Saturday, September 12, 2015

Kobo Aura review

About 6 months ago, I was given a Kobo Aura as a gift. It replaced the Nook Simple Touch that I had bought refurbished several years ago. Now that I've had the Kobo Aura for a while, I thought it would be a good time to write a review of it.

This isn't primarily a comparison with the Kindle Paperwhite, but being that the Paperwhite is the defacto standard for eReaders these days, a couple notes:
  • The specs of the Kobo Aura and the 2014 Kindle Paperwhite (the same year the Kobo Aura was released) are nearly identical (screen size and resolution, backlight, processor, storage, battery life).
  • I was happy to get a Kobo and not a Kindle, because the Kindle devices can effectively only read eBooks from Amazon, and if I were to buy my eBooks on Amazon, I wouldn't be able to read them on any other eReader other than a Kindle. I buy my eBooks from Google Play, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and other publishers. I like having choices :)
Enough about that. Here are the things I love about the Kobo Aura:
  • The interface can be set to one of a number of languages, and it includes dictionaries as well as translations for multiple languages.
  • It has integrated Pocket support, which I love and use on a regular basis
  • When I first got the device there were a couple minor bugs, and I was pleasantly surprised to see they were fixed with a software update shortly after
  • It's priced competitively, cheaper than the Kindle Paperwhite and without ads
  • The backlight works great and can be turned off, unlike on the Kindle Paperwhite
  • The battery life is amazing
  • The Kobo store features are more subtle and less annoying than the Barnes and Noble features on the Nook Simple Touch
  • It has a micro SD card slot, which is nice although I haven't needed to use it yet. The Kindle Paperwhite doesn't have this.
  • The bezels are flush with the screen. It looks nice, but because they're so thin it can be difficult to hold the device without accidentally touching the screen.
  • The screen doesn't always register touches. Most of the time pressing the screen once or twice will turn the page, but there have been times when I've had to touch the screen three or even four times before it would respond. If the device had physical page turn buttons this wouldn't be as big a deal, but pretty much all eReaders these days have eschewed them.
    Edit: I originally had a screen protector on my device and I believe it was causing touches not to register as well. Since I've removed it I rarely have to touch more than once or twice.
  • The screen backlight has a lot of blue light. To be fair, it's the same as all other eReaders, so it's more of a suggestion than a huge complaint. But I think it would make much more sense to have a more reddish light on an eReader that will be less disruptive to sleep cycles. Because of this, I normally leave the built-in backlight turned off, especially if I'm reading before bed.
Overall I'm quite happy with the Kobo Aura, despite its few shortcomings. I'd probably give it a 9/10.

If I were to buy an eReader right now, I'd go for the Kobo Glo HD:
  • Display is slightly recessed (unlike the Kobo Aura)
  • Improved resolution, matches the 2015 Kindle Paperwhite
  • Same retail price as the Kobo Aura
  • Although no advertised micro SD card slot, storage is expandable


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