Screen and reading quality
With a 5in E Ink monochrome display supporting 200 pixels per inch (ppi), the Txtr Beagle has a higher pixel density than Amazon's cheapest Kindle ereader that retails for £70 and has a 167ppi display. For such a low price equating to a very modest £8, we really didn't expect this from the Beagle. The numbers really are represented in the viewing quality as the Beagle provides a very decent reading experience, with text appearing sharp and clear. It's only upon very close inspection that you will see jagged edges around lettering where there aren't enough pixels to make for ultra-sharp quality. Even so, you really can't quibble with what you get for the price here.
The screen takes around one second to refresh when turning pages, which is about the average for ereaders, and from our experience while using it, it didn't leave ghost text behind.
Performance and interface
The Beagle's stripped down technology means that it isn't WiFi enabled, it is unable to connect to a 3G network and it doesn't have a rechargeable battery. However, these options would have only bumped up the price, thus spoiling Txtr's objective of providing an ultra-cheap ebook reader.
Saying that, sending books from your phone to the Beagle might sound like a pain, but it's actually effortless and quick, and it's not like you'll need to send books very often unless you enjoy reading five at once and finish a book within a few hours.
To send a book, the power button on the back of the Beagle has to be held in for three seconds. A blue LED will begin to flash and a "waiting for books" sign will be displayed. Once an Android device has been paired with the Beagle, the "Txtr ebooks" app must be downloaded from the Android store in order to send the book over to the device. This is done through the apps' "settings" options and takes just a few seconds to complete (depending on the size of the book).
A downside of the Beagle is that it supports ebook transfers from only Android devices. However, Txtr told us that it is looking into developing compatibility with other mobile operating systems, such as Apple's IOS.
There are three physical keys on the front of the Beagle: page back, select and page forward. Each does as intended and all work very well. You'll find that you will only need to use the select button to choose between which books you'd like to read, and the page turning buttons were very responsive in our tests. The buttons do feel a little cheap however, but at the same time it's nice to have physical buttons to press rather than swiping across the screen to enter the next page, as you do with most touchscreen ereaders on the market and which isn't always responsive.
The power button on the back of the Beagle does the simple task of turning the Beagle on and off. Other than these simple physical buttons, there are no settings to access via an onscreen menu, meaning that options like changing text size and contrast configurations aren't there as with most ereaders on the market. You pretty much get only what you're given with the Beagle.