KOBO probably isn’t the first brand that springs to mind when you think about e-readers. In fact, in this tablet-obsessed world, many of us have stopped thinking about e-readers all together, adjusting our eyes instead to the backlit LCD screens of an iPad.
But the Toronto-based company (now owned by Japanese retail giant Rakuten) has just released what it is calling “the only premium e-reader on the market”. The Kobo Aura HD takes the e-ink format made famous by the Kindle and supercharges it with a higher resolution screen (an impressive 1440 x 1080 with 265 dpi), putting it comfortably ahead of its rivals. It also comes with a fairly massive 6.8 inch touch-screen; noticeably bigger than most other e-readers, which stick to the standard six inch format.
It uses Kobo’s ComfortLight technology, lighting the page, rather than shining light from behind the screen, which is easier on the eyes during night-time reading.
If you are a Kobo fanboy (there must be some out there), you may be disappointed to hear the firm has done away with the distinctive quilted back in favour of a more standard, slightly curved design.
So far so good – but at £139.99, The Aura, which goes on sale later this month, costs almost as much as the far more versatile Google Nexus 7 tablet (from £159.99) and will have to do a lot to convince buyers to pick it ahead of the tried and tested Kindle.
If you’re still not convinced, below are six alternatives to carry your e-book around on.
Nook Simple Touch GlowLight
The Nook Simple Touch GlowLight has a small strip built into the top of the display that lights up the whole screen. Alas, the strip doesn’t light the screen evenly, with the top coming out much lighter than the bottom – and when there's so little between the top e-readers, even the smallest details can make all the difference.
The defining feature of Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite is the white, front-lit, e-ink screen, which can be read in any light. The black casing is unblemished except for a small power button at the base, and unlike previous Kindles, where pages were turned by pressing side flaps, here you progress through the e-book by tapping lightly on the page. It is an excellent all-rounder: there's a reason it is often dubbed the best e-reader on the market.
Kindle Fire HD
There’s a reason why the Kindle Fire HD is one of the top selling e-readers. It comes with a high resolution LCD screen and new anti-glare technology. Pages are quick to refresh and the battery lasts for 11 hours on a single charge. Best of all, it’s a pretty good media device too. When you’re done reading, watch and download your favourite movies and TV shows and take advantage of the variety of games on offer.
Despite a shaky start in the e-reader market, Sony's latest offerings have been pretty solid. The PRS-T2 builds on the progress made by the Sony Reader Wi-fi, with a smoother page-turning action. It's also reasonably light. However, it isn't as ergonomic as it could be, thanks to the sharp corners and the lack of a convex back.
If you’re after a great tablet that doubles up as an e-reader, the iPad mini is the way to go. As well as offering its own iBooks app, users have access to the Kindle, Nook, Kobo and Google Play reading apps and full access to the content in the respective e-stores.
Often described as the “no-frills” e-reader, the basic Kindle has its drawbacks. It’s one of the only models that comes without a touchscreen and unlike newer ones, the screen isn’t self-illuminating. But if you’re after a bargain, this is the one for you.