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Kobo Aura H2O review

7.7/10 AVG.

Informr score
The Kobo Aura H2O currently has an Informr score of 7.7 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 15 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

What's good

  • Uniform screen brightness and almost pure white background
  • IP67 certification for waterproofing
  • Large, high resolution display

What's bad

  • No pinch-to-zoom capability for PDFs
  • Impersonal store experience
  • Loads PDFs slowly

In the market of e-readers, the first name that comes to mind is the Kindle. Kobo is trying to break that with the introduction of their latest e-reader, the Aura H2O. What sets this apart from other e-readers? It is IP67 certified, which means it is completely waterproof in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. This is perfect for consumers who bring their devices in the bath, pool or beach. Not only can it be read under water but it maintains all of its general functionalities thanks to plastic covers for the microUSB and microSD slot. However, when submerged for over 10 minutes, Gizmodo states that, "For about five minutes after the fact, no matter what we hit, the device shuffled between slow loading and freezing entirely." They add that it worked fine after it dried off completely.

Design-wise, the Aura H2O is bigger than the Paperwhite due mostly to the larger 6.8-inch screen. Despite its slightly larger dimensions, experts found it comfortable to hold for long amounts of time due to the soft-to-the-touch surface and light weight of 227 grams. The screen itself offers a resolution of 1080p for a pixel density of 265ppi. More important than resolution is actual screen quality. When critics compared it to the Kindle Paperwhite 2, they noticed that the background was much whiter and the light distribution was very even.

Perhaps the biggest downside of the Aura H2O is its store. Amazon has had years to build up relationships with publishers and authors so it isn't any surprise that they have a bigger selection. However, critics also point out that the shopping experience is overall far easier and cheaper on the Kindle. TechRadar adds that there's very little in the way of personalization noting that, "The Kobo storefront…is dominated by a carousel of book covers of random authors in random genres."

Experts also ran into issues when trying to load PDF books. When attempting to load a book, it took them over a minute load large files and over seven seconds to flip through the pages. There is also no pinch-and-zoom capability so reviewers had to manually zoom in using a slider at the bottom of the screen.

Reviewers were impressed with the Kobo Aura H2O and recommend it to people who are not already invested in the Amazon ecosystem and want an e-reader with a great screen and protection against accidental drops in water. Tech Crunch states, "Rakuten-owned Kobo has executed perfectly on e-reader hardware with the Aura H2O."

Screen Size
4 GB
Reading Time
30 hours

What the Critics Are Saying...


If you do a lot of your reading poolside, on a boat, in the bath, or in the desert, the Kobo Aura H2O's IP67 rating for water and dust resistance offers an impressive amount of protection from water and dust incursion. But other, less-expensive e-readers deliver better reading experiences.

- Séamus Bellamy, PCWorld
Tech Advisor

The main reason to buy the Aura H2O is for its water resistance. And for that you do pay a premium. In fact, it’s hard to find the H2O at its recommended price of £140 – many places are selling it for £25 more. For some people, this would be a price worth paying, but the H2O&...

- Jim Martin, Tech Advisor

Great for the beach and the bath, Kobo's latest is the only waterproof ereader we know of. There's no 3G option, the store isn't as good as Amazon's, and there is a slight lack of processing power, but there are other unique attributes aside from waterproofing that make the Aura H2O worth considerin...

- Jamie Carter, TechRadar
Computer Shopper

That's not to say the Aura H2O is a subpar choice—far from it. We laud Kobo for the hardware's beautiful design and usability. But unless you're not overly committed to any one platform, we can only recommend the Aura H2O to those who truly do intend to read near water, outdoors, or in the tub...

- Dave McClintock, Computer Shopper
Digital Trends

Reading in the bath is no longer a risky maneuver with Kobo's waterproof H2O.

- Malarie Gokey, Digital Trends

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Screen Size

The Kobo Aura H2O's screen size is 6.8 inches with 1080 x 1430 pixels resolution.

1 GHz

There is a 1 GHz processor (CPU).


The eReader runs on the Custom operating system (OS).

4 GB

Internal memory is 4 GB. An external, MicroSD, MicroSDHC (up to 32 GB) expansion slot is available for increased storage capacity.


The e-reader is powered by a Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery. Battery life is rated for up to 30 hours reading time according to Kobo's.

Aura H2O Specs

Release date October 1, 2014
Regions available USA, Canada, United Kingdom
SIM card size No
Operating System Custom
Processor 1 GHz
Internal Storage 4 GB
SAR Unknown
Languages No
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual
Power & battery
Battery Type Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Battery Capacity Unknown
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time Unknown
Reading Time Up to: 30 hours
Standby Time Up to: 60 days
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black
Dimensions [H x W x D] 17.9 x 12.9 x 1 cm (7.1 x 5.1 x 0.4 in)
Weight 233 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design Yes
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Grayscale
Technology LCD
Colors Unknown
Resolution 1080 x 1430 pixels
Pixel density 265 pixels
Size 6.8 inches
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock No
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Anti Glare Unknown
Additional Display Features -
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key Yes
Home Key No
Page Turn Key Unknown
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock No
External Volume Control No
Fingerprint Sensor No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth No
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Memory Expansion Slot Yes
Expansion Slot Info MicroSD, MicroSDHC
PC Synchronization Yes
Audio / Video
Audio Playback No
Video Playback No
Streaming Video No
External Speakers No
Headset Jack No
Vibration Alert No
Additional comments
Related Links Quick Start Guide (PDF)
Manual (PDF)
Kobo Aura H2O Reviews
Where to buy Kobo Aura H2O
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