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Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo Review: How Do Kobo's Latest E-Readers Stack Up?

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KOBO GLO KOBO MINI
Two of Kobo's latest devices, the Kobo Glo and the Kobo Mini. | The Huffington Post Canada

Each week, the Huffington Post Canada's Living team will try out something that has sparked our curiosity, and as long as we live to tell the tale, we'll let you know all about it.

Test Drive Subject: The Kobo Mini

Price: $79.99

What It Is: Kobo’s smallest eReader. The Mini, or “The Littlest Kobo” (you can thank my friend Chris Tindal for that one) as I like to call it, is tiny (just 4’ by 5.2’) and light (under 5 oz), obviously.

Trying It Out: I’ve been a long-time Kobo user. I purchased one of the first generation models when it hit the market but switched over to reading books on my iPad. It's not ideal — the bright back-lit screen and the weight of the iPad make for a tiring reading experience — but my original Kobo had plenty of shortcomings (no touchscreen, slow e-ink refresh). I was very eager to try out the newer options, and tried out the Mini at home and on the go for about a week.

Our Thoughts: Wow, it’s light. Really light. I’m a media junkie so I pick up magazines, newspapers and other things to read like a stray dog picks up fleas. The Mini is probably lighter than this week’s issue of The New Yorker and it’s definitely lighter than that September issue of Vogue (DEFINITELY lighter).

The other noticeable improvement is how quickly Kobo’s e-Ink screen refreshes. Older readers have a noticeable flicker when you ‘flip’ the page. It breaks that meditative relaxing experience of reading and, frankly, it’s ugly. The new Kobo caches a few screens at a time, so the refresh happens far less often and the flicker is much less noticeable.

The device’s small size also makes it easy to hold in one hand, something you can’t do easily with the iPad.

The Warning: That screen is pretty small. If you’re used to reading paperbacks, it’s not really a problem. But if you read in large type or prefer hardcovers or a bigger screen, you might find the device's 5' screen a bit claustrophobic. You can, of course, set the typeface and size of any text on an eReader, but there's less space available here.

Tips: The Kobo has a built-in dictionary that lets you highlight and find definitions for tricky words. Useful when you’re reading the latest book by that hipster post-modernist author recommended by the cute barista at your local coffee shop.

We review the Kobo Glo after the image. Here's how the devices compare in size to an iPhone 4.

kobo glo kobo mini

Test Drive Subject: The Kobo Glo

Price: $129.99

What It Is: Another of Kobo’s new models, the Glo has a built-in LED light which means it can be read at night or in the dark. You can also use it as a flashlight during a blackout (kind of).

It’s virtually the same size as the Kobo Touch, with a screen an inch bigger than the Kobo Mini. It’s still a pretty light device, though, at about 6.5 ounces (185 grams), about the weight of a magazine.

Trying It Out: I alternated between the Mini and the Glo for about a week. I also tried it out a few times at night before I went to bed in the dark.

Our Thoughts: The Kobo Touch, which was the basis for the Glo, was rated by Wired in 2011 as the best eReader available. So does adding a light make it better? Maybe. I wasn’t a big fan of the white light of the Kobo, it looks a bit washed out, not unlike the overhead fluorescent lamps that are the bane of office workers everywhere.

That being said, the Touch is still a great reading device. I find I can read longer and faster on it than with an iPad. The touchscreen is responsive and the built-in wi-fi access to the Kobo store is intuitive and easy to use.

The Warning: The light is the make or break factor for this device. If you share a room with someone who can’t stand the fact that you read until 2 a.m. in the morning, the Glo’s built-in light might just be what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, you might just find it annoying. Sadly, it might be tough to test-drive the device in a dark room.

Tips: Play around with Kobo's built-in text customization. You can increase and decrease the size of the text, change the space between lines and even change the font, if you really want to read Game of Thrones in some horrible sans serif font.

Have a suggestion for a Test Drive? Tried something you loved or hated? Let us know on Twitter at @HuffPostCaLiv, or in the comments below.

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