Products like the $139 Iriver Story HD are a challenge to review. Why? Well, because it's a perfectly decent, reasonably priced product that has one glaring drawback: it doesn't have any significant advantages over its closest competitors, the Kindle, Nook, and Kobo Touch Edition. So, why buy it?
Iriver would like to have you think that the Story HD's higher-resolution (768x1,024 pixels) display should be a mitigating factor in your choice. That has enabled the company to tout it as the world's "highest-resolution 6-inch e-reader." Except for the additional resolution, however, it's the same E Ink Pearl display that's in all the leading e-readers these days. But the added resolution--Iriver says it has 63.8 percent more pixels--does provide for added detail in images and slightly sharper text.
For what it's worth, this is also the first e-book reader to have the Google eBookstore on board, making it the first Google eBooks e-reader. You can buy many of the same e-books that you can buy in the Kindle Store, the Nook's eBookstore, Sony's eBookstore, Apple's iBooks, and Kobo's Store. There are also Google Books apps for Android and iOS that allow you to sync your libraries with other devices. But the Google eBookstore isn't any better than competing e-book stores and can't measure up to the Kindle Store (the best) or Barnes & Noble (second best). You're also not going to get the kind of digital newspaper and magazine subscriptions that Kindle or Nook offer, though that probably isn't terribly important to a lot of folks.
From a design standpoint, the 7.3-ounce Story HD is attractive, lightweight, and we liked the two sample covers that Iriver sent us (they're not included, but at least Iriver has accessories available for the device).
So how does it perform?