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Kobo Aura HD review

Andy Vandervell



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Our Score:



  • Very sharp screen
  • Bright and even built-in light
  • Useful reading stats


  • Costs nearly as much as a tablet
  • No standby sync

Key Features

  • 6.8-inch screen, 1440 x 1080, 265ppi
  • 4GB built-in storage & microSD card slot
  • Up to two months battery life
  • Integrated light
  • Manufacturer: Kobo
  • Review Price: £139.99

What is the Kobo Aura HD?

This is Kobo’s latest attempt to muscle more of the ebook reader market away from Amazon. The Kobo Aura HD’s main selling point is its ultra-sharp 6.8-inch screen that, thanks to its 1,440 x 1,080 resolution, is 20% sharper than the Kindle Paperwhite. Neatly, it’s around 20% more expensive than the Paperewhite, too, so which is the more telling statistic?

Kobo Aura HD – Design & Build Quality

Amazon has always had a slight edge over rivals in the design stakes, but the Kobo Aura HD does more than most to redress the balance. It’s available in Ivory, Espresso and Onyx – that’s white, brown and black to the rest of the English-speaking world – and the rear has two ridges that make it easier to hold in one hand. They work, very well in fact, as the Kobo Aura HD sits snugly in your hand despite the fact it’s a little over 20g heavier than the Kindle Paperwhite.

So far it’s good news, then, and while superficially the Kobo Aura HD is no great looker, ebook readers are best when they’re discreet and simple and the Kobo fits both bills. Our only slight grumble, and it is only slight, is that one small segment of the front-fascia of our review sample didn't clip perfectly to the rear section, resulting in a barely audible creaking noise when squeezed. It’s a trivial issue, but one that shows the build quality falls just short of flawless.

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Kobo Aura HD – Features & Battery Life

Ebook readers are rarely ‘feature packed’ but the Kobo Aura HD does better than most. Kobo quotes 4GB of built-in storage, though only 3.17GB of that is free to actually use. That’s ample for…well…more ebooks than we can count, but unlike any Amazon Kindle there’s a microSD slot as well, which supports up to 32GB cards.

That’s overkill for ebooks – the Kobo Aura HD doesn’t support audio books – but it does make transferring large book collections from one reader to another a good deal easier. Collections are quickly and efficiently imported the moment you insert a card, too.

Nestled next to the microSD card slot is a miniUSB port – a standard one so that, should you forget or lose the provided cable, it won’t be hard to find an alternative. Battery life, incidentally, is ‘up to two months’ though Kobo also claims ‘up to one month’ when the light is used for 30 minutes per day. We haven’t had the Kobo long enough verify these claims, but our battery is hovering around the 80% mark after a week’s use – with and without wi-fi – which puts it on target for four to five weeks in normal use.

There’s a smattering of ‘Extra’ features tucked away in the settings. These include Chess, Solitaire, Word Scramble, a sketch pad and Sudoku – all, bar one, useful commuter time killers. There’s also a web browser, not that you’ll need it unless you’re logging into a Wi-Fi hotspot.


April 25, 2013, 9:49 pm

Why - why - why don't you mention the MOST important fact about any e-book reader !!!
All the things you mention are "interesting" but of absolutely no importance if all your books are in mobi and the device only supports epub. ALL reviews should have an up-front list of the supported formats.


April 26, 2013, 8:41 am

Apologies. You make a very valid point. Here's a full list of supported formats from Kobo's website:

eBooks: EPUB, PDF, and MOBI
Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, and TIFF
Comic Books: CBZ and CBR


May 2, 2013, 10:36 am

Bear in mind software like Calibre can support conversion between formats and by this stage they usually do a decent job of it. I've really never seen a good reason to be restricted in your reader choice just because the publisher you bought your books from doesn't provide what you need. I mentioned 'bought' here for a reason, you should only have to do this one time if we're only talking about existing bought books. And also, given the current trends, it's probably best to make sure you keep your own backups of your ebooks whether locally or in the various cloud computing services, so that they don't disappear when the publisher decides you didn't buy them simply a licence which they can revoke at whim. I can understand it being a bigger issue for some if it means you have to use a computer every time you download a new book so I'm not so much thinking of those cases where for some reason all new books you acquire a likely to be in one format.



June 3, 2013, 2:00 pm

I have one of these and it feels really good in the hand due to the ridges on the back. In addition, my Kindle Paperwhite is a very poor relation in comparison to this device!!


June 11, 2013, 12:55 pm

I very love my Kobo Glo. Then I heard about Aura, I decided to upgrade my e-reader without hesitation. But Then I came to see new device in the store, I was surprise to find out how poor quality the aura device is. The frame is made from a very poor plastic that it makes crack-sound every time you put the device in your hands. The top of the frame is fall apart.


April 25, 2014, 6:04 pm

With those specs I wish it supported audiobooks and music.

Ryan Cua

May 9, 2014, 3:12 pm

Although, I don't really concur with that since battery life will be impacted all too greatly, and this would go against their "claim" of two months at least if used at least 30 minutes a day. It would've been counterproductive for their marketing. The crazy battery life (looking at the first half of the claim) would be a lie if they had to add an amplifier and digital-analog converter section since even though the two parts don't take too much power when in use (application using up memory included), but in due time the build up of usage assuming you were you were reading e-books and listening to music or listening to an audio book 30 minutes everyday...the best assumption would be that it'd last less than 2-3 weeks w/o wifi enabled at any given time (which isn't bad considering phones today). However, the real point is...the claim about battery life would have been less than stellar (other e-book readers considered), or if they stuck to the original claim...it would be an outright overstatement, and stamp out consumer trust. I propose that you change your statement to: "With those specs I wish it supported audiobooks and music, and lasts at least a week of "normal" use."(Sorry for the rant. I'm just like this. I love trying to explain things.) Anyways, your comment was great food for thought :))))

Ryan Cua

May 9, 2014, 3:29 pm

I find this quite an interesting thing about reviews involving majority of the software-reliant technology typology is that when software is usually involved. A great number of reviewers "tend" to avoid talking about the software in any strict sense other than gliding over some superficial and some important features that share the common trope of being technophobe-proof. The problem with this is that the reviews now presuppose a certain state of affairs in an area where people "normally" do not have this existing state of affairs. The "ins-and-outs" of Software may be a technophobes greatest enemy, but it is the necessary evil to them, and an important factor to any person, nonetheless. However, we must not forget that this information economy is capitalist, and it tends to think of a target market, and it just so happens that the theoretical target market is under the dominion of technophobes. Hence, the normal lack of the mention of formats, or it could simply be human error which is very much likely :) (I just really, really like to comment what I think)


May 9, 2014, 3:53 pm

It wouldn't have made a difference in marketing, because they would still say the same thing about the battery just putting a small footnote saying only using 30min. a day without wifi, but now they would have to add without audio.
I still wish it supported audiobooks and music, because then it would be a complete solution for me.

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