Endless Ideas BeBook review
The BeBook is slightly larger than Sony's Reader, which is our favourite eBook reader to date.
It has a cheap-looking black leather case, which is almost as heavy as the unit itself. This is a shame, as the BeBook is actually slightly lighter than the Reader. The BeBook is made of attractive graphite-grey plastic. It has simple page-turning controls on the left, and number buttons and menu keys below the screen.
The number keys, which provide short cuts to numbered menu items, double as function keys for things such as zooming and bookmarking. Unfortunately, the page-turning buttons are located just too high on the left-hand side. This makes them hard to reach with your left thumb while holding the reader in that hand. You end up having to use your right hand to reach over the screen to change the page. The battery is claimed to last for 7,000 page turns, roughly equivalent to the Reader's.
The BeBook takes around 10 seconds to boot up (the Reader starts up in an instant), and its menu and page-turning controls react sluggishly to inputs. However, it does have a keyboard lock function to save you from having to turn it off completely. The screens on all the eBook readers we've seen are identical, and are made by the same company. It's easy to read under any light, although it can't be read in the dark, and has superb viewing angles and impressive contrast.
What's unique about the BeBook is its support for multiple fonts and character sets. You can change the font of any text-format book while you're reading it, and change the character set of the menu system, too. TrueType fonts can be imported using the SD memory card slot, and the ability to read books in Chinese, Japanese or Russian may be useful.
It supports a few more document types than the Reader, such as PowerPoint, Microsoft Reader and DjVu, which is an alternative to PDF. It also supports the FB2 eBook format, most commonly used in Eastern Europe. If you have a collection of eBooks in one of these less common formats, you won't need to convert them for the BeBook. However, this support is not without its flaws. Some DjVu files and large image files couldn't be loaded, and some Word documents struggled with formatting.
With 512MB of memory, which is more than double that of the Reader, the BeBook looks to be a good deal. However, unless you need the multilanguage support or you have a large collection of eBooks in an obscure file format, its less intuitive controls and slower boot time make the Reader a better - and cheaper - choice.