Thursday, June 20, 2013

Comics on the Nook

It's been a while since I wrote about reading comic books on digital media. I stopped buying comic books years ago when I discovered Marvel's digital site. That gives me access to thousands of comic books without having to store them. They are also easier to read that way and, let's face it, modern comic books are not going to have any real collector value for decades.

When I got a tablet I tried Marvel's Android app. It was a major disappointment. It recognized my digital account but didn't let me access the digital content. The app was only for selling individual, digital issues.

That changed recently with Marvel's new Unlimited app. That is an Android implementation of the PC experience complete with smart panels.

I tried this on two tablets, a stock Android 7" tablet (actually a Nook HD with a  replacement version of Android) and a Nood HD+ using B&N's version of Android.

I am very pleased with the experience. The colors on recent comics jump off of the page. The smart panels make it easy to read comic books on a 7" screen. Performance is fairly good - possibly better than on a PC. There is also an option to store up to 6 comics for off-line reading.

It is not perfect. The app defaults to full page and you have to change it to Smart Panels. The PC-based reader shows you other books in the same series while the app does not. Also, on the HD+, it is hard to advance to the next panel. I don't have this problem on the HD so I suspect that the custom version of Android that the Nook runs causes this problem.

All things considered, this will probably be me preferred reading platform from now on.

A few words about the Nook line. I originally got a Nook Simple Touch as my ebook reader because it supports more formats and got top reviews. I still take it with me on trips because of the long battery life.

The Nook Color was a nice ebook reader that also had tablet functions. I used a chip from Root My Nook to make it into a stock Android tablet and was very pleased. The Android Nook app is as good as the native reader so I didn't lose anything by the change.

The Nook HD has upgraded hardware and an improved version of Android. A recent upgrade allows you to access Google's app store (Google Play) and install your favorite apps. That makes it into a tablet with a built-in ebook reader. It isn't perfect. There are inconsistencies like the back button moving around but it is useable. Also, a few apps that I like will not run on it. My biggest complaint is that I cannot change the size of the system fonts which are tiny. Facebook on the 9" HD+ uses a smaller font than on my rooted 7" HD.

Root My Nook has versions of Android 4.2 for the HD and HD+. This is really impressive. The Nooks are high-end tablets at a bargain price (unless you really want a camera or GPS). Even after adding the price of the chip, they are still a good value.

After trying both of them, the 7" HD is a great choice for a tablet to carry around with you. It is light weight and the screen is big enough for most things although I do have to zoom on some web pages.

The HD+ is heavier and harder to hold but it is still a very light-weight tablet. It is meant for magazines. I tried an ebook version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. On the HD I had to zoom and pan around. On the HD I could read it as is.

Barnes & Noble has been having sales on the Nooks, offering them for fire sale prices. I suggest snatching one.

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