MegaReader – World’s First Heads Up Display eBook Reader
Price: A$2.49 for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch app
Developer: Inkstone Software, Inc
Available on iTunes
Digireado rating: Higher than I expected! 6/10
Once I read about the combination of a book app and a nifty idea like this I just had to check MegaReader out!
If you watch the video you get a clear idea of how cool this ‘Heads Up Display’ looks! NO, don’t read and drive AND drink coffee. NO, don’t cross the road reading. And all the usual “I take no responsibility if you do so!” But the concept of ‘heads-up’ and reading is certainly appealing if you’re anything like me! Once I’m reading a book I’m really enjoying then I find it hard to do anything else until I get to the end.
FEATURES OF MEGAREADER
Heads up or HUD?
First up, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘Heads Up’ or ‘HUD’ for ‘Heads up Display’ – a term I was wasn’t familiar with until I began seeing it appear in various apps. I need to be honest and tell you although I was becoming clear that this meant a kind of transparent display that allows you to see through it using the camera in your device, I was only basing this knowledge gleaned on two apps that I’d downloaded, MegaReader being one of them.
Of course Wikipedia , blessed be Wikipedia and the contributors, is the one that will give us the best definition:
“A head-up display or heads-up display (HUD) is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints.”
This is a nice gimmick, but really is just that. Yes, it allows me to read and walk (walk, not drive mind you!) but I’d have to be really into the content for that to be necessary. And so far I don’t really get inspired by their content.
One of the selling points of MegaReader is that you have access to 1.8 million free books – they say this is more than any other reader of its kind. The app comes preloaded with 26 free books, including 2 B R O 2 B by Kurt Vonnegut and Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. When you want to download free books you have access to the book catalogues of:
- Feedbooks (Public Domain books and Original Books)
- Project Gutenberg (33,000+ public domain books)
- Baen Books (Science Fiction and Fantasy)
- Smashwords (Books from Independent authors)
- Munseys (20,000+ rare and hard to find books)
- And Internet Archive (over 1.8 million titles)
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with an app providing access to free books. From my viewpoint though I really explored what I wanted to when I started using Stanza years ago. Initially it was great fun to read some classics I’d never got around to and revisit some I hadn’t read since childhood. Stanza was my introduction to reading on my iPhone and I loved it. They also had the benefit of having access to some free books from Random House, tasters from Pan Macmillan and if you were into Romance you could Try Harlequin. For those of a tech nature you could purchase from O’Reilly and BooksonBoard amongst others. The reason I finally switched to Kobo was the fact that all my transactions were with them and completed within a few screens. In Stanza I have to exit the app, load Safari and if I’m not already signed up to a company it’s a major hassle attempting to do all the text entry via the iPhone. And no, I don’t want to have to do it online. Kobo won me over mainly for that reason and because their user interface was simple and clean and designed for easy reading on an iPhone or iPad.
I’m not saying that I can’t find anything that really grabs my interest on MegaReader, but nowadays I want to read more current ebooks and for that I need to go to a retailer that can provide them. On that basis alone I wouldn’t personally bother with MegaReader – but DO keep reading!. You can also add your own catalogues or add your own DRM-free ebooks over a Wi-Fi network using Calibre Software. As currently all my ebooks are in the various apps like Kobo, Kindle and others I haven’t yet tried out adding my own ebooks although it sounds like a good idea. When adding your own catalogue you can enter “OPDS or Stanza compliant catalog”. OPDS means Open Publication Distribution System – in other words you can access ebooks from online ebook catalogues. In my case I tried out Internet Archive and that worked to bring extra titles into the app.
Once you load a title to read you tap in the middle of the screen in order to start your reading speed test. This has mild curiosity for me and my speeds were 491 WPM, 453 WPM and then a somewhat disappointing 268 WPM, then back up to 500 WPM. I was a tad suspicious that although I FELT I was reading at the same rate I got a few different speeds.
A good feature of this is that it then tells you to the hour/minute/second how long to finish the chapter. When you look at a new title and go to a chapter it will tell you based on your speed how long to read the whole chapter. This was kind of cool, although to make it more interesting to me I would have liked to see how I compared with others (ie, am I a fast or slow reader?).
It was not intuitive to work out how to turn on and turn off the speed reading so I spent a few frustrating moments thinking “I just want to turn the page!” and getting the same speed reading message until I worked out that it was the symbols down the bottom that changed it from normal reading (displaying my last speed but allowing me to turn the page) and speed reading that allowed me to retake the test.
If you say you want to reader faster it then directs you to QuickReader – a Speed Reading ebook reader? Initially I felt no thanks, I don’t want another product and I don’t know what value it is to me anyway! Out of interest I went to QuckReader Lite to find it’s an ebook reader with Speed Reading. I gather this will provide the elusive information I desired… am I Average, Fast or Extreme! (I want to be Extreme and was disappointed to find I was only Average bordering on Fast!). My review for QuickReader Lite will be posted next week so stay tuned!
This function was a mystery to me so I had to investigate to really understand. This is another very useful feature of this app and one that will encourage me to use it!
When you are using your iPhone and reading an email or page on Safari you merely copy the text (and if you need help with this read the User Guide here). You then tap the Pasteboard text cell and the text appears in your MegaReader. When saving you merely navigate back to Pasteboards and save the name of the text. Ok MegaReader, you’re slowly winning me over!
Megareader has partnered with two other companies – iBookshelf and MyLibrary. These are cataloguing apps that allow you to track your books (digital and physical) and ‘other digital media assets’. I’ll be investigating these over the coming the weeks so stay tuned! They are also partnered with Instapaper and I’ve been using this to prepare for a review coming soon!
While initially I felt that MegaReader was yet another book app offering only free public domain titles their extra features and great partner apps did win me over. Check back as I review those partner apps in the coming weeks!
Digireado Rating: 6/10
Worthwhile? Yes, play around with importing content to find the value.