The BeBook Blues

On: October 18, 2010
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About Fei An Tjan
After finishing a Bachelor's in communications and Information I wasn't quite happy with, I decided to soak up some more life experience elsewhere before starting my Master. In Bolivia I worked for the newspaper of Santa Cruz (El Deber) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo de arte contemporáneo). After six months, I changed location to Costa Rica to do a media internship with a volunteer travel agency. Here I gained more practical experience in the blogosphere, social media, and design which all laid the basis for my newly triggered interest in New Media. When I came back in the Netherlands, I signed up for the MA New Media and hope to finish this one happily ever after.


Last years have been devout to digital publishing and the e-readers. The media made it seem that it was the new big thing and even my mother was considering an iPad. Because I was always annoyed by the enormous spillage of paper during my studies, I too thought it might be time for some digitization of my personal life: the BeBook Neo. It was only just on the Dutch markets, still significantly cheaper than the iPad and several online reviews sounded promising.

Compared to some older versions such as the Kindle and Sony, this version was supposed to offer Wi-Fi connections and open up regular websites. That made it sound more and more like the iPad, but like the review on Pocket Lint shows, reality proved to be less Utopian. Though I am happy with the amount of files you can upload on the reader, reading them can be a pain. The first threshold was the fact that Word documents cannot be opened on the screen. This I find quite remarkable and annoying as it is one of the formats used extensively for texts.

Another problem is the navigation and the zooming. It cost me some time to figure out how to zoom in on the texts correctly, as there are multiple options and my patience with manuals is very limited. When I did figure out how to do it right and get the text on a readable size on my whole screen, I discovered that to fit it all on the page, BeBook automatically cuts of words and sentences in the least discrete way. Reading a text where the last letter of the word is on the next line does not invite to efficiency.

The latter is strengthened by the stylo. BeBook uses a stylo, apart from the control buttons at the bottom of the tablet to navigate. Unlike reviewer Chris Hall, I don’t think this is a problem in itself but the fact that it isn’t very accurate is. I tried to tweak the level of accuracy a few times, but without results. Using the stylo to precisely mark pieces of texts continues to be a bit of a pain.

Another feature of the BeBook Neo is the option to surf the net, at least that’s what it makes believe. The real option, in my opinion stays out. I tried several times to get on my e-mail account and send a short message, but even that took me more than 15 minutes. It does not for example find the WiFi connection automatically and every time you move away from the Internet page, it demands you to connect to the Internet again and go through the whole process all over. Apart from that, it is slow and not very user friendly. But I have to admit that it has helped me out several times in emergency situations where no other means of media were at my service.
All in all, you might ask yourself why I am still trying to work my way around with Onyx Boox newest invention as using it seems to generate more complications than pleasant reading outcomes. The other side of the story is that my information is ever present, when I’m in the train, the waiting room or in a break. Already many times I ended up in a situation where I unexpectedly had to wait for a certain amount of time and where I was more than happy to have my 7000 pages and 298 grams of literature right in my handbag.

All the above, but especially the fact that I have all my article available to me at any moment made me curious as to how digital publications can be of influence in education. What else is there to explore? Can both teachers and students benefit from the new ways to engage? I will dig deeper into the subject in my post about Digital Publishing for Education.

More BeBook Neo reviews:

The E-Reader Store (Dutch)

PC Advisor

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