CNET First Look
Iriver Story HDThe Iriver Story HD is a decent e-reader for fans of Google Books, but it's tough to recommend over its identically priced competitors, which offer touch screens and 3G
Hi I'm David Carnoy, Executive Editor for CNET.com, and I'm going to give you a quick video tour of the iriver Story HD eReader. Now I have to say, I found reviewing this product to be a bit of a challenge. That's what happens when you have a basically decent product. It stacks up to the competition in many ways but not in others. Like the Kindle and Nook, this model has the latest and greatest 6-inch e-ink display, but its real claim to fame is the resolution of that display, which iriver says offers 63.8% more pixels than what you'd find on competing models. That extra resolution gets you more detail on images and slightly sharper text. For what it's worth this is also the first eBook reader to have the Google eBookstore on board, making it the first Google eBooks eReader. You can buy many of the same eBooks that you can buy in the Kindle and Nook eBook stores, but ultimately the Google eBookstore can't measure up to Amazon or Barnes & Noble's offerings, which was simply more robust at this point. From a design standpoint, the 7.3-ounce Story HD is lightweight, and I like the 2 sample covers that iriver sent me to test out. They're not included but at least iriver has accessories available for the device. Like the Kindle, this eReader has a built-in keyboard. The keys are pretty tiny and not terribly user friendly, but it's not like you're going to be using the keyboard all that much so I'm not gonna ding it too hard for that. As you've probably gathered by now, this model does not have a touch screen to navigate the menus and turn pages; there's a sort of long bar just under the screen in the middle of the device. It's actually a weirdly-shaped 4-direction joystick that allows you to move around both left and right, and up and down. You then have enter and option buttons just to the right that allow you to select items from the menu or pop up a separate menu. While you're reading, it gives you access to the built-in dictionary, add bookmarks and adjust the font size. It all seems like a pretty poorly-implemented design; but after using the Story HD for a couple of days, I got used to the system and thought it was fine. That said, the user interface is simply not as appealing or as user friendly as the touch screen navigational system found on the identically-priced Nook Touch. As far as the core reading experience goes, I thought the Story HD performed well. And as I said, this is a perfectly good eReader that I liked using in a lot of ways. The problem is that aside from the small advantage of more detailed images and slightly crisper text, there just isn't anything else that would make me tell you to go out and buy this e-ink eReader over the Nook or Kindle. Alas, the bottom line is the iriver Story HD is a decent eReader for fans of Google books, but it's tough to recommend versus its identically-priced competitors that offer touch screens for a 3G wireless. I'm David Carnoy, and that's the iriver Story HD eReader.