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BeBook Club S review

Verdict

A usable reader, but it's let down by a chunky case and a rather fiddly user interface

Review Date: 11 Jan 2012

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: £96 (£115 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
5 stars out of 6

We reviewed the BeBook Club last year, and weren't particularly impressed with its sluggish performance and chubby profile. The new 'S' version (stands for 'Sports' 'Screen' and 'Storage' according to the BeBook website) boasts updated specifications.

It's a big improvement, and it all starts with a new screen. The Club S now has a 600 x 800 E Ink Pearl panel and this gives clarity and contrast equal to anything on the market. Redraw rates aren’t bad: the Club S doesn’t refresh quite as quickly as the latest Kindle or even the Sony Reader Wi-Fi, but it doesn’t feel as laggardly as the Neo. Things are helped along by a faster processor – an 800MHz Marvell CPU.

BeBook Club S - front and rear

The Club S uses the same software as before, though, so our gripes about the interface apply here too – more responsive hardware helps, but navigating around the options and settings is tiresome. And since there’s no touchscreen, you’re left using the little directional pad to step around the menus.

On the bright side, most of your time with the Club S will be spent reading, and this is a fairly pleasant experience. This isn’t only down to the screen, but also to the sensibly located page-turn buttons, which fall naturally under your thumbs.

You have plenty of choice when it comes to file formats, with support for the same broad range of formats as the Neo – including reflowable PDF, HTML, DOC and RTF, as well as a range of image formats. You can even play MP3 and WAV files through a 3.5mm headphone socket at the bottom.

BeBook Club S - text close up

Battery life is quoted at an impressive 20,000 page turns; but that’s probably helped by the fact that the Club S lacks any sort of networking, which means you must obtain your media via a computer and transfer it manually to the reader.

Even the cheaper Kindle isn’t limited this way. And the omission doesn’t make the device any smaller or lighter: it’s as bulky as before and, at 278g, heavy too. Although the Club S is a perfectly usable reader – much more so than the original device – these shortcomings set it a rung below the best of the competition.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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