iRiver’s rep for kooky PMPs has garnered it a small if loyal following in recent years. And its first e-reader, the iRiver Story was a critical hit when it landed earlier this year.

Step forward, then, the touch-sensitive Cover Story, its successor, which arrives at a time when e-readers are getting ever more competitive and classy.

Wireless woes

Rather than going mano-a-mano with the Amazon Kindle like its older bro’, the Cover Story has ditched the physical QWERTY panel and is now squaring up to Sony’s Reader range, specifically the Pocket Edition.

Unfortunately, the model we tested lacked Wi-Fi skills, and while such a version is in the pipeline, there’s no plan to bring 3G to the party – a huge miss if you want to get books on the go.

This rather large oversight aside, loading up books to the iRiver Cover Story is breezy. Snaffle the EPUB or PDF file you’re after and simply drag it across to the device on your Mac or PC.

Drag and drop also works well for MP3s, making it a worthwhile, if somewhat oversized, music player. File format is vast, stretching to Docx, Doc and even Powerpoint. As a document viewer it’s dead handy and the 2GB of storage, expandable by a well-hidden SD slot, is more than ample.

Reading skills

When it comes to reading, the Cover Story is every bit as classy as its Sony foes. Pages refresh quickly, although the usual eInk lag can become infuriating and you’re best using the excellent navigation bar on the left-hand side of the device for flicking through pages.

The touchscreen is not particularly responsive and this is of particular concern in the note-taking process, where the virtual QWERTY keyboard is a real pain to use. The handwriting recognition tech is clever and works well with the stylus, but still feels like a massive gimmick to us.

Occasionally, there’s some nasty glare from the eInk panel, too, particularly if you’re reading under strip lighting. Catching a vague reflection of yourself in the words of Wuthering Heights is a mildly chastening experience and one that makes the Cover Story slightly less alluring than its predecessor. You can’t help but feeling that the screen should be a tad higher res as well.

Design dream

If you’re looking for an e-reader that rocks stellar design as well as being able to handle hundreds of books, the iRiver Cover Story is it.

The gloss off-white finish screams class, while the magnetic cover, which you can slip round the back while reading, means you don’t need to sweat about the screen getting scratched in your bag.

The UI is also brilliant, with a bookshelf style design that even the most gadget-phobic user could get to grips with instantly. Easy-to-understand icons and well-ordered files make it every bit as good as its rivals in this department.

However, at £150 for a Wi-Fi-less version, it’s not cheap. The Sony Pocket Edition is similarly pricey, but with the Amazon Kindle only costing £109 with Wi-Fi, there’s no doubting the iRiver Cover Story will struggle.

It’s a cool and clever e-reader, but if you’re looking to convert to digital books, it’s a bit pricey and lacking in killer extras for our liking.


Stuff says... 

iRiver Cover Story review

A neat e-reader, but a bit pricey and let down by lack of Wi-Fi in the cheap version