Travel Product Review: Kobo Mini eReader

The KoboMini. Photo via

The KoboMini. Photo via Kobo

Check out our interview with Kobo on The Radical Travel Podcast!

I had never wanted an e-reader, but when the folks at sent us a KoboMini to review, I thought I’d give it a shot – and turned out to be really cool!   This palm sized device is easy to set up, simple to use and has clear text even in bright sun. It is great for the traveler or for using when you are at home.

Having never owned an e-reader, I was a bit intimidated by the thought of setting the thing up.   Upon opening the package, I discovered the KoboMini’s instruction sheet was a just one small pamphlet. Usually the instruction manuals for these things are only slightly smaller than the OED, so I was pleasantly surprised.  (And a little frightened!)

Basically, you plug it into your computer, download the Kobo app and let it do its thing.  At 9:13am I plugged it into my computer.   At 9:31 the KoboMini was all set up, had downloaded a book and was ready use!

The setup is really easy, and the installation process creates a Kobo shortcut on your desktop. Open that, create an account and your KoboMini will sync up to the desktop.   Once it syncs up you will see the books you have installed and offers for books to purchase.  You can read the books on your computer as well as the KoboMini.

If you worry about running out of space for your e-books, don’t!  The KoboMini can hold approximately 1500 books on its 2 gigabytes of storage.  The operating system uses about .5 gigs, leaving 1.5 gigs for your books.  You can archive them on your computer as well, switching books in your library to suit your mood.

The KoboMini is small enough to fit in your pocket! Photo via Kobo.

The KoboMini is small enough to fit in your pocket! Photo via Kobo.

The Kobo can last up to a month on one charge depending on use, but you may want to charge it on the road.  It does not come with a plug in charger. Not to worry though, it will charge when you plug it in to your computer, and any 5v 500mA micro USB adapter will do.   I checked my phone charger and its output is 5.1v, so it works. Even if I do not want my bulky laptop while traveling, I will always have my phone and be able to charge up my KoboMini.

Now it was time for the real test!  I was about to read my first pages on an e-reader!  I powered it up, the library appeared on the screen and I tapped the cover of the book I wanted to read. In a couple seconds the title page popped up. A tap in the lower right hand corner brought up the first page of text.  It looks just like a real book!  Wow!  It is easy to read and just a tap to turn the page. What about outdoors in the sun? I first sat at the table in the shade.  The screen was bright and clear. I took out my phone and UGH!  I could barely discern the text message on the screen.   Okay, but what about bright light?  I walked out into the full sunshine. No difference!  The text was crisp and no glare at all.  The KoboMini’s E Ink Pearl high contrast display is a winner! My only complaint is that you can’t read in the dark. It has no back-light so just like with a paper book, you need a light.  No reading on the sly while your partner is snoring away! (Unless you use a book light.)

I actually really like the KoboMini and will continue to use it.  It is super simple and completely intuitive to use.  I can bring 100’s of books with me wherever I go. The KoboMini even comes with a dictionary function, so I don’t have to waste time looking up obscure words. When my eyes are tired I can increase the size of the text and continue enjoying my books.  I can even use it to access the web. The KoboMini e-reader is awesome!

For more information about the KoboMini or the Kobo eReading platform, check out their website at

[Disclosure: The product for this review was provided gratis.]