8.3/10
Informr score
The Kobo Libra H2O currently has an Informr score of 8.3 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 10 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

Verdict

The Kobo Libra H2O is a great ebook reader for people who want to use a variety of formats and aren’t married to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s cheap, waterproof and generally provides a great reading experience.

What's good

  • Excellent price point
  • Overdrive integration
  • Sharp screen
  • No unnecessary screen clutter
  • Supports many file formats

What's bad

  • Plastic build
  • Screen contrast not great
  • Might be missing some books in its store

Amazon’s Kindle might be the most well-known e-reader, but it’s not the only one. Rakuten’s Kobo Libra H2O is a direct competitor for the Kindle Oasis at a much lower price. So how does it stack up against the e-reader giant?

Design

The Libra H2O takes a lot of its design from the Forma but shrinks the overall size by one inch. If you’re used to Kindles, the Libra is wider due to a larger bezel on one side. This bezel contains the page turning buttons and also, according to reviewers, makes it much more comfortable to hold. This is good because the Libra H2O is a bit heavier than other e-readers at 192 grams. The design is also reversible making it perfect for righties or lefties.

Like the Oasis, it comes with IPX8 certification. This means you can drop it in about 6 feet of water for an hour without it taking damage, making this a great option for people who like to read while bathing or next to the pool.

With that said, if you’re looking for a premium device, you’ll be disappointed -- the Libra H2O is made entirely of plastic.

Screen

The 7-inch screen has the same resolution and e-Ink technology as other high-end e-readers, offering sharp and easy-to-read text. While the text rendering might be fine, reviewers noticed that contrast was below average, making some book covers difficult to read.

In terms of backlighting, it’s mostly uniform. However, experts noticed the screen was a bit dimmer around the bezel with the buttons. Still, it wasn’t enough to ruin their experience.

Speaking of backlighting, this e-reader comes with the option to change color temperatures to reduce the amount of blue light you’re viewing. This is great for people who like to read at night or who want to avoid eye strain. While it might not automatically adjust the brightness based on the environment you’re in, it will change the brightness and warmth based on the information you input such as your time zone and preferred bedtime.

One huge advantage of this ebook reader over others is that you can read in landscape mode, making it great for long reading sessions.

Storage

You get 8GB of internal storage, which is enough to hold up to 6,000 ebooks. There’s no option to expand the storage.

Battery Life

A 1,200mAh battery powers the Libra H2O running. Experts averaged a couple weeks on a single charge even after reading for a few hours every day.

Software & File Format Support

If you want an e-reader that supports multiple file formats, then the Libra H2O is definitely a great option. It supports EPUB, MOBI, PDF, HTML, RTF, CBR and CBZ. Unsurprisingly, you can’t read Kindle books.

Of course, Kobo has its own store which boasts over 6 million books - around the same as Amazon. While it might not have some of the books you want, it might have others that Amazon does not have.

If you’re looking for a lot of bells and whistles when reading your book or navigating your homepage, you won’t get that with the Libra H2O. The design and software are sparse. There’s no audio support so you can’t listen to podcasts or audiobooks. It also does not have any cellular options so you can only download books over WiFi or through USB.

Still, many reviewers enjoyed the overall experience as it focused on the actual book and didn’t distract you with author metadata, GoodReads integration, ads, and more. Tom’s Guide notes, “The Kobo… feels more relaxed and welcoming…”

Extra Features

Want to read an article you found online later on your Libra H2O? All you need to use is Pocket -- an app that allows you to save articles on your laptop or tablet and read them on your e-reader.

If you are a member of your local library and they use Overdrive, you can easily borrow books and check out digital titles. This can fill in any gaps you might have in books from not taking part in Amazon’s ecosystem. It also allows you to check out digital titles in other countries where the service is supported.

While you can get both features on a Kindle, experts found the integration much more seamless and intuitive on the Libra H2O.

_

Summary

Overall, reviewers highly recommend the Kobo Libra H2O as it offers an excellent package at a reasonable price. Still, it doesn’t matter how good an e-reader it is if you have all your books in the Amazon ecosystem. If you don’t, then the Libra H2O is a great option.

Gizmodo states, “... For most people, the Kobo LIbra H2O seems like a much better buy. You get the most crucial features… in a much more affordable package.”

Digital Trends adds, “The Kobo Libra H2O has compromised on design… but headline features are all intact.”


Screen Size
7"
Backlight
Yes
Storage
8 GB
3G
No


What the Critics Are Saying...


Input

The Kobo Libra H2O is perfect for reading: in the bath, in bed at 2 am when you can’t sleep, in the car while you wait for your partner to hurry up and buy a bag of chips from the corner store — it’s truly the only reading device you’ll ever need. With direct library access, waterproofing, and liter...

- Matthew Wille, Input
NYTimes

The Libra H2O matches almost all the features of the Kindle Oasis for less money, minus the Amazon ecosystem. It's waterproof, has physical controls and a 7-inch screen, as well as screen light color temperature adjustment for late-night reading.

- Nick Guy, NYTimes
Tech Advisor

The Kobo Libra H20 offers the same great design and features as its larger Forma sibling, squeezed into a smaller package with a considerably smaller price tag. If you can cope with the curatorial problems on the Kobo eBook store, this is a great choice of eReader.

- David Price, Tech Advisor
PC Magazine

The Kobo Libra H2O sets the bar for non-Amazon ebook readers with flexible format support and a terrific form factor.

- Sascha Segan, PC Magazine
TrustedReviews

A strong, reasonably priced e-reader with a great screen and physical page buttons – but UI glitches haunt the Libra H20 almost as much as Amazon does.

- Jon Mundy, TrustedReviews


Prices (Where to Buy)




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Quick view

Screen Size
7"

The Kobo Libra H2O's screen size is 7 inches with 1264 x 1680 pixels resolution.

Processor
1 GHz
OS
Storage
8 GB

Internal memory is 8 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
1200mAh

The e-reader is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion), 1200 mAh battery.

Libra H2O Specs

Overview
Release date September 10, 2019
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
Networks
No
SIM card size No
Operating System Custom
Processor Freescale Solo Lite 1 GHz
Internal Storage 8 GB
RAM 512 MB
ROM No
TTY/TDD Unknown
SAR Unknown
Languages English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included USB Power Adapter, Manual, Data Cable
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity 1200 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time Unknown
Reading Time Unknown
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black, White
Dimensions [H x W x D] 15.9 x 14.4 x 0.5 cm (6.3 x 5.7 x 0.2 in)
Weight 192
Water Resistant / Waterproof Water Resistant
Rugged design No
IP Rating IP X8
Display / Screen
Type Grayscale
Technology E-ink
Colors No
Resolution 1264 x 1680 pixels
Pixel density 300 pixels
Size 7 inches
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Unknown
Screen Orientation Lock Unknown
Multi-Touch No
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Anti Glare Yes
Additional Display Features
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Page Turn Key Yes
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech Unknown
Screen Reader Unknown
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth No
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Encryption WEP/WPA/WPA2
Memory Expansion Slot No
PC Synchronization Yes
Audio / Video
Audio Playback No
Video Playback No
Streaming Video No
External Speakers No
Headset Jack No
Vibration Alert No
Content Formats Supported
Content Formats Supported BMP, CBR, CBZ, EPUB, EPUB3, GIF, HTML, JPEG, MOBI, PDF, PNG, RTF, TIFF, TXT
More
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