Weekly Web App Review: Zinio Mobile Newsstand

Are you an avid magazine reader? Do you look at your iPhone and think that it’d be the perfect device to read digital magazines? Well, Zinio Mobile Newsstand for the iPhone offers such digital magazines in high-resolution glory. With loads of popular magazines in tow, Zinio Mobile Newstand gives iPhone users a free look at issues that typically cost anywhere from $5 to $10.

How does it perform? Can you actually read anything?

Read on for the rest of the review!

Design/Interface

Pointing your Safari Web Broswer to www.zinio.com/iphone will display a newsstand-like interface complete with popular magazines such as US News & World Report, Men’s Health, Popular Mechanics, PC Magazine, Elle, and Car & Driver. Even some adult magazines are included such as Playboy & Penthouse. The selection has recently been bolstered by the addition of some international magazines as well.

Overall the design and interface is simple and clear. Touch the magazine you’re interested in reading and you’ll be able to read it in its entirety. There are two different ways to read the magazines and it is similar to its real-life counterpart. You can choose to flip through it page-by-page to see if anything catches your eye in a less-slick form of CoverFlow, or you can click the contents button and select an article that you may have interest in through the magazine’s digital table of contents. Either way works perfectly fine.

Usability

I found the ‘digital table of contents’ to be very useful. In a real magazine, it’s a chore to even find the table of contents. It’s become such a painstaking process sifting through seemingly thousands of advertisements to find that cover story. In Zinio, the interface is much better because by using the provided ‘contents’ button, users can easily digitally ‘jump’ to the article of interest.

I found flipping through the magazine to be less effective because the pages aren’t exactly readable from a bird’s eye view. Meaning, you’re mostly looking for headlines and pictures that attract you since the text isn’t quite yet rendered. Once you hit a page of interest, a simple tap would load up the entire page in the window. You can’t double-tap to zoom in because the page is already ‘best fit’. Zinio claims users are able to zoom in as much as 300%. To go to the next page, you can click the arrows or click on ‘Issue’ to see it in the CoverFlow-esque layout once again.

Speed-wise, Wi-Fi is slower than it usually is with other websites. Most likely due to the high-resolution shots of each page, there is a lot of data to load and render. What is surprising however, is that EDGE-speeds don’t totally inhibit the usability of Zinio Mobile Newstand. The pages load slower, to be sure, but it wasn’t as drastic a difference as some web sites usually are. Wi-Fi speed is always better, but don’t be afraid to fire up Zinio Mobile Newsstand when you aren’t near a hotspot.

Criticism

Aside from the non-rendered text in Zinio’s ‘CoverFlow’, I believe that the Newsstand portion of this web-app can be made better by notifying the user the date of each Magazine. For example, if US News & World Report just released an issue, a simple ‘New!’ or June Edition can allow users to more effectively determine which magazines to read. With magazines like Men’s Health, which seemingly look alike from month to month, it’d be a subtle but important feature to add.

Zinio would also be better served if they could create an actual application for 2.0. I found myself trying to flick the screen to move on to the next screen but remembered I was trapped in Safari and had to use the available ‘buttons’. Hopefully, Zinio can add these features and maintain the current cost of the web app, which is, FREE.

Final Thoughts

What’s great about Zinio Mobile Newsstand is that it offers real, live magazines for you to read. These aren’t webzines nor the magazine’s web sites, but the exact copy you would find on your newsstand—for free!

The high resolution shots take a while to load, to be sure, but the quality of the pages are worthwhile. Every picture is crip and the text is readable. Using both landscape and portrait mode also adds to the versatility of this web app. I would suggest everyone to point their browsers to www.zinio.com/iphone to take a look at this great web app.

PROS:

  • Magazines in its entirety
  • High Resolution Pages
  • Simple, Intuitive Interface
  • Variety of Selections

CONS:

  • Text isn’t readable in ‘CoverFlow’ mode
  • Even Wi-Fi is a little slow
  • No notification of ‘What’s New’ or which edition it is
  • Trapped by Safari

FINAL RATING: 4.8/5

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There are 4 comments. Add yours.

Cimarron Buser says:

Casey, I would be interested in your opinion of the Texterity iPhone magazines system. The Version 2 release which provides some features such as "search" (full text search) and "links". Over 50 magazines are available on the specific iPhone page, but every Texterity magazine (over 600 publications) can be read on an iphone.

WatersWest says:

Anytime we can get free access to Playboy or Penthouse, that is a good thing (ha ha ha). But seriously, this really could be the wave of the future in terms of going green. What better way to eliminate paper then to read a magazine electronically. I would think that the best way to advance the interests of the "green" community is to eliminate paper, and this seems to be 1 way to do it.

carsly says:

Sounds like a horrifying experience. The better way rather than having to zoom in and out and flip high-res magazine pages would be to reflow the content to create an e-zine version of the same magazine that takes better advantage of the mobile display.

TechBot says:

these mags are hi-res man, i watch these mag on safari browser, just change ur option in developer mode to iphone and u will be able to read playboy and penthousr right on ur pc.lol
i set in my bed and see em on my laptop.