Robot 6

First date: Me and my iPad

So, I broke down yesterday and bought an iPad. (I got the 32 G, Wi-Fi only version, for those who care about such things.) It’s a toy, but it’s a very nice toy. The question is, will it be a good workhorse?

So far so good. I’m a good tester for products like this, as I am not particularly good with technology, and I find that moving things to multiple platforms is often more trouble than it’s worth. The guy set the iPad up for me right in the store—got the battery charged, showed me how to use it, and made sure I installed iBooks right away. I doubt I’ll ever use iBooks, because I couldn’t find any free books, but whatever, it doesn’t take up much space. With a quick sync, I had the iPad versions of several comics readers that I already had on my iPod Touch: Comics by comiXology, Comics + from iVerse, some Dark Horse stand-alone books. Somehow the Viz Manga reader appeared as well, although I don’t remember signing up. Downloads were swift and easy. When I went home, I added the iPad to my Kindle account and moved some books over there.

Interestingly, the iPod comics I already own are readable on the iPad but in the smaller iPod format, so while I haven’t gained anything, I haven’t lost anything either.

My first impression is that comics look great on the iPad, although the backlit screen is a bit much. I turned down the brightness to make it less harsh on my eyes. The resolution isn’t fantastic—if you look closely (I’m at the age where I take off my glasses and bring my nose to the book a lot) the type and line art look a bit fuzzy. But if you read it at a normal distance, that effect washes out. The screen is a good size for a comic, just a hair smaller than the print versions, and as it’s a bit bigger than standard manga volumes, the manga looked really good on the Viz app. And of course you can read a full page at a time, so there’s no panel-to-panel fumbling like there was with the iPod Touch.

The apps themselves all worked pretty well as well. You have to hand it to comiXology, their Comics app is the smoothest and most intuitive of the lot. You can download their free comics without even registering, although be warned that a lot of the “free comics” are actually 10 page previews, not full length comics. I found the Comics+ app from iVerse to be a bit harder to use; the comics page is smaller, and you can’t turn pages with a simple tap—you have to swipe.

One thing that worked insanely well was the GoodReader PDF viewer. As a reviewer, I get a lot of comics in PDF form, and reading on my computer tends to be clumsy and tiresome. The great thing about GoodReader was that I didn’t have to be a computer programmer to use it; I could move the comics over a USB connection with a simple drag-and-drop or download them from the web by adding “g” before the web address. Once downloaded, the comics were neatly indexed and easy to read using the standard iPad commands.

I’m still poking around the apps to see which comics are available where, and I’m debating the utility of the individual publishers’ apps (DC, Marvel, Archie) as opposed to the comiXology app that runs them. So there’s lots to learn. But I have to say my initial impression was all good—the comics are displayed attractively (the backlighting makes the blacks and colors really pop) and the interfaces were all easy to use. Now it’s time to put it to work.



I’ve fallen in love with the thing for comics reading. Comixology isn’t perfect, but it’s leaps ahead of everyone else and they get 95% of everything right.

Welcome to the club, Brigid. My iPad has not left my side since I bought it a few months back.

You may or may not be interested in some of the apps I wrote about here in my list of iPad apps for cartoonists and comic book creators. You might really get some good use out of the Writer app.

Chris, I agree—it’s the most intuitive of the apps I have tried out so far.

Rich, thanks for the link—I’m going to check some of these out.

I love comics on my iPad (and iPod come to that)… Comixology is probably the better app out there (in fact it’s head and shoulders over the competition on my last look see although who knows, that may have changed. Content wise they’re very strong) but OH BOY Comixology is the crashiest app on my iPod touch and no mistaking. Love it to pieces but it’s frustrating having to restart two or three times every time you sit down for a session.

No probs on the iPad though, not so that I’ve seen, but on the iPod touch? Very very unstable.

Winston Davidson

November 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm

The two clear leaders in this market are iVerse and Comixology. Both company’s app have strong and weak points. Content between the two is nearly identical with the exception of Image and DC with Comixology and IDW with iVerse. I have found the Comixology to be much slower and it does crash more often, however I do like the Guided View. Also, I don’t believe there is a difference in page size. The author also suggests that the Archie app is powered by Comixology. That is incorrect as the stand alone Archie app is powered by iVerse.

Winston, you’re right. ComiXology plans a kids’ comics app that will include Archie comics, but the standalone Archie app is powered by iVerse.

I found comiXology to be pretty quick, and I haven’t had any crashes, but maybe I’m lucky. I did have problems with their DC app on the iPod Touch. As for page size, the iVerse app always has small menu bars at the top and bottom so they have to letterbox the page to make it fit. As a consequence, the page is slightly smaller. That’s not a big deal to me, but the navigation is—it just seems a bit harder with iVerse.

No free books? There are over 25,000 (that’s thousand) free books right there in iBooks to download, from Project Gutenberg and other sources.

Thanks, Mary—I guess I just hadn’t found those yet. I know a lot of those books are also available through Amazon, and Stanza seems to have quite a few as well.

Great review Brigid! I love seeing how others take in the tech. Personally, I’m in love with my iPad and buy a good chunk of my comics via the various apps. There are some special titles I buy print versions of, though. and will continue to do so.

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