Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

F1 on the iPad - Racecar Engineering magazine // Another motorsport publication gets a digital edition

Published by Mr. C

With the international release of Apple's iPad finally allowing us to purchase the elusive device, it is about time we looked into how the discerning F1 fan might make use of it. Let us start by looking at an area where the glossy tablet positivity excels - digital magazines.

This month's edition of Racecar Engineering magazine on the iPad (foreground) and the desktop (background).

Light the touch paper

Although Racecar Engineering magazine isn't solely aimed at Formula 1 fans, a large portion of the copy is dedicated to the sport. The content is primarily technical in nature, offering an in depth look at race car design and operation. That said, plenty of the detail goes way over my head.

This month, Racecar Engineering (RCE) hit on a bit of a scoop, getting the inside line on the yet-to-be-raced Toyota TF110. The F1 team from Cologne pulled out of the sport in 2009, and have now mothballed development. I struggle to get excited by the idea of Toyota suggesting they built a potent car, when any F1 fan will tell you the team could squander a pace advantage like no-one else, both through awful driver selection and inept race strategy.

What did interest me about this month's magazine, was the digital release pre-empting the off-the-shelf version by a good three days. RCE were one of the first motorsport titles to experiment with digital print, partnering with distributors Zinio. As much as I like to champion forward thinking media companies, Zinio's desktop reader has been hopeless thus far, to the point I was left longing for the simplicity of paper. Additionally, although the company had created an iPhone application, RCE inexplicably remained unavailable for that device.

Thankfully, the company came good with the arrival of the iPad. Zinio Reader is a superb app and works well on a tablet device. Racecar Engineering is available to download and it looks, reads and feels great.

Page layout and formatting is carried over unchanged on the iPad.

Glossy magazines

Screen reading is both comfortable and enjoyable. The iPad's portability means you don't have to be stuck behind a desk - I've been reading in the living room, in the garden and in bed. Portrait mode feels the more natural way to hold things. Text can be slightly on the small side, but a landscape view requires much zooming and sliding to navigate the multi-column layouts. Outdoors, bright sunshine can be a problem, but that said, battery life is good enough to enable the iPad to be my primary reading device going forward.

I still long for the ability to copy blocks of content and individual quotes, in order that tidbits of information can be shared on this site. As it is, re-keying remains the only option, and I just can't be bothered to do that. As a result, I think RCE may get less links from Sidepodcast, compared to say GP+, who's own digital magazine enables such things. It is a small gripe, but the internet is becoming an ever more social experience, and if you're going digital, you may as well go all in. Restricting usability in the hope of reducing content theft is a mistake the music industry never recovered from. I hope print media have the common sense not to advocate the same thinking, long term.

The padded cell

Digital magazines are just beginning to get interesting. Wired News recently pushed the envelope yet farther, including video, audio and interactive elements into what looks and feels like a traditional magazine. You could argue other titles now have a lot of ground to make up.

Will users expect embedded video or audio interviews from the Toyota factory, the next time an exclusive is landed? The lines between websites and magazines are becoming ever more converged, but there's still something to be said for reading content within professionally laid out pages, a feat that cannot be repeated reliably on a website.

If you're interested in finding out more, you can subscribe to Racecar Engineering for 12 months or buy individual issues using the button below. Disclaimer: Sidepodcast does not receive any affiliate income from promotion of this magazine.

Buy Online Now

If you give the online edition a try or already subscribe this way, please do let us know how you find the experience by leaving a comment below. Are there other companies or industries doing it better and if you were in charge, what would you change?

All content in the series F1 on the iPad