Comic Zeal & Other comic readers

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

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  1. zenza

    zenza
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    Well after experimenting with different views on Glass, I am now sticking to fit to height as the ipad's screen is large enough for comics to be viewed comofrtably in fit to height mode.

    Also means that all the page is there to be viewed without having to scroll down.
     
  2. krassyboy

    krassyboy
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    Hi there, found this thread in google and have an important question to you.

    Which is the best comic app for me?

    I have this config: iPad 3, Comics are saved on a NAS. Normally i take my comics in Filebrowser (Open in...) and open them at the free Comic Zeal App.

    It works fine and Comic Zeal is free. But i want to have a better organisation and maybe, a better solution? ;) I dont know if Comic Zeal supports Retina already ^^

    So I need a comic app, where I can open my comic books via Filebrowser and Open in function. All my comic files are saved as .cbr & .cbz. That is the most important thing, that the new App have to handle.

    I read about ComicGlass and Comic Zeal - don't know which programm should I chose. Would prefer ComicGlass but don't found any information if I can import my comics via Filebrowser. And I found a much older thread where it was called, that ComicGlass cant handle cbr. Or cant open many cbr. Is this still a problem of ComicGlass?

    Hope you can help me (and sorry for my bad english^^)
     
  3. FloppyCopy

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    That's how I do it (FileBrowser + ComicGlass). It'll work fine. I actually heard that ComicZeal was the one that had an issue with cbr not being registered as a supported file type with iOS and therefore not being offered as an "Open In" option. ComicGlass has always been OK in that regard.

    Zeal still hasn't been updated for retina as of yet...
     
  4. krassyboy

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    Thanks, after I read many of the last posts, I'm tending to ComicGlass. After your post, I think I'll buy ComicGlass today.

    But I have still one last question. Tried many free comic readers, and some of them lagged when I want to change the actuall site.

    I hope ComicGlass can handle it fast and without lagging?!
     
  5. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Still on my temp promotion, but started the new Zeal 5 review. Hope to have it posted in the next few days. :smashin:
     
  6. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Oh, and good to see new members coming here to read the reviews! :smashin:
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  7. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    This has been submitted, just waiting approval.

    bitolithic | Comic Zeal 5.1.1 and ThinkBook 1.1.0

     
    Last edited: May 28, 2012
  8. FloppyCopy

    FloppyCopy
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    Interesting, is it normal for Apple to take almost a month (and counting) to approve an app update once submitted? Seems unusually long.
     
  9. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Unsure......I have no base of reference and as there are millions of apps I suppose some must get scrutinised while others are automatically approved?
     
  10. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Update released today. My review will be up soon I promise!
     
  11. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Comic Zeal
    Version 5.1.4 [June 2012]

    [​IMG]

    Price: As of June 2012, £2.99, previously was £4.99

    Website: - Comic Zeal

    Formats: A Mixed lot of CBR's and CBZ's tested.

    Retina Support: Yes as of 5.1.4. Although I am unable to test properly due to owning an original iPad.

    Dropbox Support: It shows as a viable option within Dropbox ('Open in'), but no in app support.

    Manga Mode: Yes.

    Importing: As with the majority of the comic readers so far, you import comic's through File sharing in iTunes.

    Within iTunes I dragged my normal 'test batch' of FF, Iron Man and Avengers comics (approx 90 in total, the comics themselves ranging in size from 8 to 12mb) which took a few minutes per batch of 20. Comics must be dragged as files - you cannot drag a folder. I also tried to import a '.pkg' file (I use a Macbook, so this is under OSX: Lion) which works with some readers, but this does not work in Comic Zeal.

    The Interface: The app initially opens onto a 'wooden floor' and the comics are automatically imported into comic boxes with the name of the series (based on the comic title) and the amount of comics contained within. This process normally takes a few seconds per comic.

    The first time the app is opened a help menu is shown with a short video on how to use tabs, and an image slideshow detailing the basics of the app. This can be recalled at any time by pressing 'help' on the bottom menu.

    One of my batches (X-Men) exported outside of comic box as shown below. This appears to be down to the way the reader manages the collections, requiring the name of a series or arc to be of at least 6 characters or more.

    [​IMG]

    If this happens, then tap the View button (bottom left hand corner) so that the comics are listed rather than in a grid formation. Then swipe the individual comics to the right which adds them to the red tab shown on the right hand side. It helps to import them in the order you want them, although you can easily sort them automatically later if you dont.

    [​IMG]

    You should then have the red tab showing the amount of comics it contains.

    [​IMG]

    Tap the red tab, which brings up a small menu. To create a folder, tap 'New Series' then type your title.

    [​IMG]

    Tap the folder name (in my case X-Men) to enter the folder, then either tap the red tab and in the submenu that appears, tap 'Insert All' or just flick the red tab swiping to the left, which will dump all the comics pushed into the tab earlier into this newly created folder.

    [​IMG]

    Click 'back' to get back to the main view.

    Now this sounds more complicated than it actually is, but is no more steps than creating a folder, selecting them all and then moving them into the newly created folder much like any other reader. Plus, if you have your naming correct, you are unlikely to have to do this very often at all anyway.

    The red tab also allow zero space copies, effectively a short cut to the comic rather than having two copies of the same thing in two different folders. This is done by two finger swipe to add the comic to the red tab, and means that story arcs covering multiple series(Civil War, Dark Reign etc) can be duplicated as you want without duplicating the space the comic takes up. This could also be used as a reading list, by two finger swiping your new additions into a seperate folder.

    ......continued
     
  12. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Organisation: Once the import process is all finished, you are shown the presentation of your imported comic boxes, each of them showing the title, the number of comics, and an image taken from the first comic in the stack.

    [​IMG]

    Viewing Experience: Clicking a comic box will open up to reveal your contained issues, and selecting a comic opens it up as you would expect.

    [​IMG]

    Before you do anything though, I recommend you tap the small arrow in the bottom right hand corner and then the little cog to bring up the settings menu. Here, select [Assisted Panning] and make sure it is on, and [Tap to showing reading panel] is off - this just means that you can only access the menu if you press the small arrow in the bottom corner.

    [​IMG]

    Page turning is done by tapping the very edge of the page, and you can double tap to zoom. With the pan assist mode on, you can zoom out and the comic will simply move to the next part of the comic (logically following left to right and moving down) just by touching the edge, meaning no need to manually move the comic around with your finger.

    You can double tap to zoom in or out, and also pinch zoom as required. Most importantly, your custom zoom mode can be locked in place if held for a few seconds - a padlock appears to confirm this.

    The reading of a comic is as you would expect, the image does not float about, and scrolling down the page either manually or through pan assist does not accidentally flick you to the next page, and the page transitions from top to bottom of the first page back to top of the next page as it should.

    You can browse through the comic pages by simply bringing up the menu and sliding along the bar. There is no visual representation of the pages to select one however as in some readers.

    Turning the iPad to landscape automatically switches to fit to width but sadly there are no specific landscape mode settings and there are no two page spread options.

    The rest of the settings include a lock, a button to take you back to the main menu and forward and backward buttons.

    As you hit the end of a comic, the next page turn will automatically take you to the next comic in the series.

    Returning to the main menu, you can see which comics have been read by the word 'finished' splashed across the comic, and they are also put into a bag as well.

    Manga settings are available, as new comics can be imported as Manga, or you can set individual comics or entire folders to be read in reverse. I have no Manga scans that I can test however, so would welcome any input that can be added to elaborate further. I will add that Pan Assist mode works with Manga, reversing the flow of the comic.

    Dividers and folder options: If you press and hold the comic box (in list or grid view) you can sort the contents (numerically) if you have got them out of order during the import process, as well as other options as shown.

    [​IMG]

    Dividers help keep the folder within folder ability clean, I have mocked up some dividers and folders shown below to give you an example of how they can be used, helpful if you want to collapse (click on the divider to minimise that dividers contents) a huge amount of mini series to make things neater.

    [​IMG]

    Menu Bar Options: [Tags] You can create custom tags to apply to individual comics. Tap the Tag button on the menu bar, and then add your various tags (Civil War for example, or guest appearances of Daredevil perhaps) then while in list mode, press and hold a comic and apply a tag from the menu. You can search by tag as one of the search options.

    [Get More Comics] Download comics direct from Bitlolithic themselves which are just test comics. The other option is CZ sync, through Syncdocs. It looks like this is a legacy setting from pre iOS5 and pre CZ4, before you could import comics through iTunes though.

    The other buttons are self explanitory, while [Back] takes you up one level, and the centre red [Collection] button takes you to the very top regardless of your 'depth'.

    Theydon's Thoughts:

    Although the zero space copy option seems to be a brilliant idea on paper, I cant think of a reason that I personally would use it. Using the excellent Civil War as an example, with this I could scan a load of Wolverine or Spiderman comics, and then list them under Spiderman or Wolverine comic boxes as well as the Civil War comic box without taking extra room.

    Now this sounds very good indeed, so why would I not use it? Well, there is simply not enough room on an iPad for a start. If I did own and scan 500+ Spiderman comics and a couple of hundred Wolverine comics plus ALL the other series that Civil War is made up from AND had them listed in comic boxes within Zeal, I would need a bloody lot more room than an iPad currently can hold even if Civil Wars (100+ comics) took up no room at all.

    If however this is a precursor to some kind of remote storage browsing, allowing you to cache copies in some way, then it would be fantastic and would be pounced upon by pretty much all the people that read comics on the iPad. Otherwise, even if you own all of those scans, you are more likely to read Spiderman x - y in a huge block, remove them and then read Civil Wars full story arc.

    There are some small annoyances or inconstancies as well. Why do I have to be in List mode to tag something, when you allow me to press and hold and (amongst other things) delete a comic in grid mode? The dividers are a little fiddly (a slight indent rather than inserting them inside like you can with folders), and while in Grid mode, dividers just do not look right, showing comic boxes and divider 'pages' no differently if you have them set up correctly or not (you only know that you have it wrong as the comic box is missing completely in grid mode in the root of the collection). It may have been better to keep Grid mode as the default view for your collection, and only use List mode to edit/manage collections rather than have some commands that are the same and others not.

    The help video overrides all controls (you cannot tap the done or shrink button), so you need to kill the app or wait until the video finishes and the little red tab thing is likely to annoy some people. Lastly, 'Get more comics' should get rid of both the options listed and simply have integrated Dropbox support for multiple comic uploads (and support CBR and CBZ as a minimum) rather than having to import comics one by one from Dropbox out to Zeal.

    Now I have got all that out of the way, what do I think of it? I may have been overly critical in my summary simply because its still my favourite reader, more or less entirely down to the pan assist mode. Add in the auto (more or less) collation of comics into folders, a good reading engine (although sadly lacking 2 page mode for those that want it,) folder within folder options, excellent presentation of my comics (in Grid mode) and the ability to custom zoom and retain this setting across pages make it exactly what I want to read my scans.

    And now its down to £2.99, it also removes for some people that 'what am I paying an extra £2 for' over and above Comic Glass and Comic Viewer.

    Thoroughly recommended.







    This review is my own personal opinion, and reviewed on a non jailbroken iPad running the latest OS [5.1 at time of review], and I use a Macbook Pro running Lion for iTunes. In cases where I already had used the app prior to a review, the app is deleted and re-installed. I will endeavour to review and amend any apps that receive updates and happy to receive any differing opinions, as well as features I may have missed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2012
  13. zenza

    zenza
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    Thanks for that detailed review Theydon.

    I had comicglass but after reading your review I have gone and bought comiczeal.

    So glad that I did.

    I love the way that each pages is automatically zoomed to fit the ipad screen vertically without having to scroll down.

    Also the whole app just looks and works better than comicglass did.

    This is definitely the best comicbook reader on the ipad.

    £2.99 well spent.:)

    [-]BTW, I have imported my spider-man comics but they did not get automatically put into a box when I imported them from my imac though itunes.

    They are all in order from 100 - 200 but they don't get put into a box...any idea why?[/-]

    EDIT: Ignore, just read your post regarding exactly my problem above.:)
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  14. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Happy to help! :)

    Although unsure what you mean by fit vertically (Fit to Height)? Glass does as well....or did you mean that you dont have to scroll because of the pan assist?

    What did you name them, SM, or Spider-Man? If the former, then they would have been singly imported, and if the later, then they should have been imported into a folder.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  15. zenza

    zenza
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    I meant fit to height which is the default view in comiczeal I belive?

    Yes Glass does but I'm sure the page looks more zoomed out than it does on zeal, with zeal the page is more readable when it is fitted to height than on glass.

    Not sure what they were named as, will have to check.
     
  16. FloppyCopy

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    Must've had an incorrect setting in ComicGlass; it looks exactly the same as Zeal when fitted to height...

    Great review, btw. It really does come down to the viewing mode you like best, which is why I use Smash Comic Reader the most these days even though it's inferior overall to ComicGlass. The Auto Zoom mode is just so handy in landscape orientation. You should try it Theydon, since auto-advancing features seem to be your cup of tea. I wish there was one reader that had both the contrast-enhancement viewing modes of ComicGlass and the auto-zoom of Smash!

    On the other hand, I should point out that ComicZeal's latest update (5.1.4) introduced some significant bugs. There's the inability to import any comics from Dropbox or a NAS browsing app such as FileBrowser without crashing/freezing ComicZeal and forcing a reboot after every individual comic import. Any use of the "Open In" function to transfer a comic from another app to Zeal will trigger this problem. Unless you use iTunes, getting comics into the app is a pain now. There's also slowness in viewing PDF's, which wasn't a problem in previous versions.

    More info at the ComicZeal Support forums.
     
  17. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    I did have a slight problem with Dropbox in that I could not import cbz's, only cbr's - these I could import one after another with no problem (but I only tried half a dozen or so).

    After talking to the dev, he could not replicate the problem, as he could import cbz's ok. I have not go round to deleting Dropbox to try that (I have already deleted CZ and restarted my iPad).
     
  18. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    This one?

    Smash

    ....I have some cash still in my iTunes account so its next on my list. :smashin:
     
  19. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    Bought it :smashin:


    ........but not a good start I am afraid. Proper Dropbox integration is a massive thumbs up, trying to open a comic that you imported and looking at a black screen for more than 2 minutes and still nothing happens is a massive thumbs down. :thumbsdow

    A proper review will come, and I will check to see if its anything my end obviously.
     
  20. FloppyCopy

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    Hmm, never had that problem, but I haven't used DropBox with Smash. I've only imported comics using FileBrowser to grab them from a NAS and then hand them off to Smash with the "Open In" function. Smash has been very solid and snappy for me on my iPad 2, but I have read reports of slowness on the new retina iPad. You're on the iPad 1, right?

    I'm interested to hear your impressions of Smash's auto-zoom mode in landscape orientation. It's become my favorite viewing mode for most comic book styles!
     
  21. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    I tried a few but only one caused a problem. I have noticed that it also does not show a thumbnail of the front cover either, as though its corrupt in some way.
     
  22. Theydon Bois

    Theydon Bois
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    This is up to version 0.7? now, and at first glance, now has proper Dropbox intergration now, as well as a way to sort comics. I will update this review soon as well.
     
  23. Barty

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    Yep, I'm getting the same wonky behavior as you if I zoom in manually instead of, say, use fit to width. Once zoomed, panning around can be jerky and it has a tendency to freeze for a sec.

    Aside from that annoying flaw, it's quite good and very customizable. I love being able to define tap functions. I also like the look of the bookshelf, except for the way folders are displayed. What's the point of having that stack of books? That's space that should be used for cover image.

    It also takes a full 2, 3 secs to open a book, which is rather too long. I'm spoiled :)

    Comicbooklover, which is free, opens books instantly, even large collection with 150+ pages. It also pans more smoothly. Alas, that is all it does well.

    The thing I don't like about zeal is the way the page bounces and floats, something I didn't notice until I used comicbooklover. Glass lets you turn that off, which I like.

    I wish I could combine the reading features and customizability of glass, the series handling of zeal, and the book opening and page turning speed of comicbooklover into one perfect reader!
     
  24. FloppyCopy

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    Yeah, it's too bad that one app doesn't combine the best aspects. I'd love the auto-zoom of Smash and the contrast filters of Glass together.

    I'm noticing none of those problems listed above with ComicGlass, but I'm on an iPad 2. It opens books, turns pages, and pans around without any lag. It sounds like refreshing the retina display of the iPad 3 is causing a lot of comic apps to take a performance hit.

    I use ComicGlass to read portrait mode, "page at a time" style with comics, zooming slightly in to crop past the white margins. And it retains that zoom setting across pages once you set it. What's best about Glass is that it offers the "Auto-Contrast" feature, which can greatly, greatly improve the readability of older comics, to the point where it eliminates the washed-out look present in the hard copy. Even better than the real thing.

    It's too bad no other iPad app offers any filters for comics. ComicGlass is the only one with that feature.

    Otherwise, I find myself using Smash Comic and Manga Reader more and more because of the awesome auto-zoom function in landscape. It makes comics with traditional two or three-row panel layout very easy on the eyes at a size that is slightly bigger than that of the actual printed copy.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  25. Barty

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    the reviews on the app store complain about slow rendering with smash. I'm reluctant to shell out another $5 (US) to try it. What do you like about the auto zoom? How is it different from fit to width and zoom lock on glass and zeal?
     
  26. FloppyCopy

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    I think all of those reviews are from iPad retina owners--Smash is very snappy on my iPad 2. I'd say with confidence it'll work fine on an iPad 2, but I'm not sure about iPad 1 or 3. The first may have too slow a processor and the third may not be able to keep up with the resolution of a retina display. The app needs an optimization update.

    What I like about the auto zoom is that it's set up to work great with most comic layouts, because it moves a third of the page with each tap, unlike Zeal which moves half the page with each tap. Zeal often ends up halfway through a row of panels with its configuration (called pan assisted movement), but Smash usually centers the panels dead-on. 1/3 a page advancement is superior for most comic layouts vs. 1/2 a page advancement.

    Also, Smash will show you the full page briefly upon a page turn before zooming in with auto-zoom. I like that, because you get a moment to take in the full page composition before reading panel by panel. I love that you can navigate using only taps.

    Here's an example of auto-zoom in action. Skip to 1:35 in this YouTube clip:

    Smash -- Comic and Manga Reader for iOS
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  27. Dazimus

    Dazimus
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    Any apps that have Skydrive integrated? I've got 25GB of storage there compared to Dropbox's 3GB.
     
  28. Barty

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    FloppyCopy: I see what you're talking about now. Nice scrolling idea that probably works well for most pages, esp. on older comics.

    Comicbooklover also shows you the whole page before zooming in. It also renders smoothly. Since it is free, do you mind trying and letting me know if you see any rendering speed difference between it and smash?

    (comicbooklover sadly has a horrible list view. Also, when you add books through iTunes file sharing, you have to tell it you just did that in order to trigger an import.)
     
  29. FloppyCopy

    FloppyCopy
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    Interesting, I didn't know that ComicBookLover had a zoom mode like that. If you double-tap in landscape view, it fits to width and will continue to hold that setting across page turns. It even shows the whole page for a split-second when you turn pages, like Smash, but it loads pages faster. Smash takes about half a second to "focus" each page into sharpness with auto-zoom enabled (iPad 2). ComicBookLover is pretty much instant.

    Where it falls behind Smash is that you have to manually swipe to advance each page to the bottom in ComicBookLover. Though it sounds like a small thing, it's a big improvement in comfort to navigate through in Smash using only taps (moving 1/3 down each page by tapping at the bottom, then tapping at the side to turn pages).
     
  30. exparr0t

    exparr0t
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    I just got a retina ipad for my birthday and downloaded comicglass. I am using a pc running windows. I tried the .pkg trick (i.e. naming a folder containing cbrs "Superman.pkg") using both the comicglass wifi server and itunes. Using the comicglass wifi method I see the .pkg folders but when I click download it just downloads the files without any folders or subfolders. When I tried itunes, I could not drag and drop folders and when I tried the "add" option in the apps tab for comicglass in itunes it would not let me select the .pkg folders to transfer. When I double clicked them to select the folder it just opened the folder, showed me the contents of the folder (or subfolder) and would only allow me to select actual cbr files. Any advice?

    UPDATE: I now see that through the Comicglass wifi download option you can select "Create a folder and download all," which will move the cbr files into a folder in the app named whatever I named the folder.pkg. The only problem I have is with subfolders. If a parent folder (i.e. Wolverine.pkg) has subfolders (i.e. Enemy of the state.pkg and Old Man Logan.pkg) and I try to "Create folder and download all," Comicglass tells me that "No files exist on the transfer list" - apparently because it only sees folders and NOT the files in those (sub)folders. Not a huge deal because I can just move over the Enemy of the State and Old Man Logan folders and create a Wolverine parent folder in-app. Just a little less efficient this way. Anyone else have this experience? Have a method to streamline?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012

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