If you’ve decided to hop aboard the ebook bandwagon, you’ll need to first decide what kind of e-reader you want. Do you go for the slick design of a Sony Reader or the wireless convenience of the Whispernet-equipped Amazon Kindle?
Alternatively, you could go for the Cybook Opus – it might not have the brand recognition of some rivals, but it stands out for its small size (you could slip it into a generously-proportioned coat pocket), slim profile and low weight. It’s around the same size as the Sony Reader Pocket, with the same 5in screen size, but noticeably less hefty in the hand.
Sure, the Opus feels a little plasticky and flimsy, creaking audibly if you give it a squeeze, but you’re not going to be going free-running with it, are you? It seems hardy enough to stand up to the morning commute, at least.
Having a nice dinky shape is all very well – but how does it perform? Well, there’s a decent 1GB of built-in storage (space for 1,000 books according to Cybook), plus a microSD slot if you need to expand your library further.
The Opus is compatible with the popular ePUB and PDF ebook formats, as well as HTML, TXT, JPG, GIF and PNG files – but unlike some other e-readers it can’t play back music.
Books are transferred over from your computer via USB, which is also used for battery charging. A full tank of power can keep the Cybook Opus running for 8,000 page turns – that’s enough to read War And Peace more than four times over.
The 5in e-Ink screen can only show four shades of grey, fewer than most e-readers, but that’s perfectly fine for the Opus’s main function of displaying text clearly. There is some noticeable pixellation in the characters if you look closely, but in general text looks perfectly clear – and there are 12 font sizes to choose from.
Images don’t look quite so hot, of course, but that’s not really going to affect your reading experience. Hitting the page back and forward buttons results in a pretty rapid change, although it’s a touch laggier than the Kindle.
One standout feature it does have is a built-in accelerometer, which means you can flip the screen from portrait to landscape and vice versa without having to press any buttons – just rotate the Opus itself.
The user interface is straightforward, with a cursor control letting you scroll round the menus and select books. Once an e-tome is open, hitting a menu button brings up a Windows-esque box that lets you tweak font size and other settings.
Overall the Cybook Opus is another solid addition to the ever-expanding range of e-readers out there, and its size and weight are big assets. The high price, however – more than the Sony Reader Pocket or Amazon Kindle – is too much, and could prevent it from garnering a sizable audience.