Endless Ideas BV is a Dutch company that has carved out a niche for itself as a supplier of BeBook-branded e-book readers. It has recently taken a new turn with the BeBook Live, an Android-based tablet. Is this a tablet with e-reader extensions, or an affordable tablet plain and simple?
The 7in. BeBook Live has plenty of rivals — notably HTC's Flyer and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but also many budget models. It runs Android 2.2 like the Galaxy Tab, while the Flyer runs Android 2.3.
At £229 (inc. VAT) we can't expect the BeBook Live to rival either HTC's or Samsung's tablets — indeed, its Wi-Fi-only status may immediately rule it out for some. It does have some impressive features though, including a 1GHz Samsung Cortex A8 processor, 4GB of internal storage and 512MB of RAM.
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Buetooth are present, but there's no GPS. There's no rear-facing camera either, but you do get a 2-megpixel camera on the front — in the bezel at the top when the device is held in portrait orientation.
Video output is handled via an HDMI port, so you could use the BeBook Live for impromptu presentations. You'll need to buy a cable, though, as you don't get one in the box. A microSD card slot on one of the short edges caters for storage expansion.
We're not blown away by the build quality — the BeBook Live simply doesn't have the panache of either Samsung's or HTC's more expensive 7in. tablets. At 426g its weight is comparable: the Galaxy Tab weighs 385g and the HTC Flyer 420g. However, if compromises have to be made, we prefer to sacrifice some build quality rather than functionality.
Importantly, the BeBook Live is Flash compatible. With the device hooked up to Wi-Fi, we were soon streaming content from the BBC news web site. The twin speakers on one of the long edges deliver moderate volume and audio quality.
The 7in. capacitive touchscreen is very responsive to the finger. It's not as bright and sharp as some, but is fine for reading indoors. Readability does suffer outdoors — we struggled with it even in moderate sunshine. The screen's 800-by-600-pixel resolution is rather low too.
There's not much in the way of specialist e-book software on the BeBook Live. Aldiko, a reader app that supports free and paid-for e-books in EPUB, PDF and Adobe DRM is here, although its charging mechanism is in US dollars. The reliable freeware FBReader was also on our review sample.Both of these apps can be downloaded from the Android Market; there's nothing obviously BeBook-branded, and nothing to stop you adding more e-book software, including Amazon's own Kindle app, should you desire. Elsewhere, Android is bolstered with some games and few extras, including a task manager for killing running apps and a file explorer. Overall, the BeBook Live seems better specified than many budget Android tablets, and its fast processor helps to deliver a positive user experience. There could be more on the e-book side of things, though — a library of copyright-free texts, rather than specific e-reader software, for example.