By BILLY TEO
|» Price: $499
» Available: From retail outlets including Challenger and iKnow Concept Kiosks in Popular Bookstore branches
THE label 'e-book reader' does not do justice to the iRiver Story, as it does a fair bit more. It also plays music, displays Microsoft Office documents and even lets you type or record short memos.
But as an e-book reader that weighs just 284g and has the heft of a slim paperback novel, the sleek Story is worth a good look. The 6-inch greyscale electronic ink display - which does a good job of replicating that ink on paper look - produces crisp text with good contrast.
Reading the Story in different environments, such as a dim room or out in the afternoon sun, presented no problems. I could read for hours with no eyestrain. But the transition between pages is distracting because the screen blacks out for half a second before the new page comes on. Free e-books in the ePub file standard, downloaded from the Project Gutenberg portal (www.gutenberg.org), worked like a charm. You can also read e-books in plain text and PDF file formats. There are handy click panels on both the left and right sides of the device for your thumbs to turn pages back and forth.
The iRiver has 2GB of internal memory, which means you can fit in roughly 8,000 e-books. Of course, you can expand the storage capacity by plugging in an SD card. It is rated for 9,000 pages of reads for one battery charge.
The Story plays MP3 and WMV files including audio books. As befitting iRiver's expertise in making MP3 players, the audio playback is sweet. There is a built-in microphone for recording crisp and clear voice memos and even podcasts.
Photo browsing, though, is a non-starter, unless your photos have resolutions of 800 x 600 pixels or less. The lack of colour handicaps not just the display of photos but also Microsoft PowerPoint slides and PDF documents. But browsing and zooming in Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets present no problem.
The device's mobile phone-like Qwerty keypad is stiff and difficult to finger-type quickly when drafting memos or diary entries. Good thing you can multi-task by listening to music while typing.
If the iRiver Story were a novel, it will be a real page turner you cannot put down. Pricey, but a worthy buy for serious readers.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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