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At $169, the Kobo Libra H2O is a Seven-Inch Kindle Oasis Killer

When Kobo launched its first ereader in 2010, they tried a bold tactic to get attention. The original Kobo cost $149, a far cheaper price than either the Nook or the Kindle. That Kobo model was also significantly less capable, but the price was enough of a threat that only a few months later both B&N and Amazon dropped the price of their ereaders as well (on the same day, in fact).

Now Kobo is trying the price gambit once again, only this time with an ereader that is in some ways better than its competition.

The Kobo Libra H2O (I got the name right, yes) is a smaller version of the Kobo Forma ereader that shipped last October. Sporting a 7″ Mobius Carta E-ink screen, the Libra H2O has essentially the same hardware as the Kobo Forma.

Edit: The screen isn’t Mobius (Kobo CS was wrong on that point).

It is a little thinner, though, than the Forma.

  • Screen: 1680 x 1264 pixels, 300 dpi
  • CPU: 1GHz single-core NXP i.MX 6SLL
  • RAM: 512MB
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Frontlight: color-changing
  • Waterproof: IPX8 (up to 60 minutes in 2 meters of water)
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Battery: 1.2 Ah
  • Connectivity: Wifi
  • Dimensions: 144 x 159 x 7.8 mm
  • Weight: 192 grams

From what I have seen of the photos taken at the embargoed press briefing (I didn’t get an invite, and Kobo has yet to even send me the press release or any photos) the Libra really is a smaller Forma.

On the one hand that makes it a little boring, but on the other hand have you seen the price?

The Libra costs $169. That is $80 less than the Kindle Oasis for a device that is almost identical in all the important ways. (What’s more, the price differential is even worse in Canada, where the Libra H2O costs $199 and the Oasis costs $329.)

Sure, the Kindle Oasis has a dual-core CPU and a slight edge in platform features, but I’ve never noticed that the better CPU really impacted performance. And the few ways that the Oasis is better are not obvious to the average consumer, so the Libra H2O’s lower price really is a threat to the Oasis.

Kobo will accept pre-orders for the Libra on 10 September, and it will ship on the 17th. That leaves Amazon about two weeks to decide to reduce the price of the Kindle Oasis to $199 (it’s going to happen, trust me).


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Steve H. September 4, 2019 um 6:09 pm

I started out a Kindle fanboy; buying the latest and greatest. When the Oasis 2 came out, I ordered right away…but..I still wanted a reader larger than 7″; when it seemed that Amazon would not "go large" ,I pulled the trigger on a Kobo Forma. I like a lot about it. To my mind, some of the design elements from Kobo have been better thought out…larger radius corners on handle edge, less temperature conductive and more comfortable body. Yes Amazon has huge advantages-endless content and software.
169 for a comfort lit 7″ device, with page turn buttons IS A GREAT DEAL. Yes the screen isn’t the same as the Forma and the lighting might not be as good as the Oasis 3…BUT IT’S 169!
No ads …I don’t believe Amazon has so little margin on the Oasis that ad subsidy is required. Kobo now has TWO rivals to the Kindle Oasis at more aggressive price-points. It would seem a change needs to be made.

Frank September 4, 2019 um 6:19 pm

I don’t see Amazon dropping the Oasis 3 price this soon.

Xavier Basora September 4, 2019 um 7:31 pm


But still no micro sd slot. Audio and comic books take up a lot of space. Also those of us who have big collections would want the extra space.

I’ll stick to my samsung tablet?

Bandana September 5, 2019 um 1:28 pm

I like to support alternatives to Amazon. I like that Kobo uses epub. I like that Kobo has smart guys who contribute to the #eprdctn topic on Twitter. But the Kobo I bought a few years ago was pretty awful. That experience will outweigh the things I like the next time I need to purchase an e-reader.

DaveMich September 6, 2019 um 10:51 am

If you’ve already committed to an ecosystem then the price difference isn’t meaningful.

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