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kobo mini

Ebooks and Ereaders

For folks who keep hitting my site looking for Kobo Mini battery data

I’ve turned off URL archiving of my tweet history–but I had been getting a lot of hits on one tweet I did about my Kobo Mini and finding a battery for it. This suggests to me that a lot of folks out there are having the same problem I did, which is to say, you have a Kobo Mini with battery problems. So I thought I’d put up a little post talking about what I did. The tweet people kept hitting didn’t exactly have much in the way of useful data, after all.

When I originally got the Mini I saw a lot of weird behavior with it, as described in my Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch post, and the followup on Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch post. It had issues with battery life, and would often lose track of where I was with any given book, or whether it had synced stuff back to Kobo’s mothership in case I wanted to pick up reading a book on something else (like the desktop app, or my phone). I eventually realized that a lot of what I was seeing could be traced to a bad battery. A little bit of googling suggested other Mini owners had had the same problem.

The trick is, actually finding a battery to replace the one in my device. I eventually had to have Dara order me one from a seller on eBay. The seller was in Toronto, so it took a while for the battery to actually get to me. But it did arrive and it did work. I’m not using my Kobo Mini much now, but as of the last few times I played with it, it did indeed appear stable. So if you’re having issues with your device, I’d recommend you do a scan through eBay and see if other sellers have batteries available.

Of course, if the only available sellers are in North America and you’re not, I agree that this presents some problems. To wit, the likelihood that you’ll risk postage costs being more than the battery is actually worth–at which point you’ll need to ask yourself whether it’s worth it to try to find a replacement battery, or just get a new device. That, I suppose, will depend on how much you like the Mini as an ereading device.

(You will note that I’m no longer actively using mine; I’m a power reader and I have found that the Mini doesn’t really suit my reading needs anymore. So if anybody wants to buy mine, hey, talk to me!)

All that said… if you do actually find a battery, what then do you do with it? Well, I found it reasonably easy to take my device apart and install the newly acquired battery. So if you’re not afraid to disassemble an ereader and you have the appropriate tools, go for it. I found this tutorial on Kobo surgery helpful.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Ebooks and Ereaders

Quick followup on Kobo Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch

I keep seeing a lot of people hitting this post, so for the benefit of those of you who’re coming by to see what I had to say about the two devices, I wanted to note a couple of things that I saw about the Mini since I made that post.

One: I have a really big ebook collection, and when I tried to put my Kobo books (of which I have about sixty or so) as well as all my books purchased from other sources (e.g., Carina Press) onto the device, it slowed down considerably. Enough that it became kind of unusable.

Workaround for this: I’ve since shifted to using the Mini to read stuff I buy from my Kobo account, and putting everything else on my more powerful Nook SimpleTouch.

Two: The Mini does not have an SD slot in it. So if like me you have a really big ebook collection, you may wish to keep this in mind. You may want to be looking at one of the more powerful Kobo devices instead, like the Glo or the Arc, if you want to have a Kobo device.

Workaround: Same as above, really. Minimizing the number of books I have on the device helps. Also, I’m using the Mini’s archiving ability to immediately archive a book as soon as I’m done reading it, so as to clear it off the device.

Three: I noticed periodic frustrating weirdness with the Mini losing track of what book I was reading, and/or how far along I was in it. I suspect this was buggy behavior in its autosyncing up to Kobo’s servers.

Workaround: Unless you absolutely need it, turn off the device’s wi-fi. I saw this problem go away as soon as I did that. The drawback here is that I do have to remember to plug the thing into my computer’s USB port to keep it synced, and I can’t really autosync from it over to, say, the desktop app or the app on my phone. But I don’t find that to be a problem.

Ebooks and Ereaders

Kobo Mini vs. Nook SimpleTouch

ETA 6/19/2013: Hi, everybody who keeps hitting this post from search engines! Gracious, there are a lot of you. I’ve been seeing this post get something like 8-10 hits a day for a while now. So y’all say hi, won’t you? If there’s anything I don’t talk about in this post that you’d like to know about, or anything you’d like me to post about in a future post series on how to read ebooks, drop a comment and let me know!

ETA 6/20/2013: Also, if you haven’t seen this post yet on a few followup remarks I’ve got on the Mini, go check that, too.

Third Place Books, my indie bookstore of choice, has joined up with a bunch of other US indie bookstores to sell Kobo ereaders. And since Third Place currently has the Mini on sale for Valentine’s Day, I decided to scarf one and play around with it. This is partly an experiment to see whether I want to commit to making Kobo (and through them, Third Place) my primary ebook source, but it’s also general geeky interest in comparing ereaders. The Nook so far has been my only e-ink device I’ve had firsthand access to; I was quite interested in playing around with another one, just so that I can speak with at least a little more authority on what the various devices are like.

My first impression on pulling this thing out of the box is ZOMG tiny. It’s even smaller than the Nook and lighter as well. Weight-wise, it even feels lighter than my iPhone 5, though that may change once I find a cover for it.

Kobo and Nook Side by Side

Kobo and Nook Side by Side

Setup was super-easy. All I had to do was plug the thing into my computer with the provided USB cord, point a browser at, and download their desktop app. Then, running the desktop app, I had to log in with my Kobo account.

It promptly began syncing up with my existing Kobo library, pulling down my small number of purchases as well as a great number of samples I’d added. I noticed though that the Help button down at the bottom was cut off, and there didn’t seem to be a way to resize the window to make that button completely visible. (Hi, I’m a QA tester, I notice these things!)

But what if I want to click on Help?

But what if I want to click on Help?

Sideloading was just as easy as with the Nook, since I just had to launch Calibre and send files to the device, the same way as with the Nook. Also, Kobo’s site Help does confirm that you’re able to just drag and drop files directly onto the device if you want to.

The Kobo Help says this thing talks epub AND PDF, so I tried sideloading a PDF onto it as well as an epub. That worked just fine. I suspect though that this device would have the same issue that the Nook does with a PDF–i.e., that even if the device can read a PDF, depending on how it’s formatted, it may or may not look nice on the screen. The PDF I tried came through with the text showing up really tiny.

And, as I poke around Kobo’s Help, I see that you cannot in fact change the text size of a PDF on this thing the same way you can on a Nook. You CAN use a two-finger double-tap gesture to zoom in on the text–but then, the text is too big for the page to fit on the screen at once, and you have to drag the page around to see everything. This is a sub-optimal reading experience, so I’d have to say that when it comes to reading PDFs, the Nook wins slightly. (But I’d still not recommend reading PDFs on either device.)

Comparing Faerie Blood on both devices, Dara and I find that the Kobo renders the cover ever so slightly more smoothly. I’m also seeing that the Kobo device is a bit weirder about rendering the centering of the title page–it looks good on the Nook but a bit weird on the Kobo.

Response time seems to be slightly better on the Kobo but not enough to really notice. So far I’m liking the page transitions a bit better, though. Not as much obvious screen flash, and you can adjust the settings as to how often it does a full screen refresh. Right now mine’s set to the max of every six pages.

You can make custom shelves on the Kobo, like you can on the Nook. I note with pleasure that the shelf functionality on the Kobo includes the ability to let you search for specific titles or authors or keywords, when adding books to a shelf. This is extremely helpful if you don’t want to have to page through dozens of pages of books, as you would have to do in a library as large as mine.

I also note that if you kick over into the mode that shows a list of books rather than the cover grid, the books will show whether they are Read or Unread. COOL. I don’t see a way to make a shelf of books that are Read or Unread, but if there’s a way to do that, that would be awesome.

I notice that if you connect the device to your computer via USB, you have to remember to tap the Connect button on the screen before the computer acknowledges its presence. That’s an extra step to take that you don’t have to do on the Nook.

And hmm. As I add more books to the device, the response time slows down a bit. So yeah, it’s pretty much neck and neck with the Nook.

I’m seeing some screwiness in metadata on the Kobo that I don’t see on the Nook–some titles coming through in all caps, and one or two books that came down off my Kobo library that don’t have a known author shown. But that, I think, is a question of the store not being quite as thorough with its metadata as the B&N store is.

Overall though my impression of this device is positive. I’d say it’s a decent competitor with the Nook SimpleTouch, if you’re in the market for an e-ink device.

Anybody have any specific questions about either that you’d like to me to clarify, let me know! I’ll be happy to post updates in the comments or in future posts.

ETA: Ooh, this is an important thing to note. The Kobo Mini talks more file formats than the Nook does. To wit, it understands mobi, txt, html, xhtml, and rtf. VERY good to know.