Head to Head: iRex DR800S vs iRiver Story

Are ebook readers just for consumers or do they have some valid features to offer business users too? We find out in this head to head review as we compare the iRiver Story and iRex DR800S.

iRex DR800S vs iRiver Story
5 Mar, 2010
The DR800S is a high-end ebook reader designed to cope with large documents, photos and books; it’s a business device and a luxury ebook reader. iRiver’s Story, meanwhile, does much the same as the DR800S, but on a smaller scale. It’s a more basic device designed to entertain, though its (albeit rudimentary) compatibility with Microsoft Office documents and the option for voice recording will appeal to some business users. [[IMG ID="90835f"]] [i] Voice recordings of up to five hours can be made and saved as MP3 files.[/i] Take into account their similar skills and vastly different prices and it’s a close-run contest, but with PDF annotations on the horizon, the bigger, more intuitive, faster and overall more business-orientated DR800S emerges victorious.

Both iRiver and iRex have a similar take on the electronic book (ebook) market; we’ll provide the device and you buy the books.

With no stain of DRM about either the iRiver Story (£195 from Advanced MP3 Players) or the iRex DR800S (£449 from Libresco), there’s more freedom to the experience – up to a point.

With similar philosophies, the South Korean-made Story and the Dutch-manufactured DR800S are quite different devices; the former is primarily for books and entertainment while the latter takes us beyond books and addresses the business market more overtly. But that’s on the face of it, so we decided to dig a little deeper to see what both have to offer. Does the cut-price iRiver Story have some features that might just give it the upper hand for demanding users?

Size and screen

Measuring 127mmx9.4mmx203.5mm (WDH) and weighing 284g, the super-slim Story is highly portable though its QWERTY keyboard and controls do bulk it up somewhat. Its 6in, eight-shade greyscale 800x600 pixel resolution E-Ink screen is utterly glare-free and very comfortable to read.

The 149mmx10.7mmx193 (WDH), 360g DR800S adds a couple of inches to the diameter of its 16-shade greyscale 768x1024 pixel E-Ink screen. That’s crucial because it has almost twice the screen real estate than the Story can offer. With a slightly higher resolution the DR800S’ screen lends a modicum more comfort to reading, but it’s a tight call; both are easy to read in poor light or direct sunlight.

Rex - A QWERTY keyboard for use with the stylus pops-up if the search function is used.

A QWERTY keyboard for use with the stylus pops-up if the search function is used.

The DR800S also has a touch screen. At the moment it’s not a big deal; it only works with a stylus, which although included in the package doesn’t prove integral to operating the device. Not yet, anyhow – plans are afoot to release a software upgrade (2.0) at the end of April that will see the DR800S host annotations to PDFs and other notes scribbled by the stylus. Handwriting recognition software could be part of the mix, though it’s unlikely that the resulting text files will be exportable.