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.