Officially announced by Kobo earlier today, the Aura H2O is a new ereader that’s been designed with withstand water, dust and sand. Ideal for taking on vacation to read by the pool or perhaps toss in the sand on a beach, the Aura H2O is capable of sitting in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes as long as the port cover is closed. Similar to smartphones that are being touted as water resistant, waterproofing is ideal for any type of water-related accident. The device also comes with a drying cloth to wipe down the screen after getting wet, however any type of cloth will work to dry the device.
Speaking about a consumer need for this type of device, Kobo CCO Michael Tamblyn said “When we asked our customers what held them back from reading more ebooks, many told us they love to read in the bath, by the pool, or on the beach, but believed that devices and water didn’t mix. As we dug deeper, we found that more than 60% of customers surveyed said they would love to be able read near water without worry. We designed the Kobo Aura H2O, our latest premium eReader, so that ebooks could be just as common at the beach or in the bath as they are on the bus or in bed.”
Regarding the hardware specifications, the Aura H2O is very similar to the Aura HD ereader. The Aura H2O offers a 6.8-inch touchscreen using Carta E Ink technology at a resolution of 1430 x 1080 (265 dpi). The screen also includes ComfortLight technology for reading in the dark, similar to a Kindle Paperwhite.
The screen is powered by a 1 GHz processor and offers 4GB of internal storage space. Kobo has also included a microSD card slot to add an additional 32GB of memory to the device. Kobo indicates that users will be able to store 3,000 books on the internal storage and an additional 30,000 books using the expansion slot.
According to the specifications page, the Kobo Aura H2O supports file formats that include EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ, and CBR. Regarding language support, the Aura H20 will offer support for English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Italian, and Portuguese at launch and will expand to more languages in the future. Regarding battery power, Kobo rates battery life at 2 months before needing to recharge the ereader. Kobo defines normal use as reading for 30 minutes a day and turning pages once per minute.
Regarding availability, Kobo will start taking preorders for the Aura H2O on September 1, 2014 at a retail price of $179.99. The device is expected to ship by October 1, 2014 and will be made available to people living in the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain. At this time, Amazon does not sell a waterproof version of the popular Kindle ereader. However, consumers can purchase a version of the device, from companies like WaterFi, that’s been treated with a waterproof solution to make it completely resistant to all water damage.