It isn’t easy being a maker of e-book readers these days. Amazon has really cornered the market with its Kindle. That’s not so much down to the Kindle e-reader itself, as about additional services such as the ability to buy ebooks from Amazon directly from the device, and the fact that Kindle reader apps can run on other devices (Android, Apple iOS, your PC) and synchronise your last reading position. Heck, the Kindle even has a web browser built in.
Power to BeBook, then, for continuing with its range, the latest of which is the Club. This is a neat, small e-reader that offers a 6in E-Ink screen with an acceptable 800×600-pixel resolution and eight grey levels. There’s an SD card slot for boosting the internal memory. It plays MP3 files through headphones, but there’s no built-in speaker.
What it’s like
The BeBook’s design is fairly minimal. The front is finished in white with a sprinkling of silver buttons, while the back is made from brushed aluminium, helping the device to feel cool and sturdy in the hand. It’s small enough to slip into a bag, and light enough, at 278g, to hold for a long reading session.
Plenty of file formats are supported, and Adobe’s free Digital Editions software can transfer e-books from your PC to the device if you don’t want to take a drag-and-drop approach (for free e-books).
The screen’s background is greyish, contributes to a certain lack of crispness to the on-screen text, but it’s not a serious problem. Navigating books is straightforward. There are buttons on the front of the chassis to move your backwards and forwards through the text, as well as ‘Menu’ and ‘Back’ buttons. The odd, offset-cross arrangement of some of the buttons will appeal to some people, as it’s different from the norm.
The Club can be turned into a into a widescreen ‘landscape’ orientation, but this is a manual process as there’s no sensor on board to notice when you turn the Bebook Club in your hand. In general the specifications are mid-range, and serviceable rather than flashy.
Intrinsically, the BeBook Club does a reasonable job as a mid-range, no-frills e-reader. But that is not what we'd expect to get at this price. The Wi-Fi toting Kindle costs £111, and the version with 3G built in costs £152. That, right there, is the BeBook Club's big problem.