Our Verdict

If you're happy to buy into the idea that this is the ereader for more sophisticated book worm, then this is the device for you. However, the screen is often desperately, throw-it-across-the-room slow and the book store is more expensive than its Kindle rival.


  • Crisp HD screen
  • Ergonomic premium design
  • 2 month battery life


  • Touchscreen not responsive
  • Sluggish interface
  • Hefty price tag
  • Pointless social features

The Kobo Aura HD has landed on the ereader market as a direct rival to the better known, and more popular, Amazon Paperwhite, and, to a lesser extent, other tablet devices offering similar services such as the Nook Simple Touch Glowlight.

Kobo are positioning the Aura HD as a high-end ereading device that is built for people who love books and nothing else.

That does mean, however, that the e-ink Aura HD will only offer a reading experience and no multimedia functionality. You will be able to read newspapers and magazines with the 'Newstand' feature but, at the time of writing, this feature isn't available in the UK and it's not clear when it will be.

Kobo Aura HD review

The ereader and tablet markets are slowly converging. American market research firm IHS iSuppli predict that shipments of ereaders will drop 36 percent this year to 14.9 million units and then drop another 27 percent next year to 10.9 million units.

They argue that this is largely to do with the rise in popularity of multimedia tablet devices that offer the same services as an ereader, with a plethora of extras too.

Kobo Aura HD review

Kobo, who also sell tablet devices such as the Arc, are hedging their bets and believe that there is still a core and loyal market of book lovers who are only interested in the e-ink ereading experience.

This core market, Kobo hope, are generally more affluent and are likely to see reading as a serious hobby rather than something to do on holiday - and you'll need to have some cash knocking about as the Aura HD will command £139.99 ($169.99) of your hard earned bucks.

Kobo Aura HD review

This puts the Aura HD above Amazon's and Nook's rival backlit ereaders in terms of price, and it's something which could seriously dent sales.

That's why Kobo have redesigned their premiere ereader to fit the profile of someone who loves books. This is obvious in the design, and, by CEO Michael Serbinis' own admission at the launch event, this is one of the device's two main attractions.

Kobo Aura HD review

Michael said that the "Kobo Aura HD is designed for the most passionate booklovers – those who devour hundreds of stories each year – who asked us to create the ultimate ereading experience. Kobo Aura HD is our way of celebrating these customers."

Indeed, we're assured that "thousands" of customers were surveyed on what they want from their ereader and the Aura HD is the result of that collective opinion. Although it's hard to believe that the majority of those surveyed were against having multimedia functionality.

Kobo Aura HD review

But, as mentioned before, the people surveyed may not often indulge in fruits of bright flashing things on YouTube. Although, there is a service on the Aura called 'reading life' which appears to be a last minute add-on and attempt to introduce social media into your reading experience.

Essentially it evaluates your reading 'statistics' (speed, hours read, amount of books read etc.) and gives you rewards for buying things from the Kobo store.

Kobo Aura HD review

All of which, naturally, is publishable on Facebook. It seems like an odd addition to something that is generally considered a solitary affair and given the type of customer Kobo are aiming the Aura HD at, it doesn't quite tally.

There are two main attractions to the Aura HD that sets itself apart from Amazon's Paperwhite, the screen resolution and the ergonomic design. We'll come to the former later.

Kobo Aura HD review

If you hold the Aura with both hands, Michael's claim to have surveyed thousands of book lovers is entirely believable. The ivory-like casing is visually striking but unassuming on touch, exactly what you would expect from a paperback.

The back of the device has an angular almost mountainous design, the idea being that your fingers rest in the shallow cove between the two raised areas, replicating the spine of a book. It looks and feels very sleek. If we were just reviewing the design, the Aura HD would be well worth its high price tag.