Like most readers on the market, the iRiver Story is a clean, sleek white. In fact, it looks quite a lot like a more compact Kindle 2. What's good about this is that the white frame surrounding the white screen can be less distracting than a darker chassis. What's bad about it is that it attracts scuff marks — if you're the kind of person who likes their gadgets looking clean and neat, you'll have to invest in a case.
Below the six-inch E Ink screen sits a full QWERTY keyboard, with a row of function buttons, and on either side are discreet directional buttons. If there seem to be a lot of left and right keys, it's because there are — three sets, in fact. While in a book, all three sets turn pages; however, the side sets allow you to navigate menus more easily. We like that this gives you options for how to hold the device. What we didn't like is that there's not a lot of space for gripping the Story; several times while juggling it and a cup of coffee, some accidental button presses occurred; nothing that couldn't be navigated back to, but less than ideal all the same.
The Kindle homage isn't complete; the back of the Story is the same matte plastic as the front, which does feel a bit flimsy at the seams, but is more pleasant to the touch since it's not prey to the stickiness of the Kindle's aluminium back. The wholly plastic chassis also means the Story is marginally lighter — 284g to the Kindle's 290g — but this is a negligible difference, considering a paperback book can weigh quite significantly more than both put together.
The integrated keyboard is comfortable to use, with keys large enough to avoid accidental button-mashing.
However, the iRiver Story is somewhat light on features. In spite of its broad file support, it lacks what e-reader aficionados are coming to see as important features, such as an integrated dictionary function, W-Fi support and in-text note-taking.
What it does have is a built-in voice recorder, built-in MP3 player, diary and support for image file formats for comics, as well as ePub, PDF, TXT and Office formats XLS, PPT and DOC. This means you can load and view pretty much any file of your own to the device — handy if you need to review files for work or school.