Kobo has announced the limited-edition Aura HD, a new e-reader with a front light, longer battery life and the company's very first HD display.
While we cool our jets and wonder whether this year's Christmas release of e-readers will finally include colour E Ink, Kobo has announced the launch of a new member in its current generation line-up.
The new device is bringing a couple of firsts for Kobo — most notably, a high-definition screen resolution, 1440x1080 at 256dpi, compared to the Glo's 1024x758 at 210dpi and the Mini's 800x600 at 200dpi. It's pretty sharp, and the touchscreen seems to respond even more smartly than the Glo.
The other is that it has dispensed with Kobo's signature quilted back — instead, it's moulded into the shape of a shallow groove that is, according to Kobo, what it has discovered to be the most ergonomic and comfortable shape. We were sceptical, but the device sits quite snugly in the hand.
It's coming in a little bigger than its closest sibling, the Glo, at 175.7x128.3x11.7 millimetres and 240 grams to the Glo's 157.4x113.9x10mm and 185 grams. E-readers have been trending toward being lighter and smaller every year, so this seemed an odd move — but it's actually because the Aura HD has a bigger screen: 6.8 inches to the Glo's 6. This means fewer page turns, which in turn leads to a longer-lasting battery — Kobo is claiming two months, which is twice as long as the Glo — and, as Kobo pointed out to us, the device still weighs less than the average paperback.
It also has twice as much on-board storage as the Glo, increasing the capacity to 4GB, although the 1GHz i.MX507 processor remains the same; however, as it's currently the best e-reader processor available, and seems to run pretty snappily on the Aura HD, we have no complaints there.
The software kit looks pretty similar to what we've already encountered, although the user interface has been redesigned. We recommend having a run through the tutorial the first time you log in, even if you're comfortable with Kobo's interfaces. The Home Page still looks similar, although now the book covers appear on tiles with percentages to indicate how far you are along in each book; when navigating your library, you now swipe to browse instead of moving a slider. These are little things, and we'll let you know how we feel about the changes in our full review.
Reading Life is still around, as is the included Merriam-Webster dictionary, cloud syncing, the ability to change font styles, open format support, chess and Sudoku built in, the ability to side load books, Wi-Fi connectivity and Kobo recommendations based on what's in your library.
The Kobo Aura HD in onyx, ivory and espresso (black, white and brown) will be available for an MSRP of AU$219.99 in Collins bookstores, JB Hi Fi and online in early June 2013.