I love books. I read a variety of them from fiction to technical manuals, but when it comes to eReaders, I’ve mostly shunned a lot of them due to their prohibitive costs. However, that mindset has changed after my experience with the Kobo Libra H2O ($279.90).
The Libra H2O has a 7 inch screen, weighs 192 grams and has a peculiar bent design on one edge. This, according to Kobo, is meant as a handgrip. The screen occupies most of the front of the device. Two page turn buttons reside on the front, while a recessed power button finds home on the back. The only sole port on this device is a Micro USB port which is used for charging.
Holding the Libra H2O for hours at a time, the device felt comfortable in-hand. The matte plastic body has a rubberized feel to it. For those who prefer a thicker device and some device protection, Kobo has an array of covers available that also function as stands.
The screen here is a Carta E Ink HD touchscreen with a resolution of 1680 x 1264 pixels at 300 pixels per inch. Text is razor-sharp and easy to read. My only gripe with the screen is the slightly weak contrast with some manga titles, which made some panels look slightly washed out.
Kobo’s ComfortLight PRO backlight features adjustable brightness and auto-adjusting color temperature according to the time. I left it in default as it produces a nice paper-like tint to the screen which is easy on the eyes.
You get a fixed 8GB memory for books, which is more than adequate for the 100 different books you will spend the weekends reading. The 1GHz processor with 512 MB of RAM is snappy with ebooks, and only visibly bogs down with reading materials beyond text.
The only wireless connectivity option is WiFi 802.11b/g/n. Notably, the Libra H2O has an IPX8 rating that should bring peace of mind if you like to read ebooks while soaking in the bath or spa.
The battery is a 1200mAh unit, which I barely even put a dent after a weekend of heavy reading with the light off.
Mainstream books are mostly available through Kobo’s store at reasonable retail prices. What is missing, and I would like to see, is a monthly subscription service on top of the current offerings.
The store page has a recommended and trending tab and allows you to search by book name or category. Store navigation and recommended titles feels archaic compared to its main competitors, often randomly suggesting a title which was not relevant to the titles I read.
Direct access to the National Library Board (NLB) eBooks with OverDrive is a breeze. Set-up is free with a library card, and through an integrated catalogue, users can search for the title they want, and depending on availability, choose to borrow from OverDrive or buy through the Kobo eBook store.
The Libra H2O is also said to be fully integrated with Pocket, allowing users to save web articles directly to devices to enjoy later.
After hours of replacing physical books with the Libra H2O, eReaders certainly have their place for a distraction-free indulgence into fantasy worlds. Comfort is top notch and there isn’t a glaring issue with the screen (figuratively and literally). To top it off, hassle-free access to NLB’s e-collection is a big plus.
I would like to thank Rakuten Kobo for providing this unit for review. The Libra H2O is available here.