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A New Kobo Aura 

Back in April of this year, Kobo raised the bar on screen quality with the release of its Kobo Aura HD product. This model featured a 6.8-inch WXGA+ Pearl E Ink touch screen with a resolution of 1440 x 1080. Now Kobo has produced another model in the Aura family but this time without the HD capability. This latest product is being pitched against the new Kindle Paperwhite offering

Kobo Aura HD eReader 2
click image to enlarge

Available in a choice of black or pink, with my review unit being of the former hue, the Kobo Aura is certainly significantly smaller than its HD sibling.  In fact, with its dimensions of 150 x 114 x 8.1 mm, it could almost fit within the screen area of the HD model.  Befitting its size and weighing just 174g, the Kobo Aura fits comfortably into the hand, helped to a degree by the slightly ridged back of the unit.  It will also slip into a pocket or bag without causing any discomfort.

The Kobo Aura features a 6-inch High-res, low glare Pearl E Ink Clarity touch screen which is capable of delivering 212 dpi with 16 levels of grey.  Like the Kobo Aura HD, this eReader is powered by a Freescale MX507 1GHz processor.  You get 4GB of built-in storage (enough for 3000 books) and this can be expanded up to 32GB using a MicroSD card.  Kobo rates the battery life for this model at two months based of 30 minutes of daily use with Wi-Fi turned off.

Mounted on top of the unit are the red power slider switch and a press button for activating the ComfortLight feature which gives an even glow over the whole screen to help improve visibility in certain environments.  The intensity of the ComfortLight can be adjusted from a Settings option or by an upwards movement using two fingers on the screen while the feature is activated.  MicroUSB and MicroSD card slots are located on the base of the Aura.

The Home page of this eReader provides information that includes the last book accessed, reading statistics and various other general issues.  In the bottom left corner of the screen are quick links to sections entitles Library, Bookstore and Extra.  When selected each of these sections displays a pop-up menu of further choices.  For example the Library options include your books, preview of titles in the bookstore and either collections of titles you have created or those produced by Kobo.

Not surprisingly the Bookstore option deals with purchasing books and various suggestions for further reading.  The Kobo Bookstore contains over 3.5 million books, magazines, comics and children content.  Books can be purchased via Wi-Fi using a credit card.  When using the Kobo Bookstore you will need to provide address details, including a telephone number, before your order will be accepted.  You are not limited to using the Kobo store and can make purchases elsewhere as long as the titles are in EPUB and Adobe DRM format. 

This Kobo eReader gives you a reasonably wide range of font styles and sizes when viewing the content of the various books and magazines you are reading.  You can select from 11 different fonts including Dyslexie, using slider bars to adjust the size, line spacing and margins.  You can also choose from left, centre or no justification.  Using the provided Advanced option, you can instantly view on screen the effects that any alterations make to the text display.

Along with the more common features, such as a dictionary or adding a note, the Kobo Aura has a Beyond the Book feature.  By selecting this particular feature you are rewarded with some information about the book you are currently reading.  This information can be about the author, subject matter and possible related topics.  This feature can be accessed by tapping on an underlined word or selecting the overlapping diamonds icon shown at the bottom of the screen.

A recent partnership entered into my Kobo and Pocket (previously known as “Read it Later”), a service for saving web content, adds further functionality to the Aura device.  Once you have set up a Pocket account with an email address and password, you can capture articles from the web and have them automatically transferred to the Aura device following your next sync operation.  These items will then be available in the Articles section on the Kobo Aura.

Screen quality with this eReader is of a reasonable standard although I sometimes felt I was tempted to use the ComfortLight feature a little more than with the Kobo Aura HD.  Switching between pages was smooth with a barely susceptible pause as the new page appeared.  I feel the Beyond the Page feature was of more value than the Pocket option.  Pricing for this model has been set at £119.99.

http://www.kobo.com/koboaura

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OverallKobo Aura rated 72 out of 100

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