November 7, 2008


Original post on May 23rd 2007
Newstand have their web site at where they allow you to buy single electronic editions, or subscriptions to many newspapers, magazines and journals from countries all around the world. At first glance I was surprised at the number available, and found newspapers from my home country Scotland (The Scotsman) and my adopted home Spain (El Pais). They seem to have quite a few in Asia and even a few Arab and African papers too.

From my quick glance through Press Releases it also seems they offer Professional Journals, such as Law Journals, but I didn't try to download or use those (so far).

I followed the free samples link (in the left side-bar with their own adverts etc) to try it out.
I noticed they carry the New York Times, which I've tried to read with their own reader, so I tried that. This takes you through a simple registration step, a $0 purchase and checkout and then directly into reading of the free sample edition you selected.

There is no software download or install, but an "on-line" viewer (maybe ActiveX or such like, I didn't check). It does allow you to save the edition locally, which should allow off-line viewing.

It has landscape/portrait views, search, print, zoom, back, forward, last page and first page buttons.

It reproduces the newspaper's paper layout "faithfully".
It offers a 1-page, or 2-page spread layout option.
The zoom is a 2-level zoom: full-view, or one zoom level in. Mouse-click toggles back and fore between the two.

The layout made the ads jump out at me as being very prominent, maybe even more so that they would have on the printed edition, even though the layout is identical!
Waiting a second or two for a page download, in 1-page view mode to see "only" a full-page ad for something I am not interested in, seems more frustrating to me than leafing past it in the paper edition.

Navigation is limited (but paper-like!), with no links, no TOC, no sections, etc.

Pages are downloaded on-demand as viewed which caused a significant delay waiting for some pages, and that's using a fast internet connection. I think they could download some of it in background while you read the first pages!

If you use the 2-page spread view, with only one level of zoom, that leaves the text of many articles unreadable - even on my 19" 1280x1024 monitor and my reasonable eyesight. Not for poor monitors or senior citizens!

I noticed some ads had some VERY low resolution images that just looked like smudges. They looked to me like the low-res TIF preview that some DTP applications embed (e.g. in EPS files) to aid page layout, and not the real "final" artwork. So, that could be some type of format or OPI error showing through the conversion process from the print edition to the on-line edition.

Overall, I'm impressed at the content they have available on-line, but not impressed at their reader and its navigation features - even for a "PC/Laptop" reader.

Please go ahead and kick its tires and submitt your comments here.

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