Kobo Aura review: is spending $150 on an e-reader ever worth it?

@ 2013/09/06
Outside the US, Kobo is a major player in the e-reader space. Here in the states, however, mentioning the name will almost certainly elicit baffled stares. In 2011, the company was hit particularly hard when Borders, its main retail partner, shuttered. Since then, Kobo's been attempting to rebuild through networks of independent booksellers. One glaring misstep aside, Kobo has since put out solid devices, ones that could even stand up against what Amazon and Barnes & Noble are selling. Earlier this year, the company took this a step further with the Aura HD, a pricey, high-spec, 7-inch device for hardcore readers. Kobo didn't expect to move many units. The HD now accounts for a quarter of Kobo's e-reader sales. Clearly the company was onto something.

As the successor to last year's Glo, the new Kobo Aura splits the difference between luxury and mainstream, borrowing some elements from the HD and giving them new life in a more affordable 6-inch device. In this case, "more affordable" means $150 -- that's still $20 more than the Glo and $30 more than the Paperwhite. The company's also made some updates on the software end, including, notably, the addition of the Pocket reading app. So, do the upgrades justify the asking price?

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