• Enna

    “The Kobo Aura H20 features a six inch e-ink Carta touchscreen display with a resolution of 1430×1080. ” Screen is 6.8″, not 6″.

  • Pam

    I typed a wonderfully long thank you about your review. But in the signing in all that was lost. 🙁 Mentioned that a had one of the original Kobos (with button to turn page) and seriously considering upgrading to the Aura H2O. Thanks guys! Cheers!!

  • Whoops, made the adjustment. Also, we posted a new picture under “hardware” that shows the back of the unit.

  • Claude Champagne

    I’m eager to see you compare it to the Aura HD !

  • MassDeduction

    the article repeatedly calls it the Aura H20 (as in H-twenty). I rather think they mean to call it the Aura H2O (as in H-two-oh, or water).

  • sizuco

    Looks like a great device, but you should add “expensive” to the cons – $180 for an ereader in this day in age is a bit steep.

  • Well this is the same price the original Aura HD debuted for. Kobo calls it a “premium e-reader” but since it bucks the trend of your standard six inch device with 6.8 inch screen, i think its justified, but will inevitably come down.

  • Thanks, made the adjustment!

  • We intend on comparing to the the Nook Glowlight, Kobo Aura HD and others.

  • Jab

    I was really looking forward to this device, but the dunken display May turn me off. I will wait until I can hold one in my hands.

  • Yeah, personally, i wish all e-readers were designed like the Kobo Aura or Tolino Vision. The screen flush with the bezel and capacitive touchscreen display is a step in the right direction.

  • Yo’av

    Looks promising, a little hesitant about it because of price and that the zoom feature is not available… Look forward to the comparison reviews.

  • Jab

    It also does have its drawbacks. I frequently unintentionally touch the screen on the aura. Something that happened a lot less on the glow. And I also frequently unintentionally change the font size through pinch and zoom while adjusting the brightness with two fingers…

  • Tom

    Thanks for the review. Two things: “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.” I’m not sure how the improved contrast results in faster page turns with fewer refreshes — these two things don’t seem related. Also, the reason this device has a sunken screen is because the Neonode IR tech requires it (the IR shoots out from the inner sides of the bezel to form a touch detection grid). In fact, I’m surprised to see the screen not sunk any lower as it is on my Neonode N2 — it seems Neonode’s tech has really improved since they stopped making smartphones ;).

  • Mehdi

    Thanks for the very first review of Kobo Aura H2O. Requesting a side-by-side demonstration of screen quality and reading experience of this one with Kindle Paperwhite 2 because they both have the same display tech (e-ink Carta) but with different resolution. Thanks again guys!

  • Dave

    “It was designed to be able be completely submerged in five meters of water, for up to fifty minutes” is actually an incorrect statement. The Kobo Aura H20 is IP67 certified making the eReader waterproof up to 30 minutes in 1 metre of water (port cover closed).

  • Laura Rainbow

    2 weeks ago I dropped my bellowed Kobo Aura in the sea. I was (and still am) heartbroken. I kept it in rice to try to dry it out. Have decided yesterday to mourn and bury it. And ordered another identical. This morning couldn’t believe my luck when I saw the announcement about H2O. Hastily I cancelled my order but now I am not sure if I have done the right thing. How big a deal is not to have screen flush with the bezel. Is the difference in weight/ size very noticeable? (I have very small hands). Help!

  • Albin

    Call me greedy, but the “perfect e-reading experience” would be a high-end e-ink device running Android that would permit installation of the Kobo, Nook, Kindle and (here in Canada) library Overdrive and any other Google Play supported app on the same machine.

    The various ins and outs and costs versus benefits of e-ink readers being chained to specific retail catalogs and file formats has kept me reading ebooks on my phone.

  • Apathetic

    http://waterfi.com/ waterproof any electronic device for $100 at distances much greater than 3 feet.

  • ernest ernest

    This is why I’ll continue to use my two Sony PRS readers with Calibre for portable epub reading… At least until their batteries wear out. After four years batteries still last 2 to 3 weeks! I still occasionally get kindle books and use my iPhone for reading. BUT it is not optimal though. I love e-ink tech more for reading… less eye strain and distractions.

  • Ramiro Fernandez

    And of course if they used capacitive screen like the Aura, it would be useless under water 🙂

  • abbibi

    It looks lovely!

    …where’s the 5 inch version?

  • Beckfield

    The Kobo website seems to indicate that the H2O does not have a button to turn the light on/off, like the Aura HD does. Is this true?

  • There is no physical buttons on this at all, aside from the power button. The glowlight is turned on via software.

  • There isn’t any. Apparently the Mini did not sell that well, and Kobo told me they have no plans to make another five inch model.

  • I totally agree! Onyx and Icarus have made open Android readers. I doubt a company like Kobo would go this route, because they are heavily invested in their own ecosystem.

  • We are filming this video for you this Friday, and hopefully will be up by the weekend.

  • Yeah, apparently Neonode is focusing on the printer segment right now and in-car dashboard stuff.

  • Beckfield

    Thanks, Michael. I didn’t expect such a quick response here. You can ignore my email. 🙂

  • cb

    So I am wondering about the score of 8 for the H2O. The review seems to say the H2O is the best device since Gutenberg and then gives the H2O an 8. This is lower than the Paperwhite 2 (9), and the Aura HD and the Aura (both 8.5). The step-up to Carta and waterproofing leads to a lower score? ‘splain that one to me, Michael!

  • There are some bugs with the firmware, even though the e-reader was not wet, fingerprints would set of the water notification system, making you have to either disable it, or having to deal with closing a pop-up window every five minutes. Beyond the Book, which is Kobos Amazon X-Ray for eBooks does not work in a huge amount of titles, such as the new JK Rowling Book, the silkworm and other super bestsellers, whereas X-Ray does work in these titles.

    The Hardware of the Aura H20 is sound, but Kobo is rather notorious for having buggy firmware and the software side of things not matching up to the build quality of said hardware.

  • abbibi

    That is terrible news!

    I guess that explains why they were on sale for so long…

  • allochi

    Laura, if there is one thing I noticed between Kobo Aura and Kobo Aura HD is that the later has clearer font, I’m not sure it’s the extra DPI, I think it’s the extra layer of touch + flush screen. Kobo Aura HD had a brighter background, but I didn’t like how it felt on my hand. With Carta e-paper update, I think you will love the new one if you liked the Kobo Aura. For me, I will wait the Kobo Aura Carta update.

  • cb

    Thanks for the quick response! Odd that the H2O has the wet detection when it is waterproof, and the other Kobos, which are not waterproof, do not. Is having buggy wet detection software really worse than having none at all? After all, it can be turned off.
    Looking forward to a Paperwhite compare. How does the H2O display, especially contrast, compare to the Aura, Aura HD Pearl ad the Paperwhite Carta? Thanks again!

  • Freddie

    Damn it! 🙁 That would explain why I can’t find any covers (or accessories of any kind) for my Mini. Everywhere I’ve looked has been “out of stock” for months now. 🙁

    The Mini was the first eReader that was available in the “impulse buy” price range ($50 CDN). Great little piece of hardware, at just the right size for sticking in your back pocket/jacket pocket. Was hoping they’d make one with a light. Guess that won’t be happening.

  • Freddie

    The Mini has a similar sunken screen. Personally, I like it, as it makes it easier to grip the bezel without accidentally touching the screen, as you can feel the lip delineating the two.

    My phone (LG G2) as extremely tiny bezels that are level with the screen and I’m constantly touching the sides as I reach across the screen, accidentally pressing icons I don’t want to. (Yes, that’s bad touch software on LG’s part, but still.)

  • Sean Lawrence

    Is there any way to highlight multiple sentences that do not amount to a paragraph? Am I limited to highlighting a word, a sentence or a paragraph, or can I highlight any chunk of text?

  • 93terp

    The status of the sync is NOT new with the Aura H2O! I have the Aura HD w/firmware version 3.3, and when I sync I get the status (i.e. updating reading life, updating rewards, etc…). This functionality has been available on the Aura HD for several firmware updates now.

  • Very helpful review for when I have to upgrade from my 2 year old Kobo Glo. It’s not clear whether the H20 has backlighting, like the Glo? One question – I find my Glo very difficult when it comes to going backwards and forwards several pages – the little round thingy on the sliding bar doesn’t slide evenly or responsively. Is it possible to move to another page just by inputting a number? And, if so, how? My old Hanvon Reader was much easier to use in this respect – you just typed in a page number and, as with a computer, there it wentl Thanks for a good review.

  • I see you have already sort of answered my backlighting query Michael though I’m not sure what you mean by “turning it on with software”.

  • ETShockey

    I would suggest that there is a difference between design and certification. To be certified, a product must meet minimum criteria. While the quoted statement may or may not be correct with respect to the actual design of product capabilities, it suggests the product exceeds the minimum certification criteria. Implication … the product should continue to function upon retrieval from the deep end of the pool.

  • Tom

    Hi Michael, since I don’t have access to the Aura H2O, could you please me know if the built-in dictionary has a definition for the work “grok”? If yes, what is the definition? This is sort of my litmus test to gauge the quality of a dictionary. The dictionary is very important to me and I’d like to compare it with my Kindle’s Oxford dictionary, which is one of the best IMHO.

  • Laura Rainbow

    Thank you Freddie, that’s encouraging.

  • Laura Rainbow

    Allochi, all I can say is, now I can’t wait for the 1st Sept to order H2O:-)

  • danny relic

    Hi, great review. I’m considering between the Kobo Aura 6 inch and this new Kobo aura h20. My question is simply this: which device is overall better? Does the higher screen resolution & carta technology of the h20 make it the better choice ? Does the better contrast of the h20 translate to better quality text? Or does the flat screen flush of the aura make it a better reading experience. ?

  • Danish Tom

    Hello, thank you for the review.
    Nonetheless I try to find a really important info for me prior to buy this device : is this able to host apps ?
    In particular I’d like to read my instapaper saved pages on the Kobo, but offline, like you do on the iphone with the app for exemple.
    Also I’d like to use something like Reeder on it (it’s a RSS reader also capable to save things offline), but I can’t find anything about it..
    I consider a e-reader device should be capable to display anything to read, and not only patented ebooks coming from the store. I would like to save and read many content offline, while in the train for exemple.
    Thank you if you have an answer

  • jalyst

    Has a compare between the 2 (KPW2 & this) been done yet?

  • Linda

    Eeek! Couldn’t care less about the latest Apple releases but I’m giddy
    about this! Lost my trusty Kobo Touch on vacation last summer and miss
    it dearly. Have been really tempted to replace it with a Glo now that
    the price has come down so far (and I really like the quilt backing on
    the older Kobos) but wanted to see what they would come out with new and
    WATERPROOF IS BRILLIANT. Not usually an early adopter but I think I’ll
    be taking the plunge on the H2O!

  • Yeah the H20 is fairly sweet, easily the best 6.8 inch e-reader ever made.

  • You can’t install apps, but it does come with POCKET – Read it Later.

  • I think the 6.8 inch screen makes it easier to read, although the Kobo Aura i think provides a better experience.

  • There is a little button on the top of the UI that allows you to turn the light on or off, and control the brightness levels.

  • Yeah, check out our Youtube channel http://youtube.com/goodereader/

  • butterfly

    Thank for reviewing!
    Did you notice some PWM-flicker?

  • Ba


    Thanks for that nice.

    By the end of your review you talk about the possibility of a kobo with stylus for note taking. Do you have any further informations on a release date and/or specs ?

    I can’t believe there are not more Stylus e-readers, note taking is for me one of the biggest advantage of that kind of device.

  • Ba

    Review. Thank’s for that nice review. Otherwise my second line is incomprehensible.

  • Jax

    “The Aura H2O was designed to excel at reading the two most popular electronic book formats, PDF and EPUB.”

    I bought the device because of this review just for reading the hundreds of books in pdf I have collected, I already have a Kindle Paperwhite but too many of the books can’t be read on it even after going through Calibre. I was surprised or rather shocked to discover that in spite of being designed to ‘excel at …’ you cannot highlight in pdf’s. Do you think there is any chance this could change in an OS update or was I being too optimistic? I’m trying to use the work-around of bookmarking and then using the note app, so we’ll see. I’m a PhD candidate and I was finding reading on my android tablet was beginning to cause eyestrain.

  • Danish Tom

    thank you for your answer Michael !

  • val

    the specs say the device supports EPUB3 (the first ereader I know of that does that),
    but can you please tell me if it fully supports MathML ?

  • Val

    To check it, I guess you could try to open the following document and see if the equations are rendered correctly:
    Thank you

  • Betsy Evans

    I have same question about stylus! I have been researching like crazy for months & months for an e-ink reader than can also take notes!

    Please let me know any possible idea of when 2015 release will be!

  • smileman

    Take a look at the Sony Digital Paper for this. Best in class PDF device, perfect for a PhD.

  • joseluis

    I like bezels, screen and it´s light. I give 8 over 10 points. Things to improve: some lag with heavy files, landscape mode for epub files, and direct conection without kobo software and reflowing pdf files. I removed dictionary files and and lagging stoped. Sorry for my english.
    Lo uso a diario, más de dos horas, me gusta que tenga marcos, para saber que no toco la pantalla. Buena densidad de pixeles, si bien es mejorable. Buenísima iluminación para la noche. Bien de bateria. Lagea con textos pesados. Quité los diccionarios y mejoró bastante. Por primera vez no hecho en falta el papel.
    Mejorable: Que el pc lo reconozca sin necesidad de software propietario, que mejore la potencia, modo apaisado, reajuste de pdf. Lo utilizo para textos legales. Merece la pena aunque solo sea por no tener que pegarse con calibre. Cuando uso un ereader quiero sencillez, rapidez y ponerme a leer, sin mas complicaciones. Ojalá saquen en un par de años algo más grande, mas potente y más conectable.

  • invention13

    I just got one today and have a few thoughts:

    I love the screen. It is tack sharp and turning on the backlighting on just enough to whiten the page makes it really easy on the eyes.

    It is really snappy. No real lag when I turn the pages.

    It works really well with the open-source calibre software. I started using this with my sony reader because the sony pc software sucks so badly. One thing that has worked out well for me with free sites like gutenberg is to get the plain text version of the book, then let calibre convert it to an epub. I don’t get the strange page breaks or sequences of pages with only one word on them. Plus, I can edit out all the stupid legal disclaimer stuff before I do the conversion more easily.

    I like having the ability to do different shelves for books. The sony reader I had flattened everything – with over 400 books in the reader, it was a nuisance not being able to organize things better.

    A plus having expansion memory. That was why I chose the sony too – a lot of the books I have are technical and take up tons of space. This seems to handle them just fine.

    Don’t buy the $39 case. I bought a $4 “pleather” case on amazon that works fine and has the magnets that wake up the reader when you open it (nice).

    A couple of suggestions to Kobo for making this perfect: use inductive charging so you don’t have to uncork the port to charge it. You should just be able to put it on a special mat. The other thing would be to work with the calibre folks to connect to the software using wifi (again, so you don’t have to uncork the port). But these are pretty minor nits.

    We’ll see how it wears as time goes on. So far, I would give it a 9/10.

  • wynlaidig

    What is the actual height and width of the screen in inches? All I read is 6.8″ display, 1430 x 1080 pixels, and 265 dpi. But when I divide 1430 by 265 I don’t get 6.8″. What am I doing wrong??

  • Mihovil Frater

    When you load the academic paper, demonstrated in 15 min. video, are you able to select a word to get a dictionary lookup? As I understood, you cannot zoom and select a word so you should select it in 100% zoom mode which could make a selection of words difficult. So is it possible to do it?

  • lukas

    The harware is good, but the firmware has its own issues. When I added certain .mobi created in Calibre, the reader was constantly restarting and the only solution was reset the device to factory default. The device seems to be indexing content even when it id in “sleep” mode, and restarts when the indexing service crashes.
    PDF viewing is basic. Some books are shown cropped, you cannot see the text near the right page border. Unlike Kindle, you cannot just page through a PDF file when you zoom in, you must move through the page with your finger and sweep to next page when you realize that you are at the end of the page.
    Epub viewing works well, except for one small book where the reader forgot the position when it was in sleep mode. I think that this bug depends on how long the reader is in sleep mode, it seems that the reader application gest killed when it is in the sleep mode for longer than cca one hour.
    The device has many fonts, but only half of them have central european latin characters. The non-western latin characters also cannot be entrered via the keyboard, so I cannot eg search for Čapek.

  • Arva Demps

    What’s the difference between the HD and H2o other than waterproof feature? I’m trying to decide which is better.

  • Mikaela

    There is an app called calibre companion. It’s $4 but totally worth it. You can send books to your e-reader over wifi.

  • Landon

    Nearly all screens are measured diagonally. Your method would provide reasonable estimates for the actual measurements of the screen that you are looking for.

  • Boudewijn Haas

    I bought the Kobo h2o in November 2015, and would advice against buying it. The device tends to freeze every 1.5 hours, requiring a hard reset, and power management is buggy. All in all a very frustrating experience. I will try to return the damn thing, and buy a kindle instead.

  • Ergo

    Your device seems broken, RMA it, I’ve read about 40 books on mine in various formats and it never did anything like that. Maybe memory is corrupted.

  • Boudewijn Haas

    I fixed it by removing one of the ebooks that I did not buy via Kobo. It turned out that this was the reason for the problems. However, the fact that 1 ebook causes these kind of problems makes me wonder about the robustness of the error handling in the software.

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