Review: What's The Best Magazine Format?

Reading a magazine is a very personal activity. Whether you pick up a good trashy read at the airport lounge, or you reach for something insightful while sitting on the toilet, magazines draw you in. Good stories, fun pictures and great layout (even if you didn’t notice!) all add up to the experience that is reading a magazine. And in the past, the experience of a good ‘zine just couldn’t be replicated with gadgetry – unlike newspapers, whose layout and advertising design model translate easier to the smallest screen. But now, with a spate of e-readers on the market and more hitting the shelves soon, can we start to love magazines on computers? We put several different methods of consuming magazines to the test.

What are the Options?

We tested the iPad’s apps for Popular Science and Wired, the Nook version of Popular Science (Wired isn’t yet available) the web versions of those two magazines, and the paper versions. We tested other magazines like Technology Review on the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader; they don’t have Wired or Popular Science available, thereby exposing one of the problems – not all content is available everywhere. Those two publications were chosen because of their techno-phile audiences; they were among the first to built apps and try to replicate the experience of reading a magazine in an e-format.

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  • Ragnar-Kon
    Personally, I prefer the paper version of every magazine I've ever read.

    However, sometimes I wish someone would invent adblock for paper magazine. I HATE how some magazines split up articles with tons of full-page ads.
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  • woshitudou
    I prefer paper for mags also, they're cheaper and more resilient. The only thing lacking is the search function. If I read a mag/book in the bathroom and it gets wet; no prob. If a slate gets wet its gone.
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  • Anonymous
    progress requires:

    magazines delivered on disks (flash cards or mini cds) or downloaded from the net which can be viewed on PDA or laptops

    PDA's with a viewing area of a regular paper magazine

    it'll save on paper and be easier to distribute
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  • pclee
    I love stacking my mags in the bathroom. My Kindle is good for long trips and it's a great advantage since I spend most of my time abroad, but I can't see myself subscribing to my favorite mags with it.
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  • Scanlia
    And the amount of ads with adblock? none!
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  • Anonymous
    Surely this review missed the other magazine apps - ones that scan a magazine, ads and all in presenting the question of whether we can do without paper. Zinio on an Ipad presents a great mix of showing the print version with a bit of interactivity (some active links). It's great to review full featured interactive magazine applications in a comparison, but unless you look at an alternative - can you really say that's about it as far as magazine apps go?
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  • Anonymous
    Beware of 12 month subscriptions for Popsci on Ipad - I have recently received this email from them:

    Dear GAYNOR,

    We are writing with some important news about your subscription to Popular Science+.

    Beginning next week, there will be a new UK edition of Popular Science for the iPad. Popular Science+ UK will include all the great news, features, photos and video that you’ve seen in the US edition, but with all the prices in pounds and measurements in metric. All the What’s New products will be available to buy in the UK, and there will be new UK-only articles.

    Unfortunately, when Popular Science UK launches, the existing Popular Science app will disappear from the UK app store. The app will remain on your iPad, but future updates will not be available to you. This means that, at some point, you may lose access to new issues. We would like to apologize in advance for the inconvenience this may cause.

    Since your subscription and credit card information is managed by Apple, we are unfortunately unable to transfer your subscription to the new edition. However, the publishers of Popular Science UK are arranging a special offer so you can claim the new UK edition at a huge discount.

    To claim this discount, which will be available for a limited time, please visit: yeah great 40 per cent discount on a product I have already paid in full for - not thanks
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  • onebrokendownhorse
    The free online stuff is good enough for now from these magazines. The problem that I have with these units is if they think you are stealing (no law required) they can shut down your reader and your subscription is useless and you lose money. No thanks I will read paper until that is corrected.
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