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The all important display is as nice to read as any other e-book reader we've seen. Thanks to its e-ink technology, it suffers no ill effects from being viewed at an angle and it remains visible - indeed it becomes easier to read, the brighter your surroundings. Thanks to its non-backlit nature, it's also easy on the eyes, making it comfortable to read from for hours on end.
As we've so far found with these e-book readers, the screen is a bit small - it's total area is only about half that of a typical novel page. However, page turning speed is better than on some first generation devices so "flicking" through pages isn't quite so much of a hassle.
Format support is decent if unexceptional. The key EPUB open format is upported and you can also read plain text and rich text formats along with pdfs. However, mobi, and the proprietary formats used by the Kindle and Apple's ibooks aren't supported. PDFs are handled reasonably well with most formatting looking correct, though larger, graphically intensive documents can cause it to crash or take forever to load.
Overall, the BeBook Neo is up there with the best e-book readers. However, what the iPad and indeed some smartphones have hammered home for us, is that an e-book reader should just be a replacement for an actual book – it wants to be small, long-life, easy-to-read, and cheap. It doesn't need the multifunction, multimedia-oriented features of those other devices, especially when the e-ink display technology simply doesn't lend itself well to such interaction.
So, if extra features are required on an ebook reader, they should just enhance the portable reading experience, which is precisely what Amazon has done with the Kindle. In contrast, the Neo's extras don't actually add that much to the reading experience. So, while the Wacom touch-sensing and web browsing may seem to justify this reader's high £280 price, we feel it's somewhat wasted effort.
The BeBook Neo e-book reader has some impressive features, namely its Wacom-powered digitiser and web browser. Its e-ink display is also a pleasure to read from for hours on end. However, at £280, it's expensive and we feel its extra features don't actually add a great deal to its day-to-day use.
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