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4 Android e-reader apps: The latest word in reading

Lee Schlesinger | Feb. 10, 2014
Sometimes even a tablet is too much trouble to tote. These Android smartphone e-reader apps will make it easy to enjoy your favorite book wherever you go.

In contrast with the other e-reader apps, Aldiko's main screen lacks a status bar that shows you how far you are through a book or chapter. You can set bookmarks that allow you to return to a specific point in a book, but you can access those bookmarks only from within each book (rather than allowing you to see them whether or not the book is open). Aldiko does let you search for a particular phrase or jump to a specific numbered page.

At a Glance
Aldiko Ltd.
Free, Premium ($2.99)
Formats supported: ePub, PDF
Languages: 12
Pros: Supports PDFs, allows you to sort books into self-defined collections
Cons: Minimal customization options, no status bar

If you long-press to select a word or phrase, you can look it up on the Web (using Google's "define" feature), search for it within the rest of the document or share it via another app. If you have the Premium version, you can also add notes and highlights to selected text — a feature Moon+ Reader offers in its free version.

Aldiko is light on fancy extras. For instance, it offers only a single page-turning animation — a sliding page — that you can toggle on or off. It also lacks any way to customize gestures to control the app, other than letting you choose to either use the volume keys or touch the sides of the screen to turn a page.

Bottom line
Aldiko offers fewer configuration options than the other apps, but if you want to use an e-reader for PDF files, it's the most economical of the four reviewed here, as it's the only one that supports PDF files in a free edition.

Cool Reader
Cool Reader is an ambitious e-reader with a text-to-speech feature that none of the other programs offers for free, but it's not the most sophisticated app of the group.

Cool Reader makes books available in several ways from its opening screen, which appears when you start the program (and if no book is already open). You can open the book you're currently reading or any recently read books, or browse for unread books in the file system or in any of seven bundled online catalogs — or you can add your own. If a book is already open, getting to that screen is a little tricky. You have to tap to bring up the app's pop-up options icons and then tap the one labeled Root.

Cool Reader offers six fonts: one monospace, one serif and four sans serif. You can add additional fonts by placing TTF files in the Fonts directory of your device (according to the Cool Reader manual); similarly, you can add your own background images if none of the 30 provided with the program satisfy you. You can set font size and top, bottom, left, and right margins in single-pixel increments.


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