Kobo Aura H2o for beach

Summer is All About Reading

Okay, summer is about more than reading. There are family vacations, road trips, days at the beach and hours sitting by the pool or on the deck enjoying the sunshine. But for many people, the summer just wouldn’t be the same without bringing along a good book to read. Add reading to any relaxing activity—especially those long, hot days at the beach—and it goes from excellent to unbeatable.

And e-books Make it Better Than Ever

In the old days, this meant a dog-eared novel, often as not swollen to twice its original thickness and with at least a few pages of text rendered illegible by runny ink after being accidentally splashed. If you were lucky, the ruined text wasn’t critical to the plot. Even if you were lucky enough to keep that book intact, you still faced with the prospect of having to find room for it in your beach bag and worst of all, the knowledge that once you were finished, you’d have to trudge to a store in search of your next good read.

The dawn of the e-book age brought new life to summer reading. The promise of e-books is huge: no more water-damaged books, change the font size at will so you can read without your glasses (and with your sunglasses still on), the ability to carry your entire library of e-books with you wherever you go, and if you have a sudden urge to order the latest new best-seller you can do it without having to budge from your prime beach location.

Reading with an iPadHowever, Don’t Ruin the Experience With Your Smartphone or Tablet

While technology holds the promise of making summer beach reading better than ever, the wrong technology can have the opposite effect and actually make the experience worse. And by wrong technology, I mean those things that pretty much everyone owns and carries around: the smartphone and its close cousin, the tablet.

Both are great devices and yes—thanks to apps from all the major e-book sellers—you can read on them. But outdoors? A backlit LED display with a multitouch surface is a nightmare when it comes to the sun. How bad does it get? Have a look at my iPad Mini in the photo on the right. I’m holding it in my back yard, with the display cranked to maximum brightness and this is what I see.

Can you tell that’s the latest Harry Potter book on the iPad?

Yeah, I didn’t think so. And if you insist on ruining your reading experience anyway, you run the risk of damage from water or windblown sand. If you happen to get a water in the latest iPad Mini, Apple’s out of warranty service fee to fix it starts at $329. Let that sink in for a moment. There’s also battery life to be aware of. If you have a smartphone or tablet cranked up and with it’s display always on, you’re liable to run low on battery before the day is out.

The Best Device for e-books is an e-reader!

You might think of e-readers as ancient, single-purpose technology that’s no longer needed because the do-everything tablet. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth and at no time is this more apparent than when you want to read an e-book on the beach.

Instead of an LED display—with its backlighting system fighting to match the intensity of the sun while the super-smooth surface is virtually plastered with reflections—an e-reader display uses E Ink technology. With E Ink, the text on the page isn’t just readable in full sunlight, it actually looks even better in the sun. If that seems far-fetched, have a look at my e-reader below.

The photo wasn’t taken at the beach, but you get the idea.

Battery life is weeks to months on a charge (E Ink only uses the battery when you flip pages and there’s no backlight to power), so you don’t need to think twice about running out. Most have Wi-Fi built-in, so if you want to buy a new e-book you just need a Wi-Fi connection to do so. Of course, you can bring thousands of books with you, so either way, when you finish your current summer read, you’re covered.

e-reader waterproof caseThe one area where most e-readers remain on even footing with smartphones and tablets is susceptibility to water damage. The good news is you can buy waterproof cases that take care of that one issue. And if you’re a gambler, the potential cost of repairing or replacing a water-damaged e-reader is significantly less than the smartphone or tablet equivalent, with e-readers now starting under $100.

Get the Ultimate  Beach e-reading Experience with Kobo Aura H2O

I used an e-reader for a summer with a waterproof case. It worked fine. But there’s no denying the fact that the experience is better without having to deal with another accessory.

That’s why I’m a big fan of the Kobo Aura H2O. You get one of the best e-reading displays out there: it is razor sharp, slightly larger than most for a true book-like view and there’s a built-in side lighting system for eyestrain-free night time reading. It’s compatible with EPUB files, including the 5 million titles now on Kobo’s own e-bookstore. The fonts are almost infinitely tweak-able so you can quickly set up a book exactly the way you want it to appear. Best of all the Aura H2O is dust proof and waterproof. I dunked one in the sink to prove the claim, as you can see in the photo below.

All the best of e-books in a practically beach-proof package and a device that will make you appreciate reading all over again, day after day.

There’s still a solid month of beach season left in the summer of 2016, so if you’re still squinting at a tablet or smartphone, stop. Get an e-reader and fully enjoy reading e-books on the beach, sitting by the pool, in the hammock, in a tent or on your deck.

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.