With it’s recent partnership with Pick N Pay, Kobo has made its Kobo Touch model easily available to South Africans in an effort to gain marketshare in a market that is – still – fairly open to competition. But Kobo has more to offer than just it’s flagship Kobo Touch model – meet the smallest eReader money can buy!
Even though eReaders have gotten significantly smaller in the last year or so, there are some users that would still prefer an even smaller reading device. The main added benefit is portability – an eReader that fits into a backpocket or a handbag is just that much easier to whip out and whisk through a couple of pages! And you can’t get much smaller than the tiny Kobo Mino!
Even though the Kobo Mini is one of the tiniest eReaders we’ve tested, it still comes with a 5 inch screen, which is just one inch less than what you would find on your conventional Kindle or Nook. And it comes with full touch support! That being said, there’s no real monetary incentive to forego the extra inch – the entry level Kindle is just a couple of bucks more and unless you’re not desperately looking for a tiny, ultra portable eReader, it is probably the better choice. Overall, even though we loved the tiny size, the Kobo Mini’s screen is just slightly sub-par in terms of responsiveness, page turn speeds and contrast when compared to other top eReaders.
Kobo Mini – Design and Reading
The tiny size is the main differentiating factor for the Kobo Mini and the main reason you’d want to buy it in the first place!
Measuring a mere 13.2 by 10 by 1 centimetres (HWD) and weighing 133 g, it’s smaller than a paperback and is comparable in size to some modern smartphones.
The outside of the Kobo Mini is covered in the same soft, grippy material that we get with the larger Kobo Touch and comes in black or white. Along the top edge you will find the power switch, with the micro USB charger port placed along the bottom. Unlike the Kobo Glo the Kobo Mini doesn’t offer extra storage via a SD card, but its 2GB of on-board storage is still good for around 1000 books.
At 5 inches, the screen itself is only about an inch less than your standard model. However, Kobo has unfortunately opted to use a slightly older Vizplex V110 panel as opposed to the modern eInk Pear display, a move that resulted in noticeably lower contrast ratios. But this isn’t the only sacrifice Kobo made – the Kobo Mini runs off a Freescale 508 800Mhz processor which is quite a step down from the 1Ghz CPU’s we normally see in eReaders. And the lost 200MHz really do show in an overall sluggish response time and slower page turn speeds.
The Kobo Mini Store & Other Features
Similarly to most modern eReaders, you can highlight text, look up words in the built-in dictionary and share favourite passages via Facebook or Twitter. The Kobo Mini also brings a bit of fun to reading with Reading Life, which tracks your reading speed and lets you score achievements depending on your progress. You can expect the battery to last up to 1 month of reading, with the WiFi turned, although we are yet to confirm these claims.
Books and media is easily transferred via USB or WiFi connection (Note the Kobo Mini connects to the Internet via 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi on 2.4GHz networks only). The Kobo Store has a decent amount of titles available, plus you get the all important ePub support which lets you access public library lending and a host of download sites you can’t access with a Kindle (such as kalahari.net for South African books for example). Whilst you can buy books directly from the Kobo Mini, we found the process a lot easier from the desktop website.
The Kobo Mino – Is It Worth Getting?
If you’re eager for a smaller, pocket-sized reading experience then the Kobo Mini might just be the solution you’ve been looking for! If you compare the Kobo Mini vs Kindle, there is not much difference in the price – the Kindle will offer a better overall reading experience with a higher contrast screen and faster page turns, but you lose the ePub support.
Unlike the Kobo Touch, the Kobo Mini is not yet fully available in South Africa, but you can find some being sold via online retailers.