iRiver Story review
Nicely designed and packed with features, but a little on the expensive side
Review Date: 30 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £200 (£230 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
The trade in eBook readers is picking up considerable momentum right now. After a few years on the sidelines, and devices dribbling out at snail's pace, we've seen a flurry of products hit the market in recent months, and there's now a new name to add to the list: the iRiver Story.
And it's a serious contender too, for unlike the army of rebadged, cheap-feeling clones (Cool-er and Elonex, we're looking at you), the Story is an attractive piece of kit. It's an unashamed Kindle tribute, with its matte white body and integrated keyboard, but that's no bad thing.
Alas, it's not quite a carbon copy. There's no lustrous aluminium panel at the rear, for instance, and the build quality isn't quite up there with the Kindle's either. Give the Story a tweak and it creaks worryingly.
The 6in E Ink screen can't match the luxuriousness of the Kindle's 16 grey levels either, but the iRiver's eight make it as readable as Sony's non-touch readers. And, crucially, the Story isn’t hobbled by its limited library of titles as the Kindle is.
In fact its support of the ePub format makes it ideal for use in the UK, as that's the format currently favoured by big retailers such as Foyles and Waterstones. It doesn't stop there. You can read PDF and plain text files and also, unusually, Microsoft DOC, PPT and XLS formats, although we found implementation of these last three somewhat patchy. The zoom control, for instance, doesn't work on Excel or PowerPoint files, rendering some files unreadable.
Performance is decent, however, with snappy page turns on even image-heavy PDF files. The keyboard is spacious with large, comfortable keys and the controls are sensibly laid out, with page turn buttons set subtly into the front edge of the device on each side.
The Story is also replete with extra features, with a built-in speaker, a voice recorder, 2GB of integrated storage, a 3.5mm headphone socket (the MP3 player actually sounds quite good), plus diary and memo facilities as well. One rather strange omission, though, is you can't link memos to pages in a book, or simply add notes.
But the critical issue isn't linked to the features, or the quality of build, or the file format support. It's the price, which is far too high – more costly than any of Sony's current offerings, including the Reader Touch. Meanwhile the Sony PRS-505, which is still our favourite reader, can now be had for well under £200.
Don't get us wrong, we do like the iRiver Story; it's better than most readers we've seen, but it doesn't quite do enough to justify that price premium.
Available from www.advancedmp3players.co.uk
Author: Jonathan Bray
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