Comic Zeal & Other comic readers

Discussion in 'iPad Forum' started by Theydon Bois, Jun 10, 2010.

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  1. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Now that I have my very own iPad, I am going to post my thoughts on an app type that was the main reason for me getting an iPad in the first place - the comic reader apps.

    For more info on the concept of digital Comics, including formats, read the Wiki here.

    Digital Comics

    Comic scans could be bought from places like Amazon and Forbidden Planet (the ones at FP seem to be sadly withdrawn now) so perhaps eBay or other stockists.

    Iron Man : DVD Digital Comic Book Archives 1 - £15.86 : Forbidden Planet International, Your Online Entertainment Superstore for Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek and more

    Amazon.com: 40 Years of the X-Men: Software

    Of course, you can do your own as well, and more recently, Humble Bundles have appeared that are in PDF/CBZ/CBR formats.

    #bundle.png


    There are currently two types of Comic Reader. Those like Comic Zeal, Comic Glass etc which you use to read your own scans, and those like Comixology, DC and the Marvel apps that have a built in store.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These comic readers all import via iTunes and are simply dragged and dropped via the File Sharing section of the Apps tab on your iPad.

    [​IMG]

    All of my reviews are carried out with about 90 comics, a mixture of CBR and CBZ's from the GitCorp scans I listed above. Many of these readers can also handle Manga, but I do not own any Manga in digital form at all, and even my original comics such as Akira or Mai the Pyshic Girl are westernised, and not the traditional right to left reading, therefore none of the reviews I have written take this into consideration.

    Dropbox Intergration

    Most readers also have intergration for Dropbox support - a free cloud based sharing application. Although the cbr/cbz file does not open within Dropbox, and comes up with a 'cannot open' message, clicking the button to the top right will allow you to 'open with' and then simply select your reader of choice.

    More details and screenshots here.

    CBR/CBZ Readers Reviewed

    I will make sure I review any reader again after any major updates and note it below. Reviews are in review date order, and if updated, the older review is removed so not to confuse things.


    Store Readers Reviewed



    Other Comic Readers

    This is a list of Comic Readers that I am watching, and most likely will purchase and then review if they go on sale or if I get some 'free' cash through iTunes deals. There are also Stores such as Comics + (which used to be called iVerse), etc, but this a smaller publisher than Comixology and in most cases use the same underlying engine other than the store content.

    iComic Viewer HD [-]£5.99[/-] £6.99 iComic Viewer

    ComicKing £2.39 http://comicking.twbbs.org/

    myComic £2.39 Aquafadas - iPhone Apps

    Comic Reader Mobi £Unavailable unless jailbroken Comic Reader Mobi for the iPhone, Windows Phones, and Blackberry

    Stanza £Free Stanza: a Revolution in Reading | Lexcycle

    GrassGames Comic Reader - £Free

    iComic - £0.69


    Theydons Thoughts:
    April 2014

    The following is a summary of all the comic viewers I have reviewed, and I will update these comments should a comic reader change as new readers are released.

    Comic Reader App

    Well its taken the best part of four years for me to change my views on who should be top of the Comic Readers - and now Comic Zeal has passed the crown to Chunky Comics. It has more of the required features that a Comic Viewer should have all wrapped up in a very easy to use frontend and brilliant engine that has pan assist and 2 page viewing. The importing via Dropbox or other cloud based storage is supurb and along with its other features and price, it's captured the top spot easily.

    The runners up in no particular order are: Comic Zeal, Comic Glass and Comic Viewer

    Comic Zeal has a brilliant front end and a supurb pan assisted engine, followed by Comic Viewer, with a brilliant front end and excellent reading engine with meta data options and Comic Glass with its huge amount of customisation and good reading engine and more detailed Managa options.

    Basically, if you are yet to upgrade from a freebie viewer, then please grab an iTunes voucher and pick up any of the ones I mention above, you will not be dissapointed with any of them.

    April 2014: Free readers are to be tested again shortly, but as Bookman (the previous best freebie) has become a paid app, then Sidebooks looks to be the best choice. I will expand on this section shortly.

    Comic Store App

    For a store based solution, Comics by Comixology is the clear winner, having all the comics that are available in the seperate Marvel or DC apps under one roof. With over 10,000 comics and regular weekly updates adding around 300 comics per week, this years addition of the Monday Marvel Sales and now retina display for those of you with the iPad 3 there is nothing else to touch it.

    Comic App Creator Info

    A heads up to anyone that is making a comic reader app, please make sure that your app can manually collate comics. By this I mean move and edit folders manually including renaming them - for instance the ability to merge Iron Man comics and Tales of Suspense comics into one folder called Iron Man. Ideally, there should be an automatic import into folders as well for all like named comics.

    The use of comic images rather than bland or non existent icons is a massive bonus, as well as either comic boxes or shelving for the presentation of your collection, as this makes a huge difference - who wants to look at a windows explorer type list of comics when they could emulate flicking through the shelves of a dark comic book store?

    Add extra features such as side swiping to take you to the next box of comics, or comic streaming from a server (think AirVideo for Comics), make sure you have the ability to custom zoom (and retain these settings) or automatic fit to width in either portrait or landscape modes, preferably with the ability for a two page spread as well. The reason why this is so important is that a comic is slightly larger than an iPad, so you want the maximum viewing experience and fit to width rather than fit to height dimensions make this easier on the eye.

    Get these few points correct, and you will have the app that people should be buying. If you want my opinion, then create an app based on something like this:

    • Auto import to folders based on the title names (but allow moving as required)
    • Have an friendly GUI such as a bookcase view or shelves with comic boxes and large image thumbnails
    • Have a fit to width or custom zoom modes that are kept on page transition
    • Double comic page spread or fit to width options in landscape
    • Customisable RSS comic feeds
    • Proper Dropbox (or other cloud services) support within the app, and the ability to have multiple imports
    • Contextual wiki links to series, title, character, artist etc based on comics I have in the app.
    Not much then! :)
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2014
  2. Hillskill

    Hillskill
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    It looks awesome. Wasn't sure if I would be convinced but I am definitely coming round to the idea of reading comic books on the iPad. If the content is there, and my understanding is the back catalogues are extensive, then this makes sense on so many levels. Especially for someone like myself who never keeps any of my books once I have read them.
    Out of interest, whats the longest reading session you have notched on your iPad yet Stuart ? Fatiguing at all or now different to reading a book ?
     
  3. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Well I read a graphic novels worth (around 8 comics) in a sitting quite comfortably - I would imagine that once I get a case, it would be even more comfortable.

    Comic Zeal gets a thumbs up from me easily. :smashin:
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2010
  4. Hillskill

    Hillskill
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    oh dear. I'm fast getting a bee in my bonnet over this now. So tempted to pick one up despite playing it cool, sensible and patient in the PMs we exchanged Stuart ! I take it the app will remember your last page etc any kind of multiple bookmark features across multiple books etc ?
     
  5. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Yep - it can remember multiple bookmarks, not just one - if I stop one series in the middle of a comic for some reason and then start another it will have multiple red ribbon icons.

    It opens in the last comic you where reading at the page you were on as well.

    If you want any more screen shots or anything, just let me know! :smashin:

    I will have to add to the first post that you can drag and drop the comics that you have in CBR and CBZ format directly into the File Sharing section of iTunes. I will add pics when I can.
     
  6. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    I got the majority of my comics a long long while ago, as well as a batch from a mate, but it seems that loads of UK places to buy them have all dried up, and with the invention of the iPad, they are pushing more and more comics to be bought through the Marvel or Comixology app at £0.59 or £1.19ea.

    These look to be your best bet and a way to get all the classics:

    Amazon.com: Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer - Complete Comic Edition: Software

    Amazon.com: Incredible Hulk the Complete Comic Collection Win/Mac: Software

    Amazon.com: Ghost Rider the Complete Comic Collection Win/Mac: Software

    Amazon.com: Amazing Spider-Man Complete Comic Book Collection Win/Mac: Software

    :lesson: Note that these version look like they are in PDF and NOT CBR format, which is not supported by Comic Zeal, but there are free PDF readers like Bookman. A quick google found that there is a piece of software called pdf2cbr but I have not tried it myself.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  7. Hillskill

    Hillskill
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    Stuart, you knew putting X-Men screenies would only further my "need" for this........might swing by Regent Street on the way home. Only to look though !! So just to clarify these can all be stored locally on the iPad ? If I do take the plunge I really don't want a 3G one unless I have to.
     
  8. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Yep, stored locally. If you scroll up to where I have aded screenshots, there is one under Importing comics. You drag and drop them via iTunes into the File sharing section of the Apps tab. In my pic above, I have 6.7GB stored in there.

    Edit: I added another step to the guide above - I just remembered that when you open the app itself, it imports them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2010
  9. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    ComicBook aka ComicBookLover
    Version 0.4 - August 12th

    Price: Free

    Website: http://www.bitcartel.com/comicbooklover/

    Importing: As with Comic Zeal, you import your CBZ/CBR's through File sharing in iTunes.

    [​IMG]

    Your comics are not imported automatically. From the main screen, click Transfer, then select iTunes File Sharing then on what looks like a help screen, click Add to Library. It shows the below screen for a short period of time, before you get a text message like box telling you Finished, xx Comics added to Library.

    [​IMG]

    Organisation: You then click Library, which lists all your comics. Sadly it lists all your comics singly in one long list, identifying them as 'Unknown Series' along with the name of the comic. There also seems to be no way of editing the comics (other than delete them) to consolidate them into their own folder.

    [​IMG]

    Viewing Experience: Touch either side of the screen to flick to the next page as usual, but there is no pinch zoom. Double tap does zoom however, and in landscape mode, the double tap fills the screen nicely. You can scroll down the page and this does not float around at all either.

    While zoomed in, a flick moves you to the next page. This did not used to happen in an earlier version, as you had to double tap to zoom out, then flick to the next page, then double tap to zoom in again - which was hardly immersive. Now there is a quick transition as it returns to normal size before moving to the next page and zooming back out once more.

    Other than that, actually reading comics is the same as others, flick to turn pages and a single tap to the middle to bring up a basic menu. There is no 'end' transition simply bring the menu up and press done to take you back to the list.

    [​IMG]

    Theydon's Thoughts: Nothing to recommend this over the other apps really, with no obvious way to collate your comics, you just have a big list. I have 90 comics from three series that I use to test all these apps, and the series, publisher and genre tabs in the menu are all wasted as you simply get 'unknown xxxxxx' reported in each one apart from the Dell Western comic. However, the app itself describes this as 0.4 Alpha version, so hopefully it will be here soon. Automatic imports into the library and a way to collate comics (manually if not automatically) would ensure that this was not only the best free comic reader, but would start to compete with the paid apps.

    This review is my own personal opinion, and reviewed on a non jailbroken iPad running the latest OS. I will endeavour to review and amend any apps that receive updates to help you make your own mind up, and happy to receive any differing opinions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  10. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Cloudreaders
    Version x.xx [August 2010]

    Price: £Free

    Website: http://satoshi.blogs.com/uie/

    Formats: The usual CBR and CBZ's as well as PDFs.

    Importing: As with Comic Zeal, you can import comic's through File sharing in iTunes. Opening the app after importing 90 comics seemed to crash the app though, or pause it with nothing obvious happening.

    The bookshelf image is very plain and minimalistic, with no cover images (default or extracted) and comics are listed individually, collated or not.

    [​IMG]

    Organisation: A basic structure that allows you to tag files, and then filter by that group, which works ok, meaning you could add a series like Civil War and tag them. To do so, select the arrow button (bottom right) then press the + button and add a name for your group.

    [​IMG]

    Viewing Experience: Regardless of Portrait or Landscape mode, you can see the faded image of the next page of the comic to be loaded which is a nice touch.

    [​IMG]

    Page turning is nice with a simple flick. Sometimes the pinch zoom will flick you forwards or backwards a page which looses your current position. Pinch to zoom to enlarge the page just slightly to fill the page does not snap to the edges and sits 'wrongly' and a bit floaty.

    Landscape mode allows two pages to be loaded side by side, but at a smaller and possibly unreadable view after a while. Double tap to zoom, does not quite snap to the edges in the same way that Comic Zeal does and can zoom into a place you had not requested.

    While zoomed in Landscape or Portrait mode, it does NOT take you to the top of the page once more (as you would expect) when you change the page, instead it takes you to the bottom of the next page. There is no end transition.

    Theydon's Thoughts: The import appeared to crash my iPad at one point and the app closed. I was being a bit impatient with it, but when it finally opened, the comics appeared. The menu is very basic, and the comic pages are just too floaty, not snapping to the edges. Its Free, but ComicBookLover is better if you want a free reader.

    This review is my own personal opinion, and reviewed on a non jailbroken iPad running the latest OS. I will endeavour to review and amend any apps that receive updates to help you make your own mind up, and happy to receive any differing opinions.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  11. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Comics by Comixology.
    Version x.xx [Mar 2011]

    Price: Free

    Importing: None, all comics are bought through the store front. There are quite a few that are free, mostly teases to get you to pay an average of £1.19 for each subsequent comic in the series. Note that the price of the comic comes from your iTunes account, and not directly paid to Comixology via cc or paypal, meaning those of you like me that load up on iTunes vouchers only when deals are on are getting reductions on your purchases.

    Formats: None.

    Organisation:

    Very nicely done with tabs showing your purchased comics, free comics available, popular choices, new releases or you can browse the titles by company or storyline, handy for those that span multiple titles.

    [​IMG]

    Tapping a comic in the store will bring up a smaller window, giving you the details and allowing you to preview the comic or view the rest of the comics in the series. The preview is a very small windowed version of the comic, showing the cover and the first couple of pages.

    [​IMG]

    You can also browse through your comics by genre, title or storyline by clicking the browse button at the top right hand corner.

    [​IMG]

    If you need to delete any of the comics you have downloaded (all a ton of free ones), then its not quite obvious where you delete them while browsing through your list. You find this option in the settings, as the image details below.

    [​IMG]

    Viewing Experience:

    Supurb, and now you know what you are paying for. Comics flow from one panel to another with a nice transition, the panel or section expands to fill the whole screen with the background either removed or dulled to focus your attention to the section at hand. It really is a joy to read in this manner.

    A simple tap on the screen will advance the panel and across pages, and you can tap the middle to bring up a page view or return to the menu.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The end of the comic simply shows you the details once more:

    [​IMG]

    And clicking the Full Series link is a way to continue your reading to the next in the series as sadly a 'Next Comic' feature is missing. You can click on Full series, which will show you a list of the comics, but it uses 'Read' (to read) and 'Read' (already read) and the same colour yellow. CZ uses 'Finished Reading' and 'Not Started' for instance.

    [​IMG]

    Comixology Engine:

    The DC and Image comic apps are both run from the same Comixology engine, but simply have their own store fronts to the exclusion of their rivals comics. Unless you really rate one Publisher over another, I just don't see the need for them when Comixology supplies DC, Marvel, Image and the indies all under one roof, but anything you buy in one of these apps is available in the others - you do not have to purchase something twice.

    This does not include the Marvel app - it is a different store, and requires a seperate login.

    99c Comic Sale

    In 2011, Comixology started to do 'Monday 99c deals', which look to be quite good. Rather than random issues being 99c, they seem to be complete series or collections - The first week was House of M 1-8 all at 99c ea (£0.59p), and the following week Marvel Knights Spiderman 1-12.

    For reference, MK Spiderman seems like a good deal - Forbidden Planet are charging £15, and Amazon £10 for the graphic novel that contains the first 12 issues.

    Long may this this Monday Sale continue! :smashin:

    [​IMG]

    Further Sales from the beginning of March have expanded from the 8-12 issue mini series, to the entire Superman New Krypton Saga, which spans some 80+ :eek: issues across lots of Super titles, as well as the Blackest Night 80+ issue run.

    Theydon's Thoughts:
    4th Mar 2011

    A very very nice app, but can be very expensive in the long run - make sure you stock up on the iTunes deals! For instance the run of Walking Dead will cost you £100+ and yet you have no way to export them. Seeing as how I have been buying the trades from Amazon at around £6ea, this is nearly as expensive as buying the original comics. :(

    The recent addition of the Monday sale is an excellent and welcome addition to compensate this though, and as I mention abovem has been running since the start of 2011, and ranges from 8 issue mini series to the 80+ episodes of a Superman story arc. Yep, all 80 were 59p ea!

    If you could import your own comics to read and had the ability to move your purchased comics away should you want to, or (wishful thinking) could process your comics in the same way the ones available through the store are, then this would be a superb reader.

    As it stands though, it is the best Comic reader that has its own store. :thumbsup:

    This review is my own personal opinion, and reviewed on a non jailbroken iPad running the latest OS. I will endeavour to review and amend any apps that receive updates to help you make your own mind up, and happy to receive any differing opinions.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011
  12. Sam Crow

    Sam Crow
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    the DC store is avail in Comixology
     
  13. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Just tried it, and you are spot on. I am confused as to why they would release a themed comic app that caters to only one Publisher, be it Marvel or DC if Comixology has them all anyway?

    I will amend my comments above thanks, and if you had not seen it, there are four free Batman Black and White comics available at the moment. :smashin:
     
  14. Sam Crow

    Sam Crow
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    grabbed all the Batman ones yesterday :smashin:
    and yeah it does seem silly you would think they would keep them all in one app
     
  15. reecie

    reecie
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    It is a bit of a blast from the past looking at possibility of re-reading old Fantastic Four etc. So is the best way to get the old stuff using those Amazon links? Otherwise I imagine it gets a bit pricey through the Marvel app. The other question being if there is any quality difference between the sources i.e. how much the scans have been tarted up. The only other area that I'm unsure about is the transference from the format the Complete Comic Edition uses to CBR and I have seen mention of watermarks across the pages which would be mildly annoying. Anyone done this or able to comment on having the Complete Comic dvds?
     
  16. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Those X-Men are from those collections, and they dont have watermarks that I have found so far* I then used a pdf to jpg converter (like this one - Convert PDF to JPG / Universal Document Converter / PDF to JPG converter and then rar them and change the extension to CBR) thats why they havbe the 2005 copyright tag.




    * Like a lot of things I do, I spend more time on tinkering than actually consuming/using the thing in the first place. I have had these scans for so long on my computer and storage, and converting them that I have only read a few. I will try and dig out the original DVDs and look, but they are buried under the stairs with tons of other stuff under my comic boxes! :eek:
     
  17. reecie

    reecie
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    Cheers for the reply. Going by the X-Men (I even think I recognise it from the dim distant past!) and possibly Dare Devil they really are just scans of the originals. Especially if you compare to the Hulk front page from the Comixology scans. I imagine that some of the cost of these in app transactions must be in touching up the issues (assuming the comparison is correct) and the locating of the speech panels for instance for the Marvel comics app.
     
  18. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Yep - thats the thing that makes them stand out -the transitions between panels. If you could run a batch file on comics already owned to achieve that, then I would have a go on some of my comics, but I feel there is a LOT of work behind it, as most comics are not the nice easy panel panel panel format and are spread out with text and speech.

    I am more than happy with ComicZeal, but do have other comic readers on watch - if I spot them come down to a quid I will buy them and test them as well.
     
  19. Hillskill

    Hillskill
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    Having seen this in action first hand I was blown away. I had made my mind up that I was sitting this generation of iPad out but seriously considering a(nother) U-turn. The character of the classics and the vibrancy of the new upstarts are capturedd perfectly by the iPad and Comic Zeal. Thanks again Stuart for taking the time out to give me a demo. Really appreciated it.
     
  20. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Not a problem mate - happy to help convert you to team iPad :p
     
  21. Keir

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    I was running Comic Zeal on my iPod Touch for ages, and while I liked it, the screen was just too small to make it a particularly enjoyable experience.
    Needless to say it was the first app on my iPad and was largely behind my decision to pick one up. It does seem like the perfect combination to me. Comics look great on the screen, and as I recently had to shift my old comic collection around, I do love having them in a digital format - it's a lot easier to store!
     
  22. reecie

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    I took the plunge and bought Comic Zeal and got some test comics. Most impressed so I will now look into expanding my collection to include all the lost lost favs from yester year.

    I have issues 1-120 of 2000AD stored away at home so that would be another that would be nice to get in digital form to keep my originals safe. Having quickly googled just now I am not quite sure if there are electronic versions of them or not though. Battle and Action also spring to mind as I write.
     
  23. Hillskill

    Hillskill
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    I have been a very lazy boy and not bothered reading back through (its a good excuse to bump the thread too) will Comic Zeal just stream CBRs/CBZ etc from my NAS when I am at home ? Your issue with slow Syncs is the reason I ask and I am wondering if I can avoid that by streaming everything.
     
  24. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Not yet mate, no. I think ComicReader Mobi now has this function, but is only available through Cydia - if its not in his recent release, it was on the cards to be implimented soon.

    As for ComicZeal, I will look into it and see if I can find anything - streaming would be a good feature to have, and it seems like the CZ people answer questions quite well.
     
  25. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    My mate (who is anti iPad - "...whats the point?") said to me yesterday; "..sorry did you just say you bought some more comics?" To which I replied yes.

    "I thought you got an iPad to read comics on?"
    "Yes, but not all of them are out, and I have some in trades already, they must be finished off." - I bought another couple of Y The Last Man Trades.
    "Your weird."

    I had no answer to that. :D
     
  26. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Thanks to Curly99, who has brought another reader to my attention, Comic Book Reader in the interests of finding 'the best' I may give this one a shot.

    Its currently an interductory £1.19, and amongst all the usual CBR/CBZ etc supported formats and the ability to handle copying files through iTunes, it also has the abilty to download comics from the web or from sources such as Dropbox.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2010
  27. davidcotton

    davidcotton
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    Hi

    Bought the original comic zeal for the touch and loved it. Just got a 16 gig ipad and was wondering if there was enough reasons/features to buy the ipad version of comic zeal?

    cheers
     
  28. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Doesnt your CZ now work for the iPad as well? I thought one of the new updates made it a universal app.
     
  29. Starsky

    Starsky
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    Thank you for such a detailed thread. I'm enjoying ComicZeal myself now.
    Very smooth rendering, looks great.
     
  30. AVRocky

    AVRocky
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    I couldn't find 'comixology' but I did find 'Comics' in the iTunes store. Closer inspection shows its developed by comixology. I guess that's what you guys meant
     

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