If there’s one thing better than sitting on the beach, it’s sitting on the beach with a good book. An e-book, preferably. Unfortunately water, sand and e-readers don’t mix and protective cases can be a pain. Kobo has fixed that problem once and for all with the all new Kobo Aura H2O, a waterproof, sandproof and dustproof e-reader.

I just got back from a vacation at Cape Cod, where I spent a good chunk of time on the beach, enjoying the surf, sand and sun. But I didn’t bring my trusty e-reader with me, the Kobo Aura HD that’s been my favourite over the past year. Why not?

There are few things worse for electronics than sand and water. Protective cases are available (some people even swear by plastic bags), but I find they’re fussy, they can be difficult to put on and remove and they often detract from the reading experience by putting a screen protector over top of the display. This extra layer of plastic or glass may result in reduced touch response, added glare and distortion —not to mention the bulk.

I took my vacation a few weeks too early, because Kobo just announced the prefect e-reader for the beach, pool or commuting: the Kobo Aura H2O.

Big Display With E-Reader Advantage

One of the things I really like about the Kobo Aura HD is its 6.8-inch display. Having that extra display area compared to a typical 6-inch e-reader makes a noticeable difference for the better. There’s that much more screen real estate for either displaying more text, or bumping the font up in size subtly. The 265 ppi pixel density stands out among e-readers, offering a sharpness typically found only in premium tablets.

The new Kobo offering retains all the good things that make e-readers so popular, including a big, high density display like the Aura HD’s. Yes, you can read an e-book on a tablet, but it doesn’t compare to the experience on an e-reader with an e-ink display.

You get glare-free reading that actually improves in sunlight, easy one-hand operation, light weight, Wi-Fi connectivity, storage for over 1,000 e-books, Kobo’s excellent ComfortLight (built-in night time illumination without the eyestrain of the backlighting used with LED display tablets) and the freedom of going up to two months between having to recharge the device.

IP67 Certification Means No Case Required

So far as I’m concerned, e-readers are the perfect device for vacation. They’re lighter than a tablet, you don’t need to remember to pack a recharger, reading outdoors or indoors are both excellent experiences, you can cart your whole e-book library with you (and buy more online with their Wi-Fi connection) and e-readers even cost less than most tablets.

The missing feature that’s kept an e-reader from joining sunscreen, folding chairs and a cooler as must-have vacation gear is the delicacy of the electronics. Water and sand just don’t mix with most electronics.

But with IP67 certification, the Kobo Aura H2O is dustproof, sandproof and will survive up to 30 minutes in one metre of water. That means it’s virtually beachproof! It’s also well-equipped to survive your daily commute if you enjoy reading on the go but worry about rain or other environmental hazards. And you can drop it in the bath tub if that’s where you like to catch up on your reading.

Key Specs

  • Waterproof, sandproof, dustproof (IP67 certified)
  • Extra-large 6.8″ HD Carta E Ink touchscreen at 1430 x 1080 pixels (265 ppi)
  • ComfortLight built-in front-light
  • 10 fonts, 24 sizes plus sharpness and weight settings
  • Up to 2 months of battery life per charge
  • 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Built-in web browser
  • Micro USB
  • Weighs 233g
  • 4GB built-in memory 91GB available for storage , expandable up to 32 GB  with microSD (30,000 books)

With the Kobo Aura H2O, kobo has improved the e-reader experience in an unexpected way. And it looks to make for the perfect travelling companion for the reading enthusiast —impervious to weather, lighting conditions, sun or lack of power outlets.

Pre-order the Kobo Aura H2O here.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN, About.com, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.