A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Review of the Kobo Mini ereader

on October 20, 2013

My Nook Touch pretty much turned into a doorstop while I was on my review vacation, so I wound up doing a lot of reading on my Kobo Mini, which I hadn’t previously used much.  I wanted to share my impressions.  This post is not “sponsored” in any way — the Kobo Mini was purchased by me.

Pros:

The home page shows the 5 most recent books you added to your library, so it’s simple to switch between books. (Assuming you most want to read the books you recently added.)  And this includes sideloaded books, not just books purchased from Kobo. I prefer this to the way my Nook treats sideloaded books as inferior content.

UPDATE 7/20/15: The home page no longer works like this. It now shows just the book you’ve last read, plus a bunch of stats and other stuff Kobo wants you to look at. A real turn for the worse, in my opinion.

You can delete books from the ereader! A huge improvement over the Nook Touch.

You can choose to see all the books you own in your library, or just the ones currently downloaded. Another huge improvement over the NT.

The screen asks you if you want to connect to your computer when you plug it in, and has a screen reminding you that it’s connected.  (See also cons.)

There are numerous ways to customize a book’s appearance. (See also cons.)

Battery life seems to be comparable to other current generation ereaders.

The reader is very thin and light, but the “quilted” back gives it a little bulk for a nicer hand feel.

The Reading Life program is very silly, but cute. You get what are basically girl scout badges for reading at certain times of day, reading a lot of pages, and so on. My son loves seeing the new “awards” as I “earn” them.  The program works even with wifi off.

I was going to say that the exchangeable snapback feature is really dumb — the idea is you color coordinate with your outfits or something — but I just noticed I got a bad ink stain on the back of mine and I might buy a new one. (Yes, I am anal.)

The screen is not so small that it’s hard to read, but small enough that I can (usually) swipe forward while holding it in my left hand. (And I have small hands.) You can also set it to swipe in different areas.

There’s a slow but functional web browser which I actually used a fair bit, and a cute little sketch program that puts your finger sketches in your book library. This is an awkward but workable way to take a note if you have nothing else available. Adding a keyboard pop-up to the sketch program would make it awesome.

There are lots of options and ways to access them. This is also a con, because they get confusing and are not always intuitive.

All of the off screens — sleeping, powered off — have smiley faces on them. Okay, so my life is a little difficult at times.

Cons:

Oh, the slowness and unresponsiveness! It’s not so bad while reading, but when making any kind of change, such as to the font size, it’s excruciating.  The customizing features lose their allure when you have to keep futzing with them to get what you want.

The ereader skips a page regularly. I think this may be connected with the “page redraw” function, since it seems to happen about every six pages.

In addition to being unresponsive to actual touches, it’s very responsive to ghost touches. Definitions of words like “to” and “book” keep showing up on the page. Thanks for that.

Although I haven’t used Kobo customer service in regards to the ereader itself, my experiences with it in regards to ebooks have been fairly dismal. (Though still better than the cesspool that is B&N.)

When I disconnect the reader from my computer, the screen that says it’s connected stays on, which is disconcerting. It also takes a while to adjust after sideloading books.

Although it basically works with ADE and Calibre, there tend to be Issues.

There’s a “wifi” box to check, but you still need to go to another screen and scan for networks, at least the first time. I kept thinking I had wifi because the box was checked. The indicator is confusing.

No indicator light to show it’s charging. Hard to see what the battery life is.

UPDATE 7/20/15: There actually is an indicator light, it’s just at the top where I couldn’t see it.

The plug outlet is upside down. Just when I finally had that one figured out.

I didn’t realize there was more than one color choice and bought the white one. It’s shiny and glares. I much prefer dark colored, matte ereaders.

I had a problem initially with the reader not going to sleep automatically and consequently draining the battery very quickly. I’m not sure why it happened and it hasn’t happened since.

The details we see on the page change from book to book — presumably a publisher setting. Some books show all pages in the book, some show how many pages left in the current chapter. I hate that.

The process to see your library of books seems longer than it needs to be. First you bring up a menu, then choose from several mostly pointless options.

There aren’t many case options available. I’m using a cute little fabric one my mom made for me, because nothing I could find didn’t add a lot of bulk, ruining the whole point of a small ereader.

Conclusions:

On the whole, since I got this for $40 on sale AND used bookstore credit to buy it, I’m pretty happy with it. I’m not sure I’d buy another Kobo though and I certainly wouldn’t buy another Mini for full price.  If there’s another great sale, I just might buy the black one. 🙂

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