In the world of eBook readers, some stand out as champions, whereas others barely make an impression. The BeBook Neo is one of those ereaders that somehow made it into both categories. It made quite a strong impression on its users and on the gadget market, being known and appreciated for its two features that made it a good product. First characteristic is the Wi-Fi support that for its time of release in 2010, was a step forward for the Eink devices. The Wacom touchscreen is the other cool aspect of the Neo eBook reader.
With only 298g, the BeBook device is a lightweight champion, especially for its size of 196x121x10.6mm. It is slightly smaller than the iRiver Story reader, and proudly bears a 6” e-ink screen. On the front, right under the screen, there is a rather large navigation button, featuring “menu”, “back”, “prev”, “next” and “ok” commands. The Wi-Fi slider switch is located on the left margin of the BeBook and on the bottom the essential ports can be found: the 3.5 mm mini headphone jack, the SD card slot that supports cards up to 16 GB, the mini USB connection, the power supply and the volume controls.
Under the hood there are 512 MB of internal memory that will hold up to 1000 books. Pictures can also be accessed on the BeBook Neo, as it supports several files formats, including EPUB, PDF, TXT, HTML, RTF, MOBI, CHM, PDB, JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and TIFF.
Hardware aside, let’s take a peak into the real interesting features this pretty looking device possesses. After turning on the Wi-Fi, the user may connect to a network and surf the web, download content or browse online stores and free sites such as Project Gutenberg. Popular sites like Google and Wikipedia can also be easily accessed from the Neo; it does well too, considering its black and white electronic screen limitations.
Users have reported some software issues that might tip the scales against the sleek device. It seems that the BeBook Neo cannot remember which network it was connected to and all the steps undertook for connecting must be repeated. After managing to reconnect, users may approach the MyBeBook Service to gain access to online services such as Foyles, Waterstone’s, WHSmith and Blackwell Online. The main reason an Eink ereader has access to internet – downloading content- can get tricky on this device because of its slow performance. Furthermore, there are no subscription services that come with it, but online shopping is possible.
Another issue is the short battery resistance, as the Wi-Fi seems to drain all the life from the Neo. Music lovers won’t enjoy it either, as the software doesn’t support any audio file format. That is truly bad news, especially since it has an earphone socket.
So why buy this BeBook family member after all, if Internet surfing is sometimes insufficient, audio formats aren’t supported and it costs $200? The catchy features are the stylus-operated, highly responsive touchscreen (which at its time came as a wonderful surprise) and the general ease of use.
The BeBook Neo is a real design masterpiece and gets under your skin after using it, despite its shortcomings. Of course that $200 will get you a pretty cool tablet these days, but for those who prefer the classic black and white e ink eBook readers, Neo is a light, handsome little thing that will conquer their hearts and make them forgive its imperfections.
Weight: 298gr (incl. battery)
Wacom TM touchpanel technology
Internal storage: 512MB flash memory (stores up to 1.000 books)
I/O: 3.5mm audio jack, USB 2.0 with OTG-support, SD slot (expandable up to 16GB))
Power Supply: Li-ION battery 1600mAh
Operating temperature: 0 to 50 degrees Celsius