L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

24 March 2008 Blog Home : March 2008 : Permalink

Bookeen Cybook Review

Bookeen Cybook Library ViewI've had my NAEB delivered Bookeen Cybook for a week now. Enough I think to write a review that is slightly better than "shiny". This is the short version of the review - this is a link to the full Cybook review.

First comment. If you are European you are stronly recommended to buy from the NAEB store rather than direct from Bookeen because with the current weakness of the US$ you save a LOT. Choosing the cheaper USPS shipping rate I paid NAEB US$403.80 for my Cybook which works out at €256.00 at current exchange rates. Adding the €57.15 duty I had to pay the French customs we have a total of €313.15.

By comparison if I attempt to buy a base Cybook (and the NAEB package is closer to the deluxe Cybook) for postal shipment in France then the price is €358.30 which works out at €45 (or about 15%) more. Given that the deluse pack is €450 (plus shipping) and NAEB doesn't include the spare battery (€44.95) the actual price of the NAEB package if shipped from Bookeen would be over €400. In other words
In fact if you buy now you are even more strongly recommended to buy via NAEB because Bookeen are sold out for new orders right now!

Review summary

The Cybook is light enough to take anywhere and intuitive to use. The display is crisp and clear and the battery life seems to be sufficient for even the longest of journeys so long as you don't listen to music. Copying books onto it is straightforward and may be done by copying books onto the removable SD card or onto the internal flash. The latter can be used to sync books between the Cybook and a windows PC running a recent version of the Mobipocket reader. There are some bugs that show up when playing music and other people have reported other issues to do with the first time you insert the SD card shipped with it but nothing seems to be a real showstopper.
Bookeen Cybook and Asus Eee in the sun
The eInk display technology is magnificent and completely legible in bright sunshine unlike any other electronic display. The Cybook connects to any computer via a USB cable and when it does so it appears to be just another external drive, thus there is no lock in to a particular computer or OS. Likewise the Cybook's support for multiple open formats means that it is the perfect reader for someone like me who primarily buys open formats and it also means there is no lock in to any ebook vendor or format. The gripes I have (and the bug I found) should all be fixable with a software upgrade and none of them seriously impacts my ability to read. The battery life, size and the speed of power up means that this reader is perfect for travelling, you can read it while standing in line for security theatre and expect to have just the one device for the entire trip. With a suitable font, the Cybook seems able to display any text which is impressive and means that the Cybook can be used by people from all over the world not just Europe and America. It may in fact be possible to download foriegn dictionaries and phrasebooks onto it which would be a further boon for the traveller. My hope is that Bookeen will open up the interface a bit so that third parties (e.g. me) can create alternative library displays and other add ons that would enhance the reader and build a community. If they don't manage to build a loyal community of users then the hardware will no doubt become commoditized (it already appears to be available here) and Bookeen as a company will go bust.