It is no secret that Tablet computers have been rising in popularity and so has peoples desire to use them for reading books. There are many ebook reading apps out there for Android, but where do you start? We brought out our new LG G-Slate tablet to review some of the Top Apps available in various Android Markets. This article is apart of our spotlight series on Google Android for larger screen tablet devices. If you are a comic book reader you might like our recent article on the Top 5 Comic Book Readers for Android Tablets. Many people are only familiar with the official Google Android Market, but some devices are not able to access it. There are lots of alternatives to the official market and we give you the full scoop with The Top 5 Google Android Markets. So without further adieu here is our list of the top 5 best Android eBook Reading Apps for Tablets.
FBREADER continues to be one of the most popular e-reading programs for the Android operating system and performs well for larger screen tablets.
It reads a wide array of e-book formats such as ePub, fb2, plucker, Non-DRM’d version of Mobipocket and others. You can also read directly from tar,zip,gzip and bzip2 archives. It can use external TrueType fonts (on devices with Android 1.6 or higher). Includes hyphenation patterns for 16 languages.
Lets look at the reading experience on the app itself, no matter what book type you open all text is rendered on a old type paper background called Sepia. There are options under the setting menu that let you add different gradient backgrounds such as Wood, Leather and Solid Color. I like the gimick but I am used to reading on a pure white background and the program gives you the ability to change the background of your book to any color you want. Not only can you change the background but you also have the ability to change the color of text, hyperlinks and more.
If you are like me and like control over your fonts, line spacing, alignments and margins you will like this program. There are many options to change all of these features but they are done in the advanced menu, which might prove tedious. Good thing when you customize your settings they are applied to any future books you open as well.
Page turn speed is quick and effective and you have the ability to read both in landscape and portrait mode. By default the orientation is locked but you can unlock it quickly enough in the settings menu. The one thing I did not like about the entire page turning experience was the weird line that would trail every-time you turn a page. It would not be just a simple refresh but the page turn takes a little bit longer then rival programs. When you turn a page this trailing line follows you across the page when you gesture and swipe. It becomes annoying after awhile.
Aldiko continues to lead the current generation of Android Reading Apps for Tablets and does not disappoint on many levels. It reads fewer ebook types then rival applications but does the job effectively with EPUB and PDF books. You can even import books you have purchased from other stores which is very solid.
When you load Aldiko up you are greeted by a library few that gives you a very iBooks book shelf where all of the books are stored. You can import books via an SD Card or browse your devices memory. Since I have a Honeycomb tablet without the SD Card it was very easy to select books and begin reading right away or import them into my Aldiko Library Book Shelf.
When you are reading an ebook you have a few options right off the bat to customize your experience. You can switch to day and night mode which puts white text on a black screen or the main settings button. You can adjust options such as locking your orientation, setting up your brightness or adjusting your font/margins. I liked the basic features most people like to configure on the main menu without having to dive into countless sub-menus to accomplish the same thing. Most e-reading applications have extensive settings menu but Aldiko nails it right by having a more minimal interface for doing advanced options.
Aldiko has its own store portal which is a gateway to find out the latest New York Times Bestsellers and many other open source books. They also have links to other bookstores such as Smashwords, Books on Board and O’Reilly eBooks. There is quite a bit of selection here and its refreshing to have an app give you many different alternatives, rather then just its official partner.
I found the entire Aldiko experience for tablets to be spot on. There is no annoying stuttering when you flip pages on ebooks. Whether you are reading in landscape or portrait mode it is quite excellent. Aldiko continues to be updated and this is the app to beat for Android Tablets.
Moon+ Reader for Android is another application with a lush book shelf interface that greets you when you load up the application. There is also a handy automatic drive scanning utility that will look at your SD card and main memory and import books into the shelf. I liked the fact it scanned both and imported everything without any prompts, complete with cover art.
This handy ebook reading program reads a wide array of book types such as txt, html, epub, umd, fb2, chm, zip or OPDS.
When you are reading a book you are prompted to choose from 11 pre-installed themes that adjust the background, font and various brightness features depending on your environment. They have the generic day and night theme, but also different points of the day and even outdoors themes. It would have been better to use the ambient light sensors in tablets to automatically select the best theme for your environment.
By default when you turn pages there is an annonying page turn animation that emulates turning a page in a real book. This is much akin to the Apple iBooks or the Google Books functionality that lets you drag and peak by swiping the screen. This would not be so bad if it was quick, but even on my T-Mobile G-Slate which is a top of the line tablet, it lagged. Luckily there was a way to shut it off under one of the more extensive options.
Speaking of options, this program is brimming with them! It seriously allows you to tailor your experience with TONS of settings and configurations. Your settings are bunched into a few main menus such as Visual Options, Control Options, Misc, Themes, and More Operations. Under these various menus gives you more flexibility and control over your ebook experience. You can adjust font size, and chose between over 50 preloaded fonts to change your book to. There are countless more but this program is the most advanced we have reviewed in terms of pure variety of options.
In the end I really liked this program and it seems many other people do to. You can think of it as a more advanced version of Aldiko minus the store interface.
The Cool Reader application for Google Android allows you a wide variety of book formats that it can read. Currently the program has the ability to read fb2, doc, txt, rtf, html, chm, tcr, pdb, epub, prc and mobi formats.
This program is very bare bones and basic, lacking the GUI that most of its rivals enjoy. It does not really have any kind of shelf or main interface and it is designed only to read books.
The Cool Reader app like others in its class does not have a clean white background by default to read books.It has a a gradient old book type background that I did not like right after the bat. It is easily fixed by going into the options menu and changing the texture to a solid color. Upon further review I found this app was brimming with texture backgrounds to read books on, it had close to 50 different ones.
Dispite the fact this app has no fancy interface it has a crazy amount of features not found in many other applications. For example you can easily take notes and look words up in the dictionary. You can also change your font type, size and many other options to change the size of your text within a book.
You can read books both in landscape and potrait mode although it does hang for a good 30 seconds before the book is formatted properly to larger screens.
This program loses points on having 0 interface and is not appealing to new users. Advanced users may like the flexible control they have with fonts, hyperlinks, notes, dictionary and many other features.
This application does not read many formats at all, mainly PDF and EPUB. Good thing most books on the internet are in these two formats, it does involve you converting books manually if they aren’t.
This program does have an interesting interface that gives you the ability to choose between your library, lexicon, and Notes. The Notes option was cool because you could either write notes with the Android keyboard or write them via the touchscreen. You can easily save them and reference them on a later date. Lexicon was mainly just a dictionary function that you can look up words via various Google based online dictionaries.
The main function of this program again is to read books. The note taking feature is handy but the rest is a big waste of time. Turning pages is fast and effective, there is no stuttered found in some of the other programs we reviewed. The screen switches from landscape to portrait mode with no load time, it is instant.
There are many options and settings when you are reading a book and it was almost overwhelming. First of all you can do highlights, take notes, make bookmarks on any page of the book you are reading. Highlighting was cool because it was all color schemed with tons of choices available which would be good for students or people who make lots of notes and highlights.
One of the coolest aspects about this device was that it does text to speech! If you highlight words it will read the text back to you or just read the book to you. It actually reads the book to you in a clean and robust fashion. As the text is read back the book pages will actually turn, following the text. This is the most unique part of this application.
There is little to no options to change your fonts or anything like that, but you can change their size and lock the orientation.
This program is very simple in terms of not being able to change line spacing, margins, fonts, and many other common options. This may be a deal breaker for some people. I found the ability to do highlights, notes and a built in dictionary to be excellent. The fact most functions in this programs do not enamor me, but this read aloud function really made me love this program.
Update: Jan 23 2011
We have created our own Good e-Reader Android App Store which gives you all of these apps on your Android Tablet! You can download them all for free today at our store http://goodereader.com/apps/
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.