Kobo Libra H2O Review

Verdict

A powerful and reasonably priced e-reader with a stunning screen and physical page buttons – but UI issues haunt the Libra H20 almost as much as Amazon.

Advantages

  • Good price for all features
  • Physical page buttons
  • New attractive features
  • Open file approach
  • Pocket integration

The inconvenients

  • Glitchy UI
  • Plastic design
  • Amazon’s library is struggling to fight

Key specifications

  • Price of the opinion: £ 149.99
  • IPX8 waterproof
  • Physical page change buttons
  • ComfortLight PRO tech
  • 7in 300ppi display
  • Pocket integration
  • 192g

What is Kobo Libra H2O?

With a large 7-inch 300ppi E Ink display, physical page buttons, IPX8 sealing and a price of $ 149.99, the Kobo Libra H2O is well positioned to share the difference between the £ 230 Kindle Oasis and the £ 120 Kindle Paperwhite. It also comes well below the Kobo Forma £ 240.

Overall, the Kobo Libra H2O offers a complete set of eBook readers at an attractive price. Interestingly, it’s also the Kobo device that was chosen to usher in a new user interface for the entire family.

Unfortunately, one or two performance and software issues prevent the Kobo Libra H2O from being fully recommended.

Kobo Libra H2O design – Like a Kindle Oasis more plasticky

We just mentioned that the Kobo Libra H2O is between the Kindle Oasis and the Kindle Paperwhite, and that’s what we see best in its design. This e-book reader takes a basic approach similar to that of Oasis and Kobo Forma, but uses superior materials.

You get that trademark Kobo’s dimpled finish at the back, making it easier to grip, if not the look, and the plastic structure of the Balance sheds durability and superiority. The recessed power button on the back is both easy to feel and satisfying to use.

Kobo Libra H2O power button

The Kobo Libra H2O has a back and a nice flush key in the Kobo finish.

The Libra H20 is more ergonomic than previous models, with a wider asymmetric design, similar to that of an oasis, which makes its use much more comfortable with one hand. One edge is both wider and significantly thicker than the other three (7.8 mm vs. 5 mm).

More importantly, this border is also suitable for physical page buttons. Flipping through the pages using the buttons is much more comfortable and instinctive than the touch screen, which is usually a two-handed process. These buttons are a little more clicked than we would have liked, especially near the hinges. If you enjoy reading peacefully, the constant sound of the conversation can become a bit irritating – for you and for others in the room.

Despite its new appendix, the Kobo Libra H2O actually weighs 18 grams less than the 192-gram Kobo Aura H2O. This means, however, that it is still 4g heavier than the Kindle Oasis.

Kobo Libra H2O comparison

The Kobo Libra H2O features a 7 inch 300ppi screen

This is not a practical difference, but it might surprise some, given Kobo’s price and usability compared to its rival. All plastic, without the sumptuous aluminum of the premium Kindle. Still, this price difference of £ 80 makes these differences a little easier to forgive.

The Libra H2O retains the IPX8 water resistance class of the Aura H2O, hence the “H2O”. This means that it is waterproof for up to 60 minutes in 2 m of water, like the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Oasis. You can read by the pool or in the bath with confidence.

Coming back to this thick edge, it’s disappointing to see a squeaky micro-USB port rather than the more modern USB-C port. But if Amazon can get away with this archaic load standard, why can not Kobo?

Kobo Libra H2O Monitor – A large, sharp and sensitive E Ink display

The Kobo Libra H2O has the second largest screen of a Kobo to date, 7in. The Kobo Forma had already increased the bar of 8 inches, but no Kindle is as powerful.

With a resolution of 1680 x 1264 giving a pixel density of 300 ppi, Libra matches its rivals (and surpasses the Kobo Aura H2O) in terms of sharpness. You can even tilt the device to the side and everything you read will automatically be reoriented to landscape mode.

Kobo Libra H2O

The crisp ink display is sharp, allowing a reading similar to that of paper

Overall, we envision another clear effort for E Ink that offers a much more natural and paper-like reading experience than the LCD technology you find on your tablet. Quite simply, you will not get tired of reading a book on this type of display.

The screen will illuminate from the front in low light conditions, making it a pleasantly subtle night reading experience.

In this regard, Kobo has also incorporated ComfortLight PRO technology, which reduces exposure to blue light that disrupts sleep. In automatic mode, it imitates so-called natural progression of the sun, but you can customize it according to your preferences.

Kobo Libra H2O Software and Features – Improved user interface and pocket integration, but with issues

The most notable novelty of the Libra H2O is perhaps its new “Enhanced Browsing for eBooks” user interface, to which older Kobo device owners will also be able to upgrade.

Among other things, it is easier to find your place in an eBook when you want to browse forwards or backwards. Tap the screen to display the scroll bar and drag it to a new location. The current page is then marked on the timeline by a black dot.

In addition, a preview pane will appear as you browse the page, showing you the content of the page without accessing it directly.

It’s certainly an improvement and, as always, we love Kobo’s visual design over Amazon’s cluttered approach to the Kindle. But it is disappointing with the dubious performances and strange visual artifacts, the first of which we have criticized Kobo devices in the past.

Being able to browse the pages is an excellent idea, but in this case, it is accompanied by an ugly effect of remanence. It may be a bug that has been fixed with subsequent updates, but at the time of writing this article has been very distracting. Meanwhile, you must remove your finger from the scroll bar to see the preview, which seems to go against its purpose.

Indeed, the user interface of Kobo Libra H2O presents a general glitch and a deep sense of heaviness. This is fine when you flip through the pages in a linear fashion – as you will most of the time – but do not expect an eye-catching tablet-like experience when you quickly move to a new task or menu.

Kobo Libra H2O

The Kobo Libra H2O user interface enables Pocket integration, which means you can read all saved web articles.

Aside from the problems, the Koba Libra H20 user interface remains pleasantly clean and intuitive. It does not give you the head with recommendations or suggested services half less than the Amazon equivalent.

It also provides a number of interesting additional features. You always have a Pocket integration, for example, through which you can read all saved web articles. We liked being able to add detailed web content to our regular ebook regime. Such items were much more enjoyable to read this way than on our phone or tablet. Content too heavy in images, not so much.

Meanwhile, OverDrive support allows you to access your public library’s digital catalog – provided they support the system – from your Kobo, essentially allowing you to borrow eBooks. All you need is a library card, an OverDrive account and Wi-Fi to get started.

The Kobo store, meanwhile, remains well stocked with most of the larger outings, with one or two exceptions. What is not there, you will probably be able to find other sources on the web? Kobo continues to create much more open peripherals than their Kindle competitors, with support for 14 file formats, including EPUB and PDF.

Of course, you do not have access to Amazon’s vast, easily synchronized library, which includes many versions directly to Kindle. Your mileage will vary depending on whether it’s a problem or not, but it’s hard to cope with the weight of A’s great ezine.

You will also have to give up support for the Kindle’s audiobooks, which may be more problematic for some. Conversely, this means that the 8GB of storage provided should be enough to meet the needs of most users because there are no large audio files that clutter things up.

Kobo Libra H2O – Battery Life

Kobo usually claims a “battery life of several weeks” depending on individual use cases. This is certainly possible if you load the device with books and simply browse through them.

If you’re a regular reader of books in the Kobo store and jump between UI elements – between your Pocket articles and your OverDrive loans, for example – you’ll see this figure dramatically decrease. After only five minutes of browsing the Kobo store and using its handy recommendation tool, the battery life of our device has been reduced by 2%, for example.

Of course, all e-book readers are at their best and frugal when they flip through e-book pages, and the Kobo Libra H2O is no different. Keep things clear, as expected, and you will not have to worry about finding a wall outlet.

Should I buy Kobo Libra H2O?

The Kobo Libra H20 is a versatile and well-equipped e-book reader, with a set of features that is ostensibly in the same state of mind as the Kindle Oasis, but available for £ 80 less.

It includes a large E Ink sharp screen, physical page buttons and IPX8 waterproofing. Meanwhile, Kobo software remains as open and sleek as ever.

At the same time, we have reservations about the plasticky construction and slow, slightly glitchy user interface of the Libra H20. In the end, Amazon continues to provide the benchmark for eReaders in terms of refined hardware and extensive ecosystem.

Verdict

A powerful and reasonably priced e-reader with a stunning screen and physical page buttons – but UI issues haunt the Libra H20 almost as much as Amazon.

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