Kobo Aura H2O review: Waterproofing bodes well on Kobo's eReader

A library 30,000 books strong on a device you can hold in one hand

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Kobo Aura H2O
  • Kobo Aura H2O
  • Kobo Aura H2O
  • Kobo Aura H2O
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Water and dust resistant
  • Sharp and well-lit screen
  • Long battery life
  • Extra games and web browser

Cons

  • Little ghosting

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The standout feature of the Aura H2O is its water resistant and dustproof credentials. It is the first eReader in the world to earn an IP67 rating; which certifies it against freshwater a metre deep for thirty minutes.

The Aura H2O works in water with varying degrees of success. It will work as normal if there’s a light drizzle on the screen or if it is dunked completely underwater.

All waterproof electronics that have a touchscreen tend to struggle with water as it falsifies screen selections. Kobo gets around this issue with the H2O by generating a pop-up that asks you to shake some of the water off.

Think of the waterproofing as a safety net. The Kobo will work underwater, but holding it just above the waterline still delivers the best experience. That IP67 coating simply ensures a little water or sand won’t spoil beach and bath reading sessions.

No compromises have been made on the quality of the Aura H2O as an eReader. All of the hallmarks of a good eReader remain present: the screen still has a high resolution; there’s a strong backlight and the battery life is long.

The 6.8-inch E-ink screen has a sharp 1430x1080 resolution, which gives the H2O a 265 dot-per-inch density. The resolution is sharp enough to make tiny fonts legible, while the backlight is evenly distributed and makes it possible to read in absolute darkness at night.

Pages can be refreshed on every page at the most frequent, or at the least, on every sixth page. Readers won’t notice signs of ghosting passively, though little can be eyed if they squint hard enough.

Kobo claims the integrated battery in the Aura H2O can last “up to 2 months” based on daily reading sessions 30 minutes long. Good Gear Guide has been reading Roger Ebert’s Life itself on the eReader over the last two weeks. During that time the battery has dropped 25 per cent, giving us confidence in the battery claims made by Kobo.

Using the Aura H2O is easy enough. Tap or swipe the right or left of the eReader and the page turns. Tap it anywhere in the middle and the menu populates, presenting options for brightness, battery life and settings up-top, along with chapter progress, font size and statistics boarding the bottom.

Kobo’s business is eBooks and the company wants people to read from its 4 million eBook library on the devices they find most convenient. We found ourselves stranded on a train one afternoon, the Aura H2O left behind on our desk, and still managed to read Life itself on our Android smartphone. The fact the Aura H2O is part of Kobo’s refined ecosystem is a feature of note in itself.

Powering the Aura H2O is a 1GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM. Wi-Fi is used to download eBooks, of which 3000 can be stored on the Kobo’s 4GB of internal storage, or you can insert a 32GB microSD card for up to 30,000 softcopy books.

Buried in the settings menu under the title ‘Beta Features’ is an Internet browser, a sketch pad and games that include chess, solitaire, word scrabble, unblock it and Sudoku. The H2O is an eReader first and foremost, but we think these are great value adding extras nonetheless.

Kobo’s Aura H2O is not just a waterproof eReader; it is a fantastic eReader that benefits even more so from being waterproof. The screen is sharp and well backlit, the battery life is wonderfully long and, best of all, the Aura H2O makes it possible to take your entire library with you into the bath or onto the sands of Australian beaches.

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