Kobo has added a new model to its range of traditional e-ink readers – the Kobo aura H2O.
The device offers all the standard features – an e-ink screen with claims of a ‘like paper’ experience, WiFi access to a built-in bookstore and a backlight so you can read in low light and at night.
All of these have ben refined over successive generations of devices and none perform markedly better here than on other comparable rival models.
But the aura H2O has one additional feature which sets it out from the crowd – it’s water resistant.
Ever since ebook readers first came on the market they’ve suffered, like most electronic devices, from a vulnerability to water which makes them unsuitable for reading with in the bath.
Drop your latest Peter James paperback while in the tub and all you’ve lost is £5 but do the same with your ebook reader and you’re looking at paying out a lot more for a replacement.
And so for years ereaders have had to be left outside the bathroom while book lovers revert to paper when wanting to lean back in the bubbles and read a few pages.
It’s this very much first world problem which Kobo seeks to solve with its aura H2O – a device certified as water resistant for up to 30 minutes.
Before you get too excited, there are some caveats to this – that figure is based on the device being no more than 1 metre under water and, most importantly, when the rubber port cover which hides the charging connector is in place.
To test the claims I placed the reader directly under a tap dropped it in half a bath of water for the stated 30 minutes – in both cases the device still worked afterwards, with no sign of water penetration.
On the downside I found the rubber port cover didn’t always want to sit flush and had to be closed with a precision ‘hinge side down first’ method in order to achieve the necessary water resistant seal.
For this reason parents might want to think carefully before allowing younger family members to take their ereader near water but in responsible hands, my unscientific tests confirm the H2O will easily cope with the odd bath time or poolside splash.
Kobo have been pretty clever here – not only does the addition of water resistance solve a issue that’s nagged at users for some time, but they’ve also given their new device a provable, non-subjective (see the endless e-ink versus LCD debate) advantage over tablets.
And, while its rivals will soon rush out their own water resistant models, the H20 also offers a clear reason to pick it over a Kindle or NOOK.
The Kobo aura H2O hits shelves on September 29th and is available to pre-order for £129.00