When Kobo released the Kobo Aura H2O in 2014, it had a better frontlight, a waterproof shell that was pleasant to hold, and it didn't lose any of the features of the Kobo Aura HD.
On Tuesday Kobo launched the Aura H2O edition 2. This second-gen ereader is styled after the Kobo Aura One and has the same color-shifting frontlight and general design, only with a 6.8" screen.
And like the Aura One, the new Aura H2O is missing its card slot.
The new Kobo Aura H2O runs Kobo's proprietary software on a 1GHz Freescale SoloLite CPU with 512MB RAM. It has the same 6.8", 1430 x 1080 resolution, screen and IR touchscreen as its predecessor, but on the plus side, it also has the new ComfortLight color-shifting frontlight as on the Kobo Aura One.
In physical terms, the new Aura H2O is about the same size and shape as the last model, only it is slightly thinner and has replaced the comfortable rubberized rear shell with a textured plastic shell. It has twice the storage of its predecessor, but no card slot for expansion.
Picture a seven-inch tablet with a 4:3 screen ratio and you will be about right.
O O O
I received a review unit on Thursday, and as I sit here writing this post Tuesday night I find myself disappointed.
While I am generally fond of Kobo hardware, the tradeoffs Kobo made in the new Aura H2O's design do not appeal.
The new device gained its new frontlight at the expense of a card slot and a comfortable shell, making it less of an upgrade than a sidestep.
There's simply no obvious improvement over the last model. Even the screen resolution is the same as on the original Kobo Aura HD, a device which was released in 2013. (Yes, it is four years later and E-ink and Kobo still have not bumped the screen resolution.)
Furthermore, the new Aura H2O does not have the OverDrive integration found in the Aura One. I checked with Kobo, and they said: "we will ensure to let you know if we decide to integrate the OverDrive feature in other devices in the future".
All in all, I can't recommend this device.
If you want a 6.8" screen, get the previous model. It can do everything the new Aura H2O can do except change the color of the frontlight, and you can find it cheap on Ebay.
But if you really like the red-shifting frontlight then you're better off with the Aura One. Its screen is larger and sharper, and it supports direct Overdrive integration.
Yes, the Aura One costs $50 more, but it's still a better value.