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Bookeen Cybook Odyssey e-book reader

Bookeen Cybook Odyssey e-book reader

The one with the animated E Ink screen

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Touch too much

The reason: there's also a rotate gesture detectable by the touchscreen, and it's easy to catch the panel in such a way that it thinks you want it to pivot the screen even when you don't. Or maybe it's just a bug, like the way an opened book sometimes displays in bold text, even though it's not set to do so.

Another touchscreen gesture is drag-to-scroll, which comes into play with the Odyssey's Settings and other menus. This is the reader's key innovation: an e-ink screen that can do animation.


Bookeen has got E Ink Pearl screens to do animation

Yes, it's a regular Pearl panel, but Bookeen boffinry allows it to update often enough to permit low-framerate animation. But that's all – don't expect to watch video on it, even if you didn't mind viewing monochrome content.

That means Bookeen has to reserve the tech for said menus, which slide after a second's lag from the moment you touch the screen; for a zooming book cover that appears every time you open a book; and for an intro graphic when you power the reader up.

Hats off to Bookeen for getting this to work, but it's a gimmick. It doesn't improve the user experience. If anything, it gets in the way.

Bookeen Cybook Odyssey screenshot Bookeen Cybook Odyssey screenshot

The Odyssey's main menu (left) and its browser in action (right)

Otherwise, the Odyssey is a very decent ePub-oriented e-book reader. It's compact and pocketable, comfortable to hold, and supports as broad an array of formats as any device can until Apple and Amazon both let other gadgets work with their DRM code.

The Odyssey's UI is attractive, though I'd like different media types to have separate sections – or at least the option to do so – and to have a basic list view of the content loaded on the device. Its web browser is serviceable, but lacks both Flash and HTML 5 support.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

Ignore the Cybook Odyssey's unneeded animation ability and you're still left with a decent e-book reader. Its 2GB of storage is sufficient for the library of anyone who isn't a compulsive file-hoarder, and if you are, there's a Micro SD slot to add 32GB. I found myself turning against the touchscreen, but I know a lot of e-book buffs like this feature so it's good to see here.

If you're an Amazon-phobe, this £129 reader is a worthy alternative to equally ePub-inclined PRS-T1 from Sony, but the WHSmith-sold Kobo Touch is cheaper. ®

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Bookeen Cybook Odyssey e-book reader

Bookeen Cybook Odyssey e-book reader

Compact e-book reader with ePub support and an animation-capable E Ink display.
Price: £129 RRP

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