Review: Kobo Mini, The eReader That Fits In Your Pocket

Our score: 3/5
Reviewed: December 26, 2012 2:00 PM
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Published: December 26, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: October 2, 2014 2:40 PM
By Marine Goy
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
The Kobo Mini is a pocket-sized entry-level eReader that runs for as low as £50. And as the tagline "Small Is A Big Deal" implies, in addition to the low price tag the Mini has a number of other selling points on its spec sheet, such as Wi-Fi, a 5-inch E Ink touchscreen, 2 GB of storage and two weeks' battery life. Kobo is promising a user-friendly experience, ultra-light weight, convenience and reading comfort similar to a real book with adjustable font sizes. Not to mention a capacity of over 1,000 e-books and a choice of over 3 million e-books, newspapers and magazines. To top it all off, the Kobo Mini is an open-format eReader that recognises e-books downloaded from any site, not just the Kobo eBookstore (as long as they are in a compatible file format).

In many ways the Kobo Mini is a diminutive version of the Kobo Glo. For the full review of the Kobo Glo, see here.

Design and Build4/5


Smaller than a pocketbook with scaled-down dimensions (133 x 101 x 10 mm, for only 134 grammes), the Kobo Mini comes in a choice of black or white, with interchangeable ruby, purple and teal backs sold separately. It has the same unique, "quilted" design on back with criss-crossing diagonal lines as the Kobo Glo, giving it the same competitive edge. However, despite the comfortable material lining the back, the diamond pattern isn't necessarily the type of design that typically wins over consumers of the masculine persuasion, even when it comes in black. To take into consideration.

Kobo Mini declinaison
The Kobo Mini comes in a variety of colours
 
The finishing is as good as they come with quality plastics and comfortable handling—the material on the back prevents it from slipping and sliding in your hands. The design and finish are definitely a plus for this eReader.
 
Kobo Mini
Kobo Mini: the pocket-size e-reader
 
Dos
Back
 
The Kobo Mini has 2 GB of memory, 1 GB of which goes to running the device, the other gig going to storing e-books (about 1,000). Like the Kobo Glo, the Kobo Mini unfortunately has no physical navigation button, so the first time you pick it up you'll probably have to search around for a second before finding the homescreen icon. That's the advantage of a physical button: you can get back to the main menu intuitively in a split-second. Here all commands go through the touchscreen, and you can choose what part of the screen you touch to turn pages. There are different gestures for different commands: touch, tap, slide and long touch. But unlike most touchscreen devices, on the Kobo Mini there's no scroll function.

Port
 

The Kobo Mini has a micro-USB port, but no microSD slot to expand the memory with. The storage space you see is the storage space you get.

The homescreen shows the covers of the last five books you've read, with the Library icon in the menu at the bottom of the screen. To search for a book, all you have to do is type the author's name, book title or file type on the virtual keyboard.

Kobo Mini

The annotations function is practical, allowing you to highlight passages, add notes using the virtual keyboard (you can't draw or write with your finger here, but you can in the sketchbook feature) and add bookmarks. While reading you can also look up words in the dictionary, translate words, post passages on Facebook and look up all passages that contain the word you've selected.

In the advanced settings menu you can choose between 7 fonts available in 24 font sizes, add your own fonts and choose the thickness of lines and see a preview before and after you've made changes. Good idea!
 

Screen3/5



The 5-inch touchscreen uses E Ink Vizplex V110 technology (as opposed to Pearl). The contrast is lower than the Kobo Glo, which we gave 4/5 stars for its screen contrast. With 16 levels of grey, but only 800 x 600-pixel resolution, the Mini's screen is a downgrade to 3/5 stars. That's also lower than the Sony Reader PRS-T2 and Amazon Kindle Touch.

Kobo Mini
Right: Kobo Mini / Left: Kobo Glo

Papier liseuse
An e-reader the size of a book
 
So, here's the real question: is the Kobo Mini's size an asset or a liability? In all truth, when we first pulled the Mini out of the box, the first thing we said was, "I'm never going to be able to read on this thing, it's way too small." But then we spent a couple weeks carrying it around and using it, and we have to say it's not bad at all. Naturally, fewer lines are displayed on a 5-inch screen than on a 6-inch screen. But it's surprising how quickly you adapt. And on a practical level, carrying around a much smaller device obviously has its benefits. The difficulty is that it's kind of like smartphones: once you get used to a big screen, you feel like switching to a smaller one will be absolute hell. In the end, everybody has their preferences. Just know that if you are thinking of going 'Mini', it's just as comfortable on your eyes as the larger models.

File Formats4/5


The Kobo Mini recognises EPub3, PDF, TXT, HTML and RTF for text and JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP and TIFF for images, as well as CBZ and CBR for comic books. However, forget about audio books because it doesn't recognise MP3 or any other audio formats.

Features4/5


The Mini features 13 built-in dictionaries (multilingual), a chess game and Sudoku. There's also a fairly cursory drawing application. It's less responsive than the other functions, it doesn't recognise how hard you're pressing and you can't choose different pens/pencils or the thickness of the lines you draw.

Stats buffs should be happy with Reading Life, a tool that shows info on where you are in a book, how many pages you've turned, total hours read, pages per hour, etc.

3/5 Kobo Mini DigitalVersus 2012-12-26 15:00:00

Pros

  • Small size
  • Wi-Fi
  • Touchscreen
  • Good finishing
  • Responsive
  • Uni/multilingual dictionaries
  • Web browser

Cons

  • No microSD slot
  • No audio books
  • No backlight
  • Battery life (2 weeks with Wi-Fi turned off)

Conclusion

Portable by nature, this pint-sized e-reader will fit snugly in your back pocket for a low price, all without sacrificing reading comfort or features. Readers-on-the-go will, however, have preferred a longer-lasting battery.

OUR SCORE 3/5
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