to sync to your Pocket account, letting you read saved articles on your eReader. I can see this being a nice way to read fanfics or other online stories in a way that's portable and easier on your eyes.

Yes, how the Aura handles PDFs gets its own section, which shows you how excited I am about this. On previous Kobo models you would have to go into a special setting to change the zoom percentage of a PDF. You can do that on the Aura as well, but you can also simply pinch and zoom with your fingers, just like you would on an iPhone. It also allows you to change the page with a simple finger tap on the right or left, rather than having to drag to the edge of the actual PDF page. I get a lot of eARC PDFs for review, so this makes things so much easier -- it's a real time saver.

There are so many good things about the Kobo Aura, and I really like it overall. One thing that didn't really fit into another category is that the battery life is amazing. It lasts longer than any other Kobo device I've used, and it charges incredibly quickly. If I could make a hybrid model of the Aura HD's screen and the weight of the Aura, as well as how it handles PDFs, I would be a happy person.

The Kobo Aura retails for $149.99. Those in USA and Canada can buy directly from the Kobo site. Canadians and those in other markets have many more purchase options, which you can find here.

All quotes and specs about the Aura are taken from the Kobo Aura page on the Kobo site.

I am required to state that my opinions are honest and that I received a free sample of this product.

You can find Kobo on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Thanks for this review! I got a Kindle and I'm kind of thinking to upgrade to one with integrated light, but I'm looking at all my options not just kindle, and you're right, I'm more likely to trust a fellow blogger than a tech reviewer.

    1. I definitely think it's a good thing to look at all options. I like Kobo because they take epub files and therefore it's easy to buy books from multiple places, as well as get library books... but if you have a Kindle now it might be easier to keep with that brand and be able to transfer your books easily. Plus the one thing Kindle has which Kobo doesn't is the ability to send documents straight to your device (like books from Netgalley, or personal PDFs). I've seen the Kindle Paperwhite which has the front lit screen as well, and it seems very nice. It's not as good a resolution as the Aura HD (not sure about the Aura?), its weight it somewhere inbetween the Aura and Aura HD, but it is cheaper than both I think. I guess it's like anything else -- pros and cons for everything, it just depends on what you value most about it.

  2. Thanks for the review. I really like my Kindle for NetGalley and Edelweiss. But I read on Book Riot that you can register a Kobo with an independent bookstore so that your book purchases support them. I love that idea!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment; I appreciate each one!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...