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Kobo Launches New 6.8″ eReader – the Kobo Aura HD

kobo-aura-hd[1]Cutting edge LCD screens are always going to have a higher resolution than E-ink screens, right?

Wrong. Meet the Kobo Aura HD, a new ereader with a 6.8″ E-ink screen that (according to the product page) has a resolution of 1440×1080. That screen resolution is actually higher than the screen on the Nook HD (1440×900).

Kobo has just unveiled an ereader that puts even Amazon to shame and could well restore the concept of a premium priced and premium quality ereader.

The Aura HD is equipped with a 1GHz CPU, Wifi, 4GB storage and a microSD card slot, and it has a frontlight. Battery life is reportedly a decent two months, and this ereader weighs in at a not too hefty 240 grams (about 30g heavier than the KPW).

But along with the premium screen comes a limited production run a premium price tag. The Aura HD is going to go up for pre-order in North America on 16 April, and will be in-stores in Canada and the United Kingdom starting 25 April. The price will be $169 and £139.99.  International availability will begin in May.

It’s rather curious that Kobo is calling it a limited production, isn’t it? I wonder if perhaps they don’t yet have the production ramped up, or perhaps they’re still not sure they will sell a lot.

Are you kidding? This thing will easily sell out.

It’s the cutting edge ereader that the Kobo Glo and the Kindle Paperwhite weren’t. Sure, both of those ereaders had a frontlight and a higher resolution screen, but neither of those features were really all that new.

But with the Aura HD the screen is not only higher resolution it is larger as well.  That immediately make this the must-have ereader this summer.

Kobo Aura product page

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flyingtoastr April 15, 2013 um 3:37 pm

You messed up the storage size. it’s 4GB, not 45.

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2013 um 3:52 pm

Fixed it, Thanks.

Cookie April 15, 2013 um 4:00 pm

Just bought an IPOD Touch 4g as my mobile ereader. Fits nicely in the front pocket and syncs nicely with my android tablets. I hate Itunes but like the 320 dpi.

Brian April 15, 2013 um 4:25 pm

The only problem I have with the 4th gen iPod Touch is that the battery life is horrible (the 5th gen is a lot better), but it’s a handy little device to have.

Logan Kennelly April 15, 2013 um 4:29 pm

That certainly sounds tempting, but I wouldn’t consider $169 to be a "premium" price. At $30 more than the Kindle Paperwhite (taking out the ads), it’s not a significant price differentiation to me.

I stopped paying attention to Kobo when they started using their own sqlite book format. Perhaps they have stopped doing that, in which case they may be worth a look.

(And I know you and Mike love to complain about B&N using Adobe’s customer-friendly DRM variant, but at leas they are doing it because it’s a better technology for me. I can’t tell how Kobo making the content more difficult for me to access benefits me.)

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2013 um 9:24 pm

Except that everyone thinks of the Paperwhite as costing $120.

Becca April 15, 2013 um 4:31 pm

can you make collections on a Kobo using Calibre? if so, I may have to break my "no new technology this year" pledge to my husband.

Brian April 15, 2013 um 6:08 pm

On the Kobo’s they’re called shelves and management can be done, although not as easy as on the Sony’s…

Void April 17, 2013 um 12:11 pm

Why can’t other companies just make it work easily? At least there is no stupidity about DRM locking the file table, but still. Take a page form apple guys. IT JUST WORKS will get you customers.

Logan Kennelly April 18, 2013 um 3:39 am

I think the problem is that they ARE taking a page from Apple. Rather than looking at what’s going on in the community and working with it, everybody is trying to create their own fiefdom so they can grow into having it all (rather than needing to compete). The problem with this is that it requires a huge investment in R&D just to catch up to the status quo, and it would appear that most companies are unwilling to lay out that kind of cash. (If you ask me, many of these companies actually are laying out the cash, but they aren’t getting the return on their investment that they should be.)

Apple had a few advantages that these guys often don’t have, though. Apple was first to create some of these markets (at reasonable sizes) so expectations were low, they actually put forth the effort to create all of the pieces necessary to create a real product. and the functionality they did leave out was often overshadowed by how good the released pieces were.

Of course, when we are talking about eBooks, you should probably substitute Amazon here. It isn’t quite perfect, though, because Sony was the leader and dictacted community standards (leading to products that exceeded their later competitors). They lost their lead due to a few factors that turned out to be pretty critical, though.

So the answer to everything isn’t just "copy Apple". It’s more complicated than that, and I really wish they spent more time merging their corporate vision with customer demands (either one alone often results in an inferior product).

Noah April 15, 2013 um 6:08 pm

I think it’s funny they chose such a poorly formatted eBook for their debut promotional image. Margin between paragraphs? No indentation? This isn’t an online news article…

Check out how the book is supposed to look on B&N’s "Look Inside":

Jason April 15, 2013 um 6:45 pm

Noah, I personally like the margin between paragraphs. I’d take that over B&N’s anyday.

Anyhow, I really didn’t think Kobo would have a new device out this early in the year. I’ll probably buy eventually, but I’m pretty happy with my Glo. It’s really only the screen size (it’s not like I’m looking at high res graphics on the thing) that differentiates it IMO.

Gary April 15, 2013 um 7:24 pm

Nate… when you get yours (and I know you will)… give us a heads up

Alexander Inglis April 15, 2013 um 7:30 pm

I do like the Kobo Aura HD’s larger form factor for pdfs … that’s one of the reasons I use a tablet for pdfs. I’m not particularly looking for "bigger" but it’s nice to have the choice.

Guillaume April 16, 2013 um 9:38 am

6″8 is not so much bigger than my Kindle : too small an incentive to buy . In fact, I was sure that Nate was sarcastic in this post.

fjtorres April 15, 2013 um 7:34 pm

I suspect the supply of screens is limited.

I agree: they’ll sell out in a flash.
I doubt it’s going to impact Amazon much but if they have the volume and the software doesn’t suck they can take market share from Nook.
Personally, I would’ve preferred they’d gone to 8″ but even at 6.8 that resolution should make pdfs usable.

Somebody April 16, 2013 um 12:55 am

I would be totally sold to this if it had Bluetooth to connect a portable keyboard to it. Alas, the perfect device has yet to be made. I’d also wish for ubiquitous Internet connectivity but there does not seem to be a SIM card slot. We seem to get closer though.

mike April 16, 2013 um 4:17 am

Hi Nate,it has been a while since I last visited your blog.Do you think amazon will release a new kindle with better screen resolution and pixel density than Aura HD?I need an ebook reader for my pdf articles and textbooks.My kindle 3 has a great battery life but its support on pdf was so awful.This was with the limited memory the reason I never bought the paperwhite.Tablets are ridiculous with their limited battery autonomy.Do we know any rumors about the coming kindles resolutions and screen sizes?Or is Aura HD the only option?

Nate Hoffelder April 16, 2013 um 7:02 am

I think Amazon is going to have to come up with something spectacular. If they don’t then they will have conceded the ereaders arms race to Kobo.

Color Kindle with a Liquavista screen, anyone?

DavidW April 16, 2013 um 8:16 am

Oh wow!! Despite having just bought a Kobo Glo I will so preorder this.

David Gaughran April 16, 2013 um 1:37 pm

Hey Nate,

I got my hands on a Kobo Aura last night. I haven’t had a chance to play with it properly, but the resolution is excellent. You can tell the really high quality of the device as soon as you hold it in your hand. It’s a touch heavier then my K4 basic Kindle, but it feels good in the hand. Seemed to charge up super quick out of the box, but I wasn’t tracking the time. The glowlight is really cool. Can’t say how that compares to the Paperwhite as I haven’t seen one of those in the flesh. The shape of the back is really unusual, but very comfortable to hold. All-in-all a very good looking device and it seems like they went all out with the spec.

Patrick April 16, 2013 um 6:03 pm

Funny that books can be in HD now, but, I guess, ereaders are at that point where they have to make us want the next generation. Color would have been cool, though. The early reviews on this have been pretty positive, a few saying that the touch screen was a bit unresponsive but I usually chalk that complaint up to people that expect an ereader to act like a tablet.

dd April 20, 2013 um 1:39 pm

I’ve had a Kobo Touch and Nook ST. The Nook is an order of magnitude better with its good PDF reader. The Kobo reader has a basically unusable PDF reader. The Nook allows for personalized wallpapers and screensavers. The Kobo does not. But the Kobo has a much better menu system. That’s the part of it I like better than the Nook. The Nook menu system is crude and ugly. Still they both provide good reading experiences.

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Alexander Inglis May 6, 2013 um 11:58 am

Wall Street Journal reviewed the Aura in their technology section May 3 and said:
“The Best E-Reader: Kobo’s Aura HD

With its remarkably sharp screen, a new luxury e-reader soars to the top of the nightstand, beating out the Kindle and Nook.”

Nate Hoffelder May 6, 2013 um 1:20 pm

I just got a ship notice for my Aura HD.

DavidW May 6, 2013 um 10:14 pm

I received mine last week, the body is cheap plastic ditto the sleepcover. I don’t like that. The screen is sharp, the light is uniform and most importantly the screen is larger! The sleepcover fits the aura better than the glo cover does, so much so that they are about the same size despite the glo being smaller.

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