What is the Kobo Aura One?

At Family Traveller, we're fans of anything that can make holidays with the kids that little bit easier and more relaxing – and that includes having a slick, stylish device to make holiday reading a breeze.

Toronto-based company Kobo (an anagram of 'book', get it?) have released a light-up eReader to rival Amazon's popular Kindle – the Kobo Aura One. Family Traveller's Digital Editor Amy Hopkins took it to the Bahamas to see how it performs.

The lowdown: Kobo Aura One

Key features

  • Front-lit display that resembles the sun's natural light
  • Waterproof for up to 60 minutes
  • 7.8 inch display (most eReaders are around 6 inches)
  • Battery lasts up to one month



Where to buy

Available from kobo.com, WHSmith & Argos

How is it different?

The Kobo Aura One is the world’s first eReader that lights up in a way that mimics natural sunlight. This means its ideal for nighttime reading, because it doesn’t wake you up in the way a harsh artificial light does.

The Kobo Aura One is also waterproof for up to one hour in two metres of water. While reading underwater with a snorkel might be a bit ambitious, this is certainly useful on holiday, when you inevitably want to enjoy your book on a lilo or beside a pool full of splashing kids.

auraone_side_reading_caenIf you’re used to a Kindle, you’ll notice that the Kobo Aura One is significantly bigger – about the size of Penguin paperback (when such a thing existed). For anyone who likes an eReader to slot into their pocket, the larger size is a drawback, but personally I think it's a bonus. You get more text on the screen than you do with the smaller Kindle and, as the Kobo Aura One is so thin and light, it can comfortably he held in one hand. The other advantage of the Kobo’s hi-resolution 7.8 inch screen (most eReaders are around 6 inches) is that you get a terrific reading experience. The text is crystal clear and, thanks to the technology built into the display panel, the screen doesn’t reflect light. This makes reading outside a dream (something you just couldn’t do with a tablet).

For reading at night, or when the lights have been dimmed on a night-flight, the Kobo Aura One has a handy built-in light. The best part is that the device regulates the brightness automatically, so as the light in your environment fades, the eReader adjusts its brightness accordingly.

When using the night mode, the Kobo lights up with an orange-tinted light. This is a deliberate departure from the blue-light of other devices, as scientists now warn that the wavelengths in blue light have a negative effect on sleep.


kobo-aura-one-front-screenThe Kobo Aura One's front screen is divided into boxes

What’s it like to use?

The Kobo Aura One  gives you a lot more information about what you’re reading than the Kindle. The homepage is organised by boxes, so you can see what you’re reading, how long you have left to read of each, plus images of your books’ covers.auraone_backhero

When using the eReader on WIFI, there can be a slight lag. Kobo books are more expensive than Amazon books and you won't find the selection of offers and deals that you get with Amazon. However, Kobo has a software feature called OverDrive which allows you to borrow free ebooks from the Amazon Prime Lending Library.

One the best features of the Kobo, especially when it comes to travelling, is its staggering one-month battery life (based on 45 minutes use every weekday). I found it took about half an hour to charge and it was a relief not to have to remember to charge it on holiday.

Summary: a bigger, thinner, waterproof eReader

The Kobo Aura One’s generous size and lightness make it a joy to hold and read. The night-time mode and water resistance mean its kinder on your eyes and more robust than the Kindle.

But it doesn’t offer you Amazon's vast choice of books. If it’s important to you to be able to browse books by unknown writers and find cheap reads, then the Kindle is probably for you. But for the perfect holiday eReader – waterproof, back-lit and an enjoyable comfortable read – full of best-sellers, the Kobo Aura One is, well, the One.


  • Gentle backlight
  • Textured back helps grip
  • Water resistant (perfect for reading by the pool)
  • Bigger and lighter than traditional eReaders
  • Huge battery life


  • Quite pricey
  • Orange light takes getting used to
  • Doesn't have as big a choice of books as the Amazon's Kindle
  • When using on the beach, sand tends to get stuck in casing