Kobo Tablet PCs / eBook Readers
Kobo Tablet PC / eBook Reader Reviews
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 Mini eReader
***Why I wanted the product?*** I love reading books, it helps to relax me, but I do not like the space that books take up around the house or the fact some books are that big they are difficult or heavy to hold after a while. I had been looking at Kindle books on Amazon for ages but never bought the Kindle as I could download the ... programme onto my laptop and Blackberry and read books that way. That was okay for a while, but I did not always want to read a book on my laptop and after a while reading a book on my phone became a pain so I was after an eReader. Thinking about getting a Kindle my husband wanted me to look around at other devices first and see which ones I like better.
Wondering around town I saw a sign outside W.H. Smith about their eReader called Kobo. Not heard of a Kobo before we went inside to see what the fuss was all about.
***About the product***
W.H. Smith do a range of eReaders called Kobo and they range from Kobo Mini, Glo, Touch, Arc, Aura HD eReader, I decided to go with the Mini, although a big problem with purchasing Kobo is they do not support Kindle formats of .mobi files where Kobo support ePub files as well as a few others. I did not want to purchase my books again but the sales assistant in W.H. Smith assured me Kindle books/formats can be converted to ePub's so they can be used on Kobo's as well.
Kobo Mini boasts of a range of features including:
* Comes in black or white but you can interchange the back (snapback) in a choice of colours
* Kobo fits comfortably in your hand when reading; it is small, light and comfortable to hold.
* It is Kobo's lightest reader coming in at 134 grams but it also the smallest reader they do with a touch screen size of 5 inches.
* Mini has adjustable font options and integrated WiFi.
* Battery is also great; it can last up to a month on a single charge so perfect for holidays, journeys and commuting to and from work.
* Processor is 800 MHz. Screen display
* Screen display is 5 inches E Ink touch screen with a 16 level grey scale and Vizplex V110 display
* Connectivity is 802. 11b/g/n. Micro USB
* 2 GB of storage, which equates of around 1,000 eBooks
* Web browsing with the integrated WiFi
* Library, predictive search, PDF zoom, SimpleTurn for easy page turns
* Comes in languages English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese
My Kobo Mini came packaged in a lovely teal green cardboard box with a picture of Kobo Mini placed upright on a woman's palm. The back of the box told me a little about Kobo Mini like specifications in English and different languages.
***Opening the box***
Opening the box I am first greeted with my black Kobo Mini, taking out my eReader, underneath also included is a USB cable a very brief instruction leaflet and another leaflet about Kobo accessories.
***First glance how does the Mini Look?***
Kobo Mini looks stylish with the matte black trim that feels so soft, almost like velvet with simply kobo written at the bottom in white. The back boasts of the same black material with Kobo written in the middle with a criss-cross design background. The back trim can also be swapped for a more colourful back.
Mini is lightweight with 134 grams and the E Ink screen looks clear and soft even when turned off as it displays Powered Off with a book with its eyes closed.
The rectangular device is thin to hold with dimensions of 101 x 133 x 11mm, you can easily fit it inside you back pocket or handbag. A small push along button at the top right hand side of the device turns it on, makes the device sleep and turn off.
***Starting my Kobo Mini***
Sliding the push button along until a green light turns on, when it has booted up, which takes a few seconds you are first greeted to two options of Reading, which is where your books are stored and Bookstore, which is where when you are connected your Kobo to your wireless connection you can browse the Kobo website. But because all my books are in .mobi files I need to convert them to ePub.
***Converting files for Kobo***
I downloaded a free software that converts Kindle files .mobi into ePub with Calibre or Dropbox etc, I personally use Calibre used for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Add the book file you wish to convert and away you go, Calibre coverts a range of files that will suit most or all eReaders. However, not all Kindle books can be converted as they have been protected via the author and I believe this file is a DRM, copy protected version.
Once the files have been covered you then find the root (the root might be different for each Kobo reader such as Mini, Touch etc) of Kobo where the books are to be stored then place the book file in there. On starting of your Kobo you are able to see and read the converted book.
Calibre can also be used to manage your books if you do not want to use Kobo Desktop.
***Putting books on from the Kobo software***
As directed from the brief leaflet supplied by Kobo you are advised to plug in your eReader into your computer and visit website www.kobosetup.com. The page allows you to download and install Kobo Desktop to your computer that allows transfer. Once it has installed onto your PC, start Kobo Desktop to finish the setup process.
If you are getting your books from Kobo, Kobo Desktop is the easiest way to do so. Starting Kobo Desktop shows you your library and what books you have stored in there. Note that if you have converted your books from Kindle or another device your books will now show in Kobo Library, only the ones you have purchased from Kobo.
Choosing the book you like, connecting your Kobo to your computer and selecting Bookstore on Kobo Desktop you are able to see the books Kobo have for sale. Clicking on a book of your choosing, the site tells you about the book, how much other Kobo readers have rated the book and how much it is. On download, making sure your Kobo is connected to your WiFi (you may need to input the MAC address for the reader to sync to your wireless nectwork) and pressing the Sync button that is located on the right hand side of Kobo Desktop.
This is another way to purchase books and sync to your reader as above. However, kobo.com is where I found myself being disappointed. The good side of the site Kobo say they have over 1 million available books, Kobo give you a list of bestsellers, new releases etc but clicking on the different tabs I am greeted with a few books at the top that scrolls along to show different books but there is not a huge range of books to choose from. Some I have not heard of before and the ones I might like are usually more expensive purchasing from Kobo than it is from Kindle.
Clicking on the different categories on the left hand side shows a good range but when clicking on a different category I am greeted with lots of books I have never heard of before, they do not seem appealing to me and expensive, which is a great disappointment. I am sure when Kobo takes off more their library will be bigger with a lot my choice. For me now I download the books I want to read elsewhere, convert if needed and place on my Kobo that way.
Kobo.com give you a range of recommendations that they think you are interested in (you can also change this to suit your own preference). This for me obviously does not work as it does not matter what I put in that I like to read, Kobo think I like to read other books instead, which can be annoying.
Kobo.com also email you every other day with book recommendations for you, their newest releases etc and money off books.
***Using my Kobo***
The 5 inch E Ink screen is designed to look like you are reading a book with the grey scale without the unnecessary back glare from lights or the sun. The screen does not have any light facilities, this comes with Kobo Glo.
Loading my Kobo I am greeted with a smile book image that takes you to the home screen. With either your fingers or a stylus the touch screen is sensitive and responds with each touch. When books have been downloaded onto the device, when Kobo has booted up you are greeted with your books on screen with their front cover. The book you are reading is located on the left hand side and is larger than the other books. The front screen shows a maximum of five books at a time.
Top left there is a symbol of a home, pressing this while in a book or not takes you back to the home screen. Right hand side shows you a battery and how much you have left, next to that sees three lines, clicking this shows the time, date, whether WiFi is on or not, battery life i.e., 84%. When you last synced your eReader, there is also a search facility and settings.
In Settings I am shown many sections including:
* Account - This displays what email account you use to log in with, you can also sign in with your Facebook account.
* Sleep and Power - Where you can set when you want your device to sleep i.e., 5 minutes to never. Power so you can automatically turn off after 5 minutes or never. Screen saver is also located here, when your device has been turned off you have the option to have the book cover as your screen saver or nothing.
* Date and Time - Where you can set the date, time zone and time for your device or where you are in the world at that time.
* Language, you have the option of 10 different languages and dictionary setting of 14 dictionaries are installed.
* Reading Settings - You can change the way you turn the page to either side to side or in the middle whenever you feel comfortable. Kobo refreshes after 6 pages or whatever you prefer. You have the ability to have page number in the margin or take it out.
* Reading Life - Allows me to track my reading activity and I can also win awards from Kobo because of this.
WiFi Connection - You have the option to turn WiFi on in here, connect to a specific network or edit the WiFi connection.
* Device Information - Allows you to have the serial number, MAC and IP address. How much onboard storage is available. You can rest your device and see the Warranty and Legal document here.
* About Kobo Mini
* Extras - Here you will find you can play chess, draw or write on the sketch pad, play Sudoku or browse the Internet.
Back to the home screen, top right sees the Bookstore option. This takes you to Kobo online store via the wireless internet connection; you can then search for books and buy them as well as get previews of new reads. This is very simple to use and in fact probably too easy to quickly buy a book in seconds via Paypal. There is a virtual keyboard that appears for typing your selection and predictive search that saves you typing long titles. You can search these by categories, free eBooks, recommended and simply search.
Bottom left you have a Library option. This option lets you see your virtual bookcase. Here you are able to choose which book to read and keep track of how far along you are with each as it displays your percentage or complete record. You can choose how to store your book, by title/author/year using the search option if you have a big collection. You can choose how they are displayed to a cover or list and how many you want on each page. The bottom of the screen lets you scroll through the pages with a slide page option.
Middle of Library sees Reading Life. Here you have the option to retrieve your reading stats. It shows you your current book progress along with session reading times, how much reading you have done in total, how many pages you have turned.
***Lets read a book***
Tap my chosen book with my finger tip or stylus (not included), I have the option to tap once on the screen that turns the page. With a standard size book I can get 17 sentences on screen without any gaps, which I feel is a good amount compared to my phone where I would be lucky if I got eight sentences. Tapping the screen gently once turns the page with ease. Sometimes when the page turns the screen turns black and the back to grey scale. While in the book clicking the top middle of the screen pulls down your home screen symbol, battery lift etc but at the bottom you have some more options including how much of a percentage you have read, clicking on a book symbol lets you see the Table of Contents, Annotations, Search while in the book, definition or translate a word. There is a left to right symbol that allows you to skip pages quickly, A symbol lets you make the text larger or smaller with 7 font styles and 17 font sizes and a spanner symbol lets you add the book to the shelf, mark the book as finished or go into reading settings.
When you are reading the book you can see the page number at the bottom but if you have enabled the page number in the side margin before the page goes to the next page the page number will be displayed in the margin.
When you are reading to put your Kobo down, click the top right hand side of the screen bookmarks the page for you although I have noticed this is not always necessary as Kobo is clever enough to know where you left off.
My device I have it so if no movement has happened within 10 minutes my Kobo will go into sleep mode saving battery life, to switch it back on switch the on switch quickly turns Kobo back on. Turning off simply scroll the button to the right for a few seconds until it turns off. At first I had the book I was reading as a screensaver but I was worried the picture might burn onto the screen like a computer screen can do so I opted to take this off. Now Kobo says Powered off with a book sleeping.
***Price and Availability***
I bought my Kobo Mini from W.H. Smith store for a staggering £29.99; normal retail price is £49.99. You can also purchase from whsmith.co.uk
***What do I think about it/do I like it?***
To say this is my first proper eReader, no on my phone or anything I adore my Kobo. Yes I had to mess around in the beginning to get my books to work on Kobo but once you know what you are doing it does not seem so much of a problem and I believe to be worth the extra effort.
I found Kobo Mini to be a great reading experience, I can read for hours and my Kobo still feels comfortable in my hand. I have read in direct sunlight and found the anti-glare E Ink screen to reflect the sun light slightly. Night time reading a light is required as Kobo does not have a back light but again I did not find this a problem, you can also purchase a light that fits onto Kobo.
Battery life as stated by Kobo is one month but this is dependent on how much the Kobo has been used. I found a full battery can last me around 3 weeks with use.
I love the fact although eReaders are new to me I found Kobo easy to use and learn, it did not take me long to get the hang of the different settings and where they are.
***Are there any negatives?***
I do not know if it the same for all Kobo's but when my Kobo is out of power you are unable to read while the device is charging.
The product comes complete with a USB to charge but you have to purchase a separate USB plug if you want to charge that way, thankfully for me my Blackberry came with a USB plug so I can connect mine that way otherwise I would have had to purchase a separate plug.
The instruction leaflet is very basic; some more information would have been very useful. A lot I had to look up on Google or figure it out for myself.
The more books I download to my Kobo the device gets slower as anything would, you are unable to integrate SD memory, which would be useful as you have the option to put it onboard or not.
Overall I think it is one of the more attractive models of eReader's and the features outweigh its rivals.
***Would I recommend to others?***
Without a shadow of doubt yes, I think my Kobo is brilliant and does everything and more from an eReader. For the price and the features you get you cannot go wrong. Perfect for everyone who loves books.
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I am now in LOVE with reading thanks to this E-reader. I was always unsure of what to go for as I know Kindle's are a huge hit but decided to go for the Kobo touch (The cheaper option) and it is perfect. It has Wi-fi so I am able to download any books I wish and rather quickly may I add, it has a huge range of free books which is ... brilliant and the layout of my library is perfect, very clear! It also offers me books it thinks I may like based on the books I have read...Perfect!
I love that when it is shutdown you re-open to the page where you left off and can flick from one book to another, perfect for travelling which I do a lot and I love the addition of the light for night time reading. You can change the font size so adjustable to your needs and easy for a first time e-reader to use. The touch screen is very useful as it is easy to select the books that you want and you can turn your pages...so still that feeling of exciting when turning a page.
If you are split between a Kindle and a Kobo....Kobo without a doubt! Cheaper price tag that doesn't lack anything 
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Kobo Tablet PC / eBook Reader
Tablet PC / eBook Reader / Brand: Kobo
Manufacturer: Kobo / Tablet PC / eBook Reader / Type: eReader
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