May 20, 2013

Review of the Kobo Aura HD


 ** We received this product as a free sample for an honest review
We were in no way paid for our opinions **

With ebooks becoming more and more popular, especially with imprints from Publishers that specialize in electronic books, having an eReader is a huge advantage for readers everywhere.  And now that we (Chapter by Chapter) are “officially” book bloggers where we review books on our website, the importance of an eReader escalated!  A lot of the ARC reviews are available as electronic copies through a couple of websites for reviewers.  The eARCs also come from various touring sites and from the authors and Publishers themselves.

I, personally, have been strictly a Kindle kind of girl.  I had a first gen. Kindle before eReaders were even a noticeable thing!  People would stop me at work and ask me what I was carrying and were so curious about having the ability to read books on one device.  But I couldn’t read it in the dark, and the typing keys and page turn buttons were starting to stick, and I was getting a little frustrated.

But then I thought it was time for an upgrade.  I wanted something similar to my iPad, but not my iPad.  Something smaller like the size of my Kindle.  So my hubby bought me an Acer 7” Android Tablet.  Hated it.  It lasted a few months until I simply reverted back to my old Kindle.  I vowed never to try anything else again, and strictly stick with the Kindle product.

My hubby surprised me with a Kindle Paperwhite once it became available in Canada.  And omg did I ever fall in love with it!  It was exactly what I wanted, AND I was able to read in the dark, which was a total bonus!  And then, I received a most awesome email.  The kind people over at Kobo were willing to offer me their new Kobo Aura HD to use and review before it would be available for purchase.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity.  I love my eReaders.  Even though my experience with the Acer was horrible, I had to try out the Kobo.  I know, I know…the Acer is not really a reader, but a tablet.  That was probably the problem.  Too many this and that’s, and it felt like a mini iPad, but worse.  So to be fair, I felt it was a great opportunity to compare a competitor’s eReader to my Kindle Paperwhite.


The day finally arrived where my beautiful Kobo Aura HD arrived in the mail.  I tore that sucker open like there was no tomorrow, and ooo’d and ahhhh’d over its prettiness!  After petting it for a few (lots of) minutes, I wanted to see what this device could do.  Another wonderful bonus that arrived with the Kobo Aura HD was the offer for a free book from the Kobo Store to get the ball moving.  For those of you who do a lot of online shopping for books, this is not an easy feat!  There are so many books from my To Be Read (TBR) pile that I would have loved to have been able to read during my maiden voyage with the Kobo Aura HD.  After much deliberation, the book of my choice was When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle.   (I’m a sucker for anything Romeo and Juliet-esque and this book has been calling to me since it first came out).

So first things first, I needed to actually set up this thing.  By following the simple instructions included with the device, I first needed to set up the Kobo Desktop.  This would allow me to sync up my books with my desktop when it’s either connected or over Wi-Fi.   Getting the Kobo Desktop installed was simple and quick.  I connected my device to my computer so that it could sync up and I waited.  Not too long, mind you, but you know how it is with new toys.  Mere minutes feel like hours!  Since I was still waiting for my free read to be processed (under 24 hours), I thought I would start things off by transferring one of my eARCs for review onto the Kobo Aura HD.  Giddiness and excitement ensued.

That excitement and giddiness soon fizzled to frustration and much “colourful” language.  I guess for those who have been using a Kobo device as their main reader, they knew the steps needed to get their books onto their device.  Not this girl.   I was simply thrown into the pool to learn on my own.  I was pretty close to drowning, I tell ya!  I couldn’t find anything on the Kobo site that explained exactly what I needed to do.  I had to do a Google search and go through different sites to figure out what exactly I needed to do.  In order to transfer your own ePubs to the Kobo device, I needed to insert a micro SD card into my computer , copy the ebook to the micro SD card, and then stick the micro SD card into the Kobo Aura HD and it should be able to detect the card and allow you to read it.  You must keep the micro SD card in while reading the book. (yah, learned that the hard way).  AND make sure that the micro SD card is empty aside from your book before you enter it into your device.  I ended up with tons of crap and pics that I had to manually delete.  ARGH!

Finally, the book was successfully on my Kobo Aura HD.  All I had to do was click eject on the Kobo Desktop and I was good to go!  YES!  Yah, no.  It kept crashing for me.  And with each crash, the Kobo Aura HD and the Kobo Desktop kept re-syncing with each other.  Finally, I just had to manually eject the device by right-clicking and ejecting it from My Computer.  I tried again a few days later, but ended up with the same results.  Ejecting via the Kobo Desktop kept crashing my computer.

Now onward to the reading experience!  What I did notice right off the bat was the totally awesome spine-esque grippy thing on the back.  It was more comfortable to hold and grip compared to my Kindle Paperwhite.  Where the Kindle Paperwhite is flat, the Kobo Aura HD has a unique design where the back gives off the effect of the spine of a book.  I loved that!  It was a lot more comfortable holding the reader, and walking around with it.  What I wasn’t a fan of was the texture of the device.  It was more of a plasticy/metallic type feel and my hands tend to get a little sweaty at times.  So it was feeling a little slippery when wet.  I wish that the feel was more of what the Kindle Paperwhite has, a soft touch rubberized finish which allowed for more grip.

I liked that I was able to turn the backlight on and off with the touch of a button.  I attempted reading in both daylight and night.  I noticed that when I turned down the backlight, the screen would start to flicker which in turn induced a bit of a headache.  But with a simple touch on the screen, the ability to chance the backlight settings is pretty simple.  One thing that I did have a little bit of problem with was the highlighting feature.  It seemed a little touchy and wasn’t a seamless drag of the finger.  It would require a few attempts to highlight exactly what it was I wanted to capture.  But what I did like was that the text highlighted had a handle tool/bounding box thingy that would allow you to highlight more or less after you have removed your finger.  Pretty nifty.

What intrigued me was the ability to be able to post comments/messages directly from the book your reading on the Kobo Aura HD to Facebook.  What I wish it had was the ability to switch between my personal Facebook page to my blog’s fan Facebook page.  The Kobo sadly allows for integration with personal pages only. A lot of our readers follow via our Facebook page for Chapter by Chapter and would have like to have been able to post to that page instead.  Our Facebook page is also linked to our Twitter which would have allowed even more of our followers to see what we had to say.  What I also wish it had was the ability to post how far along I was in my book.  It allows me to make a comment but doesn’t have the ability to automatically send out the progression in the book.  I suppose you could just type it in, but it would be easier if there was a one touch ability.

The neat thing about my experience with the Kobo Aura HD was the introduction to the Kobo Reading Life.  Basically it’s a place where you win awards just by using your Kobo Aura HD!  Whether it’s reading a book on the device for the first time, reading well into the night, or even just connecting your Kobo Aura HD to Facebook.

My final thoughts?  The Kobo Aura HD is a fantastic reading device.  I could really see the difference in the look of a book page between the Kindle Paperwhite vs. the Kobo Aura HD.  The Kobo Aura HD is much crisper and much clearer thanks to it’s increased screen resolution over the Kindle.  Aside from the fact that the screen flickered for me on the low light settings, the backlighting for reading was really comfortable on the eyes.  I wish that there was a way in which eARCs offered by places such as NetGalley and Edelweiss could be sent directly to the device (like Kindle) rather than having to still connect everything to the computer.  I’m hoping that that is something that they will work on!  For those that are already pro with their Kobo device, I believe that you will absolutely adore the Kobo Aura HD…especially the unique “book spine” design on the back.  It’s really something you need to check out!  For those who are Kobo virgins (like me), it takes some getting used to.  I’m hoping that the little glitches (like my computer crashing every time I try to eject the device) will be resolved, and that they will allow the chance to switch between Facebook pages, or perhaps connect via Twitter!


Crisper. Bigger. Gorgeous. 
ClarityScreen+ takes E Ink to the next level, making Kobo Aura HD the highest resolution* eReader at 1440 x 1080 and 265 dpi, with the most paper-like† E Ink display. The durable 6.8” reading surface is approximately 30% larger than other eReaders. Built-in ComfortLight is the most evenly lit front-light for a completely comfortable reading experience.

Feels like a book in your hand. 
The back of Kobo Aura HD is elegantly designed to fit comfortably in your hand, like the spine of a physical book.

Never run out of reading material. 
4 GB of built-in memory allows you to carry a library of up to 3,000 eBooks with you wherever you go. Store even more eBooks with a Micro SD card. With Wi Fi access to over millions of eBooks, your reading list can grow longer than ever before.

Tech Specs

  • 6.8″ Custom WXGA+ Pearl E Ink Screen
  • ClarityScreen+: 265 dpi, 1440 x 1080 resolution
  • ComfortLight: Built-in front-light technology with coating for durability and even light distribution
  • Length: 175.7 millimeters, Width: 128.3 millimeters, Edge depth: 7 millimeters, Max Depth: 11.7 millimeters, Weight: 240g
  • 1 GHZ – 25% faster processor than other leading eReaders
  • 4 GB – Option to expand up to 32 GB with a Micro SD card
  • Wi Fi 802.11 b/g/n and Micro USB
  • Up to 2 months **
  • Espresso, Ivory, Onyx


  1. I got the Kobo Glo for my birthday and that is the sister/brother of the Kobo Aura. I’m in love with it! :) I really like the background lighting and Reading Life is such a fun extra feature :D

    Thanks for the detailed review! I’m happy you like it so much.

  2. Pragya

    I think the whole process of putting your books in there put me off Kobo immediately. I love the ease the Kindle has while transferring books.

  3. Candace

    I had the original kobo, the very first one and while there were positives to it, I found putting books on it to be a MAJOR pain and then they never did format well so they’d be such tiny print I couldn’t see it. The thing broke before id had it even a year. So my experience with kobo hasn’t been great but I know that they’ve evolved a lot. Just the fact that putting books on it is a pain is what turns me off and that’s the reason I love my kindles. How awesome that you got to review this though!

  4. Glad you mostly like it!! There are definitely such great features to the Aura HD, with a few drawbacks as well, of course.

    FYI, it may be easier (or not depending what you prefer) to use Adobe Digital Editions to transfer books that aren’t from the Kobo site… that way you don’t have to deal with an SD card.

  5. philebus

    I’m not sure where you got your advise from for side-loading books but it is really easy and you don’t need an SD card at all. The two easiest methods are…

    Plug in the Kobo to your computer where it will show up as a storage device, then drag and drop you book files in explorer.

    Or use the free program called Calibre to manage your ebook library – this will recognise your ereader when it’s plugged in and again, you can just select your books and drag them to the reader.

    The Aura has 4Gb internal storage, more than enough for most people without needing an SD card (unless you’re like me, who buys on impulse and gets download happy at Gutenberg).

    One poster has mentioned the formatting of books – again, if you use Calibre, it will manage this in converting books between formats. I will sometimes run an epub to epub conversion to fix any formatting issues I have with a book. This isn’t just an issue with epub on Kobo, I sometimes have to use Calibre to fix formatting on books for my mother who uses a Kindle.

    There’s plenty of information about Calibre on the mobileread forums, along with a handy plug-in that will load your epubs onto the Aura in Kobo’s own Kepub format which does a better job of rendering books (though it is much less forgiving of publishers formatting laziness). You can also find a guide to setting up Calibre to manage your Kobo’s bookshelves, which is very handy indeed.

  6. Ave

    That was excellent info, thanks! I just bought a Kobo Aura HD and I’m very impressed. Very open device, screen quality is jaw-dropping and, to me, the possibility of reading comics in cbr/cbz format with print-like quality (well, if the starting material has been properly scanned, that is) is such a great feature.

Leave a comment

Your comments make us smile!