Dubbed "The Itunes of Comics," Longbox is pretty much exactly that-- while poising itself to be the platform to beat.
Go getcher Longbox here:
There are a few free comics for you to test out, including Josh Fiakov and Kody Chamberlain's Punks, Man-of-Awesome: Ron Marz's Witchblade, and Wanted (which, if you haven't read is very different from the film version)--
What follows is a semi-live version of my thoughts on Longbox v. 0.5:
I installed the .dmg (I'm on a Macbook) about an hour ago-- installation and launch were flawless. There were a few minor hiccups at the start ("Where do I go? What do I do?")-- but that's to be expected when you fire up any new application.
Given a minute, I was smoothly sailing along. I'm currently (like, as I type) downloading Wanted issue 1 and I'm averaging between 800/kb a second to 1 meg-- That's speedy enough for me.
The reader itself is intuitive- Navigation resembles Quicktime buttons. I made a small mistake hitting the "jump to the end" button instead of "next page"-- but I haven't made that error again-- I'm not sure why you'd need to jump to the last page of a book-- but, I guess it's good to have the option.
Also, just noticed that my keyboard arrow buttons move the pages forward and backward-- I now prefer to turn pages this way.
(Quick note-- holy hell, Wanted just finished downloading-- it isn't the first issue, it's the whole trade! Wow! Thanks Top Cow!)
The 16:9 (roughly) aspect ratio of my screen won't fit a page in comfortably, which necessitates the use of the "zoom" function-- Oddly, just as comics/magazines on digital devices and computers take off, we ditch the 4:3 ratio that would have fit double page spreads perfectly.
Personally, I'm finding that the double-page/zoom option on Longbox works best for me-- I do have to scroll a bit with the page as I read "down", but that's fine with me.
Also, having a two pages fill the screen at once is more akin to reading a print comic.
The "free zoom" mode gives me a bit of a headache. It's like reading with a magnifying glass. Might work for some-- not for me, though.
Just discovered a "Full Screen" mode under options. I'm digging this, as I may not want the distraction of Instant messages or Emails popping up while reading a comic.
(Note 2: Apparently, Top Cow has also given up the first Ron Marz Witchblade trade-- which is pretty awesome--)
Upon firing up Witchblade, I notice "Chapters" broken down per issue. That's great- as I often do my trade reading in issue breaks (when I can find them-- a bit of a pet peeve of mine: when trades don't have a clear marker of issue changeovers)--
Legibility of balloons is great. No problems reading at all. Little squinty at BKV's introduction on the Wanted trade-- but I guess that's what the "free zoom" mode is for.
Ha, Mac users: You can swipe your fingers left and right to turn pages. Doesn't seem to work in "zoom" mode-- hopefully that will be addressed in a future update.
Huh, remember when I was complaining about the 16:9 vs 4:3 ratios? Well, I just pulled out a random comic and sized it against my screen-- turns out, on my 15 inch Macbook, a comic opened at the spine fits exactly into the screen width.
Ok, that's it for opening thoughts. Props to Longbox CEO Rantz Hoseley- I know that dude hasn't slept in about a year...his hard work shows. Rantz has delivered a very impressive v. 0.5 application that is rock eff'in solid. I'm going to go back to kicking the tires on Longbox-- why don't you download it and do the same. Meet back in the comments section and let me know whatcha think.