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The Cybook Orizon, from French company Bookeen, is a handsome e-reader. It has a pearly silver casefront, nicely contoured corners and edges, a very slender frame at only 7.6mm — slimmer than the Kindle — and a minimalist interface, with only a nav pad comfortably placed in the centre and indicator lights below the screen.
The back top of the device plays host to the power and reset buttons and a slot for microSD, and on the bottom edge is a micro-USB port for charging and computer connection. Everything is neatly out of the way and discreetly placed (except for the giant Bookeen logo on the front), and easy to keep clean and neat thanks to the included soft case.
Unfortunately, the Orizon has a strangely glossy screen. Other e-readers we've tested with touchscreens — the Sony Readers and the BeBook Neo — had lovely, glare-free matte screens. Not only is the glossy screen reflective and harder to read, it also registers each and every fingerprint. When the glare isn't irritating you, it will be the smudges; and there will be smudges.
The Cybook Orizon is loaded up with features. Probably the most notable of these is a capacitive touchscreen, which allows you to tap and swipe to navigate. "Brilliant!" you might be thinking. Certainly the first thing the majority of people do when handed an e-reader for the first time is prod at the screen wondering why it's not responding.
Touchscreens and E Ink are difficult together, though. E Ink is slow to respond even at the best of times, and you might find yourself accidentally poking too many times, thinking your touch hasn't registered, particularly in Wi-Fi mode.
Of course, the touchscreen allows you to do things you can't usually do very easily on an e-reader: make notes and highlight text. It also allows you to exit menus easily, just by tapping anywhere outside the menu box. Unfortunately, it can be a little unintuitive; sometimes you can't quite be sure whether you need to use the nav pad or the touchscreen for a particular command and can poke at the screen without effect before realising you need to actually press a button.
As we just mentioned, the Orizon also has Wi-Fi. It comes preloaded with five apps: the Bookeen ebook store, Google, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg and Feedbooks. The latter four are very useful, but the first was ... odd. The only books available on the store are in German and French, with no English language titles at all. The Australian distributor has told us that it is looking for an appropriate Australian store to partner with, but, in the meantime, this is what we have.
Other bookstores can be accessed through the Google app or via the Orizon's browser, though, so all is not lost. However, as we said, using the touchscreen in Wi-Fi mode can be a bit slow, so you may find it quicker just to purchase your books on a computer and transfer them across using USB.