Kobo Aura HD pictures and hands-on
Kobo has one of the most complete ecosystems when it comes to reading. With the bookstore, apps and a choice of both E Ink readers and LCD tablets, there are plenty of ways to get reading with Kobo.
The Kobo Aura HD is billed as something of an exclusive limited-edition eBook reader, bringing with it the highest definition display on this type of device so far. To put a figure on it, the 6.8-inch display has a resolution of 1440 x 1080 pixels, a density of 265ppi.
To put that into perspective, that's the same pixel density as the iPad with Retina display, although display resolution has never really been the main focal point of this type of E Ink display.
In the flesh, the display is nice and sharp, but you don't get the same wow factor as on a full-colour tablet device. After all, this is a greyscale reader and the resolution doesn't change that experience to a huge extent.
We sat down with Kobo director of product management, devices, Sameer Hasan at the IFA 2013 Global Press Conference in Sardinia, Italy, to have a closer look at latest e-reader on the block.
With a fairly high price tag, but an impressive spec sheet, the Aura HD was pitched at a "discerning group" of readers, Hasan told us, the sort of people who are reading every day and buying hundreds of books a year.
Hasan said 53 per cent of Kobo users were reading everyday, with the Kobo Aura HD pitched at a subset of those users. That limited-edition tag doesn’t mean limited supply, it really means that it's a premium reading device.
Of course, with the highest resolution around, Hasan confirmed that the aim was to "have smaller fonts be very legible", amongst other things. That's certainly true, and with a wide range of options for changing font sizes and typeface, all of which have been crafted to be pixel-perfect, you can make out very fine text.
However, on first glancing at the Kobo Aura HD, we noticed a degree of ghosting on page turns, which sort of detracts from the clarity the display can offer.
This, Hasan explained, is down to the system of full or partial refreshing. The pages can be set to perform a full refresh on each page turn so there is no ghosting, but that involves a full flash of the screen before displaying the new text.
That might be overkill, with so much flashing of the screen that it becomes a distraction, so you can set the full refresh to a tolerance level that works for you.
Kobo has produced some interesting designs in the past, with the Kobo Aura HD having an undulating back inspired by folded paper. As Hasan demonstrated and explained, it's an "anchor with which to pull the device into your hand for a more secure grip".
Handing the Kobo Aura HD, that certainly seems true. Although it's not as slim as something like the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, it feels surprisingly good in the hand.
It's also packed with features, including Kobo's frontlit ComfortLight display - meaning that with the Kobo Aura HD, as with the Paperwhite, you'll be able to read in the dark.
It's an impressive device, and despite some scepticism stemming from the £139 price tag, some £20 more than the Amazon rival, we can't help feeling that we want the Kobo Aura HD in our lives.