One area the Story is particularly strong, however, is battery life. iRiver quotes battery life of around 9,000 page views, 20 hours of music playback and five hours of audio recording. Unsurprisingly we didn’t make much of a dent in these claims, even after two weeks of daily use our unit is still showing a full set of bars, but assuming these claims are correct the Story is among the longest lasting readers on the market.
Ultimately, then, the Story’s generous feature set and excellent battery life aren’t enough to eclipse its somewhat flimsy interface, which hints at a product that’s still in the experimental phase. All the basics are here and most of them executed well enough, but the Story lacks the finer details to bring them together. Moreover, iRiver appears to have taken a lot of inspiration from Amazon’s Kindle without truly appreciating why it’s a good piece of hardware.
The keyboard is the perfect illustration of this point. The Kindle has one so you can search for, purchase and download books and newspapers using the online service. On the Story it’s only useful for the Diary and Memo applications, neither of which are themselves that useful, or searching your library for books – a feature that would be less essential were said books organised properly.
None of these issues prevent the iRiver Story from being a solid, usable eBook reader that benefits from generous integrated storage. However, even with its superior integrated memory considered, it’s an inferior effort when compared to the likes of the Sony PRS-505. It may have a meagre 256MB on-board memory, but this can be expanded using memory cards and it is significantly better looking, more durable and, at £169.99, cheaper. Alternatively there’s the PRS-600, Sony’s new touchscreen eBook reader. It’s a little more expensive, retailing for around £240 at the moment, but whichever way you choose to go you’ll be getting a better product.
As first attempts go, the iRiver Story is merit-worthy, but it’s got that unmistakable air of a work in progress. If iRiver’s record in the MP3 player market is anything to go by it’ll get it right sooner or later, but until then Sony’s range of devices remain the benchmark to follow.