Kobo’s Aura ONE: First Thoughts

Last week the publishing and tech industries started buzzing after Kobo unveiled its newest premium eReader, the Aura ONE. I read eBooks very seldomly, but the hype has been loud enough that I was curious to learn more about the device and hear what early reviewers have been saying about it.

A quick search immediately yielded both promotional and industry news, with sites like The Verge, Tech Crunch, and The Digital Reader reacting quite positively to the Aura ONE. Kobo’s ad for the device focuses heavily on appealing to fantasy and romance readers, but I think their behind-the-scenes video on designing the device does a better job of showcasing its scale and features:

The Aura ONE’s size is apparently bucking eReader standards but I must admit, I like it and its screen-to-bezel ratio. It doesn’t look oversized in any of the customers’ hands and the screen seems able to display a comfortable amount of text (the font size function notwithstanding), which should lessen the number of times you have to touch the screen to change pages. According The Verge article, the device hardly weighs more than an iPhone 6S Plus. The waterproofing of the device is also impressive at 2 metres for 60 minutes, which will come in handy whether in the bath, at the beach or at the cottage. Users can adjust the screen’s lighting temperature from blue to a deep orange to make it easier to read right before bed, and integrated OverDrive software will allow users to sign out eBooks from their local library system directly from the device. It sounds like the Aura ONE really is a combination of all the best features, and it does make me consider whether I would want a dedicated device for digital reading.

Currently I read web articles and my Inoreader feed on my iPhone 6. I originally upgraded from the iPhone 4S a year ago because I wanted a larger screen to facilitate an easier reading experience and make my smartphone a primary reading device, but despite this the majority of books I read are in print. (I haven’t even tried audiobooks yet.) I have used the OverDrive app to read short fiction on my smartphone and found its interface straightforward, if sometimes a bit too responsiveΒ β€” a touch to pull up menu features can often trigger the turning of a page if your finger doesn’t hit the dead centre of the screen.

By contrast, the E Ink interfaces of eReaders seem slower to respond to touch, and their monochromatic display makes understanding which elements are clickable less intuitive to me.Β  I also consider the Aura ONE pricey for my budget when I can use Kobo’s free reading app on my smartphone, a device that was a much larger financial investment. I have tried Kobo’s app for reading free excerpts and I have liked it, though it doesn’t prompt me to browse their latest titles (I have to search specific titles, which prevents opportunities for impulse purchases). I would still be open to trying an eReader for long-form reading, but I may just borrow a friend’s for now before running off to the store.

Do you use an eReader? If you do, what made you start using one? Are you excited for the Aura ONE?