The Times Reader – The future for newspapers?

times2.pngIt’s no secret that the printing industry is in decline and print outlets are having to find new ways of reaching their readers. The internet is obviously playing a big part in this but the downside is that you lose that authentic broadsheet newspaper reading experience. Having tried the latest version of The Times Reader however, I think the newspaper industry might finally have found a true way forward that balances the best of both worlds.

The New York Times Reader was released over a year ago but it was based on Microsoft’s Silverlight platform and didn’t really impress. Now the company have switched to the far superior Adobe Air platform, it looks like a much more attractive product. Although the reader is free, only subscribers of The New York Times can access all sections but four sections (Front Page, Business, News in Video and a Classic Crossword) are available for free. All sections update every 5 minutes with the latest news.

screen-capture-times-front

On using The Times Reader for the first time, print nostalgics will be struck by just how realistic it is to having the paper in your hands. There’s a sense of elegance at the space offered by a newspaper layout compared to the condensed, busy pages on the internet edition. Navigating is simply a case of dragging pages around with the mouse or scrolling through pages with arrows. Hyperlinks are preserved as is multimedia content and even crosswords.

Times Reader Video section

In a slick combination of old and new, two of my favorite features are the “News In Video” and “News in Pictures” which give an instant multimedia roundup of the day’s news events. In addition, section which allows you to search any word mentioned in the paper within the past 7 days. It would have been preferable if this extended further back that a week but then again, you can just go to the web edition if you need that (or even better, Google’s excellent new timeline search feature). In addition, to view The New York Times in its full page glory, you can use Cmd-N on the Mac or Ctrl-N in Windows to hide the navigation bar. Alternatively, hover the mouse along the edge of the bar and a small arrow will appear which also hides it.

If the New York Times Reader takes-off, it could prove a breakthrough for a printing industry desperately searching for answers.

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