The iRiver Story is effectively a Kindle clone minus the internet connectivity, but if you don't need that and don't mind a slightly cheap feel, then it makes a good option. The design strongly mimics the Amazon Kindle, as one of the few eReaders with a keyboard, vice a directional pad or touchscreen interface.
The iRiver Story has a standard 6-inch e-ink display, but with only 8 greyscales vice the 16 of top eReaders. The Story has a mini USB and SD card slots, so you can expand the generous 2GB of memory to up to 32 GB with a SDHC card. It has generous file format recognition--using PDF, E-Pub, TXT, and Microsoft-Office files without needing conversion (though the latter function sometimes results in gibberish for no apparent reason, and you can't zoom, making Powerpoint slide viewing useless for example). The Next and Previous Page buttons are on both the left and right hand sides (handy for the 10% of the population which is left-handed), and molded into the unit--practically invisible.
There are diary and memo functions, but oddly, you can't actually link memos to passages in an ebook as you can with most eReaders.
It has good audio support, with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack, speakers (they will run some 24 hours on a full battery charge), as well as a microphone (5 hours worth of recording on one charge), one of the few eReaders with such a capability.
While the stats sound good, the iRiver Story does have a cheaper and more flimsy feeling than the Kindle. It creaks under pressure, doesn't have a metal back like the Kindle, and simply feels to us like a copy rather than an original device.
iRiver is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, and is the consumer electronics marketing arm of ReignCom, a company founded in 1999 by former Samsung executives. The Story was originally released solely in Korea in September before its European Union release in November. There are reportedly ongoing negotiations with content providers in the US, Russia, Europe and Australia, so we expect release to further markets in the coming months.
Connecting: The iRiver hardware is impressive, matching the Kindle in many ways, but it's the connectivity which really lets it down. There is only a USB 2.0 connection--no cellular data access, and certainly not the free internet access and basic browsing which Amazon offers.
Accessories: We're unaware of accessories available for the iRiver Story.
Price: The iRiver retails in Europe for €299 and the UK for £229. This is more than the Kindle, and at this price, we simply don't think there will be a large uptake for this little known South Korean Kindle clone, minus the internet connectivity.