Iriver Story HD review
You may have heard of Iriver's Story HD being the Google Books eReader, but sadly that model isn't yet available in the UK. Instead, we got our hands on the Basic model, which lacks Wi-Fi and Google Books integration. It's the only 6in eReader we've seen with a 768x1,024 resolution E-Ink screen, which means text and images are sharper.
The previous model - the iRiver Story eBook reader - was a capable device, although it was too expensive to compete with the then Amazon Kindle 3. The Story HD is much cheaper, but so is the latest Amazon Kindle, which costs only £89.
In common with other Iriver products, the HD has a distinctive design, with translucent brown buttons, a cream front and brown rear. A long, horizontal button above the keyboard acts as a four-way navigation control - it's more of a joystick than a button in operation. The interface is also distinctively Iriver: it's clean and minimalist, but has some design and translation quirks that mean it's worth reading the manual. The Home page is clearly laid out, with your current book taking pride of place at the top of the page, followed by a bookmarks option and then a list of books on your device.
You can choose whether this list shows file names or book titles in the Options menu under Setting->System->Operating. DB List shows books, while Folder List shows files. The DB List is preferable, as you can then change whether books are sorted by Recent, Favourite, Title, Author or Image (file type).
The interface uses a curly bracket to signal the current selection, which can be a bit confusing. For example, in the Book list, you can't just press the right button to move to the next page of the list. Instead, you have to move the bracket up to the folder list, and then move left or right to select the desired folder. The bar isn't ideally placed for page turns with one hand, either, but is comfortable when holding the Story HD with both hands.
Without Wi-Fi, the only way to get your eBooks onto the Story HD is via USB or SD card. As with other non-Amazon devices, the Story HD works with Adobe Digital Editions to manage purchased eBooks, although we noticed quite a delay the first time we connected it, as it updated the internal database. The Story has patchy file support - it can read Office documents, including the latest versions such as DOCX, but not MOBI or PRC eBook formats, nor rich text files.
Reading books on the 768x1,024 resolution screen is pleasant, but not leagues better than a standard 600x800 screen. There's a dedicated button for text size, and changes are made instantly so you can preview them. There's no accelerometer, but a another dedicated button means reading in landscape mode is only three clicks away. There's a built in dictionary, but you can't select a word on the page - instead, you have to type your search, and this seems to be the only use for the keyboard. We liked how words you've looked up are saved along with a reference to the book and page you were reading at the time.
The Story HD has some interesting features and a refreshingly clear interface, but the lack of Wi-Fi and built-in store puts it at a disadvantage. Its keyboard seems wasted, and it's not as good value as the Kobo Wireless eReader or the Amazon Kindle, both of which cost about £20 less.