Endless Ideas BeBook Neo review
The BeBook Neo is almost identical to the Endless Ideas BeBook Club S. Both eReaders have the same case and operating system, and both support a wide range of eBook formats. Where the Neo differs is that its screen uses a Wacom stylus, so you can scribble or write notes using a pen that's housed in a slot at the back of the case. Although the screen doesn't respond to touch, using the stylus to control the interface is almost as convenient, and there's the added benefit of being able to scribble notes quickly in a book's margin, or draw a quick map.
Of course, the inclusion of the stylus has had an impact on battery life and there's less storage, too. The Neo is also heavier and more expensive than the Club S. Built-in Wi-Fi allows you to browse and download eBooks directly to the device. The web browser's eBook Portal has links to WHSmith's, Blackwell's and Foyles' eBook stores, and you'll need an Adobe ID to manage your purchases.
Wacom is well-known for its design tablets but the Neo is a poor showcase for its technology. We found drawing and writing frustrating due to lag - it's impossible to write naturally when letters appear a second after you write them. This makes some features worthless, such as the ability to write instead of using the on-screen keyboard. You can't write naturally, the letter recognition is slow, and the end result is usually worse than if you simply tap out each letter on the on-screen keyboard.
Using the stylus to control the interface can also be frustrating, as the interface can hang, leaving you wondering if it's the interface or the stylus at fault. We sometimes had to restart the Neo after tapping the same button a few times and getting no result. The physical buttons aren't much better. The four-way navigation ring is surrounded by another ring with Next, Previous, Back and Menu controls, and it's tricky not to press both rings at once.
The Neo's interface isn't great either, being modelled on a computer file system. The Library is simply a set of folders with files in them, and books are displayed as filenames rather than organised by title or author. A book's author, title and cover are only displayed in the Details view, and only then when you've opened the book previously.
Despite impressive file format support - the Neo even supports newer Office documents such as DOCX files - it was a chore to navigate and read documents. Some files don't have page numbers, but have a bar with the percentage read displayed instead. Opening and navigating some formats, such as HTML, was painfully slow.
There are other faults in common with the Club S model, such as the awkward dictionary and coarse text-to-speech function. Essentially, although both eReaders are great for those with esoteric needs, such as eBook libraries in odd formats or different languages, their interfaces aren't intuitive.
In addition, the Neo is the heaviest eReader we've tested, and the most expensive. If you need support for odd file formats or non-Roman languages, the Endless Ideas BeBook Club S is the better bet, as the Neo's stylus support is laggy and isn't worth the extra cost. For most people, however, the Amazon Kindle or the Kobo eReader Touch are far easier to use, lighter and cheaper.