I got my first and only Kindle ever on the 18th of April, 2012 and was so excited that I posted a photo of it on Instagram – which is how I know the exact date. I’m thankful that I had done so because at some point, I looked at the battered old thing, with its deep scratches and dead pixels and realised that it was time for a replacement.
My beloved Kindle and I had been together for a solid 5 years, through university, numerous visits to the beach and park, being thrown from handbag to handbag. I work at a large tech firm where most people have the most current gadgets. A colleague picked up my Kindle and began to poke the screen, ‘it’s not touch screen?’ he posed as a half question, half statement. I shook my head no and he laughed ‘it must be ancient! I’ve got an old one like this but at least it has a keyboard.’
In a world where cellphones now exceed a thousand dollars RRP and barely last two years, I felt that my Kindle had done a fantastic job. Having spent about $90AUD on it (what seemed to be a substantial amount at the time – thanks for the paychecks, KFC) and having lasted as long as it did, I figured that I’d splurge on its successor and last month I finally put my Kindle to rest and purchased a Kobo Aura One for a whopping $350AUD. If you’re thinking that $350 is a fairly excessive amount to pay for an eReader, I agree. I was hunting down different models, trying to decide what features and design and all of that superficial stuff but in the end, doesn’t really matter since all you’re really doing on the thing is reading.
My boyfriend knew I’d been stalking the Kobo Aura One down since it’s release last year. We were to meet up one night for dinner where he caught me in the tech store, staring at it, then physically pulled me and the Kobo to the counter and I was like fuck it, why not?
My poor decision making skills aside, I’ve had a pretty good month with my Kobo. Things of note;
- The Kobo is slow. Slower than its predecessor. Unfortunately I can’t compare this to other touch screen e-readers on the market currently, but from a general usability standpoint, page turning and menu switching is kind of irritating. A lot of the time it doesn’t even register that I’m touching the screen (more on this below), so that mental pause when going from one page to another is even more jarring than usual. This is the most annoying when I’m standing on a bus, holding onto the rail for dear life with one hand, trying to hold my e-reader with the other.
I should note that my Kindle had physical page turn buttons, so the fiddly-ness of the touch screen had never been a problem for me.
- The Kobo is beautiful. The Kobo’s screen and bezel are flush – meaning no sand and dirt wedged into the cracks – huge plus for me, and one of the primary reasons I chose the Kobo Aura One. Generally, the design and build of the Aura One is excellent. It’s often mistaken for a tablet, and when I show people how the sleep-cover works I get a whole lot of ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s, as opposed to the old Kindle, where most responses are, ‘you read books?’.
It is also water-proof-mostly (don’t get me started on the inaccuracy of labelling something as ‘water-proof’ when it only kind of is) and I’ve got a bad habit of taking electronics into the bath or shower with me. The downside to this that, and this is technical speculation on my part, is that there needed to be some kind of protective layer between the physical screen and the digitiser (the thing you touch to make things happen) to ensure its waterproofing and thus you need to apply a fair bit of pressure with your finger in order for the device to recognise that you’re trying to give it commands. Think back to your old-school touch phones, like the Nokia N95.
- The bezels on the Kobo are too small. And for a touch screen device, this is super duper annoying. Like I said, I mostly read on the go and if it’s not onto the railing of the bus, I’m either running through the city with a coffee in my other hand. The bezel is not large enough to hold onto without accidentally turning the page. Alternatively, you need to pincer it between your index and your thumb and hope you have enough finger strength and that someone doesn’t bump into you, because you will definitely drop it. I have noticed that the chin bezel is quite thick and thought that maybe it was designed to be held like a phone (resting in the palm of your hand, pinky holding up the bottom) but I have the sleep cover, and this makes it too thick and heavy for me to hold it like this comfortably.
- The reading light is awesome, but leaving it on auto drains battery a lot. The very first thing that drew me to the Aura One was the ‘ComfortLight Pro’ (I really like how suffixing ‘Pro’ instantly makes stuff better) which changes the backlight from regular white to orange at a pre-set time. Theoretically, this removes blue light and helps your brain relax more before you go to bed. While this is a benefit, I’m just happy it has a backlight at all. My trade-off is that I find that I have to charge the Aura One every two weeks-ish, where I could get a month out of my Kindle without charging.
- The Kobo and Kindle environments are very different. I won’t be going into the politics around Kindle and their authors here, I’m not too well versed on the matter so you can look it up yourself if you’re interested. As a result however, books are cheaper in the Kindle store, and sometimes books in the Kobo store are not too far off the physical book price.
Eg. The Nix by Nathan Hill (current read, seriously loving it)
Local book store: $15AUD
Kobo store: $11.99AUD
Personally, I’m a book hoarder. I’ll only buy an e-book if I’m not sure if I’ll like it, or if the physical book is too large for me to carry on my commute.
The Aura One does however have access to Overdrive, which is a huge, huge, huge plus for me. I don’t even have to go to libraries to borrow books anymore! I’ve just borrowed Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for this month’s book club just with a few clicks.
Overall, really enjoying the Kobo so far! There are definitely a few things I still need to get used to but the ComfortLight is seriously irreplaceable to me. I’m really hoping that the Aura One turns out to be just as good of an investment as my Kindle was.
Do you have a Kobo? Do you have a Kindle? I can see the benefit of both and would love to hear your opinions!
Until next time,