Endless Ideas BeBook Club S review
Broad file format and language support and a host of advanced features make the Club S a geek's dream, but for most users it's too ponderous and frustrating to use
Review Date: 17 Nov 2011
Price when reviewed: £115
Reviewed By: Barry de la Rosa
The BeBook was one of the first E-Ink eReaders we reviewed and, while it couldn't compete with Sony's slick Reader, it got a special mention for its support for a broad range of file formats and typefaces. The BeBook range has expanded since then, but the Club S still follows in this tradition, with support for multiple languages and file formats.
There's no stylus support as with the more expensive Neo, so has five navigation buttons, two page-turning buttons and Menu and Back buttons. The Menu button is labelled with a Home symbol, however, which is confusing, as to return to the home screen you have to keep pressing the Back button.
It's reminiscent of a computer's file system, where you navigate through trees of folders, and we found this structure frustrating to use and unnecessary. This is in stark contrast to other readers such as the Kobo or Sony eReaders, which have more functional categories and lists of book titles rather than filenames.
Page-turning was quick, however, and the Club S is one of the few eReaders that allows you to choose how many pages you turn before the screen refreshes completely. Contrast is good, making small text readable, but it isn't the best screen we've seen and some ghosting was apparent if the screen hadn't been refreshed recently.
'Ponderous' doesn't only describe the Club S's interface: it's one of the heaviest eReaders we've tested, second only to the Neo. At 278g it's almost twice as heavy as Sony's new T1 Reader, and holding it in one hand for long periods could become uncomfortable.
You can change the font as well as its size and encoding, although in some formats, such as old PDF files where text is rendered as an image, you get the option to zoom instead. HTML files are loaded in a web browser, however, so you don't get the options you'd expect in a book, such as page navigation. The browser itself is useless, as there's no Wi-Fi.
This also means you have to either transfer files manually or use Adobe's Digital Editions software to load books onto the Club S via USB. The BeBook website has links to eBook shops and free repositories, but you'll have to stock up before you travel. There's an SD card slot that supports cards up to 32GB and, unlike some eReaders, the Club S didn't take ages to scan the card for books, even when we had almost 1,000 on the card.
As well as the usual eBook formats, there's support for the less-common DJVU and PDB formats. You can also play MP3 files while you read - the option is hidden in the menu. A dictionary is installed, but it's a chore to use: you have to choose Word Select and navigate to the word on the page. There's an option to have books read to you using text-to-speech, but pronunciation and sound quality are awful. Plus, there's no way to change the volume, which we found too loud.
If your eBook collection is in an odd format or you need support for Chinese or Cyrillic text the BeBook range is just about your only option. If not, then most other eReaders are lighter, easier to use and have better access to eBooks.
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