Packing a selection of lardy hardbacks for your holiday used to be a recipe for a hernia before eBook readers came along. Thanks to e-Ink wonders like the new BeBook, you can cram in every Le Carre and pack every Pullman with ease.
But is this Holland-born creation the one to pack in your carry-on? Arriving under the shadow of Sony’s Reader and iRex iLiad, it certainly has its work cut out. But with some impressive specs and wide format support, the BeBook is well tooled up to take on its learned rival.
Thanks for the memory
For starters, the BeBook packs 512MB of internal memory – over double the capacity of the Sony PRS-505 – which is enough to store around 1,000 books. There are 150 titles pre-loaded, and the internal memory can be supplemented via SD cards.
A three-hour charge will pump in enough juice for 7,000 page turns, and just like the Sony e-book, the leather clad BeBook is tooled up with a 6in screen. At 220g the BeBook is lighter than the PRS-505 and, while it's not as thin, it's narrower too, measuring just 120mm across.
Wide format support
The BeBook’s claim to fame is that it can read 25 different file formats, including .doc, .rtf, .pdf, .txt, .epub and .jpg. Crucially, it also supports DRM-protected formats like Microsoft Lit and Mobipocket, which means you can download a digital Devil May Care from the likes of WHSmith along with cheaper titles for well under a tenner a pop.
Thanks to the low-power sipping e-paper, text is easily visible even in glorious sunshine, and page turns are impressively nifty. Fonts aren’t rendered as crisply as Sony's PRS-505 e-book, but the size and style can be adjusted so even your bifocal bespectacled Gran can read with ease.
On the menu
The menu system is fairly simple to navigate, with the numbered buttons corresponding to each option on screen. It’s no iPod Touch in the interface stakes, but files are loaded in no time at all.
While the BeBook hasn’t swaggered into the market with the same fanfare that ushered in the Sony's entry, it's an extremely competent e-book with a wide range of format support. If only it was slightly cheaper and better-looking, we might swap it for our Sony Reader.