BeBook is best known for its e-readers, but now it’s branching out into the world of tablets (isn’t everyone nowadays?). As such, the BeBook Live is a super budget 7-inch offering that’s taking tablets out of the polo-necked clutches of the Apple brigade, bringing them to the masses. We can’t argue with the price, but is there anything else that’ll aggravate you should you choose to spend? Read on and find out.
First impressions count, and that’s never truer than when taking a shiny new gadget out of the box. Because of its budget price, the BeBook Live has a plastic body rather than the glossy metal of the likes of the iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab. We were initially turned off when faced with the plastic buttons, but fire it up and they’re perfectly adequate, not being anywhere near as sticky as we feared. Having said that, the screen lock slider on the side does feel pretty flimsy.
The back has a matte finish, which again feels fairly cheap, but then again you can’t expect too much at this price. The border is far chunkier than the HTC Flyer’s too, giving it a much larger footprint, presumably to add the Home, Back, and Toolbar button.
So, not really a looker, but what about features?
Along the border you get an HDMI socket (though no cable supplied, to keep costs down), Mini USB port, microSD slot, and a headphone port. It’s Wi-Fi only, too, so there’s no 3G or GPS, and you’ll need a hotspot to get online. Phone calls are out, unless you use Fring or Skype. There’s also no rear camera, only a front-facing 2-megapixel offering, for video chats.
At 800 x 600 pixels, the 7-inch screen looks decidedly low res, and that’s before you place it next to something more high end. You can make out the pixels making up even a small app icon on the main app screen, that’s how obvious it is. So if it’s gloriously detailed images and videos you want, it won’t be ideal. Web pages tend to look washed out, and it’s not great for reading text, with the white spaces looking blotchy.
It doesn’t come with the Honeycomb version of Android either – what you get here is Froyo, a much earlier version that’s not optimised for tablets. Using it is much like using a Froyo mobile, with the standard five home screens, though the large, low-res screen doesn’t do it any favours. Froyo’s starting to look a little ancient, but again, it’s the price you pay for a budget tablet. But the 1GHz processor inside keeps things ticking along nicely enough.
You’ll get about a day’s moderate use from the battery, which isn’t amazing, especially given the relatively low power of the device.
Android Market comes as standard, as well as Gmail and Google Maps apps, which don’t come on all tablets at this price, though both are free to download. You can expand the memory up to 36GB (32GB on a microSD card, 4GB built in), and it comes with a 2GB microSD card in the box. And that’s about it in terms of extras.
The BeBook Live is hard to recommend. It’s more expensive than an e-reader, with a battery that’s nowhere near as good, and doesn’t perform anywhere near a high end tablet, with no 3G and a low res screen. It’s perfectly functional, but really, it doesn’t do anything you can’t get from your phone – in fact, chances are your mobile’s running a newer version of Android than Froyo.
Tablets are still a relatively niche category, seeing as they’re a completely superfluous luxury product. While we applaud companies like BeBook for trying to make them more affordable, the experience is so far removed that even the most generous of hearted would struggle to say it’s succeeded.