MaximumPC’s (hidden) digital subscription rocks and is cheap too!

Is it just me or is MaximumPC trying hard to hide its digital subscription? I never heard of it until I accidentally stumbled across the mention of it and dug around. First off, you’d think that with print magazines barely hanging on, a subscription link would be right there in your face on the website, but for MaximumPC you need to scroll all the way to the bottom to find the ad, but even there, no mention of a digital version.

So how’d I uncover it? Well, there is a Subscription link near the bottom of the page. Click on it and it brings you to an order form. “Save 83% and get BOTH a Print and Digital Subscription!” it touts? Still, on this page there is no way to just subscribe to the digital version. To get there, first click on the “Click here to view sample” link. This brings up a sample issue that you can peruse. At the top of the sample on the right it says Purchase Options. Click that. This will bring you to a page that has separate subscriptions for the digital and print versions. The digital version is only $8.97 a year!

The digital version is web-based and has some cool features like search. You can share pages to friends and social networks, but it seems kinda clunky. These public links will show a limited number of pages from the issue.

The display options are decent and you can view 2-pages at a time or just a single page. I find the 2-page display nice but difficult to read on a monitor. You can click on a page to zoom in/out which is handy. I tend to use this zoom feature and drag the page around using the Firefox Grab and Drag extension.

A nice feature is that the coverpage is hot-linked so clicking on titles takes you to the article.

To archive articles/pages, you can use the “clip” feature which lets you add notes to the entry. Clippings can be grouped with user-definable names, but for some reason you cannot change the name of the clipped entry itself. You just have to type something into the notes.

You can also print pages. A printed page is not as sharp as the magazine, but it’s readable and is full-color. You aren’t precluded from printing to PDF so there really isn’t strong DRM protection which is nice. You can, in fact, create a PDF of the entire magazine if you wanted to create an offline portable version. Unfortunately, it will have an annoying large white border all around each page and the entire PDF weighed in at 54MB. Note that you can get older archived issues on already PDF’d and are only about 8 megs with no annoying white border.

What would I like to see? The clipping feature is too cumbersome. I should be able to quickly add an entire article to a clipping group without leaving the page. Also, although you can navigate using the keyboard, Page Down doesn’t take you to the next page once you reach the bottom of the page you are viewing. Bookmarking is a little lame. Basically you are just using the browser’s bookmark/favorite function. A robust auto-bookmarking feature is need to automatically save your last place as well as multiple bookmarks for each issue.

All in all, I HIGHLY recommend the digital version of MaximumPC. I had let my print subscription lapse, but I just signed up for a year of the digital version. You can’t beat the price. I love true digital versions of print media. I don’t have to feel bad about not reading an issue, wasting paper, etc. On a related note, is a great place to get other electronic publications like USA Today, LA Times, NY Times, etc. The digital versions are visually nearly identical to the print counterparts.

On my LE1700 tablet, it’s kind of a pain always having to click the next page button with the stylus. One kludgy workaround is to open the issue, go to the end, and then page backward through the issue. Then, I can just use the previous page mouse gesture to move forward through the mag. (I have the Firefox FireGestures extension installed. )

UPDATE 2009-02-13:
The keyboard PageUp/Down will work, but only in IE, not Firefox.

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