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Kobo Aura H20 Hands-On: This eReader Takes a Spill

BERLIN -- You probably don't think twice about bringing your paper books to the bathtub or beach, but your eReader usually calls for a dryer location. Tablet-maker Kobo is looking to change that with the Aura H20, a 7-inch e-reader that can survive being spilled on, sprayed on or even dunked into a tub of water. We got our hands on the upcoming bathtime slate, which arrives Oct. 1 for $180.

Naturally, the first thing I did with the Aura H20 was dunk it in a fishbowl of water about as tall as the tablet itself. As soon as the e-reader was submerged, a message appeared on the display recommending that I dry the display with a cloth or shake the water off. After taking it out of the water and wiping it down, I was able to flip through a few pages of The Hunger Games without a hitch.

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The Aura H20 is IP67 certified, and is built to survive being dunked in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes so long as the port cover is closed. The slate doesn't quite respond to touch commands with tons of water on the display, but it did recognize my taps when slightly damp. 

Like the Kobo Aura HD, the Aura H20 packs a 6.8-inch E Ink display and a resolution of 265 dpi (dots per inch). A 1-GHz CPU powers the eReader, which packs 4GB of onboard storage that can be expanded to up to 32GB via microSD. If you're wondering what you'll be reading in the tub, the H20 supports anything purchased from the Kobo eBook store, as well as any DRM-free EPUB, EPUB3, PDF or MOBI files.

The Kobo Aura H20 takes the crisp reading experience we already loved from the Aura HD, and stands out from its peers by bringing that experience underwater. Its digital bookstore isn't quite as convenient or wallet-friendly as Amazon's, but can you drop your Kindle in the bathtub?