ComiCat: Best Kindle CBR Reader for Kindle Fire HD Review
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.
- 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.
- 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.
What is most impressive about Comicat is reading the reviews on Amazon. To be sure, there are a number high ratings and glowing praise, but what you really notice is the developer responding to every negative experience and sub-par review. From a customer perspective it instills a lot of confidence in not only someone responding if there is a problem, but confidence that the glowing praise from everyone is warranted.
How To Load CBR, CBZ and Comics onto Comicat
Comicat is a true comic book reader app – there is no store to purchase from or even suggested links to content. People with vast personal digital comic collections may know what to do, but the beginning comic fan will need to figure out how and where to get downloadable content – I recommend Comic Book Plus, The Digital Comic Museum and other sources here.
You will need to transfer your own downloaded comic files (CBR and CBZ) when your tablet is connected through USB to the computer. On the Mac, this requires a free Android-File Transfer utility and will allow to copy, edit and delete files for your devices right through the finder. You will not need this additional software on a Windows computer – simply copy files as you would between other drives or devices – just create a folder and copy over. Watch our video for ComiCat on Kindle Fire HD to see how comics were loaded for this review.
First Time App Start and Settings
On initial start of the app, you will be prompted to “Build My Catalog Now”, where your tablet will begin being scanned. Its as straight-forward and easy first time scan as it sounds. Comicat is scanning for CBR and CBZ (and settings options also for ZIP and RAR) files.
After building the catalog, the home page displays the comics in a shelf paradigm by default with thumbnails of each book cover all sorted in alphabetical order. Able to choose a different view into the catalog by Thumbnails, List or Gallery.
A wealth of Settings options include: General Settings, Viewer Settings, Catalog Settings, Performace Settings, Private Folders, Facebook Settings, Dropbox Sync and Settings Guide in a text file that details Settings, Options and Features. The following is a breakdown of the options available under these setting categories:
- General Settings Options: Start Application In, Open Comics From and Password Protect.
- Viewer Settings provide Orientation options, View Mode, Fit Width on Rotation, Crop Comic Page Margins, Image Enhancer, Split 2-Page Spreads, Always Hide Titlebar, Right to Left Reading, Limit Gesture Zone, Disable Swipe on Zoom and Brightness Level.
- Catalog Settings Options: Include ZIP & RAR Extensions, Rescan On Start, Fix File Extensions, Sort By, Catalog Theme and Clear Bookmarks on Finish.
- Performance Settings Options: Max Image Size, Show Transitions and Aggressive Caching.
- Private Folders Settings Options: Enable Private Folders, Select Private Folders, Hide on Relaunch and Currently Hidden.
- Facebook Settings require authorization and logging into Facebook and then provide options to Post Update When I start a Comic and Post Update when I finish a Comic.
- Dropbox Sync Settings require authorization and then provides a 1-2-3 step instructions to Sync Files.
- Settings Guide is a text help file describing the setting and options available with each. Its especially handy for reviewing some the advanced features requiring a bit of set-up.
For most, that is a wealth of options, as Reader Apps and Android Apps in general tend to offer a lot customization. Comic book readers try to afford options to make the App as functional as possible and minimize scan and display errors or preferences. Android, particularly when compared to iOS, allows developers a deeper level of control into the device software, functions and APIs. Comicat is no different, except that is does provide this depth with a clarity that other apps do not.
Each of the Setting dialogs establishes a clear hierarchy and explanation of feature options and is a good model for other apps to follow.
Comic Book Reader Experience
The reader is responsive to swiping and includes tapping and swiping gestures including pinch-zoom. Because you are providing the content, your reading experience is going to vary in terms of image quality, file corruption and the like. The reader controls, in conjunction with the settings options, provides a solid framework to help tailor the experience to your catalog. Occasionally there can be jumps to the bottom of the next page, but very minor issues with reading navigation.
Landscape orientation is fully supported (unlike the native Kindle reader) and may even be your preference for reading on a 7″ screen – it seems to be popular with many readers and forum posts. I prefer a full page view whenever possible, so if I am in landscape mode, its because of a double page spread.
The only other way I see to improve on this app is consider incorporating features to continue providing a solid framework. The two biggest issues with comic book readers (outside of the responsiveness of the reading experience itself) is format support and the ability to organize the catalog – because so much of it is incumbent on the end user.
PDF is popular archiving format that seems like the next logical addition. A bigger issue is the ability to organize sets, collections or story arcs as groups or subfolders in the catalog experience. My personal response to readers without this feature is to simply scale back and limit the comics I transfer to a few collections at time so I don’t have to wade through hundreds or even thousands of files to find the next one.
Echoing my earlier comments, if you are an experienced comic book reader, you have a method of working around these issues – but it is still work. The fortunate thing is that those who are new to comic readers will find this app a great place to start and the reader app I can recommend for those starting out on Kindle Fire HD.
ComiCat provides the ability to integrate with Facebook and post updates to your Facebook Feed when you start or finish reading a comic. In order to access this ability, you will need to log in to Facebook and authorize ComiCat. You can also post a comment to Facebook while reading by accessing the menu during comic viewing and selecting the option to “Comment”.
Dropbox Sync and Settings
Integration with dropbox is just as straight forward as loading comic files from your computer. First, you will need to allow ComiCat to link with your Dropbox account. Next you will receive a notice that ComiCat wants access to a folder in your Dropbox – Select Allow.
Once your accounts are connected, follow the directions provided: 1) From you computer, place comics into “Apps/ComiCat” in your Dropbox Account. 2) Connect to wifi and 3) Initiate transfer by pressing the “Sync Files” button.
You will begin to receive notifications on your Kindle from Dropbox Sync with progress on comics downloading. Be sure to keep your device on and in range of your connection or the process can error out for the remaining files to sync. Comic files from Dropbox will listed alongside files transferred over USB in the catalog.
ComiCat offers only one option for auto adjusting the contrast, brightness and saturation of comic pages – Image Enhancer. This feature is available under Viewer Settings and is designed as a simple toggle – either its selected or not. Below are a couple of examples with and without Image Enhancer enabled. Personally, I don’t do a lot of optimization beyond simple features like this (I spend enough time in Photoshop as it is…), but if you are looking for a Kindle comic book reader with more fine grain image quality controls, then I recommend Perfect Viewer.
Without Image Enhancer
With Image Enhancer Enabled
Get ComiCat and More
There you go. What do you think? Let the world know in the comments.
- Comic Book Reader Guy
Latest posts by comicbookreaderguy (see all)
- Injustice Gods Among Us: The Next Chapter in Superman’s Life is Surprisingly Dark - August 13, 2013
- Perfect Viewer: Best CBR Reader for Android and Kindle? - May 18, 2013
- Best Comic Book Reader Tablet: Kindle Fire HD vs. Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini - March 30, 2013