The Kobo Aura is a new backlit eReader from its new owner, Rakutan. With a 6-inch E Ink panel, 212-pixel per inch display, 4GB of internal storage and support for microSD cards, the reader is ready to handle your entire eBook library plus more. According to Brian Heater of Engadget, “All told, the Aura's hardware isn't perfect, but this is easily the nicest mainstream standalone e-reader we've seen, though the $150 price tag may be a lot for all but the most devoted bookworms to stomach.”
The device supports most popular eBook formats, including Adobe DRM, ePub, PDF, TXT and MOBI. The display features even backlighting, a hardware switch to control the light without having to dig into settings, a largely clutter free case design and feels exceptionally light. At just 6.14 ounces, the Aura is smaller, thinner and lighter than the Amazon Paperwhite. It also features integration for the Pocket service. This means that by installing an extension in your favorite browser, you can export web pages in a book-like format to your Aura with just a few mouse clicks. Wi-Fi support makes it easy to sync your book collection and import your Pocket clippings as well. The Beyond the Book feature allows supporting titles to integrate background information on important themes, events and characters, much like Amazon’s X-Ray feature. Digital Trend’s Matt Sanford says “At best, the Aura is just slightly better than the Paperwhite or Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight.”
There are a few drawbacks to the device. The first being the page turn speed. Though this is a universal problem across many eInk eReaders, the fading effect as you turn from page to page makes the problem a little more noticeable on the Aura. There is also the issue of the Kobo bookstore. Although you can easily sideload books from another store onto the device, if you choose to go with Kobo’s store you might find books to be slightly pricier than the competitors. The Kobo store also lacks the magazines and newspapers of other eBook stores. As long as you are willing to overlook the few minor quirks, Engadget sums up the device well by saying “This is a seriously nice piece of hardware -- and mind you, that's not the kind of compliment we often bestow on e-readers.”
The Good: Sleek case design, very bright backlight, extensive battery life, Pocket integration and support for many file formats.
The Bad: Price, lack of newspaper and magazine content, many settings buried in menus and lack of 3G/4G connectivity.