Kobo Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
Kobo Tablet PC / eBook Reader Reviews
Kobo Mini eReader
I have owned a Kindle for a year and have always been happy with it. I decided to buy my daughter an E-reader for her birthday but didn't want to spend a lot of money. I decided on the Kobo mini as it was on special offer for just £30, RRP is £60 but it seems to normally retail around the £50 mark. The Kobo mini is the ... smallest of the E-readers on the market with a screen that is 4.9 inches. The Kobo mini weighs just 132 grams and because of the small size, it can fit inside many pockets making it highly portable. It is a good looking wee gadget; the casing is silver with a diamond pattern criss crossed over the back. There are a range of covers you can buy to protect your device and make it look even nicer.
The screen on the Kobo mini is black and white, with a choice of several fonts and font sizes. The display is e-ink which means you can read it in sunlight without glare affecting your reading experience. The screen is nice and clear and easy to read. The only downside of an e-ink display is that you cannot read in low light conditions. You can buy small reading lamps to fit onto e-readers but this would spoil the portability somewhat.
The Kobo is controlled by the touchscreen; there are no buttons at all on the reader. It is easy to navigate all of the menus, the page changes forward and backwards with a simple touch of the screen. The screen is generally responsive but is a bit slower than other readers sometimes.
Although mostly a basic e-reader, the Kobo mini also has a few added extras built in which makes it more fun to use. You can set yourself reading challenges and the Kobo awards you badges when you achieve them for instance. It has the ability to highlight and make notes which would be handy for academic work. Unlike the Kindle, the Kobo displays real page numbers which is much better than the % read.
The Kobo mini supports a few different formats of e-books, those being plain text, HTML, RTF and EPUB. The Kobo store does not have nearly the same range of titles as the Kindle store, although it still has all of the classics for free and some special offers. It is possible to convert any file into a Kobo file by using an application called Calibre which is free to download and easy to use. You then just attach your Kobo to the PC with the USB cable and click and drop the file onto your reader. My local libraries lend eBooks in EPUB only format for two weeks at a time and being able to borrow free books is a massive advantage that the Kobo mini has over the Kindle.
The battery life is really good. Someone reading for an hour a day would probably go around a fortnight between charges. The Kindle can go longer but this is still a great battery life.
The Kobo mini is a high quality e-reader in a small package. Whether or not you will like it will very much depend on whether or not you can cope with the smaller screen. My daughter loves hers, but she was previously using an e-reader ap on her phone so the mini is huge compared to that. I'm sticking with my Kindle for now, but I'm happy that I bought the Kobo mini as a gift.
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Kobo Mini eReader
==Welcome to the world of E-Readers== I had been toying with the idea of getting an E-Reader for a while, but had failed to make a decision, being mainly led by my bank balance and more important spending priorities. However, when I saw these Kobo Minis on offer costing £29.99 instead of the RRP of £59.99, I decided it was an ... acceptable amount to spend on something I knew I would get a lot of use out of.
Kobo is a brand of E-reader which is basically an alternative to the Kindle. The main difference being that it isn't affiliated with Amazon, but instead is the brand associated with WH Smith, so although you won't be able to download books from Amazon, you can instead peruse the Kobo E-shop online, or the WH Smith website. Gift cards are available from either, which allow you to load your Kobo up with books from either site.
==Price and Availability==
Like I said, I picked mine up for a bargain £29.99 during a weekend a few months back when they appeared to be on offer everywhere for one weekend only. I trawled round various branches of WH Smith and Argos, until I finally got my hands on one from the only Argos store near me where they hadn't sold out. I'm not sure why they were on offer that weekend, but it's worth keeping an eye out for future offers as I imagine they may well reduce in price as newer versions of the Kobo are released. They are currently back at the RRP of £59.99, which is slightly less than the most basic Kindle.
==What's in the Box?==
My Kobo came in a very streamlined box - no wasted packaging here! Inside I found neatly tucked away the Kobo itself, a USB charger, and a little leaflet with the most basic of instructions.
As with most technical things, the Kobo required a full charge before I could use it. This was done via the USB cable which came with the Kobo, although bizarrely this required me to charge via my laptop rather than the mains. It is possible to buy a mains charger for the Kobo if you think this is going to cause you a problem, but as it requires charging so infrequently, I don't have a problem charging through my laptop when it needs it.
The Kobo Mini is the world's smallest and lightest E-reader. Below is a quick guide of the technical specifications of this model:
* No-glare natural Pearl E Ink touchscreen
* Built in WiFi
* 4.73 ounces (134 g) in weight
* 5 inch touchscreen which is fingerprint resistant
* 0.4 inches deep
* Capacity for up to 1000 books (2GB storage)
* 3.5 million e-books to choose from Kobo e-bookstore
* Over 1 million free books available
* Single charge lasts up to one month
* Choose from 8 font styles & 24 font sizes
* Digital newsstand for newspapers and magazines
* Supports PDF's and E-Pubs
* Can annotate, use bookmarks, or make notes
* Built in dictionary
* Website browser available
There are various accessories available for the Kobo Mini, all of which are to either protect the gadget, or enhance your enjoyment of the reading experience. A the moment, the accessories are on a "Buy one get one half price" offer in WH Smith, and they have protective covers, snapback covers to customise the back, mains charger, and a clip on light for reading in the dark. I must admit, I haven't felt the need to accessorize my Kobo yet, but the only accessory I have bought is a protective cover which I found much cheaper on Amazon.
The Kobo Mini comes in either black or white, and in my opinion is very pleasing on the eye. I opted for the white one which is really classy looking, with a white frame and silver back. The back of the Kobo has a quilted effect, and adds a touch of class to this gadget. There are interchangeable snapback covers available, should you get bored of the colour of your Kobo, so you can have for example a purple or grey surround. I don't see the point in this personally, although I guess it would be useful if more than one person in the house had the same Kobo, and wanted to distinguish between them without buying a proper cover.
The instructions in the box are minimal, such is the trend these days for all instructions to be online rather than paper-based. It's very obvious how to charge your Kobo, however, with the USB cable plugging into your laptop or PC, and the other end into the Kobo. You will know it's charging because there will be a picture of a smiley rectangular face (like a smiling Kobo!) with bars going across as it's charging.
Other than telling you how to charge, the instructions basically direct you to the Kobo website, where you can create your own Kobo account to download books and sync the device to your online account. There are no other instructions really, not even on the official Kobo website, BUT I can honestly say this didn't hinder my ability to use the Kobo immediately. It was very obvious after downloading my first book how to access it on my Kobo, and as everything is touch screen it's easy to navigate. I actually read three or four books before I bothered searching round online for more advanced instructions, and although I discovered some useful additional information, I could quite happily have continued reading on the Kobo without it.
I download books directly from the official Kobo site (www.kobobooks.com), where I find it easy to navigate my way round the various categories and find books I might like to read. I have heard criticism of the Kobo range of books not being as extensive as the range available on the Kindle, however, as I mainly read mainstream books by mainstream authors (chick lit, mysteries etc), I find it unlikely that I wouldn't find the books I'm looking for. If you're into more specialised reading, however, it's probably worth checking out the range of books available before committing to the Kobo brand.
The website itself is very user-friendly, and when you first create an account it will give you the option to rate suggested books to find out the kind of book you're into. This is just a way of Kobo trying to personalise recommendations for you, in much the same way as Amazon when you get emails recommending books based on previous purchases. You can search for books by category, but there are also sections such as the staff recommendations, Richard and Judy Book Club, free books and new releases. They often have offers also, with a range of books discounted, and you will receive emails with promotional codes to enable you to get a bit more of a discount. I tend to stock up whenever they send me a promotional code, so I always have books ready for reading.
There are two main ways of downloading books. You can either go to the website, purchase your book, and then "sync" it to your Kobo (sound s complicated, but just involves pressing an icon which syncs your online account to your device), or you can buy directly from the Kobo if you are WiFi connected. I have done both, and find them just as easy as each other. The benefit of buying from the website is that I find it easier to browse books, but sometimes I have downloaded a preview (which is available before you commit to buying books, it's usually the first chapter), and on my Kobo I can just click "Buy Now" once I've read the preview. As long as I'm WiFi connected (i.e. at home or work) it will complete the purchase without me having to re-enter my card details which is very convenient.
I have to begin by saying I am absolutely delighted with my purchase, and have been enjoying reading books more since having a device I can carry round with me and whip out whenever I get a spare minute. The Kobo Mini is very lightweight, making it easy to fit into the smallest of handbags, and light to carry. My handbag is pathetically small, but this fits in the outside pocket nicely so I have my Kobo with me at all times, and can maximise use of time waiting for trains or on my lunch for reading.
The Kobo sits very comfortably in my hand, and although I have a protective case which I keep on when I'm out and about, at home I tend to remove it because it's actually more comfortable to just rest the Kobo in the palm of my hand. At first, I wasn't sure if the 5 inch screen would be large enough, or if I would get annoyed at constantly flicking through pages, but as I am long sighted I have adjusted the font size to suit me so I can actually fit quite a lot of text on a reasonably small screen. There are plenty of font types and sizes to choose from, and you can also alter the line spacing, margins and justification. This might seem a bit fiddly, but is worth it to get it set up so you're making best use of the screen but also being able to read comfortably.
The touch screen is very responsive, and page turns are nice and quick. I used to swipe my finger across the screen, but have since discovered that you can just press lightly on the left or right hand side of the screen to allow the page to be turned. Everything is done via the touchscreen apart from turning the Kobo on and off, which is done by the slider bar at the top. I find this useful because it means there are no buttons on the side which I might accidentally press and end up turning pages without meaning to.
The only area I sometimes find less responsive is when selecting a book, because this involves pressing on the screen which sometimes I have to do twice (or press quite hard) to load the book up. This is a little annoying because in the past it has left finger marks on the screen, but this has only happened once or twice and they wiped off with a clean cloth. Other than that, the screen does remain fingerprint-free, which is great as that was one of the things that used to drive me mad about trying to read on my phone.
I find the Kobo easy to navigate, as it's very obvious how to access books and so on. The home screen is an icon in the shape of a house, so wherever you are, you can always click on this in the top left hand corner to return to the home page. This is useful, because there is rarely a "Back" button when you're navigating round the menus, so if you find yourself lost or pressing the wrong button, you can always go back to the home screen and start again, although I find this a little long winded and would much prefer there to be a "Back" button.
The screen is designed to avoid glare, giving a realistic book experience. I love this aspect of the Kobo, as I can read in direct sunlight in the garden or on public transport with the sun streaming through the window, and it doesn't affect my ability to see what's on the screen. I have no idea how the technology works but it does, and gives an amazingly easy reading experience. Each time you turn off the Kobo, it remembers your page for next time you start reading, which is basic but useful. No more lost bookmarks floating round the bottom of my bag whilst I try to remember my reading position!
There is some useful information available on the screen if you just tap at the top or bottom of the page. It brings up a header and footer containing information such as page number, percentage of the book you've read, and battery life remaining. There is also a scroll bar which allows you to slide through the book rather than having to turn each page if you're wanting to move on a lot further. The battery life is excellent, I have had mine about three months and apart from the initial charge have only had to charge it again once. Obviously this will depend on how heavily you use it, but it's a nice feeling to not have to be constantly checking whether you're about to run out of power like I do with my mobile phone which needs charging daily. I also turn of the WiFi connection when I don't need it for downloading books, as this enables the battery to last longer.
The Kobo does have a web browser, although this is fairly redundant to me because I just use my mobile phone for connecting to the internet. The web browser isn't the quickest, but it does depend on how image-heavy the website is. Personally, I find it easier to use my mobile and didn't realise this even had a web browser until I started playing round with the menus.
==Some Useful Features==
There are lots of useful features to the Kobo Mini, which aren't essential to know about but could come in handy and might make a good selling point for some users:
* You can annotate, use bookmarks, or make notes - I find this useful when I'm reading a book so I can bookmark pages to refer to when reviewing it (yes, I really am that sad!)
* You can customise where on the screen you swipe to turn pages, which could be useful for left handed people
* Build in dictionary - just press and hold on the word and it will bring up the explanation of the word
* You can create your own bookshelves and sort by author, title, type of book etc - this is useful if more than one person is using the Kobo, as you could have two bookshelves such as "Mum's List" and "Dad's List" to keep them separate
* Reading Stats - the Kobo tracks your reading life and every now and then an award pops up which you can share via Facebook. I find this of little use to me but it would be a nice tool for encouraging younger readers
* Standby mode - the Kobo will automatically go into Standby mode if you don't turn any pages for a while. You can use the settings option to decide how long you'd like this time to be
* Extras - There is a tab in the settings menu which contains a chess game, Sudoku, a sketch pad, and the web browser
* The text can be changed from portrait to landscape, but this only orientates the text not the software (so the menus and scrollbars will appear sideways)
* You can decide how to display your book list - i.e by book cover or listing by text. You can also change whether the screensaver displays the book cover or not
I won't beat around the bush with this one: it's comfortable to handle, easy to navigate, and incredibly user-friendly so you can get started straight away. The anti-glare screen works, the touch screen is responsive, and you can choose the text and font to suit your eyesight. It's light and small enough to carry round without adding to your load, and although I'm not a superficial person I find my white one a very good looking piece of kit. Add to that the excellent battery life, and the fact that everything is done via touch screen avoiding the need for clumsy buttons, this is a very pleasing little gadget.
As with most things, the Kobo Mini isn't perfect, and there are a few little niggles, although these don't detract from my enjoyment. Firstly, if you're searching for books or using the web browser on the Kobo, the keypad is quite fiddly to use because it's on such a small screen. The keys at the edge are very close to the frame, so you do have to hit them a few times before they will register. I rarely use the keyboard to be honest, so it's not a huge inconvenience for me.
The memory is 2GB, which is enough to store 1000 books, however this isn't expandable. So, once you've reached your limit, tough. That said, it is possible to remove some books from your Kobo, without losing them from your account. This frees up more space should you need it, but might not be favoured by people who like to house their book collection in one place. There are also other ways to free up space on your Kobo, such as deleting the dictionaries in languages you don't use.
Although the Kobo Mini is advertised as having a Digital Newsstand for buying and reading books and magazines, I discovered when I created my account that this wasn't yet available in my area. Again, this doesn't bother me because I wouldn't choose to read them via this format anyway, but if I'd been expecting to subscribe to magazines and discovered after purchasing that I couldn't, I'd probably be a little annoyed.
The lack of instructions is a little irritating, as I'm not a fan of this new trend to avoid paper instructions in favour of online versions, but having said that, the Kobo Mini is easy enough to use to not need lots of instructions to get started.
I'm not sure if it's the same for mains charging, but when I'm charging my Kobo on my laptop, I can't use it whilst it's charging. This is a little annoying, as it takes a good couple of hours to charge so is out of use for that time.
At the RRP of £59.99, the Kobo Mini is not cheap as such, but is still a cheaper alternative to the most basic Kindle, although I was lucky enough to get mine on offer so I would recommend keeping an eye out for future offers around the time of new releases. The Kobo Mini has lots of useful features, but at its most basic is user friendly for the biggest of technophobes to use. I think this is an excellent competitor to the Kindle, and certainly would not be without mine now. Despite the few niggles, I'm awarding it five stars as my enjoyment of reading has increased hugely since buying this little chap, and the niggles mentioned haven't detracted from this enjoyment.
(Review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
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Kobo Mini eReader
For a while I had been debating with myself whether I should purchase an e-reader, of which there are many pros and cons. For me, the biggest issue was not being able to actually hold a book and I think most people feel the same. We all love how precious they feel to hold, that old-library dusty smell, the papery touch as we turn a page, ... blah blah BLAH. What about when you hold a text book? A dictionary? A travel guide? Do you feel the same way then? What about if you're reading a book you don't enjoy? You don't carry on just because you love the feel and smell. It really isn't the physicality of the book itself that captures our hearts- it's the story inside.
Kobo is a Canadian brand of e-reader which currently boasts four different readers- Kobo Glo, Kobo Touch, Kobo Mini and Kobo Arc (which is marketed as a tablet). Kobo was first released in March 2010 and is generally a less expensive e-reader when compared to others on the market. Kobo used an e-ink screen to allow a more 'real' reading experience.
The Kobo Mini can be bought from WH Smiths or Argos for £59.99, but luckily I managed to get mine when it was on sale for £29.99. The e-reader is available in white with a silver back, or black with a black back. You can buy a variety of interchangeable coloured snapbacks for the Kobo Mini, each featuring the Kobo's signature quilt pattern. Kobo Mini possesses a five inch touch screen and is the smallest e-reader currently available. The Kobo mini can hold 1,000 e-books and has integrated wi-fi.
The Kobo Mini homescreen displays all your most recent reads for easy access and there are options to browse the bookstore also, where you can purchase e-books directly from your e-reader. When opening a book, it opens at the page you last left it. You can change a variety of reading settings such as the font, font size, line spacing, margins and justification. Advanced settings also allow you to change the sharpness. You can change how often your page refreshes as well as where you tap on the screen to turn a page. When reading, the title of the book is displayed at the top of the screen. The chapter, page number and amount of pages in the chapter are displayed at the bottom. Tapping the bottom of the screen allows you to view the percentage of the book read, the time, battery and wi-fi signal. From here you can access the settings menu as well. The Kobo Mini has some extra features including chess, a sketch pad, sudoku and a web brower. Page turning is fairly quick, although not as quick as other larger e-readers. The Kobo Mini is not back-lit but this gives a real reading experience as you still need to use real lights and it is more gentle on the eyes than a glaring screen. You can buy clip-on reading lights for the Kobo mini if you prefer. When you turn the Mini off or put into sleep mode, it shows the front cover of the book, just like when you close a real book. I particularly like the dictionary feature and the search feature which allows you to search for words in a book. I use this if I see the name of a character but cannot remember when the character was mentioned before. Kobo also has a fun Awards feature where you gain awards for reading at certain times, reading a certain amount of books and using different features and much more. I've heard that there are some hidden awards. The awards allow the reader to feel a sence of achievement.
Downloading e-books is simple. You can download from the Kobo website, the Kobo Desktop app or from the WH Smith website. You can also download from other websites but may need to convert it into e-pub format so that you can read it on your e-reader. When you have read a book, you can rate it on Kobo Deskstop and this allows Kobo to give you recommended reading as it learns what books you enjoy. There are many options when searching for a book. You can look at the featured books or new releases; browse categories or just search in the search bar if you know what you're looking for. Kobo Desktop is similar to iTunes, only for books. You sinc your library on the Kobo Desktop with your e-reader via the provided USB cable which is also used to charge to reader.
In conclusion, the Kobo Mini is a great first e-reader. It's light and portable. It is simple to use and comfortable to hold. When reading you almost forget it's not a real book due to the realistic e-ink display. I like how you can see what percentage of the book you've read. It's a bit like when you see how much 'thickness' of a book you've read. I would particularly recommend to people with small hands who may find a larger e-reader uncomfortable and to children who need a simple design. A small, fun device with some good features.
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Kobo Tablet PC / eBook Reader
Manufacturer: Kobo / Tablet PC / eBook Reader / Type: eReader
Tablet PC / eBook Reader / Brand: Kobo
Manufacturer: Kobo / Tablet PC / eBook Reader / Size: /"
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