Review: PressReader For iPhone.

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In the age of instant information, smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, the act of having to physically seek out a physical newspaper or magazine is quickly waning. For better or worse, we are becoming more and more an instant gratification society. While some will inherently see this as the downfall of man, there are ways to make the “death” of traditional print media eek out a few more years of relevance.

News apps are the new age paper. While a physical edition is still perfectly accessible in most cases, news companies are coming around to building apps, or at the very least, mobile web versions of their papers and magazines. Now, going to each individual newspaper’s online outlet or downloading said app could quickly become cumbersome. That’s where reader apps come in. They allow individuals to download multiple newspapers from local regions as well as search through various news outlets around the globe. PressReader by NewspaperDirect Inc. is one such app. Is allows you to find and download (for offline viewing) literally any and every newspaper you could imagine. Let’s take a look.

Layout & Navigation

Using PressReader is simple and straight forward. Along the bottom are four tabs: “My Library”, “Top Stories”, “Search” and “Settings”. The first time you open PressReader, you’ll find a general listing of popular newspapers specific to your local country. If you’d like more local papers or would like to venture through other countries’ papers, a few taps is all it takes.

The second tap, “Top Stories”, is also geographically based, and contains items sourced from major news outlets specifically highlighting the top stories of the day.

Moving to search opens up many doors. It is here that the app really shines as you can enter a few keywords to find the paper you’re looking for while also limiting search results by specific language, date and geographic location.

Finally, the settings tab holds a few basic options such as giving you the option to toggle on/off a function that allows PressReader to remove issues after a set time (default is never), toggle on/off WiFi-only download (default is off), disable full screen (default is off) as well as SmartZoom (default is on).

One thing we noticed is that when first opening the app and syncing is almost certainly occurring in the background, navigation tended to get a bit slow. Tapping different tabs on the bottom was met with a 1-2 second delay. Depending on the data connection and amount of papers being downloaded, this slowness lasted anywhere from ~20 seconds to a couple of minutes. Perhaps it’s something to think about if you must have no less than 80 papers at your disposal. Otherwise, we didn’t think the ~1 minute sync time upon startup was too bad.

Navigation aside, we think the UI could use a bit more polish here and there, but won’t knock it too bad. The main purpose of this app is to read. And when reading on a 3.5″ display you want as many pixels as possible dedicated to said task – not wowing your eyes with pretty pixels.

Content

We’ll start out by saying that what PressReader lacks in looks and UI polish it more than makes up for in usability and functionality. The amount of content at your fingertips coupled with the ability to download said content locally as well as have it read to you is simply awesome.

**We’ll admit this is the first app like this we’ve seriously looked at, so if there are other similar apps worth checking out, do let us know.

A single edition of Deggendorfer Zeitung weighed in at 10 MB and took only a few seconds to download over a decent WiFi connection. Once downloaded you’re free to browser through the entire paper page by page and zoom accordingly. Zooming in and out of the full-size pages may seem like a nightmare at first, but in our testing it really wasn’t bad at all. In fact, PressReader was actually very quick in redrawing pages after adjusting zoom, taking at most 0.5-1.0 seconds to un-blur text and allow us to keep reading.

While simply reading through a million different papers is handy enough in and of itself, we also really loved the ability to have each article read to us. Instances such as when driving (via speaker phone of course), public commute via bus, walking around outside or simply sitting the phone in a speaker dock and doing things around the house while also getting the news read to us was just…cool. The only downside we found with the reading was — This isn’t specific to PressReader! — that it sounded pretty robotic. Other than that, we’re really liking PressReader.

Should You Buy It?

And so we come to the million dollar question: Should you buy it? Let us first ask how much you read the paper, or how much you think you would read the paper(s) with such easy and diverse access. If the answer to either of those questions is “a lot”, PressReader might be worth a look.

If you download PressReader from the App Store and don’t pay for any subscription service, you’ll get access to 7 papers for free. If you’d like more, however, upgrading to the full version for $34.99/month is your best choice. It might seem like a lot on the surface, but when you think about the thousands of papers available with a few taps, each costing ~$2-$3 on their own, the $34.99 asking price takes on a bit more practical level. If you’d only like a few papers beyond the 7 free subscriptions, individual subscriptions can be purchased for between $1.99 and $3.99/month.

If you’re a newspaper buff, we suggest you check out PressReader. As of writing, the latest version (3.1) now supports the new iPad so your digital print lifestyle can be seen in HD resolution 12″ from your face – clear text, crisp and sharp images and tons of global news from 95 countries.

Download: PressReader (iTunes Link)

Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 7.5/10

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Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets and mobile technology since 2008 and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors and playing guitar and drums. I'm always up for a good conversation so feel free to drop me a line on any of my social accounts or via email.

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