BeamReader

Didn't I tell you that this was in the works? Didn't I? Fresh from reviewing RepliGo Reader, I wanted to have a look at BeamReader from SLG Solutions Inc, formerly Beam Berry Solutions Inc. I‘ve decided, for the time being, to forgo including PDF To Go, as it isn't a standalone product like BeamReader and RepliGo Reader are. PDF To Go is actually part of the Documents To Go Premium Edition solution from Dataviz. Documents To Go is a discussion, and a review, for a later time. From their website, SLG Solutions Inc states that BeamReader is "the first full fidelity native PDF reader for the BlackBerry."

But wait...the Cerience Corporation says that, in today's market, their RepliGo Reader offers the highest available fidelity. Both offer similar solutions, so what's a BlackBerry user to do? Well, after we have a look at Beam Reader, let's compare the two and see which, if any, application comes out on top.

BeamReader Review

BeamReader offers stored PDF documents and PDF email attachment viewing in a desktop like format. This means that all original fonts are preserved, as well as the PDFs original format and included images. I didn't find this to be entirely true as some images appeared grainy or pixilated. Please note that if you are looking to open email attachments with BeamReader, you should be running an OS of 4.5 or higher. For BES, you will need BES OS 4.1.5 or higher.

BeamReader
not getting the clear picture here

Opening BeamReader, you will see a tree list view used to rummage through files. BeamReader handles documents found stored on your memory card and your device. While you are searching for files, and while you wait for the PDFs to load, the application offers pop ups with tips and tricks. While helpful at first, I would suggest disabling them as they could get annoying in time.

BeamReader
thanks for the tip!

While I normally use the menu button to scroll through the options, you can use the trackball to access a "bottom dock" type options menu. Keyboard shortcuts are supported as well;

BeamReader
shortcuts

BeamReader
an easy to use menu is a click away

From the bottom dock menu, you can switch to the next/previous page, zoom, go a specific page, go to bookmark, options and help. So far, I cannot open the options section from this menu. I find the bottom dock very easy to use, when it comes to viewing documents. Although being able to zoom in and out, I found the function lacking control. When you first zoom in, you aren't given the option to select and a specific area to focus in on. Only after the first zoom can you reposition the document with your trackball to the portion of interest. Besides accessing PDF documents, I was able to navigate and manage my own images, audio and video files almost as easily as I could, using the native applications. From within BeamReader, you can create new files/folders and copy, cut, delete, paste or rename them as well. With OS 4.5, you can attach these files to outgoing emails. Here's a list of supported file formats:

  • PDF Documents - including Scanned/Fax PDFs
  • Images - JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF 
  • MS Office Documents - Documents To Go needs to be installed
  • Audio/Video Files
BeamReader
create MS Office Documents

BeamReader
Options

The last two file formats are accessed by BeamReader File Browser using native BlackBerry applications. MS Office Documents (PowerPoint, Word and Excel), can also be created within BeamReader and viewed/edited using Documents To Go. With this in mind, BeamReader steps out of the PDF reader world and more into file management. Now that we have had a look at BeamReader, I wanted to give a comparison between it and RepliGo Reader, hopefully helping out those who may be confused as to which way to go.

BeamReader and RepliGo Compared

PDF Rendering
The win goes to RepliGo Reader. While BeamReader always stays true to font, RepliGo offers better image rendering and rich colour. Testing a few different PDFs, RepliGo opened and rendered PDFs faster, everytime.

Viewing Options
RepliGo again folks. Both offer bookmark support, both offer zoom in and out. RepliGo takes it to another level. RepliGo gives you more zoom options. You can also search for text, and zoom in on highlighted sections. RepliGo's Reading View condenses everything down into a single column, for easy reading.

Features
I'm going to have to call a draw. RepliGo gives you more functions when it comes to viewing PDFs whereas BeamReader helps you create and manage various file types. Both sport keyboard shortcuts, though they excel in different areas; RepliGo has more options, BeamReader's are easier to memorize and navigate.

Language Support
The award goes to....BeamReader. RepliGo is available in German, Italian, French and English. BeamReader covers most international languages, including Chinese and Hindi.

Application size and Updates
RepliGo Reader is the featherweight champion. BeamReader takes up 1.7MB and RepliGo Reader, a mere 600kb. I guess less actually is more. In RepliGo's menu, there is an option to check for updates. There is an options menu in BeamReader, but nothing happens when you try to access it.

Cost
I'll say a tie, with a question mark. I you take a trip to the CrackBerry store, you will find BeamReader ringing up at $19.99 and RepliGo Reader for $19.95. I'm pretty sure that a nickel won't break you.

Conclusion

After using both applications for awhile, the one that works best for me is RepliGo Reader. I personally didn't need the additional file support that BeamReader offers, but maybe you will. If you need an intuitive, powerful PDF reader, have a look at RepliGo. If you require the ability to view PDFs and manage several other file types, check out BeamReader. I hope that this comparison cleared a few things up for you. If you would like to try out BeamReader for yourself, there is a free trial available. If you think it's for you, you can pick it up at the CrackBerry store for $19.95.