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I’m Loving My Kobo Mini

I finally got my hands on Kobo’s newest ereader today and I’m loving it.

The Kobo Mini, which finally reached the US market when it showed up on the Best Buy website Sunday night, is Kobo’s $80 entry into the tiny and cheap niche. It has the price and specs to go head to head with the K4.

This ereader is a teeny, tiny thing which would disappear under my K4. It has a 5″ screen, Wifi, the same 2GB of storage as my K4, and it one-ups the K4 by including a touchscreen and lots of formatting options.

Counting the Kobo Wifi (stuck in a closet) and my Kobo Touch, this is my third Kobo device. It’s the first that I’ve liked.  I never did get my Kobo Touch to work right. Like many KT owners, I found that the touchscreen on my device never worked right. Luckily the Kobo Mini doesn’t seem to have the same touchscreen issues.

Setup was a pain in the ass; I had to go through setting up my Wifi password 3 times thanks to the updates forced down my throat, and the onscreen keyboard is quite picky about whether it would notice when I pressed a button. And the Mini insisted on downloading all of my Kobo purchases before it allowed me to go further. But once I got past that 2 hours headache, I have to say I like the Mini.

After playing with it for about 15 minutes I decided to set aside the K4 which I had been reading on and continue reading on the Kobo Mini. I copied over the several ebooks I have in progress and they look great. And just to put it in perspective, I have a Kindle Paperwhite and a Sony Reader T2 and T1 on my desk. I’m not using any of those ereaders for my own casual reading.

Let’s see how long this lasts.

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cookie October 16, 2012 um 4:35 pm

What I want to see is a steel cage match between the Kobo mini and the Sony 5″ prs-350. And yes, I know they don’t make the 350 anymore, but I still want it.

Webster October 26, 2012 um 9:34 am

I had the Sony PRS-350 and now have the Kobo. My Sony died so I can’t compare them side by side, though I was a big fan of the Sony. I am happy with the Kobo, I’m glad I got it rather than another PRS-350. Without physical keys the Kobo is smaller still than the Sony with the same screen size. According to the specs, screen type, processor and storage are the same. But the Kobo is newer by 2 years; my sense is it works a bit smoother, I like the size and design. And it has Wifi, which I never really missed in the Sony but can have it’s uses. I’d like to see a backlit screen, an SD slot, pearl screen (no issues with the Kobo mini screen but if there’s a better one I’d like to have it), and MP3 capability. Sony allowed free-hand annotations on the page; Kobo seems to allow typed notes annotations and has a free-hand drawing app but does not allow annotations on top of the text of a book like the Sony did.

Tyler October 16, 2012 um 5:44 pm

The trick with Kobo is to connect it to the desktop version and let it i.stall the books which saves lots of time with downloads. I ended up throwing my Kobo Touch out because I got frustrated with it.

fjtorres October 16, 2012 um 6:29 pm

"Let’s see how long this lasts."
The over/under is two weeks.
I’m taking the under. 🙂

Mike Cane October 16, 2012 um 8:55 pm

What about the damn screen? You know, it’s the version before Pearl! How is it?

Nate Hoffelder October 16, 2012 um 9:05 pm

I don’t know what you are asking.

I can say that the screen on the Mini looks whiter than the one on my K4, but that is largely because one has a black bezel and the other gray.

fjtorres October 16, 2012 um 9:15 pm

The Kobo Mini is supposed to be using the older Vizplex eink film.
So it’s supposed to have lower contrast.
The key word being "supposed" which is why inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

Nate Hoffelder October 16, 2012 um 9:26 pm

While I have adjusted the contrast settings for CRTs, I don’t know what the heck that word is supposed to mean in relation to E-ink screens.

All I can say is that the black bezel makes the screen seem whiter than the newer better screen on my K4.

Tim Gray October 17, 2012 um 3:32 am

I imagine it refers to the contrast between the blackness of the text and the whiteness or greyness of the screen background.

Nate Hoffelder October 17, 2012 um 7:06 am

As I said above, the bezel makes that hard to measure by eye. And even if it didn’t the Kobo Mini has advanced font options which let you set the weight and sharpness of the characters. That further confuses the issue.

Isles October 17, 2012 um 8:30 am

The Kobo Mini uses an E Ink Pearl screen according to its blurb on Here is the link:

"Kobo Mini’s uses an E Ink Pearl screen so there’s no glare – even in direct sunlight!"

Is this a mistake on the E Ink website? Because everything else, including the Kobo website, says Vizplex, and you would think that Kobo would include the term "Pearl" if it had one.

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:16 am

Probably. A lot of folks are conditioned by marketters and reviewers to think that Pearl is *always* better than Vizplex, just as they think higher resolution is *always* better. The subtleties of implementation tend to get washed away.

Mike Cane October 17, 2012 um 9:05 am

>>>Display: 5″ E Ink touchscreen; Vizplex V110 display; 16-level grey scale

eInk VizPlex

>>>The difference between the Pearl display and the newer Vizplex displays really isn’t that much of a drastic change. In fact, this particular Vizplex screen appears to have a slightly lighter background than both Pearl screens.

*shrugs* YMMV it seems.

Although eInk itself touts faster speed of the Pearl screen:

So then how are page turn speeds and other refresh things? Is there every-page Refresh or an option to delay it for several page turns?

Nate Hoffelder October 17, 2012 um 9:08 am

It’s slower than the K4 but not by much.

Graham October 18, 2012 um 5:55 am

I think the formatting options Kobo includes are great. I wish more companies included that level of flexibility.

Tim Gray October 18, 2012 um 6:57 am

What’s the process for getting stuff on to it that you haven’t bought through the Kobo store?

Nate Hoffelder October 18, 2012 um 7:22 am


Tim Gray October 18, 2012 um 7:05 am

One area where recent Kindles fall down for me is the page turn buttons on the side. On my Kindle Keyboard (as it is now) those are great, and easy to use one-handed. On the newer ones the small size and the angle of the push action feels like a recipe for frustration.

Kobo’s problem here in the UK, I think, is that most people are unaware that there are ebook stores other than Amazon. And once you’ve started building an Amazon library, moving is a hard sell.

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:32 am

It’s called "First Mover advantage"; the first player to effectively enter the market gains an edge on followers as they set the benchmark for comparison. When the First Mover is competent and sets a high bar it can become synonymous (in the eyes of many consumers) with the market itself. (Sony Walkman being a classic example.)
In the UK Amazon moved in to an immature market of small players and promptly raised the bar to a level (pricing, catalog size, convenience, customer service, etc) no existing player on the hardware or ebookstore side could match. Once its hardware lead got established its ebookstore edge came fully into play.
Eroding their position there will take years, at best, and since the UK is still under agency terms (last I heard) the odds of anybody mustering enough of a challenge to dislodge them is going to be extremely hard. (Their Luxembourg edge is probably temporary but substantial by itself.)
They may very well be harder to fight in the UK than in the US.

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:36 am

Whoops, make that "Luxenbourg edge".

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:36 am

Argghh! Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourgh…

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:37 am

Whatever… 🙁

fjtorres October 18, 2012 um 7:38 am

This place needs an edit button.
And I need to stay away from small european principalities.

Nate Hoffelder October 18, 2012 um 7:44 am

I think if you’re logged in you can edit your comments.

Tim Gray October 19, 2012 um 3:42 am

I was at the London Book Fair in April, and Amazon didn’t seem to have made many friends in the publishing industry. A lot of people seemed to regard it as a threat.

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