The Kobo Aura One Limited Edition has two major selling points; it has 32GB of internal storage and a new rapid page turn engine. This device is only available in the United States and Japan, it is roughly costs $40 more than the regular model that came out in 2016. One of the reasons why this device was made was to appeal towards people with large manga and PDF collections.
The Kobo Aura One features the largest E-Ink screen that Kobo has ever produced. It is 7.8 inches and the resolution is 1872 by 1404, which works out to a crisp 300 pixels per inch. The screen is completely flush with the bezel, which gives you a wider area to turn pages in e-books or pinch and zoom PDF files.
This device has a frontlite display, with 9 white LED lights. E-Readers have employed this type of technology for a number of years and it allows you to read in the dark or low light conditions. Unlike smartphones and tablets that have a backlit display that projects light upwards, a front-lit display has the LEDS on the bottom of the bezel and project light evenly across the screen. What makes the Aura One Limited Edition so unique is that it has an additional 8 RGB LEDS that project warm light evenly across the screen. These two LED systems allow you to utilize the Kobo Comfortlight system. This effectively mutes the luminosity with different shades of red and orange.
There are a few different ways that you can initiate the front-lit display to read in the dark. The front light can be automatically initialized by clicking on the auto button and the screen brightness will utilize the ambient light sensor on the front of the e-reader. It will take into account the amount of light in your immediate surroundings and optimize the overall experience. If you are in a completely dark room, the light will shut off completely. If you don’t want to rely on the automatic feature, there is a manual mode with a slider bar. Kobo actually has a third option, that many people are unaware of. When you are reading an ebook you can drag your finger downwards or upwards on the left hand side of the screen and it will adjust the illuminstory of the light.
The comfortlight can be manually adjusted by a slider bar or set to an automatic timer, based on a specific hour of the day. It uses the timezone, so makes sure you have selected the right one during the setup process when you power it on for the first time after the unboxing. You cannot augment the RGB system when your reading an ebook or manga by swiping your fingers on the screen.
The Kobo Aura One Limited Edition is rated IPX8 and is completely waterproof. It can be immersed in up to 6.5 feet of fresh water for up to one hour. Obviously people are not going to read their Kobo when scuba diving, but it is useful for people who are clumsy and spill coffee or tea on their devices. It can also resist water and sand when your at the beach or in the tub. It is important to note that the screen does not work when it is completely submerged in water. There is also problems if you have a bunch of water droplets on the screen, the Aura One thinks you are interacting with the touchscreen and will do random things. It might turn to the next page in an ebook or access your library or the Kobo store. Make sure if you experience these types of problems to wipe it off with a dry towel. If you get salt water on the screen or inside the USB port, try and use fresh tap water to clean it, then dry it, please don’t use a hairdryer.
Underneath the hood is a Freescale 1GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM. There is 32GB of internal storage, which is the most Kobo has ever packed into an e-reader. There is no expandable storage via an SD card, but I really don’t think that matters.
On the front of the device is an ambient light sensor and a power indicator that turns blue when it is booting up or charging. The back of the Aura One has a bunch of little grooves and divots that allow for a tremendous amount of grip and this design feature basically makes it immune to fingerprints. On the bottom is a USB port for charging or transferring data.
Overall, the design of the Aura One Limited Edition is the exact same as the Aura One from 2016. I did find that the lighting system is a little more refined via software and it seems more robust. This is the best designed e-reader that Kobo has ever produced and well worth the $279 asking price.
The Kobo Aura One and the Aura One Limited Edition are the only two e-readers in the world that have built in Overdrive integration. You have to visit the settings menu and enter your library card and four digit pin number. Once this is done, you can browse the Kobo digital bookstore and most titles that your local library has will have an Overdrive button. When you find something you want to borrow, you can simply check it out and it will be downloaded to your library. You can roughly seven days to read it before it is removed from your e-reader and sent back to your branch.
Kobo has an exclusive arrangement with Pocket that allows you to push website and blog articles directly to your e-Reader. The easiest way to do this is to download the Pocket browser extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox or Safari. Once you download the extension and log into the service you can begin to push out all of the stories you want to read to your e-reader later and they will automatically be synced. The articles will include any links, pictures or text, but truncate shortcode and adverts. One of the downsides is that you cannot change the size of the font, but with a giant 7.8 inch screen it really isn’t needed.
The home screen comprises of a number of different aspects. It shows the cover art and the percentages of the books you are currently reading and a few books that you have yet to read in your library. There is also a quickstart guide and a number of other helpful tutorials. Your library is where you will spend the vast majority of your time. There are options to sort into listed or grid view and sort by authors. When you sort by authors it lists the number of titles in your library from said authors, which is really useful.
Overall, I find the home screen and library experience quite excellent. The company revised it for the first time in almost a decade and optimized it for their complete line of e-readers which tend to have 300 PPI. This increased the overall performance of every aspect, shopping especially became quicker and more robust.
One of the little changes that Kobo has made in the Limited Edition was changing the name of the store. The Kobo Aura One had the word browse, which really isn’t indicative of a proper shopping experience, the word browse simply wasn’t clear what it actually meant. They have since changed it to “Store” and it will take you directly there. The store has been really refined over the years and is more intuitive to browse than the Amazon Kindle. You can checkout a bunch of different categories from cheap books to bestsellers. You swipe to the right to read the book description, publisher details and reviews. The Kindle basically utilizes a scroll down approach and has lots of image based carousels, which increases load time.
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. One of the most popular is having the ability to load in your own fonts. This is useful if you want to load in stuff like Bookerly or Ember, two fonts Amazon developed with e-readers in mind.
Most e-readers and e-reading apps have a few different preset options to change the linespacing, margins, or font size. Kobo does things differently, 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 One Limited Edition 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.
The Limited Edition has a new rapid page turn engine, but there is scant document online on how to utilize this new feature. The Kobo User Guide that comes with the device is for the older Aura One and Kobo doesn’t have any tutorials online.
The rapid page turn engine works with ebooks and manga that is purchased from Kobo or EPUB files that have been sideloaded in. You drag your finger from the right hand side of the screen to the center and hold it down. It will then rapidly turn pages forward and there is no ghosting, the text is 100% clear when you do this. There is a two second delay from when you drag your finger from the right hand side to the center, before the rapid system kicks in. If you want to rapidly turn pages backwards, you simply repeat the process by dragging your finger from the left hand side of the screen.
I really dig this new system, although it needs some work. It certainly is a lot better than the only other method, which warranted you to rapidly press down your finger on the right or left hand side of the screen. The primary drawback of this method is that all of the text is fuzzy and unreadable. This is because Kobo used A2 mode, which increases performance at the expense of clarity. The Limited Edition rapid system solves this issue and is very compelling.
Kobo is only marketing this e-reader online in the US and Japan and it is not available in any bookstores. You can purchase it for $279 from the main Kobo website in the United States and it is in hot demand since it was released a few weeks ago.
I feel that this is an experiment to see if users will purchase a 32GB version at a higher price and in enough numbers to change the way the do business. You might soon have two different storage options when you buy a new Kobo, the base 8GB model and a higher storage version. I think this would be a great move because Amazon is the only other company to offer a higher degree of storage and users have embraced this model for years.
The Limited Edition is the best Kobo device currently on the market. You can borrow books from Overdrive, the Comfortlight system has been refined and shopping is very intuitive. The rapid page turn engine is very compelling for people who read comics, manga or ebooks on a regular basis. The average non-fiction ebook has increased in recent years, with the addition of more pictures and other assets, so 32GB of storage makes perfect sense. I really like the large 7.8 inch screen, it is larger than the Kindle Oasis 2.
Kobo Aura One Limited Edition279.99
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.