The Amazon Kindle dominates the ereader market, but it's not without rivals. The iRiver Cover Story EB05W is an E-ink model backed by high street bookseller Waterstones, and it undercuts the Kindle on price, currently selling for a penny under a hundred pounds - but is it ready to go up against the Sony Reader big boys and the Kindle?
The iRiver Cover Story's design is quirky - typical of the Korean manufacturer. Its body is white and curvy, with just the multi-function page-turning control to act as a physical controller on its front. It's not the only navigational tool on offer here though because this ereader is equipped with a touchscreen layer as part of its 6in e-ink screen. It's a resistive model but there's a neat pull-out stylus on the reader's side to help out with touchscreen responsiveness.
It's the magnetic cover that comes to characterise the design of the Cover Story though - rather than the use of a touchscreen. This cover clings to the back of the reader when in use, but can also be placed on the front, protecting the screen, or alternatively removed altogether. There's a section cut out of this cover plate, designed to give the speaker room to breathe when on the reader's back, and to allow for the page-turn rocker when on the front.
The cover is a neat design feature that separates the Cover Story from its rivals, but it does bring a niggle or two with it. When stashed on the device's back this cover, it tends to move a little in your grasp. This is the fault of the magnetism used to keep it roughly in place rather than a build quality issue, but it does detract from the otherwise very solid feel.
If the cover is aligned so that its opening is over the speaker, your hand naturally rests over this gap too, and it doesn't feel as comfortable as the smooth surface provided by rotating the cover. The iRiver Cover Story EB05W has several of these flawed features - things designed to enhance the overall experience that end up threatening to trip up the whole enterprise.
We'll hand it to iRiver on the page navigation though - the rocker is extremely comfortable to use, and will work for lefties as well as right-handed users as there's an auto-rotate function built-in. At 230g, the Cover Story is light enough to be used comfortably one-handed too, which is what this rocker excels at, letting you flip back and forward between pages without any significant movement of your hand.
The iRiver Cover Story comes with 2GB (1461MB is user-accessible) of internal memory, and while this should easily be enough for most - it'll house thousands of ebooks (sans pictures) - there's also a full-size SD card slot on the device's bottom. It's hidden underneath a pull-out flap that also hides the miniUSB slot. The bottom end of the EB05W also sports the 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone and power button. Volume controls sit on the left side and a menu button is on top.