In an age where books are becoming a thing of the past, it is up to e-readers to keep users interested in the noble act of reading.
Luckily for those who thought Amazon is the only manufacturer that builds such devices, alternatives are out there. Meet Kobo's latest effort, the Aura One, a premium e-reader that is loaded with powerful hardware, which rivals the work of Amazon with its Kindle family.
We pitted Amazon's Paperwhite and Oasis against the Aura One so you know which one best suits your needs.
Design can make or break an e-reader, as users will hold them for extended periods of time. Amazon nailed it when it released the Kindle Oasis, and the Kindle Paperwhite is not too far off. The Paperwhite's all matte plastic makes the e-reader grip-friendly and the bezels around the screen does help with that. Not the most posh option, but it does the trick.
The Kobo Aura One looks pretty average by e-reader standards, but the company used a nice metal trim to the gadget, giving it a more interesting look.
The Wi-Fi variant of Paperwhite weighs 7.26 ounces, while the 3G model pulls down 7.65 ounces. Its general dimensions measure 6.7 x 4.6 x 0.36 inches.
The Wi-Fi Oasis is a tad lighter, with a weight of 4.6 ounces, and the 3G model pulls 4.7 ounces, with dimensions of 5.6 x 4.8 x 0.33 inches.
Meanwhile, the Aura One measures 7.7 x 5.5 x 0.27 inches. The e-reader from Kobo also weighs more than Amazon's e-readers, at 8.11 ounces.
No physical buttons exist for page turning on the Paperwhite or the Aura One, but they are present on Oasis.
Amazon's E Ink displays are continually enhancing, and those who are used to staring into tablets or phones can instantly tell the difference.
The Paperwhite and Oasis both are sporting a glare-free, 6-inch Carta screen capable of 300 pixels per inch (ppi) resolutions, that displays text in superior clarity, albeit no color rendering is available.
Kobo, on the other hand, fitted the Aura One with a larger, 7.8-inch Carta screen. It matches the resolution density of Amazon's devices, and the fact that the page is larger means that users spend more time before turning them.
Eyestrain is a major concern for all e-reader customers. To address it, Amazon gifted its Kindle gadgets with backlit displays, allowing for reading in the dark to take place with great comfort.
Kobo, meanwhile, offers ComfortLight PRO. It sports an ambient light sensor that gauges the light levels of the surrounding, so that the screen brightness and temperature gets adjusted real time.
In a side-by-side comparison it looks like Kobo has a leg up on Amazon when it comes to the display. Despite being on par with the Kindle in resolution, the Aura One's larger screen and extra features make it a bit more capable.
Kobo packed quite some specs under its hood. The Aura One takes its processing power from a 1 GHz processor and 512 MB of RAM, which puts it on par with Paperwhite's configuration.
Internal storage shows some differences, however. Kobo takes the cake and provides 8 GB to provide an all-you-can-read buffet. The Oasis offers only 4 GB of space, while the Paperwhite only comes with 2 GB of internal space.
Paperwhite beats the Aura One in connectivity, however. Both devices come with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, but Kindle can holster 3G connectivity, which helps with downloading e-books while you're in motion. The service is free, but the base price for the e-reader with 3G support is slightly higher.
It is worth mentioning that Kobo waterproofed its e-reader, which received an IPX8 rating. This means that the Aura One will feel right at home submerged in water for up to an hour, at a depth of 6.56 feet. None of the Kindles can handle water well, so keep that in mind.
Software And Features
Kobo's device allows full customization of the fonts, with the TypeGenius feature offering the chance to fine-tune the sharpness and weight of the font, giving you 50 font sizes and 11 typefaces to choose from.
What is more, users can modify margins, write notes, highlight passages and even search for unknown terms in the embedded dictionary. A reading tracker allows you to get a better overview of your reading habits, as well.
Support for multiple languages (except English, of course) is included, such as French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Turkish.
As you would expect, Amazon's Paperbook and Oasis feature support for more languages, noteworthy additions being Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Simplified Chinese.
The Kindles feature Page Flip, a built-in dictionary, Wikipedia access, and the ability to share titles with other Amazon accounts using Family Library. Amazon's e-readers offer only eight font sizes to choose from.
Those who want to tap into the world's vastest libraries are well suited with both Kobo and Kindle e-readers. Kobo has access to more than 5 million titles, which users may download via Wi-Fi. Amazon's library counts 4 million books, newspapers and magazines, and as many as 1 million free books.
Neither Aura One, nor Paperbook, nor Oasis feature the ability to listen to audiobooks.
Feature-wise, all three devices are evenly matched.
Kobo touts that one can read an entire book before recharging the Aura One, which means its battery will last for about a month.
Amazon estimates that a Paperwhite will take up six weeks of using before requiring a recharge, while users report that Oasis offers about two weeks of autonomy between recharges.
Price And Release Date
Kobo has announced that its e-reader will hit the shelves in September, at a price point of about $229.99. E-reader fans who want a break from Kindle can order it on the Aura One's official page, or wait for the gadget to appear in stores.