tech4xmas Review: Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O E-Reader

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O is the Christmas present for my wife who is an avid reader. I chose it because it offers all the features that she needs and uses at a reasonable price. Looks good, works well and value-for-money.

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O e-reader (S$279.90) and the optional sleep cover (S$59) is available online ( as well as at key retailers such as Challenger, Courts, and Sprint-cass.

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O e-reader (S$279.90) and the optional sleep cover (S$59) is available online as well as at key retailers such as Challenger, Courts, and Sprint-cass.

So the two flagship e-readers that I started out looking at were the Kindle Oasis 3 and the Kobo Forma.

Eventually, I decided on the Libra H2O because it offers almost the same set of features but at a much lower price.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Tan (@tech4tea)

Borrowing books from the public library and discovery of books from the Kobo eBookstore is easy and intuitive. I like the recommendations of similar books based on the books that I have read.

The Libra H2O has a seven-inch Carta E Ink HD touchscreen with 1690 x 1264 pixels at 300ppi.

The display is sharp and the content is clearly readable in dim light or in bright sunlight.

The 1,200mAh battery seems to last forever – my wife has been reading on the Libra for a week for a few hours a day and the battery has barely dropped to half.

I reckon it should easily last at least two weeks with one charge.

There is no ambient light sensor in the Libra H2O but adjustment of the brightness of the screen is easy and instantaneous by sliding the finger on the left edge of the screen.

The e-reader automatically changes the colour temperature of the screen “automatically” based on the time of day (specified in the settings) – with a warmer yellow colour in the evening to reduce blue light.

With the ComfortLight Pro, we found that overall, despite hours of continuous reading under both dim and bright conditions, there was hardly any eye-fatigue.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by John Tan (@tech4tea)

The asymmetric design provides a thicker side for one-handed holding while the two physical buttons enable one-handed page turning. The text is legible in dim light and bright sunlight.

The 192g Libra H2O was also comfortable to hold whether at home, by the pool or single-handed on the MRT.

The e-reader is waterproof to a IPX8 rating so it can survive a dunking of up to 60 minutes in up to 2 metres of water.

What this means is that you can read on the Libra H2O in the bathtub, by the pool or by the sea without worrying that the water would damage the e-reader, including when you spill your drinks on the e-reader.

The touchscreen is in fact very sensitive and responsive so it’s not unlike typing on a smartphone.

Design wise, the Libra H2O has an asymmetric layout with one edge thicker than the others, so you can hold the reader with one hand like you’re holding the spine of a paper book – without the fingers touching the screen of the e-reader.

On the spine are the two page-turning buttons for flipping the page forwards or backwards making one-handed use easy.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by tech4tea Reviews (@tech4teareviews)

For the Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O, there is a choice of four colours for the sleep cover – Aqua, Black, Grey and Rose – at S$59 each.

You can also flip the page by swiping the screen left or right, but I find it’s easier to press the physical buttons which are responsive.

The Libra H2O has a gyroscope so it can sense the physical orientation of the e-reader and rotate the screen accordingly – you can read it with any side up and the display will rotate automatically.

The page-turning buttons will also switch accordingly depending on which side the spine is on, so the reader’s good for both right or left-handed users.

Size-wise, the Libra H2O is compact – measuring 144 x 159 x 5-7.8mm – and can easily be slipped into a handbag or knapsack.

The power/sleep button is behind and easily locatable.

I got a sleep cover for the Libra H2O for protection – it doubles up as a stand and puts the e-reader to sleep when you close the cover and wakes it up when you open the cover, so you don’t need to use the power/sleep button at all.

The Libra H2O itself comes in either black or white and the exterior is made of plastic, but with the sleep cover, you can’t see most of the actual e-reader’s exterior.

The e-reader comes with Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) so you can surf the Internet buy books online on the Kobo eBookstore (with 6 million titles) or borrow books from the local library using the in-built Overdrive app – so that increases the choice of books and is a real money saver.

You can also download e-books on a computer and side-load the e-book files into the Libra H2O via the micro USB cable which is also used for charging the e-reader.

There is no Bluetooth or speaker on the e-reader and the display is monochrome.

With 8GB internal storage, the Libra H2O can store up to 6,000 books.

There is no memory card slot so you can’t extend the storage space.

One strength of the Libra H2O is the wide range of file formats it supports, as well as the languages supported.

I like how the display can be customised to the reader’s preference – you can adjust the font face, font size, line spacing, margins and justification independently using sliders.

There are 12 fonts and more than 50 sizes – you can even sideload your own preferred fonts.

With its 1GHz NXP i.MX 6SLL processor with 512MB RAM, operating the Libra H2O is smooth and responsive.

My Take

The Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O makes a great Christmas present for the avid reader.

It offers great fantastic value-for-money and all the features needed to enjoy an e-book – clear legibility, eye-friendly for extended reading, easy navigation, waterproof, wide support for e-book formats, in-built Overdrive for borrowing library books, Pocket integration for deferred reading of web articles on the e-reader.

A simple swipe from the top or bottom edge reveals both the top and bottom toolbars.

The top toolbar displays the time and battery status and allows setting of page orientation lock, brightness, text display, reading statistics, reading statistics, e-reader settings and other actions.

The bottom toolbar has a slider for quick browsing and search through the e-book.

On a normal page, the header and footer can be customised to display various information eg. “pages left in chapter” or “pages left in book” etc.

You can also bookmark pages, look up / translate words, or highlight portions of the text and add annotations for future search and reference.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “tech4xmas Review: Rakuten Kobo Libra H2O E-Reader”

  1. Desmond Tang says:

    Does it read PDFs well. Reading PDFs suck on the Kindle.

Leave a Reply