Small Screen Comic/Manga Readers

As Amazon ships its Kindle 2.0, bloggers and tech sites, just to be contradictory, have been talking a lot about the alternatives to the Kindle.  And it’s usually the iPhone that gets the spotlight.  Sorry, the iPhone is not Job’s gift to man.  There are plenty of other small screen devices that can do the job without the stranglehold.

Sony PSP

The PSP is Sony’s attempt to break Nintendo’s stranglehold on the handheld gaming market.  That hasn’t worked out too well though.  More of a multimedia platform than gaming machine, the PSP has always trailed behind the more experienced GBA and NDS.  But lovers of the platform, like any device you’ll find today, has some hackers.

First though, an official release:  Seven Seas has several chapters from their OEL manga that can be downloaded an viewed on the PSP through the photo viewer.   You can see those here, along with instructions on how to download and view the files.

A homebrew for the PSP is the PSPComic.  While it’s no longer being maintained or updated, you can still download it here, and here’s a video of the app in action.

The PSP already has decent image viewer support, so there doesn’t seem to be too much else for it.  It seems Sony is planning to make comics available for the PSP through their PSN network.  You can view a promo of it here.

Nintendo DS

The NDS Lite/DSi is the most popular dedicated handheld gaming device.  But, it’s got just as many if not more homebrewers creating software for it.  To start, you’ll need software, and the Comic Book DS is going to be your best bet.  There is a page dedicated to it and the software you’ll need to convert your digital comics to the correct format.  It also has some free comics you can download.  You can see the CBDS in action on this video.  I’ve already talked at length about the DS as a comics reader here.

While the DS does have wifi capabilities, it can only connect with other DSes or the Wii.  Hacking and homebrew is required to get a browser on the device to surf the net.  With the DSi, the browser come installed.  One company has already started to take advantage of this.  Robot Comics has come up with comics that can be read on the DSi through the internet connection. as three debut titles you can check out right now.  The comics can only be read through a DSi, just to warn you.

Apple iPhone

Yes, I didn’t want to talk about the iPhone.  It gets plenty of hype as it is, but it’s also got the attention of comic readers.  So, here are some links if you don’t know about them already.  Comic Zeal is a program for reading comics, and has links to many free Golden Age comics.  Can’t tell you how much it is (it’s not free like the others on this list), cause I can’t get on the itunes store without installing the itunes software, which I won’t do.  It also has a companion program, ComicZeal Sync, which allows you to convert your digital comics to iphone size.  This appears to be free.

Take it how you like, but Wired’s Charlie Sorrel of the Gadget Lab did a review of some iPhone book readers, and wasn’t impressed with the iPhone as a comic reader, check out his comments here.

You can find more about comic readers and comics for the iPhone at the iPhone Comic Book Reader website.  It features news and reviews of comics and software for reading comics on the iphone.

Google Android Phones

With more mobile phones that will be running the Android operating system, more applications will be needed to put on those phones.  Android developers aren’t leaving comics out either.  Robot Comics, mentioned above for the DSi, also puts out a comic reader for the Android OS.  Called the Droid Comic Viewer.  Check out how it looks here.

Palm Pre

The Pre is Palm’s answer to the iphone and (hopefully) to their prayers to keep the company alive.  Palm, once a giant in PDA and Smartphones has fallen far.  But in a brilliant move, they wooed away many of the developers of the iphone to create a new device with an all new operating system, called WebOS.  It’s a touch screen device, utilizing many of the motions that the iPhone uses.  While at the moment there aren’t any apps for reading comics on Pre, it’s an area ripe for developers and publishers.  The Comic Book Bin explains why.  If Palm ever comes out with a non-phone version of the Pre (which they will most likely do if it’s enough of success, as Apple did with the iTouch), this is the device I will be getting.  My Palm Tungsten E is getting old.  And while there are no dedicated apps (yet), the Pre can view jpg images, much like the PSP.

Well, there you go.  The world of small screen readers seems to be growing daily.  As smart phones increase, and cell phone screens get bigger, there are plenty of options that don’t involve Amazon, or even Apple.  I think there might be something about companies whose names begin with A… Anyway, check out the links.  You  might find something you like and/or useful.

Personally, I don’t care for small screen devices for reading comics and or manga.  With some things, smaller isn’t always better.

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