When Water and E-readers Don’t Mix: An overview of the Kobo Aura H2O

kobo-aura-h2o-smallHere we are in the peak days of summer, when excursions to lakes, pools, rivers, and beaches are a great way to find relief from the heat and just have more fun. Nothing adds to the pleasure like a good book to read, either, and e-books are the handiest and most portable way to go. But that presents a potentially serious dilemma. How do you pack along your high-tech e-reader device without the risk of ruining it if it gets splashed on or you accidentally drop it into the water? Fortunately there is one e-reader that was designed and engineered from the ground-up to meet this challenge. The Kobo Aura H20 is touted as a water-resistant e-reader, plus it has lots of other outstanding features that make it a real contender in today’s e-reader marketplace.

Key Features: Pros & Cons

There is a large non-glare touch screen that is almost 7-inches wide, which many users prefer to the typical Kindle screen which only stretches to about six inches. The lighting is excellent, and the e-ink quality is superb. The ComfortLight features lets you adjust the lighting, and the backlit screen is high-resolution and works beautifully in all sorts of different lighting conditions.

  • The Kobo Aura H2O supports virtually all of e-book formats, including EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ, and CBR. There are also built-in features for highlighting text and taking notes as you read, bookmarking pages, selecting your preferred font, doing searches, consulting a dictionary, and more.
  • You can sort library of books in the ways that most other e-readers allow, such as with the most recently read shown first, and when you go back and start reading a book again it will open up on the last page you read. You can also bookmark a page by tapping the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  • The downside that most reviewers cite with the Aura H20 – besides its rather steep price tag – is that since it is not an official Amazon product you cannot directly download as many books as easily. Amazon has a vast, ever-expanding library – whereas Kobo’s inventory is not quite that large.

The Aura H20 also doesn’t run as fast as some other high-quality e-readers, and it can take longer to complete downloads from the Kobo bookstore.  If you need an e-reader that also doubles as a fast web browser, the Kobo product may not be the best choice. Those who are going to use it exclusively as an e-book reader will probably be quite satisfied with it, and when you aren’t using its Wi-Fi the battery lasts a long while.

Is it Worth the Price?

The Aura H20 sells for almost $200 new, which is about the same price for the Kindle Voyager – a sleek, top-of-the-line Kindle with extraordinary features and 3G network connectivity. The newest Kindle, the Oasis – which boasts 10 LED lights for unequaled aesthetics and ease of viewing/reading – costs about $100 more than the Aura H20. Meanwhile a variety of other popular, highly ranked e-readers including Fire and Paperwhite models can be purchased for much less money.

So what distinguishes the Aura H20 enough to warrant paying so much for a less sophisticated and not quite as powerful e-reader device? The big selling feature is its water resistance. Of course if buying a water-resistant e-reader is not in your budget, you can always buy a water-resistant protective cover for your device. There are even some that offer nearly waterproof protection, although the do tend to be rather bulky. The Aura H20, on the other hand, is a sleek design and there have even been reviewers who did tests involving putting the Aura H20 completely underwater for a short while. Apparently it emerged still functioning as normal, which is really impressive.

If you like to read at the beach, while boating on the lake, while relaxing on an inflatable raft in the swimming pool, or while taking a long soak in the bathtub – then the Aura H20 may be your dream-come-true.

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