The iriver Story HD, the first ereader to be integrated with the Google eBooks platform, will be going on sale this weekend (initially only at Target department stores and Target.com) on July 17.
The ereader will allow wi-fi search and purchase of any of the nearly three million ebooks in the Google eBookstore, and will support EPUB, PDF, FB2, and DJVU formats, among others. It will also support ebook files that use Adobe digital rights management (DRM)—likely making it compatible with DRM ebooks from OverDrive and other library ebook lending services, although that has yet to be confirmed. (OverDrive recently announced that it was making about 2500 DRM-free ebooks available.)
Early reviews of the Story HD are mixed, though the ereader’s high-definition E Ink screen has been singled out for praise. However, it lacks the social-networking and annotation functionality that leading ereaders, such as the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook, already have—at least for now. Such features could eventually appear in software updates.
That said, the Story HD’s price ($139.99) is competitive, and any product associated with the Google powerhouse could be a contender. (Just look at the company’s recent entry into the social-networking arena, Google+, which already boasts millions of users after just a few weeks.)
Expect to see early-adopter patrons with Story HD ereaders soon. And expect more gadgets to come: in a recent Bloomberg interview, Sony Electronics VP Phil Lubell said the company was planning to roll out an upgraded version of its Sony Reader—possibly as early as August.