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July 18th 2014 4:05 am

How would you change Kobo’s Aura HD?

Canadian e-reader company Kobo had a dream. That dream was to ignore commercial convention and ask its most hardcore of users what they would want from their dream e-reader -- a bit like How Would You Change, in that respect. The result was the Aura HD, a 6.8-inch slate with a high-res (for an e-reader) display, impressive storage and a best-in-class front light. In our opinion, the hardware was gorgeous, but the software left a lot to be desired, not to mention that Kobo’s bookstore isn’t as strong as Amazon’s. Still, what we want to ask is, if you bought one of these, what did you think of it?

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23 replies

I love my Aura HD. The only two things I'd like to see are to have the screen brought closer to the front plane of the device case (if not completely flush). I hate it when an inset screen starts to accumulate dust and gunk.

The other thing would be better quality plastics. It doesn't feel cheap, exactly, but it doesn't feel like an Apple-quality piece, either.

I actually expect to have mine for a very long time. It's a wonderful device.
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The regular Aura has a near flush screen so like you I'd definitely like that brought to the HD.

Also, the basic software needs a good work through. It is still flaky, I probably have to reset mine a couple of times a week (stock software, no hacks, no betas) and it can be incredibly slow - I don't know why syncing is so painfully slow - especially dictionaries which seem to need to be updated on every sync.

And, say it quietly, it's possible that Sudoku program is ready to come out of beta.

Overall though, I hope Kobo does produce a new reader, I know they've had some problems of late and their build quality hasn't always been the best, but it's nice to have a machine that's not tied to the Amazon monopoly.
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Couldn't have said it any better thunder, you nailed my thoughts.
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Quite simple. Take the advances made in the Kobo Aura (flush screen) and apply to the HD. Maybe make the form (on the back) a little more subtle. Use the newer e-ink tech.
Same applies to the Aura. Apply the higher def of the HD, upgrade to the newer e-ink tech, and I'm sold. Picky yes. I want one of the devices I just described, but will not buy an ereader until something like that exists.
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My biggest problems with touch-only ereaders are
  • the fiddly page-turns (sometimes they work, sometimes have to re-try),
  • accidental page turns due to touches, and that
  • it's not possible to follow the lines with my finger for rapidreading (called Meta Guiding, that eliminates back-and-forth eye movement). en.wikipedia.org­/wiki­/Speed­_reading

I wish it would be possible to temporarily switch of the touch function, and navigate with basic hardware buttons when reading.

However, to select books, enter words for the dictionary, navigate in general the user interface, the touch screen is much better.

So I would need a mix of the two. If the Kobo had this feature, I'd buy it right away!
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I bought one after I've had my kobo touch for a while. I liked the bigger screen, and enhanced resolution/definition. It was an improvement over the touch, but changing pages still needs repetition. I also had some troubles with it. I actually had to exchange it 2 times. The first one would hang up often, on the second the bottom right corner touch wold not work, and on the current I see some slight darker areas on the screen and have a bright spot on the bottom right corner. I kept this one because I got tired of travelling to the next city to exchange it. There are also some bugs with the software. On the 3 units I tried, the battery use will not register from 100 till 96%. Below 96 it seems to work ok.
I would like to see an even bigger screen, and a faster processor too, to make the experience more fluid. As a repairman, perhaps its good to keep the current screen tech. Typical lcds and digitizers are too fragile. Still, the screen does get a lot of dust particles due to being below the level of the bezel, but that's the thing of having IR bezel sensors.
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How come no one mention about Pocket? The latest firmware incorporate Pocket into the Aura HD. In my opinion, this is the killer for all other e-readers. Even the build-in browser has a Pocket button, in case you want to save any web page to your reading list "off-line".

I don't buy books, cause there're plenty information out there. I use it to read articles that I found interesting online. I agree with one previous reader, the device's outter shell can be made more durable. It seems very fragile to me, but so far I didn't crack yet. I also had skin all around the device so it's easier to hold while it protects the device.

Overall, I love my Aura HD. Can't put it down when I am reading the articles that I found online.
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I like the integration of Pocket too. But I don't know why the the "Articles from Pocket" has no option to read by "Tag", I have tons of rss feed to Pocket everyday and I would like to read them by choosing tag.
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I know this post is 3 mos. old but I agree, Pocket is killer. I used a Kobo mini for a year, and then all of a sudden there was a software update with Pocket. This was well timed with the open access on the New Yorker archives. I spent a long time filling my Pocket account with New Yorker fiction. I just upgraded to an Aura HD and it was a matter of logging in out of the box and it was all there. Pocket works so well, it was one of the main reasons I decided to upgrade. That, plus no ads on screen after I spend $100+ on a device, and I got it from the indie bookstore in town, no shipping costs and we chatted about how much we love Pocket. I wish more people knew about Kobo. I don't work for Kobo.
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If you want to make the ULTIMATE E-reader make it large enough to be able to show larger books in their native format (or magazines).
Also dual screens would be nice.
Add some basic apps (Calendar, time, reminders, basic e-mail ect).
Massive storage (it should hold a complete library).
2 expansions slots for storage.
Make the screen flush with the bezel.
Give the back a nice grip to it.
Let it be able to read a wide variety of formats so it can read all of my books.
*Simple take a real book and make it electronic and work up from there.

If all you can do is just a single screen then make it an add-on to tablets that would act as a cover and at the same time allow people to read their e-books from their tablets on the e-ink screen.
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I bought the Aura HD because it had a bigger and higher-res screen than Kindle, but in comparison I've noticed that Kindle has a much higher contrast (easier to read). Still, it's a very good screen, but I wouldn't mind an even larger screen with slimmer bezels.

Second, it freezes way to often. I've learned to live with it, minimizing the number of times it happens, but it's still too much. I don't read many e-books, but mostly articles on Pocket and PDFs I download, where the Aura sometimes stumbles (still much better than Kindle, though).

Third, I want 802.1x WiFi support (for eduroam).

Fourth, it would be great if the web browser was faster and more accessible, with a fit-to-width function.
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I need a lightweight ereader for reference works. It should be the size of a technical book like a calculus text or physics text. a single micro sd slot would be good for expansion. would prefer manual page buttons on the side. and it would be really nice to have a bluetooth keyboard (or a standard micro usb supporting data) to make data entry for bookmarks and notes easier. I can do this sort of stuff on a tablet but it weighs more than I would like. And if the cost is reasonable I could have 2-3 of these in my backpack. Really nice to have when doing research across multiple sources. I think this is the next market place for ereaders; scholarly research. my ideal setup would be a good tablet with a bluetooth keyboard that supports multiple profiles (hello logitech), a stand for the tablet, and the ereader next to me for reference. makes the tiny space on a lecture room desk useable. one ereader, decent tablet, external keyboard for a full day of university. yeah, my back would be very thankful.
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Even though the screen is very good and easy to read even in dark contitions, thanks to lighting feature, there are several things which undermine overall usability. Mainly concerning software and interface which is not as logic and intuitive as it might be. Sometimes when you reached to somewhere and u want to take step back u just can't find a way because there isn't any. Highlighting text is completely in its infancy. Firstly, highlighting feedback is pretty slow and sometimes there is much struggling to end highlight exactly where you want to. Secondly, if u want to highlight text over two pages - from one page to another, that just isn't possible. You need to start new highlight on another page. Thirdly, u practically can't do nothing with the highlighted passages instead of watching them on device and find there original places in the book. It means you can't download them to computer and store them for further processing. There is a feature to share and post annotations to Facebook but this is also rather pointless feature as shared text shows up as a picture and it isn't complete. So you cant do nothing with it on Facebook either. Therefore highlighting feature is very disappointing.
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Also, I haven't found a feature to bookmark a page, which I find very needed. For example if I browse several pages back or forth and i want to go back to the place where i left my reading there isn't a way to do it at once.
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Touch the upper right corner, it will create a little fold. You can then even browse your bookmarks as annotations. This works with ebooks and PDFs, but not with Pocket.
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Thanks for advice! This was news for me. But anyway there is lack of intuitiveness in the interface as there isn't distinct option/menu for bookmarks. They can be found under annotations though. But if you got many of these, bookmarks are not easy to find as they might lie between the annotations. So, distinct option for bookmarks in the bottom right menu is needed.
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The bottom half inch of the screen is devoted to blank space and the page number. They need it to have a place to tap to bring up the controls but it is still a waste of space -- better devoted to the text..

Also, and this goes for most of the ereaders out there as well, how about a calendar? Or a simple timer so that one can limit reading time? Or add the time in the header or footer area?
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Lighter, flush screen, more grippy back (i put some duct tape back there). Bring up the dictionary in both epup and mobi.
Of course page turnbuttons on the sides (like the rumored Kindle PW V3) would be nice.
Pull this off before Amazon's new Kindle comes out and you might have a big seller.
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I wish that someone would make an E-reader with a 13 inch screen, the same size as one of the For dummies book series. One capable of showing graphics (even if it is just black and white). Why are all of the E-readers the size of paperback books?
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Add page turn buttons, an mp3 player, an FM tuner.
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I don't think it needs physical turn buttons, but audio out would be nice (for audiobooks).
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you might like the Kindle 3 Keyboard, minus the FM radio.
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The home page. Its just simply a mess. The print is so tiny I have to wear reading glasses for a screen that is supposedly adjustable, its crowded and cluttered and the store is again non adjustable with the default font being too tiny.
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