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Kobo Aura review

Kobo eyes the Kindle Paperwhite with its thinner and lighter backlit ereader
Thu Oct 17 2013, 08:50

Product Kobo Aura
Specifications 6in high-res Pearl E Ink display with 1014x758 resolution and 16 level grey scale, 1GHz CPU, 4GB internal storage for 4,000 books expandable up to 32GB via microSD card, microUSB port, WiFi connectivity, two-month battery life, 150x114x8.1mm, 174g
Price £119.99

JAPANESE EREADER MAKER Kobo is relentless in its push to rival the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, regularly adding fresh, cheaper designs and updates to its family of devices to convince the market that it is the best value for money.

The firm's most recent addition is its 6in ereader device, named the Kobo Aura. Available in black and pink, it is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Kobo Aura HD that the firm unveiled earlier this year. The Aura has been marketed as more affordable due to its slightly smaller form and lower quality 212dpi Pearl E Ink display.

Design and build
As the Aura is around £20 cheaper than its brother the Aura HD, we expected it to have a lower quality build and design. However, we can report that this is not the case.

Kobo Aura review - screen saver

In the same way that the Aura HD did, the Aura offers improved ergonomics over the firm's last flagship ereader, the Kobo Glo, which had a more box-like shape. The Aura's design is reminiscent of its more expensive counterpart, retaining the slanted back design. This allows fingers to rest naturally on the back and thus make the Aura a much more pleasant device to hold when reading.

This time, Kobo has given the tablet a textured back, in what we can only describe as a cross-hatched pattern. This not only makes the Aura feel more robust but gives it a better grip.

Kobo Aura review - back

Like the Aura HD, Kobo has coloured the Aura's power-on switch in red to not only draw attention to it but give it a slightly edgier design. This switch works well, it's responsive and does as it should - springing back into position once pressed to power on the device.

Next to the power switch is a button that turns on the backlight, which responds well when pressed. The button is flush to the Aura's casing so isn't easily knocked on or off.

Kobo Aura review - top

Another noticeable difference in the Aura when compared to the Aura HD is the thickness. Measuring 8.1mm, it's 3.6mm thinner than the HD and thus noticeably nicer to hold in the hand.

Overall, we were impressed with the Aura's design. Its textured back means that it doesn't slip out of your hands. It is also very lightweight, weighing just 179g, so it won't strain your wrists holding it for long periods, but is heavy enough that it doesn't feel cheap.

The Aura also feels rather sturdy despite its plastic construction. Twisting it in opposite directions with both hands, for example, it felt quite robust and showed no warping under stress.

Next: Display, settings and functions


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