Sure enough, the new eight-inch $230 Kobo Aura One ereader leaves Amazon’s six-inch $290 Oasis behind in regard to all-text bold and other typographical amenities.
And that’s just the start for the Aura One—pre-orderable August 30 and on sale September 8—if we go by the spec page.
The HD Carta E Ink touchscreen, 7.8 inches to be precise, offers 300 dots per inch, the same as the Oasis, even though the Amazon machine is only a six incher. Resolution is 1872 x 1404. At the same time Kobo has kept the weight down to 230 grams. Size is 195.1 x 138.5 x 6.9 mm. Who says the Oasis is the only super-slim machine out there?
The Aura One’s guts are waterproof, and the front lighting filters out blue rays to reduce the disruption to sleep if you read close to bedtime.
Format support continues for ePub, MOBI and a host of other choices even if, alas, readers are stuck with Kobo’s proprietary encryption-based DRM on the copyright-protected books from its store.
Storage is 8GB. The new Kobo lacks an SD card slot found in earlier Kobo machines, perhaps due to the waterproofing, but the 8GB is still enough for 6,000 or so books.
As for typographical selections, Kobo offers “TypeGenius: 11 different fonts and over 50 font styles. Exclusive font weight and sharpness settings.”
Even now, on older Kobo devices, you can vary the font weight, but meanwhile the Oasis won’t even let you do all-text bold. What’s wrong with you, Jeff Bezos? Just why are you so resistant to more font choices when discerning readers and your competitors at Kobo care about these matters?
What’s more, now that Rakuten owns both the Overdrive library service and Kobo, I’ll be surprised if at some point the Japanese conglomerate doesn’t use its public library ties to promote the Aura One and other offerings. For example, if a library ends up with a certain number of Kobo books, is there anything to prevent Rakuten from throwing in a few free Kobo Aura Ones to lend out to patrons? Just what better way to whet people’s appetites for their own?
As a library machine, the Aura One should particularly shine. Its promo says: “With one integrated catalogue, Kobo and your Local Library make it easy to search for the eBook you want and choose to borrow or buy, it’s that simple.” I’ll be surprised if that feature or a similar one doesn’t come to other Kobo ereaders through firmware updates.
Below are two videos promoting the new ereader:
Hmm. Given Amazon’s deafness to pleas for sufficient typographical choices, I wonder about the extent to which Bezos has involved people outside his core Kindle team in the design of new products. If he has used outsiders, maybe he and his team need to pick them better.
No, I haven’t tried the Aura One myself, but I do own a Kobo H2O ereader and can vouch for its superior range of typographical choices, and of course I’ll be getting my hands on the Aura One in the future.
Meanwhile you can read reviews in Techrunch, Tom’s Hardware, Engadget and the Verge, as well as thoughts from Nate Hoffelder at the Digital Reader, who says this just might be the machine that gets him to do library books, now that Kobo has reduced the related hassles. Among the pros mentioned are the screen size. But some reviewers wonder if the smallness of the bezel makes the Aura One too difficult to hold without accidental page flips. I myself will be interested in seeing if Kobo has made the selection of text smoother than it is on my H20. The Aura One’s processor runs at 1 gigahertz and RAM is 512, according to the Verge.
Here’s a dunk test from Tom’s:
As much as I care about hardware and software issues such as display size and quality and typographical options, I’m also interested in the size of the accompanying ebook selection. In that respect Amazon still leads Kobo by a wide margin. Similarly Amazon’s prices, at least on bestsellers, tend to be lower. Just the same, if you’re a library fan and if you want superior typography and the Aura One’s other advantages, especially if you’re also into public domain books, then you may want to end up owning both machines. May. I reserve judgment until I do my own hands-on.
Related: My Oasis review and Len Edgerly’s (as well as Chris Meadows’s thoughts on the Aura One before Kobo released the specs). Look, other than offering a crappy range of typographical choices, the Oasis is good device on the whole. But in specs and value for the price, the Aura One is clearly the leader of the pack right now.
The Aura One looks to be the sort of device I would like to own. But I cannot justify the purchase now with my Aura HD humming along nicely. If Overdrive integration did not come to the HD I might then be tempted. Kobo must have been encouraged enough by sales of the Aura line of readers to go it one bigger.
The 8″ screen is the most tempting feature. I like to see lots of text while reading. If it could read my pre-existing Kindle editions, I’d buy it as a pre-order.
As is, I’ll wait and see. The ball is in Amazon’s court. They may come out with a bigger Kindle or they may do something that turns me off their system platform entirely. Or they can do nothing, leading me to seek out the 8″ screen. I can resist everything but temptation.
The downside that I could see in the pictures was very wide margins. Maybe that’s configurable. Otherwise, wide margins would be a deal breaker.
My impression of the bezel from the photo is that it is probably the same as the current Aura line. My Aura Hd side bezel is 12 mm. To me it looks as if bezel top/bottom ratios are similar to older Auras. Until someone has their hands on one…
With sideloading and conversions using calibre, the ecosystem makes little difference these days.
The storage, dimensions and typography advantages of this Kobo make it a great choice. Plus, it will no doubt be KoReader-friendly. Nothing Amazon offers can even come close.
Unfortunately I think ecosystem does make a big difference. Amazon/Kindle is a powerful combination with the range of book offerings, pricing, and easy search. Kobo with a lesser range of titles, pricing not as competitive in general, and search is a mess.
Now you and I are comfortable with conversions and sideloading but the vast majority of readers will never do any of that There was a time I wanted to build a web site where you could search for Ebooks and then discover who offered them for sale and the lowest price available. I was really excited about this idea. Then I stopped to think. Kindle owners will go to Amazon, Kobo owners will go to Kobo. It is the path of least resistance and so easy. I know it is not hard to use Calibre or sideload but it is a layer of complexity the average person will avoid. I was the target audience for my idea but my idea was not for the general audience if that makes sense.
In the realm of hardware I much prefer Kobo. The much greater flexibility on how a book is displayed is a big advantage.
The only question I have is how this will fly for PDFs. Having used a 6″, a 6.8″ and a 9.7″ screen for ordinary text EPUBs or MOBIs, I doubt that an 8″ screen will improve the reading experience for such docs. My opinion is that a larger screen is a wash for ordinary text EPUBs.
The Kindle DX experience shows that a 9.7″ screen is much better for reading PDFs than a 6″ screen. How will a 7.8″ screen compare with the DX’s 9.7″ screen for PDFs?
@Reader: Well, my review unit of the Kobo eight incher arrived yesterday, and I can say the PDF experience is better than on a six inch device, but still not good enough for me. I want enough words to fit on the screen, and I want them large enough to read easily. EPub? Yes, I’m enjoying the larger size. Especially on some non-Kobo files, the Kobo isn’t quite as responsive as Kindles are, so it’s more important than ever to squeeze more words on a page. On the positive, I am really enjoying the greater range of typographical options then the Kindles do offer. Also, I’m enjoying other special features. More to come.
IOW, it would appear that the Kindle Dinosaur DX, with its 9.7″ screen, is a better PDF alternative for not only 6″ screens, but also 7.8″ screens.
The B&N Nook Simple Touch could change fonts on unscanned PDFs, which was a good feature.
I have read that the light weight of the Kobo Aura One came at the expense of battery life: the posted 1 month battery life is for reading a half hour a day, which comes to only 15 hour battery life. Not good. I would prefer a heavier unit with a heftier battery.
Doing away with the battery life advantage will reduce the incentive to purchase a more expensive e-reader instead of a cheaper tablet.
I think the battery life will put me off buying this. My estimate is the battery will last me less than a week. If my Aura HD breaks I would reconsider because I hear how ludicrous I sound… “only” a week of battery life. A tablet would die for that battery life.
@Reader: The DX screen lacked enough contrast for me – maybe it would’ve been better with a front light – but you’re quite right about the size advantage. As for the big new Kobo’s battery life, the 15 hour estimate might even be on the generous side for people who like to crank up the illumination. We are indeed talking trade-offs. Kobo perhaps was hoping to keep the device light enough for one-handed reading (as well as for use by people with arthritis and other problems). Me, I’ll stick with two hands. I’m not going to gamble that way with a $230 device. As for the Kobo versus a tablet, the screen might make a real difference for people who dislike the glare.
The DX screen lacked enough contrast for me
I agree with you. Apart from PDFs, the contrast problem is made worse by DX-MOBI having only one font. I don’t know if Calibre can be manipulated so that you can have a MOBI on the DX with the font you want- thus far I have not been successful. The prospect of bricking the DX has stopped me from using Cool Reader.
Thus far I prefer reading on the multiple bold fonts on a Kobo to the thin MOBI font on the DX.
You can get the font you want using a PDF doc on the DX. I don’t like the way Calibre makes PDF doc- too few words per page. I used MS Word to make a PDF document with a bold font. Perfect: plenty of contrast with a bold font. Vary the words per page by changing font size. What worked for me was 14 size of a bold font which gives a size I like w about 300 words per page on the DX.
@Reader: Of course we disagree on politics, but your formatting priorities match mine very closely. As for Calibre, there may yet be a solution for you in regard to bolded Mobi on the DX through embedded fonts. I’d welcome suggestions for you from Calibre gurus. Good tip re the Word workaround.