Digital Reader Review Week: The Bookeen Cybook Opus by Kathlyn

Book Cover After I started this week’s round up of reviews and opinions on various ereaders available to the book-reading, device-buying public, I received a mini review of the Bookeen Cybook Opus from Kathlyn. I asked if she’d be willing to expand on her review and describe what she likes about her device, and this is her response. I’m also working on a Kobo review – and if you have a device to suggest, let me know.

My e-reader is a Bookeen Opus. I like it for three reasons:

1. I find it easy to use.

2. I won it in a crazy fun contest.

3. I find it easy to use.

My first foray in to the world of e-books evolved out of a video game habit. After consulting a fellow gamer, followed by a quick internet search, I discovered how to convert e-books into jpgs and then download them to my Sony Play Station Portable (PSP). 

The PSP, a handheld device like e-readers, allowed both horizontal and vertical viewing of the e-book jpg photos. I also liked that I could choose white text on a black background for reading in the dark. The e-book to jpg conversion, however, was more than fussy.

Then SBTB and BooksOnBoard held a crazy fun contest – and my entry was selected (some of you may recall the Playgirl Shiksa and her Dreidel Boy). Soon after, a svelte Bookeen Opus arrived at my door. 

The Bookeen Opus is lightweight (150g or 5.3oz), and can easily be held in – and the buttons manipulated by – one hand. I find this feature particularly useful when the other hand is occupied with an adult beverage.

Beyond font change and other options I suspect are fairly common to e-readers, the Opus also has something called “e-ink”. Detailed information about this innovation comes with the e-reader. Although not having actually read this information, I find the display looks a great deal like a hard-copy book. This does mean the loss of the ability to read in the dark, but the ability to read in direct sunlight is significantly improved.

Is the Opus better than other e-readers? I have no idea. What I do know that my husband does refer to me as a Bookeen “junkie”. Is the Bookeen Opus a better e-reader than my PSP? Most decidedly yes. And so my PSP has been reinstated as the gaming device it should be.


I do not even want to think about the process of converting ebooks to jpg to read on a PSP.

The Bookeen Cybook Opus is available in several colors and does not have a wireless connection. There are two other Cybooks, the Orizon and the Gen3, but only the Orizon has WiFi or wireless capabilities (and the pages for those two have majestically bad translated English descriptions, too). The Opus is currently $139.00 at BooksOnBoard. The Orizon is available for pre-order at $249.

I played with a Cybook Opus very briefly two years ago, and it’s very, VERY lightweight and easy to hold. Do you have a Cybook? What do you like about it? Share if you’d like, as I’d be pleased to learn more about the Opus.

 

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General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    Brian says:

    A few things about the Opus…

    The Opus has “real” folders.  You organize them just like you might on your PC and then they show up that way on the reader (multi-levels work great).

    The Opus works with standard Overdrive ebooks (ePub works best).

    The Opus give you the ability to go from being able to read DRM’d ePub to DRM’d Mobipocket by doing a simple firmware change.

    I got an Opus when they were first released and while the initial firmware had some problems (the device would lock up from time to time) the newer firmware has fixed that problem.

    A couple of things it needs are to support multi-level tables of contents in ePubs and the ability to bookmark ePubs.  Unless they’ve fixed those, I haven’t checked for a few months.

  2. 2
    Brian says:

    Oops, by Overdrive I meant to say it works great with library ebooks.

  3. 3
    TKF says:

    Have one. Love it. Super light. Easy shifted from one hand to the other, and can be turned over and sideways so if fits either hand. As the review says, it lets you read Mobi or ePub, and you can switch back and forth with a firmware change you keep on a mini-SD card (where you can also load and carry extra books if you REALLY think you’re going to need them).

    And it’s small. No stupid key board, no light, no features I don’t want or need. It’s just a tiny electronic book that fits in my purse and gets raves everywhere I go.

  4. 4

    I have a Cybook Gen3.  I like it a lot, because it’s not tied in to any particular supplier of ebooks, the way the Kindle is. 

    The battery life is amazing.  I’ve had it on holiday without a charger for a fortnight and it still had 50% charge by the end of that.

    I’m not terribly happy with the ability to organize your books.  Yes, you can put things into folders on the computer (you need it to be plugged into the computer to add or delete books,) but they display on screen in alphabetical order by title and I don’t know if there’s a way to change that.  But on the whole I’m very pleased with it.  I now carry 160 books with me everywhere in a device that weighs less than a paperback, and I didn’t have to sell my soul to a big corporation to do it!

    You can also get snazzy skins for it.  Mine has one from here http://www.echno.co.uk/ProductDetail.aspx?ID=22615
    so it’s not as dull to look at as it was when it arrived.

  5. 5
    Brian says:

    @Alex, AFAIK the Opus and Gen 3 firmware are exactly the same so you should be able to put your device into folder view and get the organization of folders when browsing books on it.

  6. 6
    Phil says:

    Funny. At first glance ‘Booken CyBook’ read as ‘Broken Cyclops’ to me. Double take.

  7. 7

    Thanks, Brian!  I’ll have to have another fiddle around with the controls and see if I can figure it out, then :)

  8. 8
    Jessica says:

    I’m looking at getting an ereader for the very first time, and the no-frills aspect of the Cybook is very appealing.

    Have people used it with libraries? How does it play with Mac computers? (Is that a stupid question?)

  9. 9
    Brian says:

    @Jessica, it works fine with library books.  I’ve had no problems using it with a Mac.

  10. 10
    JanG says:

    I have a Gen3 and I love it.  With the new firmware you can have folder support.  I have well over 500 books on my Gen3 at all times.

    I use mobi, but you can download the firmware for ePub, and you change the firmware as many times as you want, switching back and forth between mobi and ePub.  It also supports html, and, txt.

    The Gen3 has 12 font sizes, you can use any TrueType font on it, and you can change the font size with one press of a button.

    It’s not wifi, which for me works fine because I like using my computer as a conduit.  But it also means that no one can eavesdrop on what you’ve got on the device.

    You can delete books from the Gen3 by using the wastebin button on the device, you don’t have to use your computer.

    It’s light, only 6.13 ounces -174 g.

    And did I say I love my Gen3?

  11. 11
    batwater says:

    We’re “squeeing” in delight here in Kansas City. I’m a librarian here and have been thinking about buying this as a supplement to my much-loved Kindle 2. I want it for library access, now that someone has reviewed it I feel better about buying one! THANK YOU!!!

  12. 12
    Cathy B says:

    I bought a Cybook Gen 3 a little over 3 years ago now. I think I was the first person in Brisbane to own an ebook reader :)
    I dropped it a year or so ago and made it unhappy (though it is still usable) and decided to buy myself a Kindle (2). So I can compare with the Kindle 2 for you.

    Kindle 2 Pros vs Cybook:
    1. The Kindle 2 does have beter e-ink resolution. The screen is brighter and clearer.
    2. The page toggle on the Cybook is only on the bottom right 4 way button: I am ambidextrous and sometimes want to use my left hand to turn the page: not possible on the Cybook.
    3. The Kindle 2 turns the page quicker.
    4. Of course, the Kindle 2 has WiFi and Cybook has to be cable-connected.

    Kindle 2 Cons vs. Cybook:
    1. Cybook is lighter. I use both ebooks in a leather cover and the Kindle is distinctly heavier.
    2. The battery on the Cybook is easily changed and in fact when I bought my pack originally I got a spare battery.
    3. It’s hard to compare because I never did actualy scientific tests, but… I think the Cybook battery lasted a bit longer. Even with Kindle’s wireless switched off, which I generally keep it.
    4. The big one. And this is a huge one for me. The reasons I bought the Kindle when upgrading were as follows: it was cheaper than Cybook at the time and it read Mobipocket files. Because I had been collecting ebooks for over 2 years and I had diligently DRM cracked and converted every single one into Mobipocket Reader (free software, BTW) where I had them neatly and conveniently organised in folders. I had over 1300 books (then – over 2500 now) and there was no way I was going to muck about changing format at that point.
    Now I come to the problem. With Cybook, I just plugged it into my PC, selected the books I wanted in Mobipocket Reader and clicked the Transfer button. Hey presto, books on Cybook ready to read.
    On Kindle, there is one small, additional, STUPID step that just bugs the hell out of me. When you transfer books using Mobi reader, the program automatically drops them into a folder (that it creates if necessary) called eBooks.
    Well, the Kindle can’t see that folder. I have to open up Windows Explorer, go into that folder and manually move the files to the folder called Documents.
    You might think this is not a big step. It’s not. But it’s annoying and easy to forget to do, and TOTALLY UNNECESSARY.
    Amazon OWN Mobipocket. They could EASILY put in a fix for this, either in Mobipocket Reader by allowing you to select where to copy files to on your device, or on the Kindle by making it look for the eBooks folder.
    It’s stupid and annoying, and when my Kindle carks it I will be going back to Cybook.

    Incidentally, the whole Kindle cloud thing does not bother me, because I almost never download a book from Amazon anyway. I buy my ebooks elsewhere, crack them, convert into Mobi if necessary and organise them on my PC. I then drop them in batches of 20 or so (about a week’s worth of reading) onto my Kindle, which eliminates all the problems about organising books on the Kindle.

    And I have to say I would like at this point to give a big shout out to three great bits of (free) software: Mobipocket Reader – which is awesome – Mobipocket Creator, which you can use to convert Html, Txt, Doc anf Pdf files to Mobi format, and Calibre, which I use to convert Lit and Epub files to Mobi. I could not manage my increasingly unwieldy collection without them. As it is I can instantly find and load up any book with a quick tap in the Search field in Mobi Reader.

  13. 13
    Isobel Carr says:

    I’m all about mine. ALL ABOUT IT! I even bought one for my best friend a couple months ago.

  14. 14
    Marisa says:

    Well, I’ve got a Gen3 AND an Opus. I bought first Gen3 because there was no Opus, but when it appeared I drooled about it and I bought a second-hand one (it had been bought three months ago). I have one with Mobipocket (nice for me because of the dictionary -dictionaries, indeed- which works like a charm) and other one for libraries and some ePub. I like Opus more: smaller, fits very well in my purse, you can handle it very well with a hand (useful for commute). Besides, as people has already mentioned, it has a very nice organization.. and a small trick: if you edit your books, you can put series into the publisher metadata and you see it at your library.

    And other think I like: most of the readers have icons for menu and I don’t like it because, with the small dpp these screens have, the look childish.

  15. 15
    LaurieW says:

    I don’t understand why everyone thinks if you buy a Kindle you are stuck buying only from Amazon.  The Kindle reads mobi format, and .prc, and Amazon’s house format, and pdf.  I’ve had a Kindle since the gen 1 version, and that’s exactly why I bought my Kindle – I’d been buying for the Mobipocket Reader on the PC and owned approximately 1000 books at that time, so no way was I going to start over.  And I haven’t.  I can buy books through Amazon, and I can buy through any bookseller who sells either the mobi or prc format, which is just about all of them.  The only difference is Amazon purchases download directly to the Kindle, while the others I have to download to the PC then copy over via the USB cable – not a big deal at all.  And if you choose, you can strip the DRM from the Amazon books and convert them to mobi as well, then never have to worry about not being able to read it on the Kindle AND on the PC again.  :)

  16. 16
    Marisa says:

    For Kindle, in terms of DRM, you’re stuck with Amazon DRM. Standard Mobipocket DRM is different, so, if you don’t purchase free Mobipocket, it isn’t OK for Kindle (USB cable aside). If you strip DRM, of course, you can buy as you like, but the same happens with any other reader. My Opus/Gen3 with Mobipocket FW, however, admit DRM mobipocket (so if I have old purchase and I add the ID to the shop I can read it without problem) but not Amazon Mobipocket, because of DRM.

  17. 17
    LaurieW says:

    I don’t buy from Mobipocket with DRM because most of the time the same book is cheaper elsewhere.  And most ebook sellers that I frequent sell the .prc format which is native to Kindle, or the .pdf which is also readable.  Just my opinion – YMMV.  :-)  I just get frustrated hearing everyone say if you own a Kindle you are stuck buying from Amazon when I buy probably 75% or more of the books that I read on the Kindle elsewhere.

  18. 18
    Marisa says:

    I understand you. It’s a general misunderstanding. My problem is that a lot of ebook sellers I frequent don’t sell Mobipocket anymore. It depends on the books you read.But I totally agree, if your .prc or .pdf don’t have DRM you can read them directly in Kindle.

  19. 19
    Penni says:

    Can you all clarify this for me please? When you talk about Mobi on the Opus, you mean secure mobi? You mean that I can buy a DRM-protected book in Mobipocket format and put it on this reader without stripping DRM? Really?

  20. 20
    Marisa says:

    Penni:

      Yes, really, you can do it. The problem is that you can’t have at the same time secure Mobi or secure ePub but there’s a solution. For Opus and Gen3 there’re two firmwares: one for secure Mobi and one for secure ePub. You can change from one to other as you like (people say that perhaps, at the end, you have problems if you change too much but I don’t know).

      In fact, I’ve got some secure Mobipocket and a dictionary I bought at Fictionwise.

  21. 21
    Penni says:

    Oh, wow, that’s cool. I don’t re-read a lot of my ebooks, but I have a lot of Mobis that I have yet to read, and almost all (maybe all) of them are secure Mobi. I’ve started buying ePub, but have nothing but the computer to read them on yet.

    Thank you so much for the info!

    Penni

  22. 22
    Bree says:

    Thanks to the agency model screwing up my happy eReader/iPhone marriage, I’ve bought and tested 8 different E-Ink devices (thank you eBay!), and I keep coming back to my little Opus, which was a total auctionisendingdealistoogood impulse buy for $99.

    I use it with the ePub firmware, so I can borrow library books. It’s incredibly portable, incredibly lightweight, and even though it is plastic, I feel like I could play frisbee with it. Even if I switch to another reader, I’m keeping it for my kids when they get older. Thanks to an accelerametor, I can read with any hand which is great while I’m nursing the baby.

    I like having my collection organized by folders, and yet I can still switch to cover view and view thumbnails.

    And the best part of all—FONTS. The Cybook models let you choose 12 different font sizes, AND load the font of of your choice. So I’m happily reading with Arno Pro, which looks great on E-Ink.

    My only real complaint is the lack of dictionary and WiFi for accessing my Calibre server. The new Cybook Orizon is supposed to have WiFI, but no dictionary yet.

    While I was trying out all the other readers (Nook, 4 different Sony models, Kindle 2, iPad), I learned the deDRM dance on a Mac for all the formats, so I’ve used Calibre to convert my library of Mobi and eReader titles, and all the freebies from Amazon/B&N/Sony/Kobo I’m interested in.

    I’m still mucking about with the iPad, but it’s too darn heavy for curling up in bed, so my Opus and I are a still a happy couple.

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