Bookeen Cybook Opus review

20 Jan 2010

Small, light and with some nice touches, but the price and menu system kill the appeal

Price when reviewed 
215
3

Alongside the raft of eBook readers we've seen in recent months, a smaller pocket variety has emerged that shows some promise. They're much more like a traditional paperback in size, and the Bookeen Cybook Opus is the latest – and the most portable we've yet seen.

At a svelte 108 x 10 x 151mm (WDH) and with a 5in screen it will comfortably slip into an inside jacket pocket. More importantly, you'll barely notice its 150g weight – it's 70g lighter than the Sony Reader Pocket Edition. It's the first product of its type that we'd genuinely consider, given the choice, over a traditional paperback.

It's not just the dimensions that are impressive. The Opus is also nicely made and very good looking. It's not quite as lovely as the Kindle, but it's a vast improvement over older Cybook models, with soft curves and a white-grey colour scheme. And where most rival products conform to the norm, the Opus adds a touch of glitz with an accelerometer. This rotates the page automatically whenever you change the orientation of the reader.

Bookeen Cybook Opus

The Opus' screen boasts the usual 600 x 800 resolution and it's capable of displaying four levels of grey. While not as readable as the Kindle's 16-grey screen, it's actually slightly better than the iRiver Story, which had eight levels of grey.

Format support is fair, with ePub, PDF, TXT and HTML all covered, and we do like the way the Opus deals with awkward sized PDFs. Zoom in to enlarge text to a comfortable level, and any overflowing text is indicated with a small arrow, pointing in the direction of the overmatter. There's a decent amount of memory included, with 1GB internal and a MicroSD slot on its top edge. Battery life is good, rated at 8,000 page turns, and you get a leatherette slipcase included in the box.

But it's not perfect. What lets the side down here, as with previous Cybooks we've tested, is the menu system. The Opus' insistence on displaying cover thumbnails rather than plain text listings is a disastrous design choice. It means fitting numerous titles on the page is impossible without making titles illegible, and finding your way around quickly gets confusing with anything more than a handful of books stored in the memory. The accelerometer quickly goes from novelty to annoyance as you realise it's about as reliable as an umbrella in a hurricane, inconsistent in deciding whether to recognise your movements. Luckily, you can switch it off.

But the final, and most important, black mark against the Cybook Opus is its ludicrous price. At £183 exc VAT – a thumping £53 more than the pocket-sized Sony – it would be impossible to recommend even if it worked perfectly.

Details

Price ex VAT £183
Price inc VAT £215
Overall rating 3
Performance 4
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 2

Screen

Screen size 5.0in
Resolution 600 x 800
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no

Battery

Battery Life 8,000 page turns
Integrated memory 1.0GB
Memory-card type MicroSD

Dimensions

Dimensions 108 x 10 x 151mm (WDH)
Weight 150g

File format support

Plain text yes
HTML yes
PDF yes
EPUB yes