Kobo has released its new e-reader, the Libra H2O. Physical buttons, strange format at first glance: what to think of this e-reader?
Hardware: a good 7-inch e-reader!
The Libra has a 7-inch E-Ink Carta HD screen, the latest model with a resolution of 1,680 x 1,264 pixels and 300 PPI. Interactions are done with infrared technology such as Neonode Z Force. In terms of processor and RAM, it is comparable to the competition: on an e-reader, these factors are not generally the ones that cause problems.
What’s impressive is that, for a 7-inch e-reader, the Kobo Libra has a similar size to the Kindle Paperwhite and is smaller than its Amazon competitor, the Kindle Oasis!
It has a good quality screen: the image is sharp and offers good contrast. The big question I had about this model was related to the quality of the lighting in “natural light” mode having been strongly disappointed by Kobo a few years ago with their Aura One, with which – on different models tested – the lighting was leaking blue/green in different places… It seems that Kobo has solved their lighting problems! The lighting is homogeneous, even in “natural light” mode. With its small size, the e-reader is easy to handle, and the buttons are a real plus for turning pages with one hand, convenient for reading at night or in the bath (the e-reader is waterproof, so it can go with us without risk).
Software: Kobo, as usual.
As far as the software is concerned, nothing has changed; we find the strengths and weaknesses of the Kobo software. Strengths: you can open many files, without having to convert them into a specific format, as you have to do for Kindle e-readers, for example. Weaknesses: PDF reading is still quite complicated and if it is easy to install a third party reader like Koreader, it is not a help and to use it to launch some specific formats without having to start the software separately, before opening a file.
Nevertheless, the e-reader is quite flexible; the ergonomics are well thought out and by default, without the need to “hack”, it can open all types of files. The 7-inch screen brings a certain comfort compared to a 6-inch screen, even if especially for PDFs (see our article on this subject) or comics a screen of 8 inches or more would be welcome.
The handling is pleasant, whether one reads in “portrait” or “landscape” mode: which can be useful for those who would like to acquire this e-reader to display their digital books with large print or to read PDFs. Indeed, although the screen is not so big, the landscape mode allows to amplify the versatility of the e-reader, while keeping a compact e-reader at a fairly controlled cost.
Value for money and integrated library
Indeed, it can cost about 180 euros, which is a bit cheaper than its main competitors: the Kindle Oasis 3 and PocketBook Inkpad 3.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that the Inkpad 3 benefits from a slightly larger screen for a similar price, which leads us to recommend it for those who want to read PDFs with an e-reader in this price range.
Kobo has an e-shop available directly from the e-reader, with DRM-free books. If being able to buy digital books directly from your e-reader, without being chained to the American e-commerce giant is important to you, the Kobo Libra H2O seems to be a really good option.