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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.

Cool Reader bundles links to 10 dictionaries, but you must install any that you want to use.

At a Glance
Developer:
Vadim Lopatin
Version:Free
Formats supported: ePub, Mobi, HTML, DOC/RTF, text, FB2,TCR, CHM, PDB
Languages: 16
Pros: Good display customization and gesture control options, bundled manual
Cons: No indication of progress within chapters, below-average title bar options

The app includes text-to-speech capabilities to read your text to you in a robotic voice. It also has a feature called Autoscroll, but rather than moving the entire screen up at the pace at which you read, it repaints the entire screen with the next page of text — sort of an automatic super-slo-mo page turn automation.

One nice touch (unusual in a mobile app) is a comprehensive manual that explains the app's concepts, menus and settings. And if you like Cool Reader on your Android phone, you can also download versions that run on Windows and Linux platforms from the app's home page.

Bottom line
Cool Reader offers a broad range of supported e-book formats, top-notch ability to tailor CSS settings and some innovative features, such as its tap zones and text-to-speech. However, it also exhibits surprising awkwardness in its menu arrangement and text selection, making the overall reading experience not quite as smooth as it could be.

FBReader
FBReader lets you customize your screen display as well as any e-reader, but it's a little light on options for controlling the reading process via gestures.

Unlike the other e-readers listed here, only the Android menu soft key brings up FBReader's settings. Tapping the center of the screen displays a title bar that lets you browse your local and network libraries and the table of contents of the open document. From the library screen you can search for books by recently read, author, title, series or tag — or browse the file tree.

FBReader comes bundled with eight online catalogs from which you can download books, and an equal number of disabled ones for books in other languages that you can enable by ticking a box on the Manage Catalogs screen. It's also easy to add additional catalogs of your own, if you wish. You can search for a specific title either within each catalog or within all the defined catalogs at once, but the latter search took about a minute and a half to complete on my device.

For the reading window, FBReader offers only four fonts: one monospace, one serif and two sans serif. You can set separate display styles for regular paragraphs, titles, headers, hyperlinks and other types of text. You can set top, bottom, left and right margins in single-pixel increments.

 

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