eReader Review: Kobo Aura HD

Kobo Aura HD 

When I was asked to try out the new Kobo Aura HD and review it, I jumped at the chance. Kobo has come a long way since I bought my first ereader 3 years ago. I hadn’t known anyone who had a Kobo ereader at that time, let alone had heard of one. (My decision at that time came between the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook, and I went with the Kindle.)

Kobo Aura HD in the box

My Reading Background: First, let me tell you about my reading background so you can get a better understanding as to what type of reader I am and how I use an ereader. I’ve been a Kindle user for over 3 years now. I am currently on my 3rd Kindle (I keep upgrading), a Kindle Touch, and also read on my iPad using the Kindle app. I’m an avid reader and read about 2-3 books a week. I get my ebooks from Amazon (since I have a Kindle), NetGalley and Edelweiss (for review), and sometimes the library. I am most familiar with AZW and MOBI formats since that is what I have grown accustomed to over the past 3 years; ePub is a completely different beast for me. And I use Calibre to manage and organize my ebooks.

About the Kobo Aura HD: Here are some of the technical specs for the Kobo Aura HD, compared to the Kindle Paperwhite WiFi model:

Kobo Aura HD Kindle Paperwhite WiFi
(without Special Offers)
$169.99 PRICE $139.00
6.8” SCREEN 6”
6.91 x 5.05 x 0.46 in SIZE 6.7 x 4.6 x 0.36 in
8.4658 oz. WEIGHT 7.5 oz.
4 GB, expandable up to 32 GB with a Micro SD card
(Out of the box, it can hold up to 3,000 ebooks.)
STORAGE 2 GB internal plus free Cloud storage for all Amazon content
(Out of the box, it can hold up to 1,100 ebooks.)
Up to 2 months BATTERY Up to 8 weeks


SUPPORTED FORMATS Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion

There is an inconsistency on the Kobo website in regards to whether or not the Kobo Aura HD supports MOBI. Under ‘Technical Specs’, MOBI is included. In the FAQ section, MOBI is missing. For the record, I was able to read MOBI ebooks on the Kobo Aura HD.

It is also worth mentioning that the Kobo Aura HD comes in 3 colors: Ivory, Onyx, and Expresso, though the Expresso color doesn’t seem to be available in the US.

Kobo Aura HDKindle Touch

Why I decided to Try Out the Kobo Aura HD: I was most excited about the ComfortLight and the HD screen on the Kobo Aura HD. I’ve had my eye on the Kindle Paperwhite (mainly for the built-in light) but I wasn’t ready to upgrade (again) just yet. And I had never heard of an HD ereader. Tablet, yes; ereader, no. So I was intrigued to see what a difference reading would be on an HD ereader device compared to that of a standard e-ink ereader.

sculpted back on the Kobo Aura HDsculpted back on Kobo Aura HD

First Impressions: The Kobo Aura HD is a good looking ereader. When I took the device out of the box, I noticed how different the back of the device is compared to other ereaders. Its sculpted back makes for a comfortable and stable fit in your hand. The Kobo Aura HD doesn’t come with an AC adapter so you’ll have to charge it on your computer or buy one. (Kindles no longer come with an AC adapter either, so this isn’t an oddity.)

Book Cover comparison on the Kobo Aura HD and the Kindle TouchBook page comparison on the Kobo Aura HD and the Kindle Touch

I have now had the Kobo Aura HD for almost 2 months now and here are my thoughts.

What I liked:

  • I love the ComfortLight! It lights up the screen evenly and I can easily adjust the brightness. And it turns itself off when you put the device to sleep or shut if off. This is my favorite feature on the Kobo Aura HD.
  • There is lots of room for books on the actual device. LOTS. It comes with 4 GB of storage out of the box PLUS you can expand that up to 32 GB with a Micro SD card.
  • I like being able to track my reading habits with the Reading Life feature. What it tracks: your progress on the book you’re currently reading, percentage-wise and time-wise; your average minutes read per reading session; amount of page turns; how much of your library you have read; how many books you’ve finished reading; and total hours you’ve read on the device in its lifetime. It’s pretty cool to see what your reading habits are right on your ereader device.
  • When reading a book, it tells me what chapter, and what page in that chapter, I am on. And with a tap on the screen, it shows me how far I am into the book percentage-wise.
  • The ComfortLight can be set to turn off automatically after 5, 10, 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes, or not at all. Same is true for setting the device to go to sleep and to power off automatically.
  • The highlight, note, dictionary, and search features were all easy to access and use.
  • When the device is sleeping or powered off, it displays the book cover of the last book you read.
  • Browsing, sampling, and shopping from the device itself is easy.
  • You can remove books and extra things from the Home page, which is good since every time you open something up (like the experimental web browser or the Reading Life feature) it shows up and stays on your home screen. Note: removing books from the Home page does not delete the book from the device.
  • Deleting books from the Kobo Aura HD is simple to do; you just have to remember to do it from your Library and not the Home page. (If you try to do it from the Home page, it only removes the book from the Home page, not from the device.)
  • Page turn is fast. You have the option to have the page refresh every 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 pages. I set it to 6 pages so I am not constantly seeing the page flashing.
  • You can create shelves to organize your ebook library on the device, and it’s easy to do.
  • Kobo has good customer service. I’ve contacted them via Twitter (@KoboHelp) a couple times and I got responses fairly quick. They even processed a ticket for me for a problem I am having, based on my tweets.

Kobo Aura HD in sleeping modeKobo Aura HD powered off

What I didn’t like:

  • I had to tell the device to connect to my computer EVERY SINGLE TIME I plugged it in. With my Kindle, it connects as soon as I plug it in, automatically.
  • I can only share quotes on Facebook. I’d like to see a sharing option for Twitter (I am not a big Facebook user). And when I did share quotes on Facebook, it didn’t post everything I highlighted; the quote got cut off:
    Kobo Sharing via Facebook
  • The reading ‘awards’ are silly to me. I wish I could turn it off completely, on both the device and the app.
  • It lacks the free 3G wireless network option that is available on most Kindle models.
  • There are no speakers on the device so there is no text-to-speech feature.
  • It lacks the ability to send ebooks and documents straight to the device via email. This is a MAJOR gripe I have with the device.
  • No physical Home button, only on the touch screen.
  • No lending option available for Kobo ebooks.
  • It takes 17 seconds to power on the device. For sake of comparison, it takes my Kindle Touch less than 3 seconds to power on. It takes less than 2 seconds for the Kobo Aura HD to wake up, which is about the same amount of time as my Kindle Touch. So I don’t power off the Kobo Aura HD unless I won’t be reading on it for a while.
  • There isn’t a way, at least that I could find, to transfer my notes and highlights from the device to my computer. I do this with my Kindle when writing my reviews.
  • I couldn’t get the Kobo Aura HD device and the iOS Kobo app to sync properly. The device would automatically sync to the last page I read on my iPad but I couldn’t get my iPad to sync to the last page I read on the device. I have a ticket open with Kobo’s technical support and will update this once/if the problem gets resolved.

Kobo Aura HD ComfortLight brightness set to 10%Kobo Aura HD ComfortLight brightness set to 100%

The Kobo Site:  I can't talk about the Kobo Aura HD device without mentioning the Kobo site/store, since it is as much part of the experience as the device itself is. I found the site pretty easy to navigate. It’s easy to find free ebooks, much easier than it is on the Amazon site. You can search your favorite genre (like ‘romance’) then select ‘free only’ in the Filter drop-down menu. There’s a New Adult category, which is great since I’m always on the lookout for books in that newish genre. If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for 99¢ ebooks, so I like that there is a way to look at ebooks starting at 99¢. I only wish I could sort by price (lowest to highest). But how does Kobo’s ebook prices compare to Kindle ebooks? Let’s take a look.

Here is an ebook price comparison, Kobo vs. Amazon (I picked ebooks from Kobo’s “New & Hot Romance” section):

Kobo ebook Price

(as of 6/13/2013)

Kindle ebook Price

(as of 6/13/2013)

Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery



One Sweet Ride by Jaci Burton



Fire Inside by Kristen Ashley



Sea Glass Island by Sherryl Woods



Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts



Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare



Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh



It Had to Be You (Special Bonus Edition w/ free novel Blue Flame) by Jill Shalvis



Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella



Lover At Last by J.R. Ward



You can see from the examples in the table that Amazon has an edge over Kobo when it comes to ebook prices; seven out of the 10 books where more expensive at Kobo. The biggest price difference was for Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts, which was $5 more at Kobo.

Kobo Aura HD reading stats

Overall Impression: The Kobo Aura HD is a good ereader but I think the $169.99 price tag is a bit too steep. The main advantages the Kobo Aura HD has over the Kindle Paperwhite WiFi are (1) it has more internal storage on the device (4 GB that is expandable up to 32 GB on the Kobo vs. only 2 GB on the Kindle, but with the Kindle you get free Cloud storage); (2) it has a bigger screen (6.8” on the Kobo vs. 6” on the Kindle); and (3) the HD screen. While the Kobo Aura HD screen does look crisper and has better contrast than my Kindle Touch, it wasn’t as big of a difference you see when comparing a standard television set to an HD TV. Perhaps my expectations were too high. So, do these things justify the $30 difference in price? Maybe. I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in an ereader and which features are important to you.

From a book reviewer standpoint, it's a whole lot easier to get eARCs from NetGalley and Edelweiss on to my Kindle than it is the Kobo Aura HD. (eARCs are digital advanced reader copies that are received for review; non-reviewers will not have to worry about this.) With my Kindle, the eARCs get sent directly to the device (and the Cloud) via email. With the Kobo Aura HD, I have to download the eARC to my computer, open it up in Adobe Digital Editions, then drag the book file from my computer to the Kobo Aura HD. There is also the added bonus that eARCs do not expire on the Kindle, like they do with ePub ereaders.

There were some frustrating moments with the Kobo Aura HD: (1) When I was trying to figure out how to get eARCs on the device; and (2) When I was trying to get an ebook from the library onto the device. But now that I have it all sorted out, aside from the syncing issue that I am waiting to hear back from Kobo about, I enjoy reading on the Kobo Aura HD. I use it to read at night, as it is a whole lot lighter and easier on the wrist than my iPad. When asked which ereader I recommend, I used to tell people to go with a Kindle. Now when asked, I tell them the Kindle as well as the Kobo Aura HD.


If you have a question about the Kobo Aura HD that wasn’t covered in my review, leave it in the comments and I will address it. 


I received a Kobo Aura HD in exchange for an honest review.

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. I have a tablet and usually read there, but was considering buying an ereader and have a question for you. I read mostly PDF files from NetGalley and Edelweiss and was wondering if you can adjust an file like the epub allow. Make the font bigger and stuff like that.

    1. I use Calibre to convert PDF files to MOBI for a better reading experience. You can't highlight or make notes with a PDF ebook, in additional to not being able to adjust the font.

      Hope that helps!

    2. I have a Nook and sometimes getting arcs through Netgalley and Edelweiss the text is small so I have to zoom in on it so I tried using Calibre to convert it so I can read the smaller text better but it's not allowed with the eArcs because they are protected.

      Do you not have the same issue?

      It sounds like the Kobo is very much like the Nook since they are both ePub readers. But I'm surprised that the Kobo and Kindle does not come with a charger. But I'm two Nook editions behind (Nook Color) so I don't know if the new Nook tablets still come with a charger.

      Nice product review.

    3. If the eARC is a PDF file, then no, I can't adjust the font size on the Kobo Aura HD. Nor can I highlight or take notes. This is why I prefer to use my Kindle to read ARCs.

      The Kindles used to come with an AC adapter but not anymore. I'm not sure if the same is true with the Kobos, as this is the first Kobo I have had.

  2. Great review. I think I will stick to my Kindle. So far Amazon seems to be the leading e-reader for me. I try to use it as much as I can over my Nook. Plus Amazon always has the cheapest prices.
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous

    1. Amazon is hard to beat when it comes to pricing.

  3. You missed one feature of the Kobo - the ability to borrow ebooks from a library using Overdrive. When I compared e-readers a couple years back, I looked at the e-book resources at my local libraries, and they were pretty sad. Mostly "romance" novels.

    But it's improved a bit (especially kids fiction), and it's a valuable feature for people who appreciate their local public libraries.

  4. Thanks for the review. You missed a Kobo feature that the Kindle doesn't have - the ability to check out e-books from the library.

    When I first compared e-readers a few years back, I checked out what was available for electronic borrowing from my library, and the list wasn't great (mostly romance novels).

    I just replaced my Kindle with a Kobo Aura HD, and went and looked again, and it's improved, especially around kids books - my local library has 1300 kids books available for download to my Kobo, including classics like Judy Blume, etc.

    Amazon is all about books - as long as you pay for them. For those of use that enjoy our local libraries, the Kobo has a distinct advantage.

    1. Actually you can borrow ebooks from a public library and read them on a Kindle; have been for almost 2 years now (I believe this feature was made available to Kindle users in September 2011).

      One advantage the Kindle has over the Kobo is Amazon's own Lending Library that comes with Amazon's Prime program.

  5. First off, it's really cool that you got asked to review the Kobo! Your review was great: so detailed and very informative. I currently have a Kindle paperwhite and love it. My favorite part is the back-lit screen. It's the best and I don't know how I ever lived without it!!