Michael Kozlowski

Michael Kozlowski



Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about electronic readers and technology for the last four years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the Huffington Post, CNET and more. Michael frequently travels to international events such as IFA, Computex, CES, Book Expo and a myriad of others. If you have any questions about any of his articles, please send an email to michael@goodereader.com


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kobo aura vs kobo aura H2o

Welcome back to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today we take a look at the brand new Kobo Aura H2O and the Kobo Aura. You will get a sense on how the eBook experience plays out in both PDF and ePub books and if either model appeals to you.

The Kobo Aura H2O is not only a waterproof e-reader but it also features e-ink Carta technology. This dramatically increases the page turn speed and cuts down on the quintessential refresh issues that plague lower end devices. Meanwhile, the Kobo Aura came out last year and features a 6 inch screen capacitive touchscreen display. This is most useful for pinching and zooming PDF files and graphic novels.

This comparison video looks at the hardware and what the primary differences are. This is most useful if you have an older device and are thinking of possibly upgrading. As an added bonus, we do a side by side comparison looking exclusively at the front-lit display.


Kobo Aura H2O water

The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out in October and the main selling point is the waterproof screen. Earlier in the week we conducted an underwater test to see how the unit performed. Today, due to extensive requests on our YouTube Channel, we are conducting an underwater Glowlight test.

A waterproof e-reader will likely be used while taking a bath. Often the lights are dimmed, or shut off completely and the only illumination comes from candles or the e-reader itself. If an e-reader is submerged or wet, does it affect the brightness of the front-lit display? Does the light become muted while underwater? The video below answers all of these questions.


Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Barnes and Noble has collaborated with Samsung for the latest generation Nook tablet. Samsung provided the hardware and B&N designed custom reading apps for Android, which gives users a very unique experience. How does this new device compare to the Nook HD or Nook Tablet and is it a viable upgrade?

Hardware

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook features a seven inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 800. The resolution overall is a big of a downgrade from the Nook HD, but not enough to be noticeable for your average user.

Underneath the hood is a 1.2 GHZ quad-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, plus support for MicroSD (up to 32GB) The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook features a 3Mp rear camera and 1.3Mp front-facing webcam, with the former capable of 720p video recording at 30fps. This is the first time a Nook device will have front and rear cameras.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook measures 186.9x9x107.9mm and weighs 276g. Part of this weight comes from the 4000mAh battery, claimed to allow for up to 10 hours of video, 190 hours of audio, or 10 hours of internet usage.

When it comes to the audio experience there is a single speaker on the back, but it is in stereo. This allows you to listen to audiobooks, music, video or the read aloud feature in kids books.

Barnes and Noble tried to stem the tide of constant financial losses in their Nook division by outsourcing the hardware to Samsung. This is a double edged sword because there is no Nook branding on the tablet at all. If the device is totally powered down, you would have no idea that it is anything else but a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4.

Software

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Every single tablet that Barnes and Noble has even released ran a heavily skinned version of Google Android. This was the same tactic that both Amazon and Kobo employed to make their devices stand out in the crowd. The Samsung Galaxy 4 Nook is the first time users get a vanilla Android experience, allowing them to install live wallpapers and even change their keyboards.

Instead of heavily augmenting Android, Barnes and Noble has firmly embraced it. They company has developed a series of custom apps that get users participating in the booksellers ecosystem. There is a dedicated store, Nook Video, Library, eBook Reading Apps, Nook Search, custom settings menu and the ability to view all of the notes and annotations you have ever made.

One of the strongest benefits of the new Samsung tablet is the ability to finally download apps from outside the US and UK. The Nook App Store used to lock customers out of purchasing or downloading apps, due to geolocation. This seems to be disabled in the new Nook, which allows users to download apps not only from B&N but also Google Play. The only limitation placed on customers is Nook Video, you still have to be in the US to buy or rent videos or television shows.

The Home screen mainly comprises of all of your Nook Reading App, Nook Store and a bunch of official Google ones. Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Play and all of the standard Google apps are all included in a mini folder. If you swipe the screen from the right to the left on the edge of the bezel there is a side screen full of apps. By default, its all the official Google ones, but you can add or remove any of them there, adding to the customization capabilities.

The one thing I really want to focus on during this review is the Nook content and not really dwelling on the standard Android functionality.

Nook Library

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The Nook Library houses all of the purchases you have made from Barnes and Noble. This includes eBooks, comics, magazines, newspapers, television shows. There is a shop button on the top right hand corner, which opens up their online store that sells all of the content.

eBooks are opened by the quintessential Nook app for Android, which has been available on Google Play for years. One of the things I always liked about reading on the Nook is the different backgrounds. Kobo and Kindle have always just had three different background colors, but Nook has six. You can easily change the bright white background to Sepia or different shades of off-white. This makes it easier to read in the dark, without having to strain your eyes. I also dig the way Nook handles animated page turns, wikipedia lookups and built in dictionary.

Magazines and Newspapers are opened via a special Nook for Magazine app that has been completely revised for this new Samsung model. The one thing I really like, aside from the animated page turns is “article view.” This strips away all of the images and CSS and turns a magazine into an eBook.

Nook Shop

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The Nook Shop was designed as a standalone app that lets you browse books, magazines, movies & TV, Kids, Apps, Newspapers and Comics. The only thing international users cannot access is media content, but all others are completely viable. The Home screen is curated content by the Nook team, currently they are hyping “Passion for Passion” and “Your Favorite Heroes.”

Nook Search

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Nook Search is a standalone app that allows you to type in key terms that you want to look for in the shop. You can look at specific keywords, such as “post apocalyptic” or “Potter.” It will then give you a huge list of titles matching your search results in everything B&N offers in their store.

Nook Today

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Nook Today scans all of the content you purchase or samples you access from the online store. It then gives you a recommended reading list, which helps with discovery. In addition, it remembers your results from Nook Search and also recommends similar titles.

Nook Settings

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The last unique aspect of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook is the customized Nook Settings. Now it is important to note that you do have access to traditional Android settings too.

Nook settings allows you to control the way all of the dedicated Nooks apps behave. You can download alternative dictionaries and make them your default. Right now there is only six, but I was told more are on the way.

You can also control the way the magazine and eBook reading apps function. Cool options include turning off animated page turns, or two page layout in landscape. This is also where you can associate your Ultraviolet account with Nook Video to get the digital copies of the movies you buy from retail stores.

Wrap up

Good e-Reader has reviewed every single tablet Barnes and Noble has ever released, from the Nook Color to the Nook HD. This tablet is a step in the right direction. It gives you a unique e-reading experience and allows a deep level of customization.

I like the fact you can opt into dealing with Barnes and Noble, but aren’t exclusively roped into it. Google Play allows you to basically downloading any 3rd party reading app, Overdrive Media Console, Amazon Kindle, Kobo or thousands of others.

PROS

Reading digital books is impressive
Tons of unique Nook Apps
Allows you to download any app you want from Google
Live Wallpapers and Widgets

CONS

Setup involved a Google, Samsung and Nook account.
Speaker quality is not the greatest
No Barnes and Noble branding on the hardware

Rating: 8.5/10

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The second generation Icarus Illumina HD offers the ability for users to install their own e-reading apps. It also has its own built in eBook app and this allows you to load in your own books you have purchased from another store, borrowed from the library or simply downloaded from the internet. Today, I will show you how to use Adobe Digital Editions, Calibre and Windows Explorer. Along the way, you will get some bonus knowledge on how to add in your own book cover or even change the authors name.


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The Kobo Aura H2O e-reader is coming out this fall and sometimes you want to load in your own PDF files, CBZ comics or ePubs you bought online. In this video tutorial you will learn how to load them onto your H2O using Adobe Digital Editions, Calibre and Windows Explorer.

Calibre is a free download and is used primarily not not only copy PDF or ePub files to your Aura, but also to edit them. If you are copying backs that do not have DRM, you can easily swap out the cover art or edit the authors name. Editing the metadata allows for more flexible control over the way the book is found in your library or searched.

Adobe Digital Editions is also a free download and is mainly used to copy books to your H2O that you purchased from another online bookstore or books you borrowed from the library.

Widows Explorer is the most commonly used way to copy and paste books to your Aura H20, but offers the least amount of flexibility. Still, you can get a sense of the internal directory structure.


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Pocketbook has been pumping out e-readers in 2014, like nobodies business. The company has released the Aqua, Ultra, InkPad and has been showing off the Mobius enabled CAD reader at various tradeshows. Pocketbook has announced that at the upcoming IFA tech event in Germany, they have a bevy of new products such as ereaders and tablets.

Pocketbook intends on marketing a new e-reader to the fashionistas of the world. It was exclusively designed in cooperation with an internationally renowned fashion and design house. In addition, they intend on releasing a complete line of stylish accessories. The new e-reader is equipped with a e-Ink Pearl screen with a light sensor for automatic front light adjustment.

When you think of Pocketbook, you will likely think of e-readers. They actually been selling tablets for over four years, but often have been lowend garbage. They intend on remedying this situation releasing some very high performance hardware. All three tablets will pack a octa-core processor. There is no word yet on screen sizes, but they will all have 3G internet access, in addition dual band WIFI.

Over the course of the next few weeks we should get an indication on the full list of specs and naming conventions for their new products. Stay tuned to Good e-Reader for all the latest Pocketbook news.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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The Sony Digital Paper 13.3 inch e-reader has been taking the business world by storm, with law, entertainment and tech companies embracing the whole replacement for paper concept. If someone wanted to purchase the $1,100 device they had to buy it from one of three strategic partners,  and they were chronically sold out.  Sony realized they had a potential hit on their hands and started to sell it directly on the phone, through their business unit. Today, Sony has unveiled a new website for the DPT-S1 and is now allowing anyone to order it online.

Sony has crafted a new landing page for the Digital Paper e-reader in order to address the key aspects or selling points.  You can think of it as a replacement for paper and a secondary screen for your workflow.  They have also populated the new site with a number of pictures that demonstrate the reader in action, among their key verticals: law, entertainment and education.

Anyone can now order the Sony Digital Paper e-reader directly off of the Sony website, but you have to live in the United States in order to have it shipped out. One thing that made me chuckle is during checkout, if you select Canada it says “We are happy to accept payment from international billing addresses, but we do not ship internationally.”

Sony may be selling the Digital Paper online, but this is a device certainly not for everyone. The company does not have a customer support system in place to address technical support or troubleshooting. It is aimed primarily at advanced users or businesses that have an IT department to handle this sort of thing, this is mainly why Sony has not issued a press release or hyped the fact they are now selling it online.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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The Good e-Reader Android App Store has been growing steady, since 2011. In 2013 the store recorded 80 million visitors and have quickly become the largest app store in Canada. Good e-Reader is proud to announce that we have partnered with Icarus, and all new Illumina e-reader owners will be able to easily download their favorite e-reading apps.

Netherlands based Icarus has been selling e-Readers for the past three years and have quickly become a very solid company. Their second generation Illumina reader has Android 4.2.2 and allows users to craft their own experience. The Good e-Reader App Store allows Icarus owners to install their favorite e-Reader, comic, manga, newspaper or magazine app directly on their Illumina.

Many e-readers often lock their users into one specific ecosystem and makes it fairly difficult to load in your own eBooks or newspapers. One of the big benefits of an open Android reader is the ability to do business with any company you want.

Good e-Reader currently offers over 35,000 apps and has created a new section entitled “Apps Designed for e-Ink.” This dedicated catalog of great apps is right on the home screen and they have all been extensively tested on the Illumina e-Reader to insure the best user experience.

Roberto Damen, CEO of ICARUS stated “We are very proud to announce this cooperation with Good e-Reader. By integrating their App Store in our e-readers, we can offer our users easy to use access to all relevant Android apps. And thanks to the curated section of apps that are optimized for our device, the end-user can be sure that the apps they download offer them a great user experience.”All new Icarus e-Readers we have the App Store pre-loaded on their device when purchases after September 1st. Existing users can download the Free App today and manually install it.

Categories : e-reader, e-Reader News
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Surface-Pro3-Rumors-2

If there was a flagship bearer of Windows 8, it would have to be the Microsoft Surface. The Redmond based company have released three different generations of tablets and the PRO 3 is the most recent edition to their family. Microsoft markets the Surface Pro 3 to different segments of people, depending on their budget.

The model we purchased was the 256GB Windows 8.1 Pro Tablet With Intel Core i7 Processor edition. All of the apps we tested performed moderately well, but this certainly is not a replacement for your laptop.

For one, it heats up super fast and the fan is permanently running at full throttle. Not only is this loud, but you can tell that it will drain your battery in short order.

This tablet also struggles with most games that people tend to play. League of Legends, Star Wars – The Old Republic and DOTA were 3 games we tested and even with minimal settings, the gameplay experience was sub-par. This is the kind of tablet you buy to play the dedicated RT style games from the Windows 8 store or run legacy apps like Microsoft Office, Photoshop or thousands of others. You can think of it as a productivity tablet, not a hardcore entertainment one.


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Comparison Video! Today, we take a look at the flagship tablet that has been leading the charge for Windows 8 adoption, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3.  We compare the overall Windows 8 reading experience on a tablet whose primary focus is reading digital books, newspapers, graphic novels and eBooks – the Kobo Arc 10 HD.

The premise of this video is not to pick a clearly defined winner, but to open up the same content on each device and show how they are different from each other. Obviously Microsoft has a bit of an advantage with being able to run legacy apps, so you can use the full version of Microsoft Office, Adobe Master Collection, or even League of Legends. No, this comparison is to look at how Windows and Android handle the same content, and this should provide a more immersive comparison that has trickle down effects into other aspects of the tablets.


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Kobo has formally unveiled their brand new 6.8 inch Aura H20 e-reader. The big selling point behind this is the waterproof nature and the large vibrant screen. Kobo has been slowly refining their front-light technology that allows you to read in low light conditions or absolute darkness. Today, we look at the various degrees of illumination to give you a sense if this device is right for you.

Reading in the dark has never been easier with the Kobo Aura H20. It has a number of brightness levels that can be customized, depending on your environment. It is important to note that the light is not emitting from behind the screen, like computer monitors, laptops, smartphones or tablets do. Instead, there are five LED lights spread along the bottom of the bezel and shine light across the screen.  Nook pioneered this technology but Amazon and Kobo really refined it.

In this video, we demonstrate the entire range of illumination to give you an accurate portrayal of the pros and cons of the Aura H20.


Kobo H20

Kobo has an obsession on what constitutes the perfect e-reading experience and they have been feverishly working towards this ideal. They have slowly been evolving their product line to fall in line with the quintessential five B’s of bookselling; Bath, Backyard, Bedroom, Bus and Beach.

The brand new Kobo Aura H2O e-Reader is the most complete device the Toronto based company has ever released. It was designed to be able be completely submerged in five meters of water, for up to fifty minutes, which finally allows users to safely read in the bath and beach.

We spoke to Kobo CEO Michael Tamblyn in prelude to the formal unveiling and he mentioned that “The H2O follows the same design principles of the Kobo Aura. When the Aura first came out we expected that the premium 6.8 inch screen would only account for 2% of our companies sales, and within a few months it captured 25%. We are hoping to replicate the success of the Aura with the H2O, which is slimmer, lighter and can be used on vacations.”

Hardware

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The Kobo Aura H2O features a 6.8 inch e-ink Carta touchscreen display with a resolution of 1430×1080. Carta Imaging Film offers a 50% improvement in contrast ratio over previous generation of e-Paper displays. This allows for faster page turns and the ability to turn pages in a digital book, without the need of constant screen refreshes.

The Aura HD and Aura H2O e-readers are not using a capacitive touchscreen display, which means it does not have pinching and zooming capabilities. Instead, it is employing Infrared technology from Neonode.

One of the main benefits of the H2O e-Reader is the ability to enjoy eBooks, graphic novels or newspapers in lowlight conditions or complete darkness. Unlike a smartphone or tablet that has an LCD screen that emits light from behind a layer of film, the H2O has five LED lights on the bottom of the bezel. It shines upwards, insuring even light distribution and makes it easier to devour books without eye strain.

Kobo has managed to attain the prestigious IP67 certification for their first waterproof device. It will basically allow users to have the e-Reader completely submerged in five meters of water for an hour, with the MicroUSB and MiscroSD ports closed. This makes the H2O the most complete, well-rounded device the market and eliminates the need to send off your reader to a third party and pay over $60 for them to waterproof it for you. During underwater tests I found that even completely submerged in water, you can still turn pages and access the core functionality.

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Underneath the hood is a Freescale i.MX507 1GHZ processor and 512MB of RAM. It ships with 4GB of internal storage and can be expanded further via a MicroSD for up to 32GB of additional memory. Basically, if you max your storage, you can store over 30,000 books on your e-Reader and not have to charge it for up to two months.
Prior models of the Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura HD has the MicroSD, MicroUSB and status indicator light on the bottom. This model still has the slots in the same place, but has a new waterproof flap that snuggly closes in order to truly make it waterproof.

On a hardware level my only complaint is that the screen is not flush with the bezel like it is on the Kobo Aura or the Tolino Vision. In a world of tablets and smartphones, it could be a weird adjustment for people go from that to a sunken screen.

Software

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The Kobo Aura H2O features a home screen that is heavily dynamic in nature. If you create a new bookshelf, buy an eBook or start reading a newspaper an entry will be automatically created right on the home screen. This enables users to be able to quickly jump into reading digital content, without the need of jumping through a lot of hoops. Underneath the book title on your home screen a percentage rating is generated, depending on how far you are in the book.

Kobo has added a sync button right on the home screen and this button accomplishes a few things. If you purchase an eBook on your smartphone or tablet via the Kobo App, all of the content will automatically be downloaded to your H2O if you hit the sync button. Additionally, it is also used to query the Kobo servers for any potential firmware updates and prompt you for an upgrade.

One of the things I liked about the new sync system is the visual cues it provides. Prior models of Kobo would just have a loading animation, with no indications on what it was doing behind the scenes. Now, when it syncs it gives text based updates on the top. By default, it will say it is syncing reading life, awards and firmware updates.

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I noticed a number of small bugs that are easily solved by tweaking some options in the setting menu. By default, the H2O will prompt you to wipe off the screen if it becomes wet. This notification appears when you load up a PDF file and does not disappear. Likely, this is occurring because of the oil in your hands, but you  can turn it off by going into “Reading Settings” and deselecting the Water Notification flag. Also, on the main screen you see curated content by Kobo, recommended reads and eBooks they recommend. There is an option to turn this off, but once it is disabled it is impossible to re-enable it.

Finally, Kobo has maintained their Reading Statistics system on the home screen. This gives you a sense of progression and monitors your reading habits. There are plenty of metrics to keep track of, such as how long it takes you to read a specific page of text or the average amount of time it takes to read a book.

e-Reading Experience

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Kobo does an amazing job in making their e-readers appealing to both casual and hardcore users. They have plenty of advanced options that the competition simply cannot match, such as the ability to load in your own fonts. They also have a bunch of sliders that allow unparalleled flexibility in determining how much weight you want your fonts to have and configure the margins and line spaces.

The Aura H2O was designed to excel at reading the two most popular electronic book formats, PDF and EPUB. They also have support for manga, graphic novels and comic books with CBR and CBZ, so users will be able to download them from the internet and easily load them on their reader. When it comes right down to it, it reads: EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ, and CBR.

When you are reading a book, you have a number of options you can employ. Aside from font and customization options you can long-press on a word and get an instant definition of it. If you speak another language, you can look the word up in Japanese, Italian, German, Dutch, and many more. When long-pressing a word, you get an anchor that will allow you to select a single word, sentence, or entire paragraph. You can then highlight it or add a note. When you add a note, a virtual keyboard appears that allows you to manually add one.

Have you ever wanted to know more about a particular character, or learn more about the world they live in? “Beyond the Book” is a program Kobo unveiled in late 2013 and is quite similar to Amazon’s X-Ray feature, Beyond the Book allows a user to find more information about part of the book, providing similar topics, books, and authors. Not all titles have the Beyond the Book, so if your specific eBook is missing it, please do not fret.

PDF

The Kobo Aura allows you to pinch and zoom to isolate specific bodies of text, but this model does not have this feature, primarily due to the fact is not using a capacitive touchscreen. Instead, you have to double tap the center of a specific document to enable zoom. A small bar is on the bottom of the screen, which you can think of your magnification settings, this allows you to manually configure the zoom level. While you are zoomed in there is a preview pane in the top left hand corner. You can think of this pane as a snapshot of the specific page you are on, which helps orientate on the exact position in the PDF. If you have zoomed in and want to maintain your settings, you can flip to the next page and your exact zoom level is still preserved.

Many PDF files are massive in size and eclipse 150MB, such as eTextbooks, role playing games and medical journals. The Kindle Paperwhite e-reader really buckles under the weight and but the H2O handles them like a boss. We normally load in a 50 MB science journal and a 189 MB D&D Monsters Manual, both of them handled them fairly well.

When you start amassing a large library of eBooks, collection management becomes a big issue. Kobo has a system that allows you to create custom bookshelves, where you can select the eBooks you want to include. For example, you can create a bookshelf to house all of your Fantasy and Science Fiction titles and another for Literary Fiction.

When it comes to buying books, Kobo simply has the most massive ecosystem in the world. They have over 4 million digital titles, which not includes eBooks but also kids’ books, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, manga and comics. They officially sell this content in over 84 countries and if you don’t live in a supported country, you are automatically sent over to the one closest to where you reside. I found the Kobo Store used to not load all of the cover art and text based assets quickly in prior models, the H2O loads everything very quickly.

Wrap up

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The Kobo Aura H2O is the byproduct of multiple generations of e-readers, and the constant refinement of software and hardware. The H2O is considered to be the most complete e-Reader Kobo has ever produced.

When it comes to freedom, the H2O provides it in spades. Not having to fret over spilled coffee or getting sand stuck under the screen is liberating. You can read it just as easily in direct sunlight as you can in complete darkness, e-reading technology just took a giant leap forward.

Kobo sometimes receives a lot of flak for their abysmal customer service when it comes to hardware repairs or errors in purchasing books. We have seen thousands of comments on our news site about most people experiencing the same type of errors, with no resolution in sight. The company has tried very hard over the years to simplify the process, and are closer than ever with their live chat and 1-800 numbers, but they still have a long way to go.

In the end, if you have a Kobo Glo, Kobo Touch or even a Kobo Aura, I would recommend you upgrade to the H2O. There isn’t any new e-ink technology on the horizon that you should be saving yourself for, and the only new thing that will be out next year is a Kobo e-Reader that will likely have Wacom support and be bundled with a stylus for note taking.

The Kobo Aura H2O comes out October 1st in Canada and the United States for $179. It comes out at the same time in the Uk costing £139.99 and in Europe for €179.00.

PROS

Reads many popular eBook formats
Waterproof
e-Ink Carta screen
You can bring it anywhere and read anytime
Global eBook system that appeals to a worldwide audience

CONS

Beyond the Book not available in most modern best sellers
The lack of pinch and zoom may turn some people off
Constant water droplet notifications are annoying.

Rating: 8/10


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Welcome to another Good e-Reader Video! Today, we take a look at the top stories from last week from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. We have a brand new format for our video news, let us know what you think.


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