REVIEWED: Kobo Mini ebook reader

This bookish and pocket-sized Kindle-killer is a gem for long journeys

Buy the Kobo Mini

Price as reviewed: £45

 

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A five-inch diameter touchscreen ebook reader – with Wi-Fi – that fits in a handbag or a shirt pocket, the Kobo Mini is the smallest ebook reader around. Travel hero? You bet – its use of an E-Ink screen means there’s no need to take a charger on your travels.

Designed for the road

Whether on business or leisure travel, or just commuting, the Kobo Mini is designed for the road. Its width of four inches is exactly the same as most shirt chest pockets, though be mindful that you can’t use electronic devices of any kind (not even power-efficient ebook readers) while taking-off and landing.

The Kobo Mini doesn’t fit in all shirt pockets; out of six random men’s shirts we tried, it fitted snugly only in two of them. However, it did fit into all handbags and cargo trouser pockets we could find, and at 131g its weight is barely noticeable.
The use of an E-Ink screen guarantees a battery life of around two weeks if Wi-Fi is switched-off; as long as you don’t forget to do that, the Kobo Mini is travel gadget gold.

How it works

The touchscreen is simple enough; pressing on either flank flips the page in the corresponding direction, while pressing the centre brings-up the core user interface screen for dictionary definitions, highlighting sections, or font/spacing changes. Kobo takes a unique approach to how its new ebook readers are used, but hasn’t skimped on features on this small ebook reader. You can access a million or so books through the Kobo shop, or side-load books purchased or sourced from anywhere on the internet. Reading Life keeps you up to date with your own achievements; finish a book after midnight and as well as Tweeting or Facebook-ing your ‘success’, Kobo awards you a ‘Witching Hour’ badge. Err, okay…
Some ebook readers use 3G instead of WiFi, though there’s little point unless you demand to be able to download books any any time anywhere in the world. Road warriors might disagree, but we reckon the kind of people who demand that probably aren’t reading many books anyway – just looking for a distraction.

Easy to hold

We loved its hold-ability; we managed to clasp and support the Kobo Mini easily in one hand and read comfortably while waiting in a bus queue. E Ink is unbeatable for battery and readability, too, and that goes double for the endlessly tweak-able fonts and screen properties (see our review of the Kobo Glo for more on this). Unlike a Kindle, any format of ebook – including EPUB – can be manually transferred to the Kobo Mini from a PC or Mac connected using the included Micro USB cable.

The only omission is the lack of built-in lighting, though the company’s slightly bigger Kobo Glo sees to that. We’re also concerned that adding a protective cover to the Kobo Mini would instantly remove its pocket-friendly dimensions. The ‘for emergencies only’ Kobo App for iPhones isn’t a patch on the Kindle version, but with the Kobo Mini this small you’re unlikely to go anywhere without it.

Wide file support

Designed in Canada and sold in the UK only by WHSmiths. The tactile, silicone outer layer is easy to grip and comes in either black (as in our review unit) or white. SnapBacks in red, purple and teal are also due on sale. Capacity is 2GB, dimensions are 101.6 x 1331.1 x 10.3mm, and there’s an 800 MHz processor inside. It stores 1,000 books, but don’t get hung-up on this figure; storing any more than five books on any device is just distracting. File formats supported include EPUB, PDF, JPEG, GIF, PNG. TIFF. TXT, HTML, RFT, CBZ and CBR.

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