What to read on your new tablet computer? USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times are among the hundred or so American publications available for reading in an ad-free, newspaper-style format on gadgets that run either Android or iPhone operating systems through PressDisplay.com.
The site carries more than 1,400 publications from around the world. There are a few conspicuous holes — no New York Times, for example. No Financial Times or Wall Street Journal U.S. edition — but you can get WSJ Asia and WSJ Europe, plus the global version of the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune. No ads clutter their pages, either.
For free, you can read the front page plus two articles from any publication.
For a fee — the company offers several pricing options — you can buy unlimited reading, plus extra features including one to two weeks of back issues, and the ability to set up Google News-like alerts. (You get two of those for free.)
What this means is that Android-powered tablets, like HP’s prototype, already have a way to read newsprint in a more reader-friendly format than most newspaper web sites’ layouts. The company’s PressReader app will surely work on Apple’s mystery tablet, too, whether it runs Mac OS or, as reported, the iPhone OS. PressReader has worked for years on full-blown PCs and Macs, and also runs on Amazon’s Kindles, Sony’s e-Readers, and the small, slim COOL-ER readers.
On an Android smartphone, text quality is good for a computer screen, although it stops short of e-reader quality. It’s likely that tablet computers, whether HP or Apple, will have some sort of advanced technology for displaying text onscreen.
The company behind PressDisplay and PressReader, NewspaperDirect, is a privately-funded firm founded in Vancouver in 1999. The company won’t divulge its user base’s size or financials, but it’s survived multiple tech market crashes. Its biggest problem seems to be that no one knows that it or its products exist. A suggested remedy: A high-profile partnership for a tablet launch in 2010.