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2
May

VR is telling deeper, more important stories


At the Tribeca Film Festival this year, filmmakers displayed a mastery of virtual reality, with a series of emotional, meaningful stories. It’s an encouraging sign, considering previous efforts to produce coherent, non-game VR experiences have floundered, mostly due to the medium’s infancy and a lack of widely available technology. Finally, though, we seem to have moved beyond the novelty of virtual reality, are now starting to see the medium used to tackle various important issues.

Take The Last Goodbye. It’s a personal Holocaust survivor story that brings you to a former concentration camp. You’re accompanied by a survivor, who is recreated volumetrically in the simulation so it feels like he’s actually beside you and looking you in the eyes when he talks. The photorealistic reproductions in Last Goodbye force a powerful realization that the horrors your companion is describing actually happened, in a manner just as vivid as a visit to the real-world sites.

Kathryn Bigelow uses a similar method in The Protectors to highlight the plight of rangers in an African national park as they defend elephants from poachers. It uses interesting camera angles in the 360-degree video documentary to put the viewer in the thick of the action. One particular shot sits the camera in front of an elephant corpse, forcing you to understand the poachers’ brutality. It’s disgusting, but effective.

Some VR projects were able to tell stories that were just as important and harrowing without using recreations at all. Testimony, a collection of accounts from sexual assault survivors, uses the inherently isolating nature of VR to put you in an almost uncomfortably intimate space with these individuals. It omits explicit details from the survivors’ stories, letting them tell you what happened in their own words, while you watch them struggle to open up about their trauma. Not only does Testimony evoke a deep sense of empathy, but it provides an outlet for those suffering similar pain, who can then find solace and support in the privacy of their homes. The project’s focus on what each survivor went through after their attacks also highlights the failings of the American legal system in addressing such cases.

There were still other impactful VR projects at Tribeca. NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, which has been making the festival rounds since Sundance earlier this year, is a mixed-media commentary on diversity and security in technology. It asks why devices, such as VR headsets and transcranial stimulators, were designed with specific body types in mind. Engadget also checked out Blackout, which simulates a New York City subway car and lets you connect with people of different ethnicities and religions. Rounding out the list, Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience lets you experience the challenges of living without a home.

Not only is virtual reality’s growth as an art form heartening, but it also compels journalists to cover these experiences because they tell important stories in a way that no other medium can. The technology behind the creation and dissemination of VR content is finally mature enough to communicate these messages without being distracting. Like any other medium, VR is at its best when it leaves a lasting impression, and this year’s offerings at Tribeca show that the industry has made tremendous progress on that front.

Follow along with all of our Tribeca 2017 coverage here.

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2
May

T-Mobile plans to launch a national 5G network by 2020


T-Mobile isn’t going to sit by the wayside while its carrier rivals talk up plans for 5G networks. The magenta crew has announced that it plans to roll out a nationwide 5G network starting in 2019, with completion by 2020. It’ll use some of the provider’s 600MHz frequencies to help make this speedy service happen. And yes, this will be real, standards-based 5G — not the faux 5G (really an amalgam of upgrades to 4G) AT&T launched in April. The news is bound to make you happy if you’re eager for a wireless internet connection faster than your landline service at home, although it’s important to be cautious. Like most hyped-up network upgrade, there’s some context you’re not getting.

While it’s true that you should be wary of anyone promising public 5G access in 2017, it’s not as if competing carriers aren’t planning true 5G networks of their own. AT&T hopes to have some form of it up and running as soon as late 2018, for instance. And no, they aren’t just going to lean on millimeter wave spectrum (which has limited reach compared to lower frequencies) to make 5G a reality. As they gradually shut down their legacy networks, they’ll reuse some of the newly freed airwaves for 5G service.

More than anything, T-Mobile’s announcement serves as a goal post: you can expect some form of nationwide 5G to be available within 3 years. Although that’s a long way off, it beats the uncertainty that has swirled around the technology until relatively recently. The big question now is whether all the major networks will be ready in a similar time frame.

Source: T-Mobile (1), (2)

2
May

Apple CEO Tim Cook Auctions Charity Lunch at Apple Park


Apple CEO Tim Cook is partnering up with Charitybuzz for the fifth year in a row, offering Apple fans the chance to bid on a lunch with Cook where they can hold a discussion with the CEO in a private environment. Additionally, this year the meet-up will be hosted at Apple’s brand new Apple Park campus.

Like previous years, the winning bidder will be able to bring along one other person, and the lunch is said to last for around an hour. The cost of the Apple Park meal is included in the winning bid, but travel and accommodations are not. The bidding ends on May 16 at 3PM EDT and as of writing one bid of $10,000 has been entered, with the auction listing an estimated value of $100,000.

Over the past four years, Tim Cook and Charitybuzz have raised $610,000 (2013), $330,001 (2014), $200,000 (2015), and $515,000 (2016). This year will mark the first year that the winning bidder attends the lunch at Apple Park, which a small number of employees are believed to have moved into in April while construction remains ongoing.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, which aims to achieve a just and peaceful world by advancing corporate responsibility, teaching social justice, and partnering with human rights leaders. Cook joined the RFK Center’s board of directors last year after being a longtime supporter and proponent of the charity.

Tags: Tim Cook, Charitybuzz
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2
May

Elevation Lab Debuts New ‘BatteryPro’ iPhone and Apple Watch Charger


Elevation Lab today introduced its latest product, the BatteryPro charger that’s designed to be an on-the-go charging solution for both the Apple Watch and the iPhone.

The BatteryPro features an integrated Apple Watch charging puck, so there’s no need to supply your own Apple Watch charger, and it has a USB-A port (and included cable) for charging the iPhone.

At 8,000 mAh, it’s able to provide more than two weeks of Apple Watch charges or three days of charges for the iPhone 7. It supports full-speed iPhone and Apple Watch charging, with an integrated Apple-approved StowStrap that locks the Apple Watch to the charger so it can charge securely regardless of where the BatteryPro is at.

Design wise, it’s similar in shape to an iPhone 7, but thicker, and it fits well in a back pocket. LED lights indicate charge level, and the BatteryPro itself can be recharged using micro-USB. It can lay flat for charging, but there’s also an option to balance it on its end to use the Apple Watch Night Stand mode.


Elevation Lab is offering pre-orders for the BatteryPro on its website starting today, with shipments to begin on June 1. The BatteryPro retails for $99.00, but during the pre-order period, a 20 percent discount is available using the POWERUP code at checkout.

Tag: ElevationLab
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2
May

T-Mobile Teases Plans to Launch Nationwide 5G Network in U.S. Within Three Years


T-Mobile today said it plans to roll out a 5G network in the United States starting in 2019, with a target of 2020 for full nationwide coverage.

The third-largest U.S. carrier said it will use part of its newly acquired 600 MHz low-band spectrum to deliver 5G coverage from coast to coast.

“The 600 MHz spectrum will allow 5G to be deployed nationwide, bringing the ultimate experiences to T-Mobile’s enterprise customers and consumers throughout the United States,” said Borje Ekholm, President and CEO, Ericsson. “We will support T-Mobile US with 5G radio development for this spectrum. Commercial availability of the product will be aligned with 3GPP standardization and ecosystem support.”

5G networks will pave the way for faster data speeds and lower latency on smartphones and other cellular-enabled devices. Last year, AT&T said it reached speeds above 10 gigabits per second in early 5G lab trials, and it has even promised speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G LTE.

5G isn’t expected to become a reality until at least next year, as 3GPP is still working to establish the first set of 5G standards by 2018.

T-Mobile will help drive 3GPP certification for 5G in 600 MHz. As 5G standards are defined, chipsets are delivered, and equipment comes to market, T-Mobile will quickly deploy 5G nationwide in a large swath of unused spectrum.

T-Mobile expects the first smartphones compatible with the 600 MHz spectrum to be released later this year.

In February, Verizon said it will begin offering gigabit broadband internet over a wireless 5G connection to pilot customers in 11 select U.S. markets during the first half of 2017. AT&T is also rolling out “5G Evolution” speeds in over 20 major metro areas, but as widely reported, it’s not really 5G.

Tags: T-Mobile, 5G
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2
May

Microsoft Debuts $999 Surface Laptop, ‘Streamlined’ Windows 10 S, and More at Education Event


Microsoft today unveiled an all-new “Surface Laptop,” a student- and teacher-focused Windows 10 S, new features for Minecraft: Education Edition, a new Surface Arc Mouse, and more at an education-focused event in New York. The hardware reveal of the Surface Laptop marks the first major computer launch for the company since last year’s debut of the Surface Book and Surface Studio, the former of which saw huge sales numbers thanks to churn from the “disappointment” of the 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, according to Microsoft.

When compared to the Surface Book’s unique reversible hinge, the just-announced Surface Laptop is more traditionally built with a clamshell design and four color options: burgundy, platinum, cobalt blue, and graphite gold. Microsoft is aiming the Surface Laptop at the grade school and college education market, but the laptop will still be purchasable by all users on Microsoft’s store, starting at $999 for the Intel Core i5 version with 4GB RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.

In terms of specs, the Surface Laptop includes a 1080p PixelSense Display touchscreen that measures 13.5 inches on the diagonal, made with edge-to-edge Corning Gorilla Glass 3. USB-C is not found on the Surface Laptop, but ports otherwise included are: USB, an SD card slot, mini DisplayPort, and a traditional charging port. The laptop will have a battery life that lasts for around 14.5 hours.

The Surface Laptop weighs 2.76 lbs and is 14.47mm at its thickest point, which Microsoft said is unmatched by any of its rivals’ laptops. In comparison, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar weighs 3 lbs and is 14.9mm thick. The keyboard section of the Surface Laptop is covered in the same Alcantara material used by the Surface Pro 4 keyboard, and resists spills and is easy to clean, according to the company.

We built Surface Laptop to do two things: refresh the classic laptop form factor that our customers, especially college students, have been asking for; and make a Surface that works seamlessly to showcase the best of Windows 10 S.

The result is the most personal and balanced Surface we’ve ever made. This Surface perfectly blends fabric and function, power and portability, beauty and performance. It does all of this without compromising on the things we know are important to higher education students: battery life, display quality, storage, and portability.

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 S operation system comes installed on the computer and is said to provide “superior performance” on laptops at the lower end of the hardware spectrum. Windows 10 S is a walled garden OS, allowing only approved applications from the Windows Store to be downloaded on the system while also cutting down on some Windows 10 features to provide streamlined security and performance.


Microsoft said that these features are expected to come in handy for teachers in classrooms who need regulations on the computers and applications with which their students interact. Windows 10 S will be making it onto a variety of hardware devices, not just the Surface Laptop, including laptops from HP, Dell and Acer. These devices will come in much cheaper than Microsoft’s first-party laptop as well, expected to range from $189 to $300.

Microsoft’s EDU event also saw the announcement of new features for Minecraft: Education Edition, which will be gaining a new “Code Builder” tool that will allow students to connect to popular learn-to-code platforms to build impressive structures within the game. During the presentation, Microsoft gave a few examples of projects that students have already begun working on using Code Builder in Minecraft, including a Liberal Arts teacher tasking her class with reconstructing Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.


Other details of the event include Microsoft Teams, which will let students and teachers collaborate on projects in a chat room, new 3D and mixed reality initiatives, and updated device management software for teachers. A new $79.99 Surface Arc Mouse was also announced today, and is aimed to be a “travel companion” for any Surface device, including the Surface Laptop. The mouse supports Bluetooth 4.0, houses two buttons, and is designed with a travel-friendly, bendable tail.

Pre-orders for the Surface Laptop will begin today, and the device is said to begin shipping on June 15. Configurations on the laptop will go all the way up to an i7 processor with 16GB RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. For a recap of Microsoft’s EDU event, check out a highlight video that the company posted to its YouTube channel, as well as a design-focused overview of how Microsoft engineers crafted the Surface Laptop.

Tag: Microsoft
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2
May

‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’: Rule the road with these tips and tricks


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is better than ever on Nintendo Switch. While returning vets may be able to find success from just jumping in and racing, there are a few notable changes from the Wii U version. So if you’re a veteran or a newcomer, here are 10 tips and tricks that you should shave a few seconds off your best time.

Starting Boost

A long-standing Mario Kart mechanic, a well-timed starting boost — triggered by revving the gas right before the start of the race — can propel you to the front of the pack right out of the gate. To get the perfect boost, press and hold the gas (the A button) directly after the numeric countdown hits two, or when the middle light turns red in Lakitu’s sign. In our experience, it’s easier to focus on the lights when executing this move.

Be careful when timing your boosts, though: Pressing the accelerator too early will cause your engine to overheat, which will leave you spinning your wheels at the start of the race. In this case, it’s better to be late than early, you’re still likely to get a smaller boost as long as the countdown hasn’t advanced to one.

Slipstreams

When you are stuck in the middle of the pack, there’s a proper technique for passing your opponents. When gaining on a kart, moving directly behind it for a second will create a “slipstream,” a mild boost signified by a gust of wind, that will help you slingshot past them. It’s a particularly good tool to use when you are in a neck-and-neck race to the finish as well. On the other hand, if someone is lining up behind you trying to pass, swerve a little to shake your opponent and prevent them from blowing past.

Drifting Do’s and Don’ts

Drifting or “powersliding” around turns has been an essential art in Mario Kart for a long time. These hard turns trigger boosts, called mini-turbos, which can help you turn every turn in the track into an opportunity to gain ground. Best of all, they aren’t particularly challenging to pull off, especially when rolling around a big bend. Simply press and hold R as you are turning to initiate a drift, and move the analog stick back and forth horizontally as needed to stay on course. When you let go — ideally after you are headed back into a straightaway — you’ll receive one of three tiers of boosts that correspond with the sparks beneath your tires. There are blue, orange, and pink sparks — the last of which, dubbed the ultra mini-turbo, is new to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Achieving the ultra mini-turbo takes some forethought. You should start your drift before the track actually begins to turn to let the sparks fly from blue, to orange, to pink, and release the R button at the height of the turn to send your kart flying into a straightaway. Ideally, you should drift at every turn, but don’t get greedy. Trying to squeak out a higher tier boost just for the sake of it may send you right off the track.

Also, unlike previous games, drifting excessively doesn’t give you an edge, and it can actually be a hinderance. To combat snaking, a popular technique in past Mario Karts that allowed you using drifting to achieve a near-constant boost, drifting in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe slows karts down in a straightaway.

Use drifting consistently, but use it in moderation. Don’t overextend yourself.

Look behind you, too

Just like in real-world driving, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, including what’s going on behind you. Press X every so often and take a quick glance in your rearview. You don’t want to look back for too long, but if you snap back periodically, especially when in first place, you can maintain a better sense of your position relative to your competition. Looking back will also help you aim when you’re flinging green shells, fire balls, and banana peels back at karts on your tail.

Turn off smart steering, auto-accelerate, and tilt controls

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe introduces a new feature for inexperienced racers called Smart Steering, which helps you from running into walls or falling off ledges. When coupled with the auto-accelerate feature, you are virtually watching Mario Kart instead of playing. These options are turned on by default. Most players will want to press pause and disable Smart Steering right away by pressing L. You can also toggle Auto-Accelerate off by pressing R, although those who find their thumbs getting sore from constantly pressing down the A button during long sessions may appreciate this option.

Accelerometer-based “tilt controls,” which the series has offered since Mario Kart Wii, are also available in the pause menu. You can turn tilt controls on on by pressing Y on that screen. 

In our experience, it’s much more intuitive to play the game with all three of these options turned off.

2
May

Gigabyte targets graphics pros, PC gamers with its new Pantone-certified laptop


Why it matters to you

Gigabyte’s new 15-inch laptop, with its Pantone-certified screen, meets the needs of not only the PC gaming crowd, but graphic artists and ad designers as well.

On Tuesday, Gigabyte introduced the Aero 15, the world’s first Pantone-certified laptop built for professionals. But don’t let that “pro” label fool you: There’s enough hardware under the hood to make it a decent PC gaming solution. The big selling point, however, is the laptop’s 15-inch screen built for consistent, accurate colors for photographers, ad designers, and graphic artists.

The Pantone aspect is important because it means the display can match the colors used in the physical Pantone color space. Pantone colors are generally used in the printing process although paints, plastics, and fabrics rely on this color space as well. Typically, we see displays boast support for Adobe RGB, sRGB, and several others. But the Aero 15 is the first laptop to support a color space that was established in the early 1950s and is still in use.

“Before each and every Aero 15 leaves the factory, they are calibrated individually with the calibration technology provided and strictly governed by X-Rite Pantone,” the company said. “This further ensures that each display is showing consistent and accurate colors, so professionals know exactly what results they will be getting.”

As for the Aero 15 hardware, here is the base design:

Screen size:
15 inches
Screen resolution:
1920 x 1080
3840 x 2160
Screen border thickness:
5.1mm
Processor:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Graphics memory (dedicated):
6GB GDDR5
Memory:
2x DDR4 slots up to 32GB (2,400MHz)
Storage:
2x M.2 PCI Express Gen3 x4 SSD slots
Connectivity:
Wireless AC (Intel 8265) (2×2)
Bluetooth (?)
Sound:
Dolby Digital Plus
Battery:
94.24 watt-hour
Keyboard:
Backlit, 16.8 million per-key colors
Ports:
1x Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C (10Gbps)
1x USB 2.01x HDMI 2.0
1x Mini DisplayPort
Dimensions:
14.01 (W) x 9.84 (D) x 0.78 (H) inches
Weight:
4.62 pounds
Operating system:
Windows 10 Home

So that’s the foundation. Here are the three individual models and their starting configurations:


Aero 15W-GN4
Aero 15W-OG4
Aero 15W-BK4
Resolution:
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
Memory:
16GB
16GB
16GB
Storage:
512GB
512GB
512GB
Color:
Green
Orange
Black

Customers in North America should expect several variants of the three Aero 15 units shown above to reflect the higher resolution option, more storage capacity options, and additional memory configurations. The starting price is a hefty $1,899.

On the display front, the company didn’t indicate what type of panel technology it’s using. For the 3840 x 2160 option, the company associates the resolution with wide viewing angles, indicating the possible use of In-Plane Switching technology that’s known for ultrawide viewing angles and super-rich colors. Gigabyte may simply be using the older Twisted Nematic tech for the 1920 x 1080 resolutions, which is ideal for PC gamers due to its fast response times and high brightness.

That said, Gigabyte is openly targeting both the professional graphics crowd and the PC gaming community with the Aero 15. It’s a “powerhouse” according to Gigabyte, enabling digital artists and designers to take a break from their graphic-intense work to play immersive VR at 90 frames per second without the need for a second PC.

Right now, we don’t know the exact availability date or all the price points, so stay tuned.




2
May

Gigabyte targets graphics pros, PC gamers with its new Pantone-certified laptop


Why it matters to you

Gigabyte’s new 15-inch laptop, with its Pantone-certified screen, meets the needs of not only the PC gaming crowd, but graphic artists and ad designers as well.

On Tuesday, Gigabyte introduced the Aero 15, the world’s first Pantone-certified laptop built for professionals. But don’t let that “pro” label fool you: There’s enough hardware under the hood to make it a decent PC gaming solution. The big selling point, however, is the laptop’s 15-inch screen built for consistent, accurate colors for photographers, ad designers, and graphic artists.

The Pantone aspect is important because it means the display can match the colors used in the physical Pantone color space. Pantone colors are generally used in the printing process although paints, plastics, and fabrics rely on this color space as well. Typically, we see displays boast support for Adobe RGB, sRGB, and several others. But the Aero 15 is the first laptop to support a color space that was established in the early 1950s and is still in use.

“Before each and every Aero 15 leaves the factory, they are calibrated individually with the calibration technology provided and strictly governed by X-Rite Pantone,” the company said. “This further ensures that each display is showing consistent and accurate colors, so professionals know exactly what results they will be getting.”

As for the Aero 15 hardware, here is the base design:

Screen size:
15 inches
Screen resolution:
1920 x 1080
3840 x 2160
Screen border thickness:
5.1mm
Processor:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Graphics memory (dedicated):
6GB GDDR5
Memory:
2x DDR4 slots up to 32GB (2,400MHz)
Storage:
2x M.2 PCI Express Gen3 x4 SSD slots
Connectivity:
Wireless AC (Intel 8265) (2×2)
Bluetooth (?)
Sound:
Dolby Digital Plus
Battery:
94.24 watt-hour
Keyboard:
Backlit, 16.8 million per-key colors
Ports:
1x Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C (10Gbps)
1x USB 2.01x HDMI 2.0
1x Mini DisplayPort
Dimensions:
14.01 (W) x 9.84 (D) x 0.78 (H) inches
Weight:
4.62 pounds
Operating system:
Windows 10 Home

So that’s the foundation. Here are the three individual models and their starting configurations:


Aero 15W-GN4
Aero 15W-OG4
Aero 15W-BK4
Resolution:
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
1920 x 1080
Memory:
16GB
16GB
16GB
Storage:
512GB
512GB
512GB
Color:
Green
Orange
Black

Customers in North America should expect several variants of the three Aero 15 units shown above to reflect the higher resolution option, more storage capacity options, and additional memory configurations. The starting price is a hefty $1,899.

On the display front, the company didn’t indicate what type of panel technology it’s using. For the 3840 x 2160 option, the company associates the resolution with wide viewing angles, indicating the possible use of In-Plane Switching technology that’s known for ultrawide viewing angles and super-rich colors. Gigabyte may simply be using the older Twisted Nematic tech for the 1920 x 1080 resolutions, which is ideal for PC gamers due to its fast response times and high brightness.

That said, Gigabyte is openly targeting both the professional graphics crowd and the PC gaming community with the Aero 15. It’s a “powerhouse” according to Gigabyte, enabling digital artists and designers to take a break from their graphic-intense work to play immersive VR at 90 frames per second without the need for a second PC.

Right now, we don’t know the exact availability date or all the price points, so stay tuned.




2
May

Kobo’s new Aura H20 still survives a dip in the deep end, holds even more books


Why it matters to you

If you’re in the market for an affordable, durable new ebook reader, you might consider the Kobo Aura H2O.

Ebook readers are not as popular as they once were. Sales fell from a record 23.2 million units in 2011 to 14.9 million units in 2012 and that downward trend is expected to continue. But that is not stopping Kobo, the Toronto, Canada-based e-reader company, from doing all it can to prop up the remains.

On Monday, Kobo announced a refreshed version of the Aura H2O, an affordable, waterproof ebook reader with an anti-glare screen and blue-light filter that minimizes eye strain.

Notable upgrades include the internal storage, which has been bumped to 8GB from the last-generation model’s 4GB. That is enough to hold 6,000 ebooks, Kobo said, or 36,000 if you add an additional 32GB of memory via its microSD expansion slot.

The new Aura H2O packs improved silicon, too. A Freescale Sololite processor and 512 MB of RAM — double its predecessor’s memory — keeps the H2O humming for up to two months on a single charge, and makes page turns “quick and seamless.”

Kobo’s HZO Protections will keep the Aura H20 safe for up to 30 minutes in three feet of water.

Beyond those changes, though, the H2O is not all that different from the model that came before it. Like the first-generation Kobo H2O, the new H2O packs with Kobo’s HZO Protection, which keep water out of the tablet’s ports even when it is fully submerged (Kobo said it is safe for up to 30 minutes in three feet of water.) And it sports a 6.8-inch screen with the same resolution — 1430 x 1080 (265ppi) — as 2016’s model.

Like the rest of Kobo’s ebook reader lineup, the H2O ships with Kobo’s TypeGenius software, which lets you fiddle with the weight, sharpness, size, font type, and margins of ebooks. Highlighting and note-taking tools are in tow, too, as is a built-in word dictionary.

The Kobo Aura H2O supports a wealth of file formats and supported languages include English, German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Italian, and Portuguese, and more.

Aura H2O will retail for $180 when it goes on sale May 22 in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Japan, and Turkey. It will come to Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines in July; and to Mexico and Brazil “later in the year.” Pre-orders begin on May 15.

kobo aura h o  news img

kobo aura h o  news img

kobo aura h o  newsKyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

kobo aura h o  newsKyle Wiggers/Digital Trends

The H2O fits right below the Aura One in Kobo’s lineup in terms of pricing, but the only real difference is the screen size. The $230 Aura One features a slightly larger 7.8-inch display with a 300ppi resolution, but the same processor, blue-light filter, processor, and storage capacity. In other words, you are not sacrificing much with the H2O.

Kobo’s biggest competitor was — and is — Amazon, which dominates the ebook reader market. In 2010, the internet retailer’s Kindle accounted for 62.8 percent of all ebook reader sales and Amazon is estimated to have 65 percent of the U.S. market.

But none of Amazon’s Kindles are waterproof and the cheapest Amazon equivalent — the Kindle Voyage — costs $200 for half (4GB) the H2O’s storage.




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