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Best Comic Book Reader Tablet: Kindle Fire HD vs. Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini

Overview

Which device is the best comic book reader? Is it the the second generation device from Amazon – Kindle Fire HD? How about the Nexus 7 – flagship of the Android device proliferation? Or is it iPad Mini – the pint size version of the original touch tablet?


If you are searching for your first tablet or looking to purchase one specifically for comic book reading, then this is the ultimate guide for you. Forums are filled with questions when comic fans decide to take the digital plunge and with each new device that comes on the market, the question is the same: “What is the best comic book reader?”

(If you are an fanatic of Android, Apple or Amazon, this article probably won’t persuade you. Making a device purchase is just as much about the system, service, support and history. Companies want to “lock” you into their service and platform for not only today’s newest tablet, but for future generations of hardware, apps and services as well. If you love your current device, enjoy and happy reading. ^_^)

 

Size Matters

Before we venture further, the first question to answer is size. Your preference can depend on a lot of things including price, portability, usage other than comic reading, hardware computing specs, etc. We will not cover everything in this article – tablets can range from palm phone to desktop sizes, but we will focus on a size that is exploding in the market now: the mid-size 7″ tablets.

If you are looking for a tablet that is closest to trade paperback published size or large format magazine size, I recommend the larger end of the tablet spectrum – your Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, Nexus 10 and iPad Retina tablets – which are not only larger with more storage and power, but also often much more expensive. (Keep your eyes peeled for that head to head to head match-up soon.)

If you think 7″ tablets are not a good size for comic reading, I used to think the same thing until I tried them. I understand the concern about eye strain, not being able to read microscopic text or not seeing the detail put in by your favorite artist. The best way I can show the screen size isn’t too different from a print format is the following to scale image comparing popular American comic book sizes:

Printed comic digest magazine format is very close in size to the Kindle Fire HD device even though it is noticeably smaller than the current “modern” monthly American comic book format. The other thing to note here is digital formats (depending on device and comic reading app) are flexible, so you can zoom in, view in panel mode or even read in landscape orientation. Optimizing a reader on favorite comic device is typically pretty straight-forward and in a few seconds you are back to doing what you want – reading your favorite comics.

So if you are looking for the ultimate in portability, looking to spend less then a full-size tablet, and ready for a next evolution in digital comics, reading, you are ready for Battle of the 7 Inch Tablets to find the best comic book reader.

 

Round 1: Features

Tablets can be used for a lot of things, but with with digital comics in mind, lets give a rundown on the features from our contenders. We are going to focus less on features like Audio, for instance, which may be an integral part of your personal comic book reading experience, but probably not as much compared to device options, connectivity, screen size, screen resolution and device capacity.
 

Kindle Fire HD

1280×800 (216 ppi) LCD HD 7‑inch Display
Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi
16 or 32 GB internal storage
1.2 Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core
11 hours continuous use battery life
See Full Specs
 
 
 

Nexus 7

1280×800 (216 ppi) HD IPS 7‑inch Display
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth & NFC (Android Beam)
Mobile Data Options: GSM/UMTS/HSPA+, GSM/EDGE/GPRS, 3G or HSPA+
16 or 32 GB internal storage
NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processor
10 hours of web browsing or e-reading
See Full Specs
 
 
 

iPad Mini

1024×768 (163 ppi) LED IPS 7.9‑inch Display
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n & Bluetooth
Mobile Data Options: GSM/EDGE, UMTS/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA, LTE or CDMA
16, 32 or 64 GB internal storage
Dual-core A5
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi
See Full Specs
 
 
 

The iPad mini offers more connectivity options, larger internal storage and a bit larger display size at nearly 8 inches. Since comics is a visual medium, the right call here is to focus on the display, but that is exact problem with the iPad mini. As the only non-HD display with 163 ppi, it feels sub-standard and a generation behind the other two. Its like standard definition TV compared to HD TV. Click to take a look at these native resolution screenshots of the same comic page and you will see how small the iPad Mini resolution is compared to the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD:
 

 

The choice between the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 is a very close call – and one made only after using each device for quite some time. The displays are very comparable, but on close visual inspection, the Kindle HD looks more truer and brighter. Pushing it over the top is the extra hour of battery life.
 
Best Comic Book Reader Winner on Features – Kindle Fire HD (with Nexus 7 a close 2nd)

Marvel Unlimited: Subscription Comic Book Reader Review

Marvel Unlimited


 

Is this really the next big thing? It could be the biggest since digital comics coming to tablets. Marvel Unlimited – a subscription service to a vast offering of the Marvel back catalog for about the price of a single issue per month. As a current subscriber to the service formerly known as Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, it was a painful experience on the web, but just like digital comics, the tablet has completely changed it. This is your ultimate guide to Marvel Unlimited with reviews, highlights, screenshots and more:


Get Marvel Unlimited for iPad, iPhone & iPod on iTunes App Store > 
Go to Marvel Unlimited on Web >
 


 

Marvel Unlimited Overview

The Pros

  • The start of something big… could be biggest thing since comics on tablets.
  • Count on DC to answer back.
  • Comics for less than $5 a month.
  • Lots of free comics to sample.
  • 13,000 Marvel comic issues in the catalog to start.
  • Smart Panels for iPhone and mini tablet sizes.
  • Offers many ways to browse (artists, story lines, etc.)
  • Library (like a playlist or watch list) to bookmark favorite comics.(

 

The Cons

  • Content is delayed or “windowed” – latest is about 10 months old.
  • Not the complete entire publishing history – many gaps and omissions.
  • No ability to integrate with Comixology or Marvel Comics Digital Comics issue purchases.
  • Drops newbies into world of volumes, renumbering, reboots, etc. (Which #1 do I start with?)
  • Device experience is not as smooth and refined as native applications.

 

The Download

Its about time.

I have been a subscriber to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited for a while and while it could be a cornucopia of goodness, it was a painful experience to consume only in a web browser and to just simply navigate around. Reading comics was almost a chore and felt like working on a “To-Do List” instead of actually getting into the story lines, art and comic reading experience.

The beta program from the last few months was a light at the end of the tunnel. Even though rudimentary, the service was available (via browser) on the iPad. While this iPad beta was clunky, I still preferred it over the website and was holding on for an app that would allow and embrace discoverability.

Now the program has been officially reborn as Marvel Unlimited with new apps for iPad and iPhone (Android is promised soon) along with long overdue website feature overhauls and content access re-organization.

While the program may not be new, it really feels like this is the start of something big. I view Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited on just the web like digital comics on a CD or DVD – fine, but just not portable and the right form factor. By adopting the tablet, the service is positioned to grow just as digital comics did with the explosion of tablet based computing. Here is a form factor that makes sense.

The Distinguished Competition still has no service like this available on any platform. How long can that last in digital world where it was simply a matter of weeks and months in the digital comics back and forth for the last few years with day-and-date releases, service partnerships and other content release strategies.

While the catalog to date is not everything ever published by Marvel (or even a complete history to a certain point) 13,000 comics is a good start and it can only go up from there. The annual price may seems steep at first ($60) but at $5 a month, its almost the same as a single monthly issue and there are a few discounts out there for knocking back the price a bit at the start.

Other service features include viewing comics in single page, double page or as Smart Panels – Marvel’s panel viewing technology like Guided View or Amazon Panel View. Bookmark and save access to favorite comics to the Library. Comics include detailed issue information and creator credits which allow for searching and filtering by a number of methods including: Series, Character, Release Date, Creator, New, Popular and Comic Events.

Best Kindle CBR and Kindle Comic Book Reader Apps for Kindle Fire HD


Looking for the best comic book reader on Kindle Fire HD or best Kindle CBR reader? You have come to the right place place. Here is our ultimate guide for getting the best comic book reader experience on your Kindle Fire HD.

Looking for an in-depth review of the Kindle Fire HD and seeing these comic book readers in action? Then head on over to our Extended Amazon Kindle Fire HD Review.


ComiCat

 

ComiCat

If you are looking for one of the best Kindle CBR Readers, try the leading high quality comic book reader app for Kindle Fire with loads of settings, but not compromising ease of use, ComiCat from Meanlabs Software. From the very beginning you will experience a straight-forward device scan to build your comics catalog and responsive comic viewer with minimal lag that seamlessly supports CBR and CBZ files. This app only lacks some fine grain file organization control, broader format support (such as PDF) and store integration.

See the full review with Pros, Cons, Screenshots and more >

 

PS – If you are looking for single app with access to up to 11,000 out of print golden age comics all in one place, then GoldenCat, from the makers of ComiCat is available for Kindle. This app is styled after a comic book reader store, like comiXology, with in app purchases. You take the app for a test drive right from your computer on Amazon.
 
 

Comics by comiXology

 

Comics by comiXology

One of the first apps on Kindle Fire and one still one of the best designed for the screen size and looking even better and sharper on the Kindle Fire HD. The experience on a 7″ or 8.9 ” Kindle Fire HD is optimized for the device – while there may be more options on larger tablet sizes, its simply not a blown up version of comiXology for a smart phone. The store catalog is continuing to grow with one of the broadest selections of any comic book reader including Marvel, DC, Image and The Walking Dead. The comic book reading experience on comiXology for Kindle is just as top-notch as other platforms and includes key features like thumbnail navigation and panel viewing Guided View Technology for any size Kindle device. For any fan of amazon and comics, this app should at the top of your list.

See the Full Review with Screenshots and More >

 

Comics & Graphic Novels on Kindle Store


Graphic Novels & Comics on Kindle Store


 

One of the most overlooked features with the Kindle tablet is the ability to natively browse, purchase and read comics, graphic novels and comic strips as you would other ebook and Kindle published content. The first Kindle Fire wasn’t the most ideal comic book reader, but an HD screen, updated interface and a year later make a big difference.

Read Full Review of Kindle Fire HD Graphic Novels & Comics >

See All Comics & Graphic Novels on Kindle Store >
 
 

Perfect Viewer

 

Perfect Viewer


 

Perfect Viewer isn’t quite perfect for the “casual” comic book reader, but may be exactly the settings, preferences, file format reading and feature packed viewer for the advanced. Perfect Viewer supports a laundry list of image file formats including: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, CBZ/ZIP, CBR/RAR, 7Z/CB7, LZH and PDF files with an addition plugin. Photoshop-level image smoothing filters including Averaging, Bilinear and Bicubic for getting the most out of scanned digital comics. The comic page reading experience is when you will really grasp the level of features available, which by default include: Fit to Width, Open File, Fit to Height, Scroll Backward, Zoom In, Main Menu, Zoom Out, Scroll Forward, Previous Folder or Archive, Quick Bar and Next Folder or Archive. On other Android devices I have found Perfect Viewer more sturdy when compared to the Kindle Fire HD where I experienced regular crashes and a feeling of being overwhelmed by figuring out the settings on an interface I didn’t find intuitive on my first couple of uses. However, if you are the sort of person that can’t have enough options, you’re in the right place and Perfect Viewer might be like a dream filled with possibilities to tailor and finesse your comic book reader experience.

 
 

ComiCat: Best Kindle CBR Reader for Kindle Fire HD Review

 

ComiCat


 

If you are looking for one of the best comic book readers or CBR reader on the Kindle Fire HD, try the leading high quality comic book reader app for Kindle Fire with loads of settings without compromising ease of use: ComiCat from Meanlabs Software. From the very beginning you will experience a straight-forward device scan to build your comics catalog and responsive comic viewer with minimal lag that seamlessly supports CBR and CBZ files. This app only lacks some fine grain file organization control (like folders), broader format support (such as PDF) and an integrated store.


ComiCat is my personal go-to comic book reader and CBR viewer app on the Kindle Fire HD. The natively coded app feels responsive to the slightest gestures and allows for viewing comics and browsing in either portrait or landscape orientation. If you are looking for a high quality comic book reader – and don’t want to be unduly burden by endless settings and configurations for viewing CBRs – ComiCat is a great place to start and here is our ultimate guide for getting the best ComiCat comic book reader experience on your Kindle Fire HD.

 

The Pros

  • Straight-forward, easy to use intuitive interface, right balance between rich settings without extraneaous clutter and easy first time scan for building catalog.
  • Quick, responsive comic reader with minimal lag.
  • Considered the best comic book reader app for Kindle in reviews.
  • Support for portrait and landscape comic book reading and file viewing.
  • Syncing comics from Dropbox account.
  • Password protection and hidden folders.
  • A wealth of configuration settings.
  • Quick responsiveness and customer support of developer Mean Labs.

 

The Cons

  • Requires your own personal source or collection of comic files, no amazon store graphic novels or other purchase catalog access.
  • Supports common formats of CBR and CBZ, but not PDF.
  • Possibly a bit too many configurations and options if you are looking for a very simple reader with no frills and not as many options, settings and configurations for advanced comic book readers.
  • No ability to create folders or collections to organize within the app.
  • Sync and content loading available only over USB or Dropbox, not with SD Card slot.

 

ComiCat Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What comic book file formats does ComiCat support?
A: The ComiCat product page lists “CBZ, CBR, CB7, CBT etc.” CBZ (Comic Book Zip) and CBR (Comic Book RAR) files are two of the most popular formats and I have had no trouble reading comics in these formats. It does NOT appear that ComiCat has support for PDF files – which is also a popular format – but PDF files can be easily read in other apps on the Kindle. If you are looking for a Kindle comic book reader with broader format support, including PDF, then I recommend Perfect Viewer and the Perfect Viewer PDF Plug-In.
 

Q: Where can I get CBR, CBZ and other comic book files for ComiCat on my Kindle?
A: There are a number of reputable resources on the web for downloading digital comic book files in CBR, CBZ and a number of other other formats. For ComiCat compatible files, I recommend Comic Book Plus and The Digital Comic Museum – both are great resources for out of copyright, Golden Age and better comic books. For more links to digital comic book downloads online, see our ultimate guide to Free Comics.
 

Q: How do I download or transfer CBR and comic book files to ComiCat?
A: See the next section “How To Load CBR, CBZ and Comics onto Comicat” or watch our video overview for ComiCat on Kindle Fire HD to see how comics were transferred for this review. ComiCat also offers support for Dropbox (see review below), but I tend to prefer the speed and control of connecting through USB.
 

Q: Does ComiCat support comic viewing in landscape orientation?
A: Yes. Every view within the app, including catalog, comic viewing and settings are available in both landscape and portrait mode, unlike the native Kindle reader.
 

Q: How do I create folders for comics or organize the bookshelf view in ComiCat?
A: There does NOT appear to be a method for organizing comics into folders – through a file naming system, sub-folders within the folder hierarchy on the Kindle device or from controls within the app. ComiCat scans your device for recognized comic book file formats and shows files as flat listing on the Bookshelf. For comic book reader apps that behave like this, I typically delete comic files as a I read them to keep track of comics I have read.