REVIEWED: Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2

It’s bigger than a Kindle and it’s waterproof, but this super-slim eReader’s killer app is its abilities with ‘save for later articles from around the web

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The headline feature is obvious; this is the only eReader available that’s waterproof (waterproof for up to 60 minutes in up to 2m of water), and as such Kobo is making a play for travellers who like to sit around the pool and read while on a holiday. So … that would be the really boring people it’s best not to travel with at all.

Small wonder

Things have changed on Kobo’s updated waterproof eReader. For starters, the new Kobo Aura H2O is a lot slimmer than the original H2O at a mere 8.9mm. It’s also a jot smaller at 172x129mm, though the 6.8-inch E-Ink screen is as big as you would want it (and bigger than any Kindle). Plus, it’s only 210g, so easy enough to hold in one hand to read.

Pixel problems?

Physically attractive, with a micro USB slot at the bottom for recharging and a standby button on the mottled reverse, the Kobo Aura H2O has swapped-out the 300 pixels-per-inch (PPI) screen for one that’s a mere 256PPI. Does that matter? In practice, it doesn’t.

Let there be light

We took the Kobo Aura H2O on a short trip to Malaga, and were surprised by the quality not just of its E-Ink panel for easy reading, but by its lighting. Although it doesn’t have an ambient sensor to automatically adjust the backlighting, it does have a nifty way of compensating for the light levels. In the evening the light turns yellow, in the morning it’s has more blue light in the mix; you get the idea. Personally, we try to avoid any backlighting – it makes it look like a tablet.

Page turner

Navigating the user interface is easy, as is transferring ePUB files across, and buying books from Kobo’s store is easy. Pages turns and by taps, zoom-ins on PDFs is by a double-tap, which is nice. Fonts can be customised and leading, weight and suchlike can all be tweaked.

Hand in Pocket

However, that we loved most of all is Pocket syncing. If you install the Pocket button on your phone or PC/Mac browser, you can save articles from anywhere on the web to read later ‘on any device, any time’. Sign-in to Pocket on the Kobo Aura H2O and you can sync it; the software downloads the last 50 articles you saved, and gives you the option to manually download more. It’s an awesome feature for anyone who does research online, or just wants to read the long-form articles on the web on an eReader device.

Guilty as charged

The battery lasts ‘up to’ TWO months, which is to say, it absolutely does not. Not if you use any of its WiFi-related features. So that’s a slight problem, though if you sync with Pocket once a day and just read, there should be no problem surviving a week or two without a charge.

Fonts, features & functions

With more fonts, more features and that excellent sync with Pocket for ‘read later’ functionality, Kobo’s latest seems far more advanced than a Kindle. So which one to buy? It plays EPUB files; a Kindle does not, but the Kobo Store is not as packed with ebooks (especially the often excellent ‘indie’ ebooks) as Amazon. However, if you mainly read best-sellers and sit by a pool – and you would LOVE to also read articles from the web on your eReader – the Kobo Aura H2O is for you.

Price as reviewed: US$179.99/UK£149.99

Buy the Kobo Aura H2O Edition 2