The last few weeks we have been inundated with ebook readers. Whether it be the Nook, Kindle, Alex, and the latest hubbub over the Aluratek Libre. Well the Cyberus from Sungale may not have been as publicized as those other ones, in fact it doesn’t just want to be known as an ebook reader but a universal portable media device.
The Cyberus sports a 7″ screen with an 800×480 resolution and comes bound inside a leather case with a magnetic closure. The Cyberus is not light, in fact it weighs as much as real book would. When you take the Cyberus out of the leather sleeve it’s a bit lighter, but not by all that much. Some people may actually like the fact it feels like you are actually lugging around something that still resembles a book. It also has a SD/MMC slot, headphone jack, USB port for PC Connectivity, and a stylus.
The Cyberus really tries to give you everything that the other ebook readers don’t offer yet. First off it has a full screen color display! This is unlike the Nook which just has a color display on the bottom of the device. It also has a main menu screen that sort of resembles the home screen on an iPhone/iPod Touch, which we found amusing. The icons however are very low resolution in that they appear almost pixelated. However those icons open up a lot of features that many would find very useful. You can check your Gmail account, watch You Tube, check your local weather, access a digital calendar, listen to Internet Radio Stations, play videos, pictures, and listen to music. The device also has a built-in 1GB of memory which can be expanded via an SD slot. You could even flip the included leather case cover back and it could double as a stand for your digital slideshows.
When you first turn on the Cyberus it right away asks you if you would like to connect to your network. By doing this you will be able to utilize the installed programs that use the internet. You can scroll and select icons with your finger or the included stylus. Personally I preferred the stylus – functions worked faster as I was finding myself having to tap several times before a screen or function would happen. Since I wasn’t impressed with the resolution of the icons on the main screen, I wasn’t sure how impressed I would be with a You Tube video and shockingly I was actually impressed. You can choose to play the top videos of the day, month, year, and all time. There is also the option to play most recently added, featured, top favorites etc. However you can’t manually search for any videos. If you don’t care to watch any of those, you can login to your account and play your favorites. I was able to check my local weather easily by entering my zip code. You can also access Picasa to view your images. Checking your Gmail account is easy to, just click on the icon and enter in your account info and done. Internet Radio was cool as it gave you access to lots of different channels under different genres. The sound quality from the device’s built-in speakers isn’t all that impressive but once I stuck a pair of headphones into it, it was sooo much better.
The ebook portion of the Cyberus features no backlight but even so, in the dark you can still read because the touchscreen is quite bright. However in bright sunlight it is a problem and you can hardly see any words or images for that matter – the sun basically blacked out the entire screen. Once opened you can skip to the next page, zoom in to make bigger, or smaller. The font is easy on the eyes and it has color, instead of displaying the words in monochrome. The Cyberus has no e-ink or any type of electronic paper display, it’s just a traditional LCD display. If you use all the other features of the device and then decide to read a book, be prepared for the fact that the battery is not going to last long either. I was able to get out of it a day and half by doing a combination of different things.
The Sungale Cyberus knows that it’s not a dedicated ebook reader, even though they market it on its packaging as if it were one. Instead Sungale tries to give users a ton of other features that may over shadow some of its short comings. Of course to some the short comings may be a little too much to handle like the lack of connectivity if you aren’t near a Wi-Fi hotpot, the fact that reading in the sunlight is pretty much useless because you can’t see anything on the screen, or being able to download books is non-existent over the internet. I certainly think if the device was more polished and didn’t have that made in China aesthetic, it really could have been a contender. For those who don’t care about the glitz and glamour of the Kindle or Nook, it is an overall decent multimedia device that offers the option of being an ebook reader, but then again so doesn’t your iPod Touch or iPhone. The Sungale Cyberus retails for $249.00 at Amazon.
The Good: Color display, lots of nice extra features like dedicated Gmail and YouTube icons. Tries to be more than a traditional ebook reader
The Bad: Very difficult to read ebooks in the sunlight, can only connect to Wi-Fi hot spots or your home network, can’t download books on the fly, user interface is ugly, and may be too bulky for some.