BeBook is a Dutch import which has stylish looks and a user friendly system. The e-ink reader by Endless Ideas (actually a variant of the Chinese company Jinke's Hanlin V3 introduced in October 2007) has all the advantages of this format: low glare, high contrast, no eyestrain, etc. Yet its features to price ratio pales when compared to the Kindle or Sony models, so we doubt it will make much headway.
The BeBook (or BeBook One as it is sometimes called) looks fine, but doesn't win any style awards with its plasticky gray casing. At a mere 7.76 ounces though, the BeBook one of the lightest e-readers on the market.
It comes with 512MB, expandable via SD memory cards, though again this pales compared to the Kindle 2's 2 GB. And again, the Kindle 2 and latest Sony models display 16 greyscales compared to the BeBook's 4. You get a generous 7,000 page refreshes out of the battery, which might equate to a couple weeks of moderate use.
We find the interface a bit clunky compared to the competition. Although the menu options are numbered and displayed in a column down the left hand side of the screen, the buttons corresponding to these numbered entries are arranged horizontally across the bottom of the reader. Some reviewers have commented that it also feels a bit sluggish compared to the responsiveness of other readers, and still others have noted the odd crash.
The BeBook has a headphone jack, but no speakers. It can be a bit glitchy when playing high bitrate tracks as well, so we wouldn't plan on ditching your iPod just yet.
The company that produces the BeBook (Hanlin V3 variant) for the Netherlands-based Endless Ideas is Tianjin Jinke Electronics Co., LTD. Jinke was founded in 1985, is a high-tech joint-owned enterprise, located in Tianjin, China. Jinke also produces the smaller BeBook Mini (Hanlin V5) and will soon produce the BeBook 2.
Connecting: We will give BeBook credit for supporting multiple formats--currently 24--more than we've seen on any other reader. Of course, it has to, because unlike the two eBook reader giants Amazon and Sony, BeBook has no online store, and of course the Bebook does not support Kindle or Sony Reader formats.
Of particular note, they support the Mobipocket DRM format, one of the most common e- book publisher formats, so there is certainly plenty of content available out there to access. Support for some of the eBook formats claimed is not yet complete; ePub books are supported but don’t implement any CSS formatting.
BeBook offers 150 classic titles free with purchase. We're also impressed that it's so easy to import all the RSS feeds--lack of that on the Sony models is a pain.
The BeBook lacks the Kindle's always-on EVDO internet connection, and so has to be hooked up to a PC to download content. And here's where we get annoyed; in a blast from the past, the BeBook has a USB 1.1 port--it's not as if the world hasn't been using the quicker 2.0 for years now...
The device itself simply appears as an empty storage device when you do hook it up, and you can just drag and drop ebooks or other files you want straight from your PC to it.
Accessories: The BeBook comes with a leather protection case as standard (something the Kindle 2 and iLiad lack out of the box), with the plus of a magnetic catch. Another subtle plus is it runs on an open standard system, with lifetime, free firmware updates.
The BeBook charges via its mini USB port, so if you'll be away from your PC, best buy an adapter. You can buy an AC adapter, which will handily charge the BeBook and one other USB device via USB port. Charging normally takes around 4 hours. Likewise, there is a large range of stylish, padded cases for the BeBook One, for $30 each, available in black, lime green, pink, sky blue, fiery red, and classic brown.