iRiver Cover Story Touch unboxing and review

Hello everyone, I’m back with an all new unboxing video and a full-length review. This time I have a iRiver Cover Story Touch EB05W, an ebook reader with e-ink touchscreen. I got this one from www.waterstones.com for £99.99 which I think is a real bargain (The same one from www.iriver.co.uk costs £179.99, fyi)

However, compared to the well-known Amazon Kindle 3 Wifi with the price of £111, is the Cover Story Touch really worth it? We will cover that in a minute.

Before I start, there is something I want to say. This one is an ebook reader, not a tablet or something, so please, do not compare this one to the nook Color or, obviously, the iPad, or any other tablet. I know, nook Color is an ebook reader, and iPad has an amazing iBook application for reading ebook. However they are not in the same category. The nook Color and the iPad don’t have e-ink screen, and obviously the Cover Story Touch, and also the Amazon Kindle, can’t browse websites. Therefore as you are gonna see, in most of my review I will compare my iRiver to the Kindle, simply because they are in the same category. Of course the Sony readers may fit in the category too, but I haven’t used any, and also Kindle is the most well-known eReader out there, so fair enough.

So let’s start with the unboxing


The device’s box is one of the worst-looking box I’ve ever seen. It’s said to protect environment blah blah, all I can see is a boring carton box with a few simplified texts. However when I first saw the device, the only word I said is “WOW!”. It surely looks nice. The build quality of the device is rock solid, as it feel absolutely good when holding on my hands, as the line on the box wrote “The iRiver Cover Story will impress you with its unique contoured easy-grip design”. So it’s not exaggerating.

The iRiver Cover Story Touch has quite an unique design. It has a nice metal-like plastic cover which attachs to the device by some kind of magnet. The texture on the cover is really nice.

While you are reading, you can just put the cover on the back of the Cover Story Touch. The back of the device has two small barbs (or edges) to keep the cover in place. Hey, is the text look nice? I have a feeling that this is really a book already. Bad news is, the front of the device has no barb like that. That means, when you are not reading, the cover can easily fall out of its place, as the magnetic force is not strong enough.

Under the bottom of the device is the SD card slot. The device itself comes with 2GB storage, so whenever you run out of storage, you can put a SD card (up to 32GB, as they say) into it and never have to worry about running out of storage again. (What if you run out of SD card storage? Easy, buy another one :D)

The e-ink screen looks nice, especially in good lighting condition. Compared to the screen on the Amazon Kindle 3, this one has a bit lower contrast, but is acceptable in most cases. The iRiver Cover Story Touch, like the Amazon Kindle, sports a Linux kernel to power the device. The home screen looks nice and is themeable.

However, because of the touch screen, it might be a bit reflective in some cases. As you can see in the photo above, you can almost see my hand holding the camera. The Kindle screen, and even the non-touch iRiver Story’s screen are much better in this case.

The main use of an ebook reader is, well, read ebook. In this aspect the iRiver is a strong competitor to other eReaders. It supports most ebook file formats out there, EPUB (of course), PDF, FB2, DJVU and some MS Office document file formats. The document in the picture above is an EPUB file. Unfortunately the PRC file format of MobiPocket (which is bought by Amazon now) is not compatible.

Here is a photo of the device reading PDF file. Generally it is okay. However, as the page layout is reserved, the text may looks quite tiny in order to view the whole page on the screen.

The nicest thing of an eReader with touch screen is that we can write note right on the screen. Don’t expect Amazon Kindle can do that 😀

Reading these tiny characters can be a real problem. Fortunately the iRiver Cover Story Touch offers a nice way to reflow the pdf file. As we can see on the photo, the text is easily readable and the white spaces around the page are removed. Nice!

One other superior feature of this device is region zoom in pdf files. By doing that you can remove the white spaces therefore making the text region larger and easier to read without navigating left right and up down.

Reading manga (or comic) on this is way easier compared to other eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader. This device can read the manga straight from zip archive without any further conversion. This is absolutely gorgeous and undoubtly the best feature I love of the Cover Story.

Taking note with the screen is easy with touch. The touch screen is quite sensitive, however the processing speed is terrible. It is so slow that the line only starts appearing after you finish drawing that. What is more terrible? It won’t save the file in image format but in some ‘unknown’ *.pad file. For this, I can only say one word “Usable”

Note: The picture above indicates drawing of a “normal” person. For my actual drawing, you can check this picture

Hey, it can play music too. The UI look good, when I looked at it I thought of it like “A paper that can play music”, which is quite interesting. I don’t expect it to have a Dolby-Surround audio, however I’m still quite surprise with its audio quality when using it with my Koss Portapro. iRiver is a famous brand name for mp3 players, anyway. You can even listening to music while reading books, thou I don’t really wanna do that.

The iRiver Cover Story Touch has a Wifi version and a non-Wifi version. In the Wifi version, you can use a built-in Email application to check your email via POP or IMAP.

Also in the WiFi version, you can connect into the bookstore’s page to purchase ebooks and download them into you device. Not that I care, though. What a shame it can not browse any webpage other that its bookstore…

When you are not using the device (and also not completely turn it off), the device can show several stand-by screens which I think really nice. Some screens might provide a clock as well. (The clock is not working, it tricked me >.<)

The device is said to have a battery life last 11.000 page turns (the e-ink screen only uses power when turning pages) About 3 weeks, I think. However when I use that for reading comics (zip files in SD card) it seems to last only about 3000 page turns. By the way each charge takes about 5-6 hours.

That is it. We have seen most of the features of the iRiver Cover Story Touch (fortunately not too many). In conclusion, what we can say about this device:

The Good:

  • Small and compact, nice design and solid build
  • Support most file formats.
  • SD card support
  • Nice use of touch screen
  • Reading manga is awesome! PDF reading is great.

The Bad:

  • Low contrast, reflective screen
  • Too slow! X(
  • MobiPocket .PRC format is not supported

The  Ugly:

  • The cover fell off again…

So, shoud we buy this? Or should we buy the Amazon Kindle? The answer depends on what you want to do with it. If you read a lot of book, and you don’t need touch screen, you have no better choice than the Amazon Kindle. It has much better screen compared to this one. But if you want to make annotations while you are reading, take note and other kind of things which use touch screen, this one is a good choice. If you want to have free choices of file format (especially pdf files), or you are a die-hard comic fan, you don’t have to think twice. This one is truly for you.


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