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The new Kobo Aura One e-reader has 4 things the Kindle doesn't

It's hard to beat Amazon's e-readers but Kobo is doing its best to differentiate its latest E-ink e-reader from its Kindle brethren.

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Instead of going small with its new top-of-the-line e-reader, Kobo, now owned by online retailer Rakuten, has gone big. The Aura One sports a 7.8-inch E Ink display that's significantly larger than the 6-inch E Ink displays found on all of Amazon's Kindle e-readers.

Even with that bigger screen, at 230 grams or 8.1 ounces, this Aura is thinner and a touch lighter than the earlier Aura H20, which has a 6.8-inch screen. Bottom line, you're getting more screen without adding any weight.

The Aura One compared to the Kindle Paperwhite.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I personally prefer the Kindles' smaller form factor, and the svelte Kindle Oasis in particular, but some people like to bump up the font size and a larger screen allows you to display more lines of text. While it's a little hard to get your whole hand around the device, it's designed to be held in one hand, and the back of the device has a rubberized, textured finish that makes it a little easier to grip.

Like the Aura H20, this e-reader is waterproof, though it doesn't float. Its got a higher IPX8 rating, which means it can be submerged in up to 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes (the Aura H20 is rated to be submerged in up 1 meter for 30 minutes). Currently, no Kindle is waterproof, although Barnes & Noble's Nook GlowLight Plus is.

Other upgrades include an ultra high resolution 1,872x1,404, 300-pixels per inch display, 8GB of onboard storage instead of the typical 4GB and an improved integrated lighting system that allows you to adjust not only brightness but color temperature (basically, a "day" and "night" mode).

The slim Aura only weighs 230 grams or 8.1 ounces.

Sarah Tew/CNET

As you'd expect from a Kobo e-reader, you can shop for e-books in the integrated Kobo store (Kobo also has apps for iOS, Android, Windows BlackBerry 10 devices, as well as Mac and Windows PCs). But in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, you can also check out library e-books via OverDrive, which Kobo's parent company scooped up last year. (Yes, you can do also get those free library books on Kindle and Nook devices, but not by tapping the screen right on the reader as you can with the Aura One.) Other supported formats include EPUB, PDF and MOBI, as well as various image file formats, HTML, and comic book file formats.

Available for $230 in the US on September 6, the Aura One is fairly pricey, but that seems to be a trend these days in the e-reader market, as dedicated E Ink e-reading devices become niche products, with higher-end models geared to avid readers willing to pay extra for special features. (It also hits the UK on September 6 at an undisclosed price, and will follow to Australia later this year. The US price converts to AU$300 and £175.)

The value proposition here is that you're getting a so-called "open" e-reader that has a large, crisp E-ink display and is safe to use in the bathtub or the pool.

The device is fully waterproof and has textured back.

Sarah Tew/CNET

We'll have a full review of the Aura One after we've put it fully through its paces. In meantime, have a look at its specs, courtesy of Kobo:

  • Price: $249 (CA) $229 (US) €229 (EU)
  • Display: 7.8-inch Carta E Ink HD touchscreen with ultra-high resolution of 1,872x1,404, 300ppi
  • Device size: 195.1 x 138.5 x 6.9mm, weight: 230g
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB
  • Processor: i.MX6 Solo Lite Freescale, 1 GHz
  • Light: Fully adjustable built-in ComfortLight PRO technology. Auto-adjusting colour temperature and brightness
  • Waterproof: HZO Protection meets IPX8 rating. Waterproof for up to 60 minutes in up to 2 meters of water.
  • Storage: 8GB (stores more than 6,000 e-books)
  • Battery: Up to 1 month, depending on usage
  • Content: More than 5 million titles in books, comics and kids' titles. Library access via OverDrive (CA, US, UK, AU, NZ only)
  • TypeGenius: 11 fonts, over 50 sizes, plus sharpness and lighting settings
  • Kobo Picks: Personal recommendations based on your reading habits. Advanced Reading: Highlighting, dictionary, notes and bookmarks.
  • Stats and awards: Learn more about yourself as a Reader and track your progress through books with reading stats. Enjoy spontaneous reading awards just for reading. Sharing: Share your favorite passages, quotes and books to your Facebook timeline
  • Supported file formats: EPUB, EPUB3, PDF and MOBI e-books; JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF images; TXT, HTML, XHTML and RTF text; CBZ and CBR comic books
  • Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese and Turkish
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