Zinio Review: Three Magazines a Month for Five Bucks

by Reads (12,331)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 8
      • Functionality
      • 9
      • Ease of Installation/Ease of Use
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8.5
      • Cost Benefits
      • 7
      • Total Score:
      • 8.10
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Only $5 a month for three subscriptions with Z-Pass
    • Ability to swap out Z-Pass subscriptions three times
    • Large selection of publications
  • Cons

    • Time publications not available on Z-Pass

Quick Take

Magazine junkies will find a lot to like about Zinio, particularly the Z-Pass. But it's best to double check prices, as other services like Next Issue, or digital issues straight from the publisher might be cheaper.

Zinio offers more than 5,500 publications, accessible via smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Zino offers users a few different subscription options, mostly at a discounted price. On top of paid publications, Zinio also gives access to a number of free articles without a subscription, allowing users to discover new content without any commitment. Similar to Next Issue, it’s a sort of Netflix for magazines.

Subscriptions

Zinio iPhone screen shotsZinio negotiates with major publishers to offer monthly, yearly, and per-issue magazine subscriptions at a discounted price. Cost differs by publication, and the Zinio deal is not always better than what other e-magazine outlets offer; for example, Bloomberg Businessweek costs $29.99 per year whether downloaded through the Apple App Store or through Zinio. So for Bloomberg Businessweek, it doesn’t make a big difference how you download the digital version. Alternatively, a digital subscription to Esquire costs $10.99 through Zinio, but it costs $1.99 per month through Next Issue, which adds up to around $23 for 12 months. However, if purchased directly through Esquire, a digital subscription costs $19.99. Since it differs between publications, users will have to do some research on their favorite magazines to figure out the best deal. But for those looking to mix it up each month, or those that don’t know exactly what they want, it’s likely Z-Pass.

A Z-Pass allows users to choose up to three magazines a month for a flat rate of $5. In addition to the three subscriptions, users are permitted to swap out their selections three times each month. This means subscribers can actually get six different publications per month. Users will still have access to all back issues of magazines they previously downloaded, no matter if it was swapped out or not.

With the $5 option, users have access to Zinio’s entire library, except for anything published by Time, including Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, and People, to name a few. Time Publications have to be subscribed to outside of the Z-Pass, but representatives from Zinio have stated Time could be added to the Z-Pass in the future. Also, any current dead-tree subscriptions users have to magazines can be accessed through the app, as long as they are available. This is a bonus for anyone that gets a physical copy of a magazine since most now offer access to the digital copy alongside the hard copy.

Design

Zinio iPad screen shotsThe app is sleek and easy to navigate on the website, iPhone, and iPad. It is also available to download for free on Android, PC, Mac, and Windows 8 devices. The experience on iPad is immersive and it is easy to discover new or popular content and find old favorites. There is a featured category at the top and users can swipe through top sellers directly below. The bottom of the app displays different categories to choose from such as Men’s, Celebrity & Gossip, Food & Cooking, Lifestyle, and more.  There is a row of buttons across the bottom of the screen that bring users to free content, the shop to purchase new subscriptions, and their library of subscriptions.

Free articles span publications and subjects, but there is definitely something for everyone. It’s a great way to discover new content and publications or get articles from popular publications that you might not want to subscribe to. There are articles available from big name publications such as Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and ESPN the Magazine. There are quality articles offered for free, making it a great feature for those without a Z-Pass or who have reached their maximum of three swap outs for the month. Users without any subscriptions still have access to free articles as well, so it is possible to use the app at no cost.

A lot of digital publications include interactive content, such as embedded videos in fitness magazines that demonstrate certain workouts. With digital publications, readers can be more involved with the content they are reading.  Users will also see interactive advertising, as Zinio works with a service called ShopAdvisor. If readers spot something in a magazine they are interested in purchasing, ShopAdvisor will allow them to purchase it right from the page.

Performance

Content syncs between devices, so users can access subscriptions on an Android, Apple, or Windows 8 smartphone or tablet in addition to a PC or Mac. There is an option for iOS users to Auto Update on Wi-Fi, which automatically downloads content when connected to Wi-Fi, so subscriptions are ready to read on their daily commute or while traveling. The Auto Update on Wi-Fi is not available for any other devices as of this writing.

Zinio iPad Screen Shots 2

The app works across devices, however, iOS users will not have access to Playboy Magazine, even though it is offered in the App Store.  But this is not surprising since Apple is known for its strict content restrictions when approving apps.

Magazines look great and are easy to read; users can zoom in or out, easily use interactive content such as videos, and quickly swipe through pages. Issues download quickly on Wi-Fi or with Data, and launch smoothly. TG experienced a few hiccups after downloading the app on an iPhone 5, as it crashed a couple times while downloading issues. However, the problem became nonexistent while reading an issue, and could not be replicated. The app did not crash on an iPad 2.

Conclusion

Zinio certainly offers a great price for the product. With a Z-Pass, users can get six issues per month if they use their three swaps per month. It is a good deal for the price of $5, which is about the average cost of a magazine at the supermarket register.

TG also reviewed Next Issue, which offers unlimited publications for $10 a month. Depending on how many magazines users consume a month, Zinio seems to be a better deal for the content offered and what is available for the flat monthly rate. However, for anyone that wants to read more than six magazines a month, Next Issue might be better.



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