Kobo Aura One: Kobo unveils its tablet-sized, premium e-reader
E-readers face a bit of a problem when it comes to innovation: the written word has survived for thousands of years without the kind of innovations we impatiently tend to seek in the tech community. That’s the whole reason the phrase “we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel” exists – if the medium is perfect, how can you make it better?
Kobo, the Canadian e-reader company, thinks it has the answer with its latest model: the Aura One. Seeking feedback from “nine of Kobo’s top customers”, the company has honed in on what it sees as the e-reader’s current weak spots, and it does sound very promising indeed.
First, it’s bigger. The Kobo Aura One has an edge-to-edge screen size of 7.8in. At 195.1 x 138.5 x 6.9mm, it doesn’t sound hugely chunky, but it is still substantially bigger than Amazon’s current range of Kindles. The retail giant did experiment with some plus-sized Kindles a few years ago, with the DX range – although the fact that they’re no longer sold suggests the market might not be as keen as Kobo hopes. Still, those were 9.7in, so the Kobos are a little smaller, and the company believes that pitching them at the size of a hardback book is the sweet spot, allowing more words per page and, therefore, fewer page turns. At 300ppi, it matches the top-of-the-range Kindles for clarity in any case.
Next up, Kobo seems to recognise that a lot of people read in the bath, and while ebooks have the advantage of no pages to go soggy, if they fall in, it can mean bad things for your device. The Kobo Aura One is waterproof for up to two metres for an hour, so unless you have very slow reactions and very deep baths, your book should last to fight another day.
Finally, Kobo’s focus group wanted a book that would help them fall asleep, rather than holding back their shut-eye. With that in mind, the front lighting on the Kobo Aura One reduces blue-light exposure with the aim of ensuring it doesn’t disrupt sleep patterns. Better still, it has an ambient light sensor to detect light levels to modify brightness depending on the time of day.
Specs wise, it’s suitably overpowered for an ebook reader, with 512MB of RAM and a whopping 8GB of storage to ensure you have more books than you could ever read in a lifetime at your fingertips. The battery life should last a month. It’s out on 6 September, priced at £190 – which puts it in direct competition with Amazon’s £170 Kindle Voyage.
If that sounds a bit expensive for an e-reader, Kobo is releasing a cheaper version at the same time. Somewhat clunkily christened the Kobo Aura Edition 2, it’s a 212ppi, 6in e-reader based on the older models, packed with 4GB of internal storage. It will be released at the same time, priced at £100, meaning it’s taking aim at the Kindle Paperwhite.
Both devices sound promising. The Kobo Aura One, in particular, takes aim at a couple of the only remaining weak spots left in the e-book market, but is it enough to be worth an upgrade? We’ll let you know our thoughts in a full review soon.