Google announced Monday its choice for the iriver Story HD as its first eBook reader to integrate seamlessly with its Google eBookstore. Scheduled for a product launch at Target stores and the Target.com site this Sunday, July 17, it will sell with a tag price of $139.99. This was disclosed at Google’s blog site.
This comes after the search engine leader took on Facebook with the launching of its Google+ social site last week. This time, it is giving Amazon a good reason to worry starting this week with a promising new e-reader. At its price rate, the iriver Story HD directly competes with the Amazon Kindle WiFi.
The iriver Story HD has the same browsing and reading abilities as Kindle and many of its competitors. The online buying feature of the Google eBook also goes through Wi-Fi hotspots but naturally defaults to its own eBookstore. Users can enjoy this convenience instead of downloading and transferring ebook titles from a PC or laptop to an e-reader as Google currently allows in more than 80 mobile devices in the market.
Initially unveiled at the 2011 CES and announced for a May release, the iriver Story HD boasts of a gorgeous 6″ XGA (1024X768) e-ink screen that, according to its January press release, has “63% more pixels and faster page turns than the competition.” Under its hood is a Freescale Cortex A8 engine with 2GB onboard storage, support for a SDHC card slot and an in-built Wi-Fi. It promises to run for three weeks on a single full charge, though that may require turning off its WiFi.
The iriver’s Story HD runs on Google’s Linux-based ebook platform and enjoys direct access to more than three million free ebook titles in the public domain plus paid Google eBooks from more than 250 independent publishers. The advantage here is that these titles sit on Google’s cloud database so users need not download them except for copy-protected publication.
In a press statement, Target said that the 6-in iriver Story HD, at 7.3 ounces, is the lightest among e-readers in its class. Google may be coming in late in the e-reader markets with the likes of Amazon and Barnes & Noble firmly in the top market rankings. But with its competitive feature set, it has a year or two to prove itself.