Valentina Palladino

Practically one 12 months after releasing the Forma e-reader, Kobo returns right this moment with a brand new slab dubbed the Kobo Libra H2O. The $169 e-reader retains the skeleton of the Forma, however is definitely a smaller machine. It has a 7-inch, 1680×1264, 300ppi E Ink show, down from the Forma’s Eight-inch show, nevertheless it has the identical side-chin with page-turn buttons. Notably, Kobo moved the facility button from the sting of the e-reader to the again of the machine, and it is now a barely indented circle that is simple to discern from the machine’s barely textured again.

At 6.7oz, the Libra H2O can also be a hair lighter than the Forma, and it is available in each black and white coloration configurations. In distinction to the Forma, the Libra H2O comes with 8GB of storage (the Forma has 32GB) and it would not use Mobius display screen know-how, which provides the Forma’s show extra sturdiness. However these minor spec variations do not change the truth that the Libra H2O is mainly the Forma’s barely smaller sibling. So when you appreciated the Forma’s design, you may in all probability just like the Libra H2O.

I’ve used each, and the expertise is sort of an identical by way of physicality. I like how snug the upturned side-chin is to carry with one hand, I just like the comfort of the page-turn buttons, and I like how rapidly the E Ink touchscreen switches from portrait to panorama orientation after I flip the machine. I additionally like that I haven’t got to cost the Libra H2O for weeks on finish—that is not distinctive to this machine, nevertheless it’s a novel function that E Ink e-readers have that I nonetheless gush over. I do not like that the Libra H2O fees through microUSB, however we’ll in all probability be ready some time longer earlier than e-reader producers care sufficient to make the change to USB-C (in the event that they ever care to in any respect).

Serving to you learn higher

Even when its is stable but in the end acquainted, the Libra H2O reveals off Kobo’s new e-reading interface nicely. These updates are extra vital than the addition of the Libra H2O to Kobo’s e-reader lineup as a result of all the machine household will probably be receiving the brand new studying interface in future software program updates. A brand new “e-reading interface” does not imply that the pages of your digital books will look wildly totally different—quite the opposite, they appear fairly the identical. However Kobo added some further instruments that readers can use whereas they’re neck-deep in a e-book to assist enhance their studying comprehension, or a minimum of that is the concept behind Kobo’s “studying for understanding” technique.

One of many new options comes within the type of an e-book scrubber, which brings up smaller web page previews that sit atop the present web page you are studying. The scrubber additionally allows you to navigate by means of these smaller pages to any level within the e-book. Kindle customers will probably be acquainted with this function, though it appears notably good in motion on a tool with a bigger display screen.

These with Kobo Forma or Libra H2O units (and first rate eyesight) may feasibly learn these smaller pages of their entirety due to the dimensions of their machine’s screens and the way a lot area the function takes up as an entire. Whereas I do not suppose anybody would need to learn forward of their fiction books, the function will turn out to be useful when studying nonfiction, reference, or textbooks through which you are continually “flipping” backwards and forwards to remind your self of ideas already learn.

Kobo additionally made it simpler to see all of your annotations without delay in a brand new menu. As well as, the scrubber provides dots to the e-book’s timeline that characterize highlights and annotations, letting you simply hop to totally different factors within the e-book the place you marked one thing vital. These have been a few of the options I want I had after I was in school, however that may have meant that e-readers or tablets have been as ubiquitous as they’re right this moment after I was in school, and that simply wasn’t the case. Interface instruments like these would have made my life as a pupil a lot simpler, and so they make units just like the Libra H2O extra engaging as a finding out machine moderately than only a place to retailer and skim all of your digital textbooks and reference supplies.

I have not been a full-time pupil for fairly a while, so most of my studying is fiction and nonfiction books that curiosity me. I am additionally somebody who likes understanding precisely the place I’m in a e-book always, and Kobo’s new headers and footers inform me that. The small header pinpoints your location within the present chapter, together with what number of whole pages are within the chapter, whereas the footer tells you what number of pages are left in all the e-book.

Kindles have a tiny footer that does one thing related, however you’ll want to faucet on it just a few occasions to see totally different metrics like your location, what number of pages are left within the e-book, and what number of hours (primarily based in your studying pace) are left within the e-book. You can even faucet to take away that footer fully on Kindle units, whereas you need to go into Kobo’s settings web page to take away each the header and footer when you choose a distraction-free studying atmosphere.

The lengthy, sluggish street to face beside Amazon

Kobo’s “studying for understanding” technique is an effective framework to view these software program adjustments. However I additionally do not see it as an exclusionary technique—simply because Kobo added a variety of options that can assist readers who need to retain extra info from the digital books they learn does not imply that these options take away from the escapism that comes from studying basically. Fiction and nonfiction readers can use all of Kobo’s new reader instruments, nevertheless it’s seemingly that nonfiction readers, college students, and students will get essentially the most out of them. For fiction lovers, or readers who don’t fret as a lot about bookmarking or taking notes while having fun with a e-book, Kobo’s new software program will not get in your approach.

Many features of Kobo’s new e-reading expertise try to catch as much as options that Amazon’s Kindles have had for fairly a while. Nevertheless, none of those options is crucial to most readers’ experiences with e-readers. Kobo did not repair what wasn’t damaged—it simply added some interface components that can assist essentially the most meticulous amongst us.

The corporate could also be trailing Amazon in america by way of identify recognition and market share, nevertheless it’s price noting that Kobo has some options on its units which may make them extra interesting than Amazon’s e-readers. Paramount amongst these is an ad-free expertise: Kobo e-readers don’t carry commercials, and when you can browse Kobo’s on-line retailer and buy e-books from its Wi-Fi related e-readers, that is not a function that is pushed onto customers as a lot as Amazon’s “particular gives” are.

The place Kobo pushes its on-device retailer a bit an excessive amount of for my liking is in one in every of its useful third-party integrations. Along with connecting to Pocket for studying on-line articles in your e-reader, Kobo connects to OverDrive, due to Rakuten proudly owning each of them. This enables Kobo e-readers to hook up with your OverDrive digital library so you’ll be able to obtain borrowed library e-books.

Nevertheless, not a lot has modified since we reviewed the Forma—the default choice within the OverDrive shopping menu is to purchase the e-book from Kobo, and you’ll solely borrow or place a e-book on maintain by tapping an ellipses menu button. We additionally want OverDrive synced want lists and maintain info from machine to machine and platform to platform (I am taking a look at you, Libby), as a result of it will make retaining one coherent studying checklist a lot simpler.

Too typically we default to the most well-liked alternative, and within the US e-reader market, that is Amazon and its Kindles. However Kobo has loads to supply in its e-readers, and the Libra H2O could possibly be a fantastic choice for individuals who need no advertisements and no compromises in a barely higher-end machine. The $169 Kobo Libra H2O will probably be obtainable for preorder on September 10 and extensively stocked in shops and on-line on September 17.


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