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Old 11-02-2014, 01:19 PM   #1
Stingo
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My Voyage v Kobo H2O experience

For well over a year I have been interested in the Kobo Aura HD because of its larger storage capacity. However, when I compared it against my pw2 at the store I felt the pw2 was sharper and had better contrast. For me the clarity of the text trumps all other factors. Recently I was not terribly impressed with the specs for the Voyage. When I read the specs for the Kobo h2o I finally decided to give it a try consigned to the risk that I would keep it as a back up reader if I was not pleased. Then, before I knew that the Kobo had shipped, while at a best buy, I saw the voyage and was impressed with the snappy speed and the sharper contrast. So I picked it up. Naturally, without announcement, the h2o came in the next day. I have now been living with both devices for a week, reading the same books and switching between devices. I have therefore reached certain conclusions. I figured that it might help others to learn my experience so here is my review.
Size and build.
The voyage is a beautifully put together device. The Kindle cover fits nicely and has a nice magnetic slap into place. I have big hands and I can hold it in one hand beautifully. The light sensor and my internal light sensor don’t always agree so I end up having to adjust the light. The side pressure buttons are nice but were never that important to me. The fact that the screen is flush is actually a negative for me since I used the edge of the screen to guide finger placement on the screen. The off button on the back is actually better for me since I always hit it on the bottom.
The h2o is larger, this is both good and bad. Good in that the screen allows more space for text and images. Bad in that it is not as compact in the hand. The kobo sleep cover does not sit as nicely as the Voyage sleep cover but works basically the same. Although the kobo does not have a light sensor the software allows you to adjust the light very easily and quickly by sliding your finger up and down on the far left of the screen.
I prefer the Voyage build and size but enjoy the larger h2o reading screen.
Battery life
The Voyage is similar to the PW2. The battery shows drop within a day or two.
The h2o seems to last a lot longer. I don’t seem to see the “indexing” battery hit that I got used to with the PW2. Haven’t tested them both out to confirm duration.
The Screen
So here is the biggie. Compared to the pw2 the Voyage has a beautiful screen with clear lettering and great contrast. These early units (and mine) have shown a slight gradation in brightness or tint towards the top of the screen. The screen is lit with a very cold light that looks more like a screen than a page of paper.
The h2o has a beautiful screen. The light is warm and makes the screen look more like paper than any other reader that I’ve ever seen. Side by side I much prefer it to the cold voyage light. The lighting is even throughout.
I prefer the h2o over the voyage and the voyage over the pw2.
Software-Interface
The Voyage software is snappy and responsive. Screen information can be changed intuitively. Books can be grouped in folders that are synchronized on the cloud. Unfortunately side loaded books do not get synchronized and the reader gives annoying nag message when you add them to a folder. Folders can be shown with books that are not in folders. Unfortunately you can’t limit the reader to only show reader based books.
The h2o software is more flexible in some ways and less in others. As to spacing, fonts, font weight etc… the h2o is far more flexible and versatile. The light adjusting shortcut above is another example. However, shelves for organizing books cannot be mixed with un shelved books. Also, it takes an extra step or two to get to settings. Also, there are repots of bugs none of which I’ve run across yet but I’m sure the voyage software is more solid. Once nice feature is that you can set up Calibre to automatically add books to specific bookshelves easily without need for hacks or third party add ons.
The voyage software is solid and more intuitive than the h2o. The h2o has more options related to fonts and text.
Social Networking and third party apps
Voyage includes integration with goodreads, facebook and twitter. If you want to share your reading life socially this is the device to do it with. For me, I don’t find this useful since I don’t like sharing my reading on social networking sites.
The h2o lacks all of these social networking connections in the reader but adds something that has changed the way I use the e-reader. On the kindles I would subscribe to the New Yorker and regret that the Amazon subscription did not give me access to the website and would not let me see the content that was left out of the kindle edition. Also, if I wanted to read news articles online I would have to add them to Instapaper and, every so many articles send the digest to my kindle. The h2o has Pocket integration built in. Pocket is like instapaper on steroids. I can find an article on a web site, press the pocket button and it gives me a screen asking me to associate tags with the article. Once I do it is saved. I can open my pocket application on a any computer, iphone or pad. On the h2o I select pocket and all of my articles are synchronized, with pictures, each in a separate file that I can archive or delete after reading. The layout is great. I have even sent instapaper articles to pocket so they are instantly available to read on the road on the h2o. As a result of this feature I cancelled my amazon subscription to the New Yorker, got the online all digital subscription (cheaper). I can now read the new Yorker on my computer, ipad and iphone with all the content. When I spy a long article that I want to read I send it to pocket and open up the h2o to enjoy. I hope that amazon adopts this some day for its ereaders.
For me the h2o approach serves my needs far better than the voyage.
Conclusion
So after a week of using the two devices what am I going to do? Well, I’ve decided that the voyage is going back. It is a great reader and easy to use but the h2o fits my needs better. Naturally I am holding on to my beloved pw2 as a backup, for reading now and then and so I can order books from Amazon but the h2o will be my daily reader. Hope this is helpful to others.

Last edited by Stingo; 11-02-2014 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:35 PM   #2
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that is the best hands-on review+comparison I've seen so far - thanks for posting it.
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Old 11-02-2014, 02:42 PM   #3
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Many thanks for such a thorough review. I was sure you were going to pick the Voyage, but liked the surprise ending.

I had the Voyage, wanted an H2O for the fonts, SD card, etc., but didn't want to deal with return shipping if it's faulty. I sent the Voyage back in favor of a Paperwhite 2014 and I am very happy. I still want to see the H2O in person and hope to eventually. If I can ever get it locally, I will give it a try.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:07 PM   #4
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Font customization is definitely one of Kobo's trump cards. Being able to use Georgia with added weight is perfect to my eyes. And Pocket integration both is, and works, great.

Nobody seems to care about it being waterproof, but it's nice to have regardless.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:28 PM   #5
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Thank you for your review and comparison! Nice to hear someone else's thoughts as I too recently bought the voyage and H20. And I also own the 2013 PW2. I returned the voyage and I'm keeping the H20.

My experience is similar to yours, in that I prefer the screen and the light on the H20. In my case, by leaps and bounds. The screen is gorgeous and warm and, exactly as you said, it really does give the closest feeling I have experienced to paper yet. My voyage screen was unfortunately two toned and uneven which is why I returned it. I also did not like the cold feeling the screen had at all- although, even if it had been even, and not two toned, the cold blueish pink screen tone bothered my eyes and it would have went back anyway.

I'm also surprised at how much longer than battery seems to last on the H20 as well. Quite a bit longer than on the voyage and also longer than on my Kindle PW2. I should say I still love my 2013 Kindle PW2, but the clarity on the Voyage and on the H20 is obviously better with the newer carta screen. I do think the new 2014 PW2 comes very close though. In fact, I prefer the new PW 2014 to the voyage.

I did not buy the official voyage cover, but I did see it in stores and thought it was quite nice. I bought the kobo sleep cover not really expecting much, but it turns out I really like it a lot.

I did initially prefer the smaller voyage screen, but I find I'm now enjoying the larger screen much more and now prefer it.

I do miss small things about the kindle software, like the vocabulary builder and the software is more snappy. Highlighting works much better on the kindles, for instance. Although I find that since I've converted my books to kepub on the h20 highlighting is now much improved.

I personally prefer the flush bezel on the voyage.

Ultimately, for me, the even, sharp screen, the ability to change fonts, font weights, and other customizations are what puts the H20 well ahead of the voyage. I too also love the integration on the H20 with Pocket.

All in all, I think our experiences and thoughts are pretty similar.

I think it's a shame the Kobo H20 isn't available in bricks and mortar stores in the US. I do think more people would be buying it if only they could see it.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:30 PM   #6
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Font customization is definitely one of Kobo's trump cards. Being able to use Georgia with added weight is perfect to my eyes. And Pocket integration both is, and works, great.

Nobody seems to care about it being waterproof, but it's nice to have regardless.
Isn't that funny? They market the waterproof angle the most it seems and no one really ended up caring much about that.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:45 PM   #7
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If Kobo wasn't Kobo, and their reputation didn't precede them, I might have at least tried an H2O. But Kobo has a bad habit of screwing up the FW when they make updates. And they have a terrible CS in the USA. And they won't sell the darn things in B&M stores here in the USA. But all in all, I think I would miss the Amazon ecosystem. One thing Amazon does well is the syncing between multiple devices on multiple platforms. Kobo might do that too, but in the past when I tried a Kobo Touch their apps were terrible and their FW was terrible and their CS was non-existent. I had bought the Touch at Borders, and Borders announced a few days later they were closing. Since there were so MANY FW issues with the Touch, I rushed back to the local Borders and returned mine before they closed for good. I heard horror stories from others who had trouble getting theirs returned when they went through Kobo. For me, it takes more than a good product. That product has to be well supported by the company and their CS and by a great ecosystem that is conducive to reading on multiple devices and platforms.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:58 PM   #8
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I agree with everything you said, Jack. I have heard of bad experiences with Kobo's CS and it scared me away from them for awhile. Then I saw the screen and used the device and fell in love with it. So I'm hooked now. Hopefully I won't have the need to call their CS. I tend to turn to the forums for issues, but it's a worry if a device proves defective down the road.

Amazon does have amazing CS, there's no denying that. It's a huge advantage buying from them and always makes them a safe choice. I just wish I could be happy with the screens on their lit e-readers and that they offered more customization. I could deal with the limited fonts if they just allowed you to increase the weight at least. So many of their fonts appear spindly to me. I agree too on the positives of their software and syncing. It's really a shame there always has to be a trade off.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:08 PM   #9
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Thanks for the review! It was very instructive. Having just upgraded from a KK to a Voyage, could I ask you to clarify what you mean about side-loaded books not being synchronized when added to folders? I have had the Voyage less than a week and haven't tried side loading any books yet.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:24 PM   #10
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I had the Voyage, wanted an H2O for the fonts, SD card, etc., but didn't want to deal with return shipping if it's faulty. I sent the Voyage back in favor of a Paperwhite 2014 and I am very happy. I still want to see the H2O in person and hope to eventually. If I can ever get it locally, I will give it a try.
I feel the same. I wanted a H20 also but have heard horror stories about kobo cs so decided to stay with amazon. It's so easy to deal with amazon when you have a problem, and i think that's why so many people like to shop with them. Just very disappointed in their quality control.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:25 PM   #11
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Thank you very much for such a thorough review of the two products. It is a very good reference.
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Old 11-02-2014, 04:32 PM   #12
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Thanks for the review! Where do u live? IF we are close I go snap your Voyager up thru Open Box!!
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:01 PM   #13
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Count me among those returning the Voyage in favor of the H2O. Even though I was lucky & got a Voyage with an evenly lighted screen, I MUCH prefer the bigger screen real estate of the H2O, along with the myriad of customizations & patches. With Calibre I believe I get the best of both worlds - Amazon's enormous ebook catalog & Kobo's superior (IMHO) hardware & customization options.

Full disclosure - I have not been happy or impressed with a Kindle release since the Kindle Keyboard. If not for the Kobo Aura HD, which I've been using since May 2013, and the Kobo Aura H2O, I would have happily kept the Voyage.
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:53 PM   #14
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If Kobo wasn't Kobo, and their reputation didn't precede them, I might have at least tried an H2O. But Kobo has a bad habit of screwing up the FW when they make updates. And they have a terrible CS in the USA. And they won't sell the darn things in B&M stores here in the USA. But all in all, I think I would miss the Amazon ecosystem. One thing Amazon does well is the syncing between multiple devices on multiple platforms. Kobo might do that too, but in the past when I tried a Kobo Touch their apps were terrible and their FW was terrible and their CS was non-existent. I had bought the Touch at Borders, and Borders announced a few days later they were closing. Since there were so MANY FW issues with the Touch, I rushed back to the local Borders and returned mine before they closed for good. I heard horror stories from others who had trouble getting theirs returned when they went through Kobo. For me, it takes more than a good product. That product has to be well supported by the company and their CS and by a great ecosystem that is conducive to reading on multiple devices and platforms.
Same here!

I've owned the kobo mini and Glo in the past, the Glo had issues but the mini was actually very nice.

I remember tons of firmware issues, and honestly didn't like the UI.

I have multiple kindles I read on, and amazons support and ebook store is one of the reasons I'm staying with them now.

I have some light gradient issues, but all I had to do was call Amazon and report it, then request they send me a replacement in a few months once the issue is corrected.

How many other companies would do that?
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Old 11-02-2014, 05:57 PM   #15
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I feel the same. I wanted a H20 also but have heard horror stories about kobo cs so decided to stay with amazon. It's so easy to deal with amazon when you have a problem, and i think that's why so many people like to shop with them. Just very disappointed in their quality control.
Their supplier's qc does seem to have gotten much worse since the earlier Kindles. Guess that's the price of keep the stockholders and the buyers happy while keeping the price as low as possible.

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