The Littlest Kobo, Traveling Light is Kobo Style: A Kobo Mini Review

The Kobo Mini is the littlest Kobo. And like the Littlest Hobo theme song says, traveling light is hobo style.

Hat tip Chris Tindal for the Littlest Kobo idea.

I bought a $80 Kobo Mini last week. Here is my review:

The good
-It is pocket size (including jeans pocket)
-At only 134g, it feels very lite in your hand (although, factually, it is heavier than the smaller iPod touch 88g or iPhone5 112g, but less than the iPhone4S at 140g or iPhone4 at 137g) 
-Cost: $80
-You can read in direct sunlight. If you can read a glossy magazine in direct sunlight, you will have no problem reading on the Kobo Mini
-Wifi. You can buy books from Kobo wirelesly.
-The battery. I've had the Kobo Mini for over a week and I haven't charged it yet. At all (I set it up wirelessly). In fact, I almost threw out the usb power charging cable by mistake. 
-Reduction of distractions. Reading a book requires concentration. Even in a very good book, some passages will be painfully boring. When Twitter (or this blog ;-) ) is only a thumb press away, you are doomed. The Kobo Mini is for book reading and buying. Nothing else.
-Ease of use and responsiveness. Apparently ebook readers slow down when hot. But in the October Canadian sun, that wasn't an issue. 
-Won't keep you awake. The iPod and iPad screens apparently will interfere with your sleeping. You could easily fall asleep reading a Kobo Mini. 

The bad (aka less good)
-The cost. Even at $80, if you are not a bookworm  it is going to take a while before you pay it off with the relative savings of ebooks (generally $5 to $10 a book less than a paperback).
-Turning pages. For epub formatted books, a small screen is fine (unless you somehow read more than one sentence at a time). However, the smaller the screen, the more page turns. And I haven't gotten the hang of changing pages with one hand yet.
-You need a light. If you have been spoiled by an iPad or iPhone/touch, you will notice this.
-On a plane, you need to turn it off on departure/landing. "There are currently 15 planes ahead of us" is a horrible sentence when joined with "all electronics must be off". That lasted 90 minutes on my last flight out of Newark (because of the rain!).
-You can only read books. The Kobo Mini is a single use device.
-In theory you can transfer books from any estore to the Kobo Mini compatible epub format with software like Calibre. In practice, you won't. So you are stuck wirelessly shopping from one store: Kobo. But the same can be said for Chapters-Indigo monopoly on paper books, unless you like the selection at Walmart. 
-Selection: There is very little cost to stock a virtual ebook for estores like Kobo. So there are duds a plenty out there. Beware.
-Does the screen scratch? I haven't seen one of those keys on screen Youtube videos for Kobo Mini yet, so I'm still wary of having my Kobo Mini in the same pocket as keys or even loose change.

I would cry if my iPhone was lost/stolen/damaged at the beach. People, apparently, also tend to drop their smartphone in the toilet. So for that, Kobo Mini wins. I can absorb an $80 loss. $700? Not so much. Still, nobody in the history of time has ever had their paperback stolen at the beach. But if you finish your paperback, or it turns out to be terrible, you are screwed. With a Kobo, you probably have half a dozen books already downloaded and you are just a wifi hotspot away from many thousand more.

If you don't carry a purse, the Kobo Mini will fit in your front pocket. So the mini wins over the regular size Kobo Glo. The mini is smaller than the Glo, but that is a reasonable compromise for non-purse portability. A mini glo would be perfect. But it doesn't exist. Reading in the dark on a Kobo Mini is out of the question. You need a good light source.

If you can't decide between a $130 Kobo Glo and a $80Kobo Mini, buy both! The Kobo Glo for home use in less than ideal lighting, a device that won't interfere with your sleep like an iPad. The Kobo Mini for going to the park or beach, where you know there will be sunlight and you want to preserve your iPhone battery for important emails and, well, phone use.

If you don't already have a smartphone, the new iPod touch Retina display is only $300 and 88 grams. With a touch, you could easily buy from 3 stores: Apple, Kobo and Kindle-Amazon. I'd recommend the iPod touch.

But if you already have a smartphone, and your iPad is keeping you up at night, the Kobo Mini is worth the $80. Still, I just wish it had the Glo light feature.

Update: Turns out you can surf the web with the Kobo Mini. Not that you'd want to, as web pages are barely readeable. Hat tip GoodReader.com . More importanly, by playing with the settings, I was able to change the turn page settings: one hand book reading! My nose and but are greatfull. :)

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