Kobo’s latest premium eReader looks… a lot like Amazon’s top-of-the-line eReader. Like the Amazon Kindle Oasis, the new Kobo Libra H20 has an illuminated 7 inch E Ink display with adjustable color temperature. And like the Oasis, this is a waterproof eReader with a lopsided design (there are page turn buttons on one side.

But there are a few key things that set Kobo’s new device apart from Amazon’s Kindle Oasis, and the biggest may be price.

Amazon charges $250 and up for an Oasis, while the Kobo Libra H20 will sell for $170 when it hits the streets later this month. And you don’t have to pay extra to remove ads from the lock screen, since Kobo’s devices don’t have them in the first place.

Another difference is a little less impressive: Amazon’s high-end Kindle devices have screens that sit flush with the bezels, while the Kobo Libra H20’s display is recessed. In my experience, that allows dust and other debris to get trapped between the bezels and the display.

Here’s a run-down of the specs for the Kobo Libra H20:

  • 7 inch, 1680 x 1264 pixel E Ink Carta display
  • ComfortLight Pro with adjustable color temperature
  • 8GB of built-in storage
  • IPX8 waterproofing (up to 2 meters of water for up to 60 minutes)
  • 802.11b/g/n WiFi
  • 6.3″ x 5.7″ x 0.3″
  • 6.8 ounces

Like most devices with E Ink displays, it has battery life that’s measured in weeks rather than hours, despite having just a 1,200 mAh battery. The Libra H20 has a micro USB port for charging, which is dated, but which should work, but which may make it a bit tougher to share a charger with your other devices if your phone, tablet, and laptop have USB-C chargers.

The Kobo Libra H20 goes up for pre-order September 10th and ships starting September 17th.

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11 replies on “Kobo Libra H20 is an illuminated, waterproof eReader for $170”

  1. One more important detail, if true, is the screen’s substrate.

    Supposedly it will be plastic like the forma.

    I was talking to kobo customer support over s small payment issue and while I was doing that I saw the listing for the Libra on their web site. So when the issue was resolved I asked if he could tell me whether it would have a plastic substrate like the Forma or a glass one like their other readers. He said plastic.

    If course, take this with a grain of salt since customer service reps don’t always have the pertinent information and sometimes they misunderstand (for all I know he thought I meant the top of the screen), but I do have the chat transcript (I clicked the e-mail me the transcript option) and it is promising.

  2. I don’t get the market for this, now that there’s a number of ereaders running Android for around the same price. Why lock yourself down to just Amazon or Kobo services?

      1. A normal ereader has battery life measured in weeks only if you use it 30 minutes a day and modern ones manage the drain the battery while it’s not in use, even in airplane mode. After a month of sitting on my desk, my 7th gen Paperwhite is always dead. That never happened to my original Kindle.

        I have a Likebook Mars on the way so I guess I’ll see first hand soon but I don’t plan on enabling Google Play framework and I may not even connect it to the internet. Hopefully that will keep the impact to the battery life to a minimum. As long as it can get through a day of use without dying, I’m cool.

        1. @ Charlie_ The battery life is probably worse due to the Paperwhite having a backlight. I’m not sure if your original Kindle did, but if it’s as old as my old Sony PRS-650, then it probably did not have a backlight. A backlight is not necessary since I read with the lights on (I don’t think reading in the dark is good for anybody’s eyesight) but it sure looks better to me, i.e. easier to read. I suppose I don’t really use it enough to really notice any battery drain so I’m happy with my Kobo.

          With regards to your first comment about being locked in, I’m not too sure what you mean. Do you mean that Amazon and Kobo readers can only read books in their own proprietary formats? If so, that’s not true of Kobo. I can load ebooks without using Kobo services. I’ve loaded epub and pdf files using Calibre but I can also just drag and drop them when it’s connected up to my computer by usb. If what you mean is that you can’t load up any other apps besides the default installed ones, then yeah, you’re probably right about that. I haven’t felt any need to load any additional apps to my ereader since I use it only for reading and maybe a bit of web browsing but the browser is terribly slow but it probably has something to do with ereader refresh rates too.

          I apologize if I sound like a shill for Kobo, I am not in any way affliated with them but I do prefer them over Kindle and other “locked in” Amazon devices. I haven’t tried any other ereaders besides a Sony PRS-650, a Kobo Touch, and a Kobo Aura One so I have no experience with the Android ereaders you mentioned. I am generally a big fan of multifunctional things, so if they’re more functional, then it’s awesome that there are options like them for ereaders.

        2. similar experience with my paperwhite, not quite as bad as your experience, but I am surprised by how much the battery drains on mine even in airplane mode.

    1. As mentioned, android isn’t as good on the battery life (trust me, I got the Dasung not-ereader and the Kobo Forma, there’s no comparison).

      Also ergonomics, these are much lighter.

      It’s a case of a Jack of all trades that doesn’t truly excel in any or a specialized device that does one thing great.

      If I want to browse I use the Dasung. The kobo has a web browser under beta features but it’s a horrible experience (hence it being in beta for so long)

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