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Kobo Libra H20 review

Kobo Libra H20 overview

We’re large followers, in phrases, of Kobo’s Forma eReader, which we reviewed in October 2018: it is enticing and strong, with an enormous display screen and glorious water resistance. Now the corporate has adopted up with an analogous machine that is somewhat smaller, but additionally significantly extra inexpensive: the Libra H20.

However is it any good? In our full overview we take a look at and fee the Kobo Libra H20’s design, options and efficiency, and assist you to resolve if that is the appropriate eReader for you.

Value and the place to purchase

The Libra H20 has an RRP of £149.99/$169.99, and could be purchased from the UK or US Kobo websites. It is also accessible on John Lewis.

How does that evaluate to rival gadgets? It strikes us as aggressive. If we’re demanding a 300ppi 7in display screen, 8GB of storage and IPX8 water resistance, the obvious Kindle comparator is the Oasis, which has an RRP of £229.99/$249.99. Test our Amazon offers roundup for the very best present worth.

The Libra can also be markedly cheaper, as beforehand talked about, than the Kobo Forma, which prices £239.99/$279.99 with 8GB of storage. (That machine can also be accessible with 32GB, an choice that is not supplied with the Libra.)

How does this evaluate with the Kobo Forma?

The Libra has basically the identical design because the Forma (thumbs up for that), solely shrunk down a bit. It has a 7in display screen, in comparison with the Forma’s 8in – which is a little bit of a disgrace, because the unusually beneficiant 8in show was one of many Forma’s promoting factors.

However by making this compromise you profit in different methods. Except for being considerably cheaper, as outlined within the final part, the Libra is clearly extra moveable. Curiously the distinction in weight is tiny, at 192g vs 197g, however the dimensions of the Libra are way more pocketable, at 144 x 159mm, in comparison with the Forma’s 160 x 177.7mm; it is also a shade thinner.

Funnily sufficient there are a few different variations that fall in favour of the Libra. It is accessible in black and white finishes, whereas the Forma comes solely in black (certainly, in our Forma overview we commented that it will be good to have some alternate options), and it affords 12 fonts, in comparison with the Forma’s 11. And the truth that each Forma and Libra have 1200mAh batteries, but the previous has to energy a bigger display screen, means that the latter will final somewhat longer between expenses.

Learn our Kobo Forma overview for extra info on that machine.

Design & construct high quality

Just like the Forma, the Libra H20 is sort of sq.: the 7in display screen is rectangular however there is a good chunky grip on one facet, angled upwards barely so it is simple to choose up the machine from a flat floor. (An analogous design ethos was reportedly used on the unique iPad, so it is a technique with good pedigree.)

There are two buttons on the grip, used to skip one web page ahead or again. You possibly can maintain the grip along with your left or proper hand, and in case you’ve acquired auto-rotate activated it should know to swap the perform of the buttons in addition to flipping the display screen.

An extra energy button on the again places the machine to sleep or powers it off utterly, relying on whether or not you press and launch or press and maintain. It is positioned on the other facet to the grip – so it is prime left (fairly handy) in case you’re holding the Kobo along with your proper hand, or backside proper (barely much less handy) in case you’re utilizing your left. If you happen to’re utilizing one of many official sleep covers you may discover that it obstructs entry to the facility button, however arguably it additionally makes that button semi-redundant, since closing the flap places your Kobo to sleep and opening wakes it up once more.

The Libra is fabricated from matt plastic all through, having seemingly misplaced the glossier display screen bezel seen on the Forma; solely the duvet of the facility button affords any type of shine. This is not a premium-feeling machine, however this appears to be normal amongst even fairly premium eReaders. And it feels just like the Libra would survive in case you dropped it a average distance – which must be much less doubtless anyway due to the pleasingly indented texture on the again.

At 192g the Libra is good and lightweight. It really works properly as a one-handed machine, assuming you are utilizing it with out the sleep cowl, and you’ll apply sufficient strain with the meat of your palm to carry it regular whereas utilizing the buttons with the thumb of the identical hand. With the duvet on it nonetheless nearly works on this means, however you do really feel the additional weight: it will turn into tiring after some time, and you end up propping up the machine along with your little finger. We’d recommend that it is actually a two-handed machine when encased within the sleep cowl.


The Libra H20, because the second a part of its title implies, is water resistant. It has a ranking of IPX8, which is the best given to client gadgets for liquid safety and certifies that it could possibly face up to as much as 60 minutes of immersion in 2m of water. (A rating of 9 is theoretically accessible, and certifies resistance to pressurised or high-temperature liquid, however this usually applies solely to street automobiles.)

The X a part of the ranking, rather than one other quantity, signifies that it has not been rated for defense towards mud and related strong intrusions.

There was a time when water resistance was a killer promoting level for an eReader, and it is definitely useful for a tool that by its nature tends to spend so much of time subsequent to swimming swimming pools. However IPX8 is now supplied by Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis (though not its fundamental Kindle), and it is also a part of the Kobo Forma’s specs sheet. It is a normal providing, in different phrases.

Studying and acquiring eBooks

On one event the Libra behaved oddly after powering on, displaying the syncing image (although we did not have Wi-Fi on the time) after which refusing to answer faucets or button presses when it lastly landed on the house web page. That seems to have been a one-off, thankfully, and studying has in any other case been a nice and unobtrusive expertise. And we’d advocate utilizing sleep/wake moderately than energy off/on in any case, because it’s faster and battery life most likely will not be a priority for you.

You need to use all kinds of touchscreen controls to navigate by way of your e-book library – though we discover it far simpler to make use of the buttons because the E Ink show is sort of gradual to answer faucets, as is common for shows of this type.

Tapping the centre of the display screen toggles between displaying or hiding choices, akin to textual content dimension, brightness, rotation lock, contents, annotations and extra. Tapping on the righthand facet of the display screen turns the web page and tapping on the left goes again by default, however these settings could be fine-tuned. There’s additionally a pleasant (optionally available, however enabled by default) function the place swiping upwards or downwards alongside the left fringe of the display screen adjusts the brightness.

We additionally love the function whereby the duvet of the eBook you are presently studying robotically turns into the screensaver once you fall asleep or energy off. It actually improves the sense of immersion within the textual content, and makes the Kobo really feel barely extra like an precise e-book.

However what about eBook availability? This was our predominant concern with the Forma, and it stays so right here. Most individuals will supply most of their books from the official branded retailer tied to their reader, and the Kobo eBook retailer, whereas providing a very good vary of titles each new and previous, is way much less in a position than the equal Kindle Retailer to supply user-tailored suggestions and helpful curation. The corporate merely has entry to far much less person information than Amazon.

We additionally made our by-now conventional go to to the entrance web page of Kobo’s Quick Tales part, the place prior to now we have now reliably discovered mushy porn. At time of writing, maybe by way of sheer luck, there have been no eBooks that may very well be so termed, though three of the 24 books on present have been in Spanish (although we have been on the British English model of the positioning) and a number of other others, akin to a group of Tolstoy novels, have been manifestly not brief tales. It is nonetheless apparent that recentness, moderately than curation or appropriateness, is governing what you get to see on even fairly high-profile pages of the shop.

Do not despair, nevertheless, as a result of Kobo eReaders do much better than their Kindle friends on the subject of sideloading books from non-proprietary sources. Most significantly the Libra helps ePub natively, which makes it simple to obtain copyright-free classics from websites akin to Challenge Gutenberg; it is not all that troublesome to get Gutenberg books on to a Kindle, however the lack of native compatibility means you must convert the file first.

The Kobo additionally helps its maker’s OverDrive service, which lets you obtain more moderen titles without spending a dime out of your native library… if you’ll find any first rate ones. Our native department has only a few good eBooks accessible on OverDrive, sadly, and the decline of British library funding barely undercuts this function’s enchantment.


The Kobo Libra H20 affords the identical nice design and options because the Forma, squeezed right into a smaller bundle with a significantly smaller price ticket. If you happen to can deal with the curatorial issues on the Kobo eBook retailer (most clearly by getting literary suggestions, or sideloading free eBooks, from different sources) then this can be a nice alternative of eReader at an interesting worth.

If you would like to learn extra concerning the different gadgets accessible proper now, check out our information to the very best eReaders.

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