BeBook Club review: BeBook Club

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One thing we liked was the option to change the power settings. This allows you to set a timer for three, 15 or 30 minutes for the e-reader to sleep or shutdown. Since waiting for an e-reader to boot-up can be irritating, we set the reader to sleep after 15 minutes and never shutdown. This decision was later to prove dismaying when we discovered that sleep mode still managed to drain the battery. Exactly why this might be the case is still unknown, since the Club doesn't run any background software that would do this, as far as we know.

Among the supported file types is the audio MP3 format, which allows the Club to double as a music player. You need headphones for this, since there are no speakers in the e-reader. This is fine, but the music and e-reader functions appear completely separate; you can't play MP3 files while reading, which will be an irritation to readers who like to have some sweet tunes setting an ambient mood while digging into a favourite book.

Another baffling choice was the Vizplex E Ink screen — the same E Ink technology used in the BeBook One, originally released in 2007. It is readable, but still distinctly darker than the latest Pearl technology, so if you need a high contrast for legibility, this is probably not the e-reader for you.

With E Ink readers on the market falling under the sub-AU$200 price bracket — the Kobo and the Kindle chief among them — it can be hard to justify spending more. The Kindle doesn't have a card slot or open format, nor does it handle PDFs particularly well; the Club doesn't have a built-in dictionary or Wi-Fi. The Kobo doesn't have a search function or MP3 support; the Sony Reader Pocket Edition doesn't have MP3 support or a card slot.

Even though it offers features that other readers do not, and even though it is an affordable device compared to the BeBook Neo, the BeBook Club does seem a touch pricey given its relatively small internal memory and outdated E Ink technology. It works well, but for AU$249 it would have been nice to see at least a dictionary or Wi-Fi thrown in too.

The BeBook Club is available in Australia from BeBook.

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