Bookeen Cybook Gen3 e-book reader review

3.5 out of 5
£269

For

Light and compact, readable, long lasting battery, change font size and type

Against

2.5mm rather than 3.5mm headphone jack, no page numbers on non-PDF files

The Amazon Kindle might be the e-book reader that everyone knows, but as it is not available to anyone outside the US, readers in the UK have got to use something else. Is the Booken Cybook Gen3 the answer? We get reading to find out.

Roughly the size of a piece of A5 paper (118 x 188 x 8.5mm), the Cybook Gen3 is light and small and easily portable. The e-book reader comes with a 6-inch E Ink display that offers a resolution of 600 x 800 pixels meaning that it is fine for print, but images look like something out of a newspaper 30 years ago.

That screen dominates the proceedings. It's clear, grey and not backlit. Navigation controls are via a d-pad on the front underneath the screen or a series of buttons hidden on the side out of sight.

There is an SD card slot so you can expand on the 512MB of in-built memory included and to get books to and from the device it is merely a case of connecting it to a PC or Mac via a USB cable and dragging them across.

There is MP3 support for audio books or music while you read, although the Cybook Gen3 uses a 2.5mm, rather than 3.5mm, socket. It's annoying as chances are you don't have a 2.5mm jack floating around your house and this means another trip to the shops as there isn't one in the box.

MP3 playback is simple but ample - when was the last time a book, that wasn't aimed at under-5s, played you music?

So there are the tech specs, what of the experience?

Not wanting to come at this completely from a gadget side of things we hunted out an expert, a rare book dealer, to ask him what he thought of the e-book reader.

His opinion? Mixed.

While he liked the ability to change the font size and typeface to suit your reading style (handy if you've lost/forgotten your glasses) the non-tactile approach left him disappointed.

"At the end of the day, the device is simply feeding you text - albeit in a friendly way - and provides little of the 'touchy-feely' experience you get from a book - dog-eared pages, colourful artwork and that cream background."

In our tests we would have to agree. The Cybook Gen3 lacks basic elements that make a book a book. Due to the ability to resize and choose your font (you can add more beyond the three that come as standard) you don't get page numbers unless it's a PDF file, but instead a bar at the bottom suggesting where you are. For us this meant you lose any sense of progression through the book, or any real understanding of where you were.

Then there is the grey uninspiring display, no fault of the Cybook but it’s not really that compelling making everything, well, grey. You get used to it of course just like any new technology but it’s not the same.

Verdict

So is it a page turner? Well the Cybook Gen3 has its pros and cons just like any other gadget we review here at Pocket-lint, although it has the ability to carry around 10,000 books, you're unlikely to dip in and out of books the same way you do music.

What we did like was the fact that it is incredibly light and so carrying around a book like War and Peace or Lord of the Rings doesn't have to be a heavy-handed affair.

However the lack of page numbers, the lack of a tactile experience and the fact you can't use it on a plane during take off and landing means that for now the e-book isn't about to replace your paperback.

It will eventually, and as e-books go this isn't a bad effort, however the rare book dealer (perhaps he is just trying to protect his job) and I aren't ready to go digital just yet.

This product was kindly loaned to us by Pixmania.com