What’s the best device to read manga on-the-go?
I have searched the answer to this question for years, because I have always been an avid manga reader and collector, and the idea to read manga in digital format on-the-go has always thrilled me. I started in 2009-2010 modding two netbooks for this purpose (Asus eeePC 701, Samsung N145 Plus) and they worked quite well actually, bulkyness apart. The Samsung one had a ultra-nice 10′ screen that was able to display every kind of comics format (american, italian, french…), not just mangas, so I abused of it for months. They were both heavy of course (900 gr and 1.1 kg respectively), but their “book shape” made them somewhat comfortable to use (lot of space for your hands).
Believing that it was time to upgrade, I decided to go slimmer, and I tested a pair of tablets (Samsung Galaxy Tab 7′ in 2011 and Nexus 7 in 2012-2013, both first generation models): their screens were excellent for the manga reading purpose, but they used to weight just too much to be comfortable.
Yes, tablets are heavy, and not comfortable at all for reading. The whole experience was so frustrating that I didn’t use them more than 30 minutes for day, because my wrists were unable to handle that weight much more (beware the carpal syndrome!). Another problem with tablets is that they are not designed to be just readers, but to be multi-purpose devices of course, so I realized that I was spending more time setting the brightness of the screen and switching off the screen rotation / wifi everytime, than actually reading manga on them.
So I sold my Nexus 7 and I bought a Kindle 5th Generation (aka Kindle 5) for 79 € on Amazon.it.
I’m testing it since some weeks and it’s just fabolous! It’s so lightweight (170 gr vs Nexus 7’s 330 gr) that you can use it for a whole day and your wrists will not even notice it. For manga (and books of course) is a must-buy. The interface is minimalistic and you can start reading in a bunch of seconds, no fusses no worries.
There are more detailed reviews about this device online (like this), so I will not be wordy this time, just some quick pros and cons under a manga reader point of view :)
Device: Kindle 5 (September 2012)
Firmware: v 4.1.1
– Lightweight! (170 gr)
– Long lasting battery (2 months!)
– Robust and durable
– Side buttons to turn pages
– Awesome e-ink screen
– It reads natively .CBZ and .ZIP files
People think they are cons, but they aren’t:
– Just 1.25 gigabyte of non-expandable memory available for the user (it’s quite enough to bring with you dozens of chapters of your favourite manga series)
– 6′ screen (if you cut the white space from manga scans, it’s just perfect for the purpose!)
– No backlight (I personally read on bed, in the station or on the train to work, so I don’t really need it – There is the Kindle Paperwhite for that if you really need it, but take in consideration that costs 50$ more and it’s also heavier)
– Ghosting, slow page turns (these problems are still present of course, because part of the e-ink technlogy, but personally I think that things are a LOT better than the first Kindle models, barely noticeable and not annoying at all)
– You have to disable / enable full screen mode for every chapter you load, actual firmware doesn’t save this preference. It’s a bit annoying, so it would be awesome if Amazon could fix this in the future. More info here.
– You cannot set side buttons to go to the next or to the previous chapter / volume. That would be a great addition as well!
– You cannot view the name of the image you are displaying (ex. 001.jpg / 020.jpg), so there is now way to check at what “page” of the manga you are at the moment. Very annoying.
So, if you are searching for the definitive manga reading device, join the Kindle family and you will enjoy it! But if you need to read american comics, graphic novels and other big comics formats as well, than Kindle is not for you, the screen is just too small for everything bigger than a manga. Just wait or go for a 10′ tablet with a high resolution screen ;)