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Not the best book app around

An app called Best Book Reviews seemed to be the solution to information overload on books ‚ until SEAN BACHER tried it for himself.

Most avid book readers would do some research before buying a book and, in the 21st century, the easiest way to do this is by searching the Internet. But, with hundreds of sources of opinion from journalists and readers around the world, all offering different views, how do you know whose opinion to believe? More importantly, how do you know when you have read enough reviews to make an educated decision as to whether the book is worth buying?

The solution seemed to lie with an Android application called Best Book Reviews, which promises to deliver a variety of reviews to the user’s phone or tablet, enabling an informed decision on buying a book.

Once you have installed Best Book Reviews from the Android Marketplace, you are presented with lists of categories from which you can choose your book reviews. For example, you can view the latest reviews from the New York Times or you can choose to read blogs or even listen to podcasts. You also have the option of adding RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from other review sites.

All very well laid out, every category tells you exactly what information you will be able to access if you select it, how many new reviews have been added since you last accessed that category and how many you still have to read.

However the neatness and tidiness of the application stops there. Once you click on a category, you are presented with what can only be described as a mass of unorganised reviews from various journalists, publications and blogs. To make matters worse, you will be shown various news articles about the authors and their lives ‚ nothing to do with the actual book reviews.

What is described on the opening screen does not relate at all to what you see when you select a certain category. Apart from the podcast category, which does present you with a list of podcasts, it looks like the content has just been replicated from one category to the other.

I was even more frustrated with the search functionality ‚ or lack thereof.

Generally, when I am looking for information on a book, I want to read information relating to that book only, so I would like to search for the book’s title or even the author’s name. Best Book Reviews offers none of this functionality.

Its background activity was the worst offence.

Every time I switched on my Samsung Galaxy Tab, it would automatically start downloading vast amounts of content. I found it baffling at first, as I had no open applications. It was only after I checked the active processes on the device that I realised Best Book Reviews continually connects to the Internet in the background to download new reviews and articles. And I had no control over the process. There is no setting in the Best Book Review application to control when it can download new content.

Overall I was deeply disappointed with Best Books Reviews’ performance. The application is totally unmanageable and more confusing than enlightening. Using the tried and trusted method of searching for the book on the Internet and clicking on your most trusted news site still beats Best Book Reviews hands down. Not what you’d expect from an app.

Gadget App Rating:

1. A must have application

2. A nice to have application

3. A waste of time and memory

Best Book Reviews scores a 3 on the Gadget Mobile App Rating scale. It is a complete waste of time.

* Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @gadgetza

Application tested on the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

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