Kobo Libra H2O review
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Kobo Libra H2O review

Kobo Libra H20 offersKobo Libra H2O WhiteAmazon $ 212.84ViewKobo N873-KU-BK-K-EP 7 “… Amazon $ 212.99ViewWe check over 130 million products every day for the best prices

When the Kobo Forma was launched in 2018, we had high hopes that it would give Amazon Kindle Oasis a chance. However, a slightly drab design and a breathtaking price have changed our minds. Rakuten – the Japanese company that makes Kobo eReaders – seems to have learned a few lessons from this Forma feedback, and its new 7-inch Kobo Libra H2O introduces a range of refinements and changes that largely respond to complaints.

While the 7 inch Libra display makes it a little smaller than the 8 inch Forma, it brings with it the latest E Ink technology, making it one of the fastest and most responsive readers currently on the market ..

Add to that an updated user interface and a superior build than the Forma (plus the watertightness and support for several file formats for which Kobos is famous) and you finally have a very convincing competitor for the Kindle Oasis. Even better, the Libra H2O is much more affordable than the Oasis or Forma.

(Image credit: Ditching)

Kobo Libra H20 price and availability

The Kobo Libra H2O was launched for the first time in the U.S. and Canada in September 2019 – just months after Amazon released the second generation version of the Kindle Oasis – and became available on others markets later that year ..

Given that it shares many premium features from Forma and Oasis, its main selling point may be its price. The Libra H2O is available directly in the Kobo store and at major retailers for $ 169 / £ 149 / AU $ 249. In comparison, the 2019 iteration of the Kindle Oasis will set you back $ 249 / £ 229 / AU $ 399, while the Kobo Forma is available for $ 279 / £ 239 / AU $ 429.

And even if you can occasionally get the Kindle Oasis for a lower price directly from Amazon, you’ll be hard pressed to find discounts on any of the Kobo eReaders.

Design and display

Unlike more traditional tablet-style readers like the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kobo Aura One, the asymmetrical design of the Libra H2O closely resembles the Forma and the Kindle Oasis. A bezel is much thicker and wider than the others, providing plenty of space to comfortably and securely hold the device without covering the screen. A pair of physical buttons on the same bezel are used to turn pages, and the reader battery is housed inside this area of ​​the chassis, with the microUSB charging port on the side of this thick thorn. However, the difference between the Forma and the Balance is that the latter has a 7-inch E Ink Carta HD screen (the same as the Oasis) compared to the 8-inch screen on the Forma.

One bezel is thicker and larger than the other, making it comfortable to hold and use the Kobo Libra H2O with one hand. (Image credit: Ditching)

The Libra H2O and Kindle Oasis also share the same screen resolution of 1680 x 1264, which translates to 300 pixels per inch (ppi), providing a beautifully sharp and easy-to-read display. That said, the Libra H2O’s screen is not at the same level as the bezel (as it is on the Oasis) and, on the contrary, is inserted into a recess inside the frame.

This shallow depth makes the screen text sharper compared to the Oasis, and also allows Rakuten to use Neonode’s zForce infrared technology – a plug-and-play sensor module used for touch and gesture control . And whether you select a word for search in a dictionary or type a Wi-Fi password during setup, the screen is extremely responsive – on par with the latest Kindle Oasis and twice the rate of Forma .

(Image credit: Ditching)

The Libra H2O shares the patented ComfortLight Pro screen technology found on all modern Kobos and reduces exposure to sleep-disrupting blue light. There are white and amber LED lights at the bottom of the screen that project light up and evenly across the screen. The two color tones can be used together or independently, with the brightness adjusted via a simple slider built into the touch interface.

And although there is no ambient light sensor on board, you can adjust the lighting to change according to your time zone. This change in color temperature occurs even when the device is asleep and if you read a little in the afternoon and then only pick it up at bedtime, you will notice that the light is warmer. This, as we have seen, does not happen with the Kindle Oasis, where you will have to manually change the brightness to adjust the light at night if you just picked it up to read in bed.

The Libra weighs 192 g, 4 g more than the Oasis, despite the metallic finish of the latter. The difference is so small that they both feel the same in the hand, but the larger bezel (or handle) of the Libra H2O is slightly thicker than that of the Forma and its smaller screen size gives it a slightly chunky appearance.

The physical page change buttons are robust with good feedback (Image credit: Ditching)

Despite its plastic chassis, the Libra H2O is much more beautiful than its more expensive brother. Where there is a seal on the thicker bezel of the Forma (between the buttons and the screen) for dirt to collect, the front of the Libra is constructed from a single piece of plastic. In addition, Forma’s soft-touch plastic begins to look shiny and oily within a few weeks of use, giving it a dirty, old appearance. The Libra’s harder plastic finish should mean it is a little more resistant to this, although you may see fingerprints on the glasses if you have particularly oily or sweaty skin.

Another reason to recommend the Libra H2O over the Forma is the page change and feed button – on the latter they feel too spongy, while there is a very good click and comments on the Libra . That said, the buttons on the Kindle Oasis are easily the smoothest and most pleasant of the three.

There is a microUSB port on the side of the thicker frame to charge the device (Image credit: Ditching)

There’s a recessed power button on the back of the Balance, and while it’s reasonably easy to locate it just by feeling it, it’s almost impossible to press if you’re using the Balance with one hand . It may also take some getting used to without turning the device over if you tend to keep turning the Libra to read in different directions, as it is far from where your hand is – on the side opposite the handle, in the diagonal corner opposite the Kobo mark on the bezel.

The Libra H2O retains its IPX8 waterproofing and can survive a 60-minute dive in about 2 m of water. However, you won’t be able to use the touchscreen if the device is submerged, but the physical page change buttons still work fine.

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