Bookeen Cybook Muse FrontLight review

Small size, small price, big benfits

Bookeen Cybook Muse FrontLight e-reader review

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to ereading life than Amazon's Kindle. Well designed and easy to operate, Bookeen's latest ereader offers all the essentials for readers who don't want to get locked in to Amazon's bookstore.

A super-light, 8mm-slim edge-to-edge glass design, a simple one-hand operation, and an effective backlight make this cut-price ereader hard to resist.

We liked

Probably the highlight of the Cybook Muse experience is the excellent hardware; this device is exceptionally well designed and both looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is. The pure white page, speedy navigation and page turns, and particularly the choice to turn with a touch of the screen or a tap of a button, is hard to resist.

Buttons are perfectly placed, with the Cybook Muse being easy to hold and operate even with one hand, so it's perfect for reading while standing-up on busy trains and buses, on platforms and in airport queues.

The choice of fonts and layout options is extensive enough, and the low price makes it affordable for those of us who really don't want to carry a heavy £300+ tablet just to read a book. The freedom to read most kinds of book formats is welcome, as is a slick handling of PDFs. The white-on-black reading feature is a nice option, too.

We disliked

The sign-up process for the online book shop is long and reliant on an unresponsive keyboard; this is the lowest point of the device, and I'm not convinced many users will get through it successfully. Nor does the shop have the choice of titles that it should. It's also all in Euros.

That means using Adobe Digital Editions to its fullest and shopping around online for ebooks, which means you'll need a desktop computer or laptop.

Considering its price there's not much else to dislike about the Cybook Muse, though the lack of MOBI file support is a shame. The other issues are tiny; the backlight isn't the very best around, the plastic rear picks up a lot of fingerprints, while its reliance on micro SD card slot rather than a full-size SD Card might be inconvenient for some.

Final verdict

Ereaders travel. They get left on trains, and lost down the back of sofas. They go places – such as jacket pockets – where they can fall out, so it's best if they're not a huge investment. At about £80, the Cybook Muse is really good value.

It's not the best ereader out there, but for those not wanting to get locked-in to Amazon's bookstore, happy to source ebooks from elsewhere and keen on to read PDFs frequently, too, the Cybook Muse is a great value.

It doesn't quite reach the standards and specs of the twice-as-expensive market leaders – the Kindle Voyage and the Kobo Aura H2O – but it gets close, and has the Kindle Paperwhite firmly beaten at a fraction of the cost.

Is the BooReader software as polished as the market leaders? In terms of the extras it offers or the online book shop, no – it's just not as intuitive. But for the simple, uncomplicated reading of books, it more than suffices (and there are plenty of customisation choices for fonts and layouts) as long as you can get hold of them.

Is the hardware as good as those ereaders that cost twice as much? With the effective backlight, ultra-slim 173g design and edge-to-edge design taken into account, absolutely – and that's what makes this cut-price ereader worth contemplating.

First reviewed: January 2015