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Does it make sense to consider the iRiver Story HD for an eBook reader purchase?
March 5, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Is it foolish to consider buying an iRiver Story HD as my first eBook reader?

I've been slowly edging towards buying an eBook reader and while I have various not-great feelings about Amazon as a business, I was leaning towards one of the lower end Kindles. I installed the Kindle for Mac software on my computer to play around with and it all seemed pretty good.

Yesterday though I noticed that Target had cut the iRiver Story HD down to $50. Previously there didn't seem to be much point in considering a similarly priced minor-party contender like the Story but that is pretty cheap.

I feel like I've acquainted myself fairly well with the functionality issues and mostly am not seeing necessary deal-breakers, but it's really tough to judge the actual reading experience. Any first hand accounts would be appreciated. I'd be particularly interested if you've been hands on with both (or with the iRiver Story and one of the other main contenders more in the Kindle's league).

I'm concerned by the some of the issues raised by this Engadget review - especially hints at the screen hardware being fragile.

Other issues I'm wondering about:

1) How annoying in practice is the lack of touch screen?

2) How much of an issue the described "very bare bones" UI is - does it get in the way/seem like an obstruction in reading?

3) Is it relatively easy to convert Kindle ebooks to a compatible format? (I'm interested in this only for making my own legally bought books accessible: I'm aware doing so may be contrary to the DMCA, as a comparison of what I'm technically up to for example I've ripped and converted DVDs to an iPod compatible format just researching online and using freely available software like Handbrake and VLC)

4) Tough to answer I realize but any thoughts on the issue that signs suggest the product may well get abandoned for future support? The price slash at Target seems to suggest its retail relevance is limited. I feel like if I can get even a couple years good reading out of it, for the price it would be a fair experiment. If I'm going to be fighting it all the time and end up succumbing to the inevitable upgrade in a year though I might as well just go with one of the bigger contenders now.

Thanks for any input
posted by nanojath to Technology (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is it relatively easy to convert Kindle ebooks to a compatible format?

Calibre takes care of that.
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


3) Is it relatively easy to convert Kindle ebooks to a compatible format?

I have to tell you that while Calibre is easy enough to use, not having to do this is a big part of what makes my Kindle* such an enormous and instant joy to own for me. (The no backlight e-ink thing is the other.) I browse on Amazon, click One Click Checkout and my Kindle books are delivered immediately and magically to my Kindle. Browsing via my PC means I can stack up books to read, but I also bought The Book Thief on a train directly from the Kindle's on board search, just because the woman across from me was reading it and enjoying it so much.

The other big, big Kindle win for me is this Send to Kindle browser extension. I regularly send long reads from Mother Jones or rando MeFi links to my Kindle with a single button click, and read them before bed.

If cost is the real issue here, I think I'd get the $79 Kindle over any other option, just because the convenience and amenities make it such a pleasure to own.

*I have the WiFi only version and am delighted with it. I rarely use the keyboard - to make that train purchase, and to Tweet reviews when I'm done with a read Meh.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:36 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) How annoying in practice is the lack of touch screen?

2) How much of an issue the described "very bare bones" UI is - does it get in the way/seem like an obstruction in reading?


For you? I don't know. For me, these issues are huge. I happily used the original Nook for a long time, but switched to the touchscreen (black and white) the minute it was available; it was just so much more pleasant to use. But I have friends who are still using original Nooks and Kindles and don't care to change.
posted by BibiRose at 1:43 PM on March 5, 2012


I have the original Nook and just don't care about having a touch screen. It doesn't bother me one bit.

Also: I don't believe Calibre can break/convert from Amazon's DRM. Here's the list of the formats to/from... isn't Kindle in AZW?
posted by getawaysticks at 1:50 PM on March 5, 2012


Also: I don't believe Calibre can break/convert from Amazon's DRM. Here's the list of the formats to/from... isn't Kindle in AZW?

Out of the box, Calibre won't break DRM. This is easily solved by installing Apprentice Alf's Plugin's.

I'm in the opposite camp from DarlingBri, I like using Calibre as my library and load my current reading on my Nook Color. While I can download directly from B&N, I like to buy from whoever has the books cheapest.
posted by Runes at 2:28 PM on March 5, 2012


I have no experience with iRiver products, but every time I've ever chosen to buy the cheaper off-brand version of the thing I want, I'm always disappointed with it. And I usually end to buying the "real" one a few months later, and kick myself for buying something twice. I've mostly stopped doing this, but it's been a hard lesson to learn.

The low-end Kindle seems to be well-loved, well-supported, and it's not that much more expensive.

Again, I have absolutely nothing to say about the iRiver Story HD, but there's probably a reason Target cut the price back to $50.
posted by sportbucket at 4:44 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the moment, I think the Nook Simple Touch, available for $80 if you are willing to go refurbed, is king of the hill. Once you root it, which is very simple, you can then install Kindle for Android, Opera Mobile, Gmail, Google Maps, and much more from the Android Market and Amazon App Marketplace. It doesn't really make for an amazing Android tablet (Angry Birds just isn't really playable), but it becomes a super functional eink reader.
posted by rainbowbullet at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2012


I appreciate the the input on this question.

I decided to purchase the iriver Story as an experiment with the feeling that $50 was not too significant a risk for an initial foray. I have a lot of interest in exploring the world of freely available public domain texts (see for example my previous question), in taking text from various sources and formatting them for use with a reader myself, and in getting hands on with converting formats of purchased books for compatibility, and I feel like the Story will do well for these purposes, while I wait to see what the next couple generations of tablet-era e-ink readers looks like.

Quick impressions - the display is very nice and I hope its resolution indicates way of things to come. It is easy enough to get started with and use and works fine for every day reading. As I'm experimenting with a lot of files from public domain resources I'm liking the use of an SD card with an external reader to swap files around quickly and easily on my desktop without going through the Story's interface.

So far the negatives are what I expected from the reviews - the ergonomics of handheld reading are so-so, and the bare bones interface indeed gets clunky fast if you're trying to do anything fancy. I strongly suspect that when I eventually get something with a touch interface it will be an "I'll never go back" moment. I'm still concerned about the screen fragility issue but I'll just have to wait and see on that one.

For all that I'm finding it a pleasant device and feeling no qualms about having bought it. I appreciated this discussion, however, it will definitely inform my use of the device and consideration for future ones. Thanks!
posted by nanojath at 9:02 AM on March 7, 2012


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