Earlier in the week TrekMovie reported that IDW has released a new Star Trek application for iPhone and iTouch that allows you to buy and read Star Trek comics. After playing around with it, today we have a review.
Star Trek Comics Version 1.0
From IDW Publishing, built with iVerse Media technology, press release
No time to drive over to your local comic shop? Don’t want to be seen hanging out in your local comic shop? Never read a Star Trek comic before and have no idea where to find one? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then IDW Publishing has an app for that. All you need is an iPhone or an iPod touch, an iTunes account and a credit card. Let’s take a look at how it works.
IDW Publishing’s Star Trek Comics app for iPhone and iPod touch is a free download from the iTunes Store that requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later. You need the latest version of the OS because in-app purchasing is enabled, allowing you to buy and download Star Trek comics at will. To get you started, IDW is currently offering three free comics: Star Trek: Countdown #1, Star Trek: Alien Spotlight – Borg, and Star Trek: Year Four – The Enterprise Experiment #1. Along with more issues from these series, other series offered are Star Trek: Nero, Star Trek: Mirror Images, and selected comics from Star Trek: Archives. Prices range from $0.99 to $1.99.
After downloading the app and syncing your iPhone/iPod touch, firing up Star Trek Comics will display an empty shelf which you can fill with comics. Downloading comics is simple. You can start from the storefront, a featured titles page, a new releases page, a top paid titles page, or a free titles page. You can also search by title to find something you like.
New releases list
Once you navigate to a current issue, just click on the price button and let the iTunes Store spirit your hard-earned money away. Once the financial details have been settled, your comic will download immediately.
Single issue listing
If you download all the free comics and the app manual, your shelf won’t look quite so bare anymore.
You can also display your comics in a list view.
The manual is all of one page and simply tells you what you can do with your finger and your hand. As if you didn’t know all this already, right?
Star Trek Comics app: The One Page Manual
I own an iPod touch and need a Wi-Fi connection to download comics. If you have an iPhone you’re probably less likely to see the Cannot Connect screen.
Data must have written this error message
There are only a few setting to personalize the app. You can receive push alerts for new releases and series updates. These services only make sense if you have an iPhone. You can also update and restore previous purchases.
You can select how you’d like page transitions to look. Do you feel like sliding, fading or curling?
Page transition choices
Finally, holding your iPhone/iPod touch in landscape mode, you can read your comics panel by panel. Swiping your finger on the touch screen will bring the next panel or page. Tapping the screen will show you the panel or page count. There may be 60 to 100 panels per comic.
I thought Janeway was dead!
In portrait mode, you can see the full page of the comic as it appears in print and see how the panels fit together.
Full page view from Star Trek: Alien Spotlight – Borg
So, what’s the reading experience like? Reasonably good. Most panels are easy to read. Panels that originally appear on splash pages may be split, which is a little disconcerting, but acceptable. The editors have done a good job breaking down the comics I’ve read in print, into panels. If you aren’t a comics reader, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the Star Trek comics universe. If you’re a casual comics reader, this is a convenient way to keep up with Star Trek comics and sample other titles as well. IDW has opened two other storefronts for Transformers and G.I. Joe comics. Meanwhile, iVerse Media is bringing Marvel comics to the iPhone/iPod touch with their own comics app. For a Star Trek comics collector like myself, the Star Trek Comics app is an amusing diversion. However, I think I can see the day when Star Trek comics are published digitally first, then published in print as trade paperbacks. One final note for Android phone owners. iVerse Media’s previously announced plans for Android comic apps is on a back burner while they concentrate on the iPhone economy.
You can get a comic now! and read it now!, for half the price, or better, of print comics, as long as you have network access wherever you happen to be when you get the urge. You don’t have to board, bag and store your comics. Your family won’t shake their heads in exasperation as your office fills up with comic after comic, followed in short order by the spare room, the garage, and so on.
I don’t get to bag, board and store my comics for posterity. I’d rather tap than swipe to change panels. Apparently I’ve been spoiled by the Kindle app, which lets me change pages by simply tapping the screen. Why go to all the effort of swiping my finger across the screen when an elegantly economical tap will do? There are no bookmarks and you can’t zoom in to examine the artwork.
More platforms coming
Don’t have an iPhone or an iPod touch? IDW Star Trek comics are coming to PSP later this year. And in early 2010, IDW will be adding Android, Blackberry and other mobile platforms. Anybody have a PSP I can borrow?
Coming to a PSP near you
Mark Martinez is an obsessive-compulsive Star Trek comics reader and collector. You can visit his website, the Star Trek Comics Checklist for more than you ever needed to know about Star Trek comics.