Vis-À-Vis Magazine Review – iPad

Vis-À-Vis Magazine Review – iPad

  • Publisher: Ploi Media
  • Issue reviewed: March 2016
  • Reviewer: Ed Sawyer (iPad)
  • Available on: iPad exclusively
  • Price: Free on iPad

Vis-À-Vis prides itself on delivering exceptionally heartfelt and direct vis-à-vis (face-to-face) interviews with prominent figures in sport, TV, fashion and gastronomy. 

This highly personal theme is central to the character of the digital magazine. Users are thrust behind the scenes of photo shoots and interviews with Spanish journalists and photographers who add incredible insights into the production of the digital magazine with accounts from their own point of view. 

High profile celebs like Patricia Vico barrel down the centre of the screen addressing users in their native language – be it Spanish or British – giving the impression the user is the sole audience. 

Users also become a part of a photo shoot. From all angles, photographers take snaps of YOU! This experience makes the user feel inextricably part of the magazine. 

As a reader, you can’t help but be captivated by the personalities that leap out of this digital magazine.

Music videos, such as The Vaccines’ Dream Lover, are embedded in amongst the content in order to create a truly immersive and engaging experience where audio and visual elements are combined. 

Vibrant data visualisation tools have been utilised to add greater intensity to data stories. In this edition, there’s an infographic showing the blood splatter proportionate to the impact of each bullet in the assassinations of prominent figures like Martin Luther King and Tupac. A very engaging representation of what could’ve been incredibly dull data. 

The first issue was launched in 2012 and reached roughly 42,000 downloads. One of the reasons for such widespread interest was due to the vast amount of content offered by De Ploi media, the publisher. Vis-à-vis is definitely a magazine you can absorb in more than one sitting.

“From extensive articles that you can read calmly at home during the weekend, up to short and more visual articles that you can rapidly go through on the bus or on the underground, that’s what Vis à Vis is all about: a magazine that escapes the ephemeral concept of the paper,” explains Laura Blanco, the magazine’s editor in chief. 

But herein lies the magazine’s biggest shortcoming. The depth and quality is there – but so many long-form pieces are too much for tablet. It’s difficult to fully appreciate every aspect of this digital publication even in more than one sitting. 

Another irritating aspect is the format of the text. The text size is too small with no option to enlarge, while the creative ways of displaying each segment of text can be overwhelming. 

Furthermore, the use of black and white as a stylistic feature is both excessive and distracting. In this sense, Vis-à-Vis lacks the striking explosion of colours displayed in De Ploi's sister publications like Masmag, Revista Don or Mine. 

Audio and video content on some pages plays automatically without the user starting it, whereas some features do. This lack of continuity becomes a little annoying, but hardly much of a distraction. 

Overall then, Vis-à-Vis is a fantastically interactive and compelling publication. It’s variety of content that grabs the user and throws them headfirst into interviews and photoshoots with celebrities puts it right up there. Okay, its let down by a few things, and for me the articles could be snappier, but the content is superb and displayed beautifully. 

Well worth a read!

Download the app and free magazine on your iPad here

Masmag, an excellent (and free) Spanish tablet mag

Masmag Magazine Review – iPad

  • Publisher: EnTren New Media
  • Issue reviewed: January 2016
  • Reviewer: Ed Sawyer (iPad)
  • Available on: iPad, iPhone, Android
  • Price: Free on iPad, iPhone, Android 

Masmag digital magazine is highly interactive, entertaining and extremely exciting. 

The very front cover of the January (Enero) edition depicts David Bowie’s iconic lightning bolt makeup for Aladdin Sane, in tribute to the acclaimed artist who passed away at the beginning of the year. A GIF incorporated into the cover leaves readers fixated and really brings the magazine to life; thus adding a highly emotive and human dimension to the magazine.


But that’s only the front cover! Masmag goes on to immerse readers in an   interactive playground rich in content and design.

EnTren New Media, the Spanish publisher and content creation agency behind Masmag, incorporates fantastically detailed and ornate artwork, digital designs and high-resolution images to their digital magazines. The integration of various styles and use of layering showcase Masmag as a publication that is both captivating and widely diverse. Minimalism is merged with more intricate designs to ensure readers remain absorbed in the world of culture and design and not distracted by overcomplicated layouts. 

Each page presents a fresh medium through which information is creatively portrayed. From music and film to fashion and technology, Masmag has it covered.

Audio elements – such as four sub-pages detailing Bowie’s most popular tracks – have been squeezed in to add an audio-visual capacity. Audio tracks are available throughout the magazine and give readers a chance to step-back from the visual content and enjoy songs relating to the main content of the monthly edition.


There is complete freedom to engage with the magazine in any way you wish. This truly is a digital magazine that is built around the user. 

For instance, one particular page is solely an image of a man sat on a white staircase. The innovative scrolling feature allows the user to reveal the accompanying text once the image has been digested with the use of overlays - a vastly interactive, fluid feature that has been well executed by EnTren New Media. 

Users can effortlessly flick between the pages by scrolling either left/right or up/down, depending on the section. This offsets the natural impulse to always continue in the same direction, which makes the experience extremely engaging and playful.

The only slight thorn in the side is the format of the text. The text size is too small (with no option to enlarge), while the creative ways of displaying each segment of text can be overwhelming. 

All in all, Masmag is a highly impressive, interactive and compelling publication; especially considering it’s only recently emerged onto the market. Also, the fact that such an enthralling digital magazine is available free of charge is staggering. 

It’s well worth a read. I spent a couple of hours lazing through Masmag and I suspect you’ll sit down and be utterly captivated by it too. Enjoy!

Download Masmag on iPad, iPhone or Android tablet or phone from here

Is the tablet magazine really dead (or is it just resting comfortably)?

Recently US journalism professor Aileen Gallagher wrote a well-tweeted article entitled ‘2016: When tablet magazines get to die’.  She argued that dropping ‘Best tablet edition’ as a category in New York’s National Magazine Awards (the Ellies) meant that tablet magazines were dead.

It occurs to us that just because a product isn’t worthy of an award doesn’t mean it’s dead or anywhere near it. There aren’t many awards ceremonies for reality TV programmes, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t watched by many.

The sort of magazines that enter and/or win an Ellie (or mainstream publishing award) are not typical of most of the 10,000 + digital magazines that are in the Apple Appstore or the many more that exist as web-based or mobile responsive magazines.  Enthusiasts, who read the most magazines about their favourite subject, are highly likely to want the option to read their favourite titles on a tablet, phone and in print.  The format is less of an issue, but if it can take advantage of a device’s technical prowess it makes sense to do so as long as it doesn’t confuse the reader - particularly where familiar location of articles and regular features is important.

There are a few interesting markets where free, non-enthusiast tablet-based magazines are thriving.  In Spain, where many journalists have been laid off since 2008, a number of high quality iPad-based magazines have emerged from small content creation agencies that are not totally reliant on magazine-generated revenues.  Check out the likes of Don, Vis a Vis, Mine and MasMag and you’ll find high quality magazines that attract the attention of major advertisers.  Other specialist Spanish titles such as the free Motorbike Magazine for iPad carry excellent interactive ads from major bike manufacturers.

Look at SisterMag in Germany where their bi-monthly mag combines high quality and entertaining copy with interesting and quirky content supported by brands such as Vodafone, Ford and Evian.

Rather than looking at the failure of general interest magazines to thrive in a digital or tablet format its best consider the whole magazine market. Looking at those magazines that entered the UK- based, but internationally focused DMAs (a non-mainstream awards ceremony), is a good place to start.

Iron Life: Magvault Review

Available on: iPad, iPhone

Cost: 12 month subscription £21.99, individual issues £4.49

All appstore links for Iron Life mag can be found here

By Harry Usborne


Bodybuilding is much more than just working out. It embodies the idea of achieving perfection, and everything from diet to mentality has an important role to play. Iron Life understands this, and as such, every aspect of the magazine is geared towards helping its readers on their path to physical greatness.

The content of the magazine is clear and easy to understand, Articles based on the expert knowledge of elite coaches and body builders provide an outstanding plethora of advice on everything from protein synthesis to incorporating bands and chains into workouts. The sheer extent of guidance that Iron Life gives puts you well on the way to being informed in the training room.


In terms of its design, Iron Life is professional and no nonsense. A simple layout coupled with easy navigation means that important details are not at risk of being lost in a flurry of text boxes and diagrams, whilst slick, high definition photographs and videos provide further advice and inspiration.

Iron life utilizes the digital platform well, using simple interactive features to enhance its content. Video interviews do well to convey complex information and a few links to the websites of featured trainers and models also exist, which could be of use. On the whole, the magazine has done an excellent job of presenting its guidance in an accessible way.


With a fairly expensive price per individual issue, the 12-month subscription works out as much better value for money but either way, this professionally researched and well presented magazine is a valuable aide to any gym goer’s workout.

Alt Press magazine: Magvault Review

£3.99 per issue for iPad

All appstore links for the Alt Press mag can be found here

By Andy Stevens


Alternative Press magazine is a long-established barometer of the US underground music scene, originally spawned way back out of fanzine culture, but now taking a whack at mainstream samey-ness in the digital age.

Monthly AltPress digital magazine issues are paid-for per edition. So it's an idea, too, to look out for free 'official program' editions: sponsored special one-off versions that intersperse AltPress' main digital hangout a couple of times a year, based on music events.

Simple navigation and quality photography of AltPress' featured bands are key elements of this digital magazine. These bold, band images are overlaid with long scrollable editorial features and reviews, steered towards a proper read for hardcore fans or for those simply dipping in and out.

AltPress' download time per issue could do with cranking up a gear, after the initial simplicity of your one-tap 'Get' function through the iPad store on Magvault. But stick with it, won't you: download an individual issue and in the scheme of things you won't really be drumming your fingers for too long waiting for the full edition.

After download, a basic graphic icon gives you the option of reading AltPress on the vertical or horizontal axis of your tablet. But there's only really one option; in our experience of the January 2015 edition, the long-side - A5-style - is your readable friend.

Moving between articles is a standard digital magazine scroll-and-sweep business. The top navigation bar is a pretty stripped-down affair - which is never a cause for a moan or groan.

From the top-left of your screen, single-tap options to take you to previous issues. Next to that, pop up the 'content' box of the issue you're reading, or 'edit' your articles of choice (which, rather confusingly, is really just a bookmarks/favourites function, and not an 'edit' at all).

Then, sticking with the top-nav, AltPress' decently-lengthy monthly playlist button of bespokely selected alternative soundage brings an audio burst of life to proceedings, before the as-standard social sharing button completes the top-bar set of icons.

The foot-of-page navigation is a three-icon affair. But this is your path to deeper and richer content. The 'Live' button propels you into AltPress' website area with its combination of news, videos and Facebook shareability triggers.

The 'Help' button also does its humble work effectively. Its handy little graphics glossary guides you towards making the most of bits and pieces you might want to bookmark, or maybe entice you into a trawl through earlier AltPress issues.

Those previous editions are also there at the tap of the 'Issues' icon. And the edition you choose to download is also easy to sweep around from section to section, thanks to a slider bar of thumbnails of the issue's pages, accessible through a single on-page tap.









Bande a Part Digital Magazine: Magvault Review

FREE for iPad, iPhone and Android

All appstore links to download the mag are here

By Andy Stevens

Bande A Part is a French digital film magazine (
magazine de cinéma) which embraces the digital format with refreshing clarity and simplicity. And as a means for showcasing its subject matter of choice, it succeeds in navigating a confident balancing act between the visual and the editorial.

White space. Yes, the bits on a page where nothing happens, and there's diddlysquat to look at and read. A bad thing, you might think - but no. Now let's hear it right now for the much underrated white space on a digital magazine page.

Let's issue an immediate clarification, here, though. Are we're saying there's nothing going on? Allow us to bark an unequivocal, emphatic 'non'. In fact, quite, quite the opposite.

Bande A Part simply doesn't fear allowing on-device readers a swathe of visual breathing space as he or she scrolls and swipes around the magazine's pages. And this is a winning experience for the user, as Bande A Part's visual and design strengths enhance its combination of strong upfront images plus, crucially, plenty of stuff to read and view in an easily digestible style.

Rival movie mags who think digital on-screen consumption is by necessity a full-on crash-bang-wallop experience to be wowed by, merely due to the nature of the digital medium, should take a helicopter view of Bande A Part's clean and incisive approach.

A few more digital palmes d'or to lay down in Bande A Part's path; let's start with the speed thing. Download this monthly magazine from an app store for kick-off and you'll be pleased by the process of password-to-single-edition upload of under two minutes, our experience of the December/January 2014/15 edition. And that puts it satisfyingly below the unofficial 'eternity' threshold of three minutes and rising which is a surefire tablet turn-off among digital-first attention spans.

So a straight win there, then. And did we mention that Bande A Part is not just fast but free? Well, we have now. Editorially, too, this digital mag is guided by the free spirit of independent cinema rather than the mainstream big screen. It's a French thing, after all - and all the better for that.

Navigation is mercifully simple. Once you're in, and want to find your way around, a single on-screen tap reveals a top bar comprising - happily - just five options, but with immediate access to heaps of content on, er, tap, from previous Bande a Part issues and the monthly mag's latest sections in a scrollable thumbnail image format.

And on your satisfying swipe through each edition of Bande A Part, there's a regular smattering of additional things to read and view, such as cinema trailers and extra content in features, whenever you see the digital-standard 'plus' sign.

Bande A Part is in French. Mais oui. So those of you who didn't pay attention to Mademoiselle What's-Her-Name at school perhaps ought to search right now for the translation software. Brilliantly, though, any potential language barrier for mono-lingual types barely registers as a stumbling block in this top-of-the-class digital monthly which pulls out all the best contemporary practices of a fast-evolving format with pleasing simplicity.

All appstore links to download the mag are here

BBC Sky at Night Digital Edition: Magvault Review

Reviewed on an HTC One M8 Smartphone (Android/Google Play Newsstand)

All appstore links to download the magazine are here

Single issues are £4.99 or you can try a one month subscription at £2.99 or 12 months for 34.99 - both include a cancellable free trial.

By Luke Hodgetts


BBC’s astronomy magazines uses a variety of techniques to make the £4.99 charge for this magazine completely worth it. Immense images of supernovas, wide galaxies and stars light years away, catch the eye straight away, giving you the feeling there is so much more to space than darkness. All of this can be viewed at your leisure, right at your fingertips on your tablet or mobile device, and the images were high definition on my HTC One M8.

Produced monthly, it gives a range of advice to up and coming sky watchers, with reviews on equipment, books, and a few how to’s and guides of the sky at night. 

One of the features is a bulletin page, and this lets you catch up on what is happening in the world of astronomy. Using expert opinions on each piece, it provides invaluable information to those who enjoy stargazing from the comfort of their own homes.

Even more impressive is that you will get completely different content in each issue, because a number of guest writers also produce pieces for the publication, and not just the usual experts, including comedian and impressionist Jon Culshaw, who is an avid amateur astronomer. It’s this kind of feature that really emphasises the fact that anybody can pick up a telescope and look beyond the stars, which is really what the magazine is aiming for. This is furthered even more by the editor giving a guide for the month, on what is happening ahead, such as meteor showers and lunar positioning, to provide information to everybody.

In some magazines, the adverts can often get irritating, in this instance, the advertisements actually help you read the magazine. This is because they are so well tailored to fit the users. Usually about telescopes and classes in astronomy, they bring back the reality that active participation is always just round the corner.

A very enjoyable, and educating read for anybody interested in stargazing or space in general!

Rock Sound Digital Edition: Magvault Review

Reviewed on a Galaxy S3 tablet - £3.99 per copy  

A free trial is available with a cancellable subscription

All appstore links to download the magazine can be found here

By Ed Sawyer


Rock Sound is every music fan's tool. It features exclusive interviews with the top metal, rock and pop-punk artists from around the country, including such names as You Me At Six and Bring Me The Horizon.

The concise, yet engaging interviews add more to the value of the magazine with punchy content covering a variety of different genres.

Live performance reviews show the raw side of the music world, with mentions of up-and-coming bands smashing their live shows.


Viewing the digital magazine on a Samsung Galaxy S3 tablet enhanced the graphics and statistics that accompanied the different articles, like the graphical portrayal of industry figures.

Great quality images and an eye-catching layout make the publication a pleasure to read, while the structured sections allow readers to digest the content in their own time.

Flicking between the magazines sections is fast and simple, making the pages easy to navigate. The content easily fills the screen and removing the tablets menu buttons provides an easier reading experience.

The engagingly written and pictorial content is supported by links to the Rock Sound website. Although requiring an internet connection, external links give access to live and interview footage – adding another dimension to the digital magazine.

Album and tour reviews litter the magazine, with gig guides and teasers of live performances enticing the reader to delve further.

The publication also has strong ties to the users that read it, giving them chances to vote for their favourite bands, albums or live performances, encouraging them to go out a listen to their favourite artists.

The Gig Guide identifies must-see bands and exact tour dates in a clear, easily readable format.

What sold this publication to me was the famous columnist features, such as Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, who gives insights into the way he views the music industry.

Overall, Rock Sound is a thoroughly engaging magazine, connecting you with the latest gossip and boisterous nature of the metal and punk-pop world.

A great read and a pleasure to flick through - well worth paying £3.99 for!

Digital Magazine: The Brilliant Baking Magazine.

Reviewed by: Kat Ballett

Reviewed on: Android

Subscription: Free for 7 days then £2.99 per month

All appstore download links can be found here


Filled to the brim with an array of delicious recipes, celebrity interviews and baking tips, The Brilliant Baking Magazine is an essential kitchen tool for a budding baker.

It features only the best recipes to create mouthwatering dishes and desserts by the most talented chefs. It does not scrimp on detail, serving up large portions of delicious dishes and baking tips for chefs of all abilities.



















Pictures speak louder than words in this magazine. The colourful dishes pictured throughout the magazine decorate the white, black and pink colour scheme of the written content which makes each recipe depict delicious artwork.

This digital magazine is more than just a straight-forward print magazine that can be bought in a supermarket. It connects you with expert bakers through motivational videos created by the bakers themselves.

These interactive videos brings every recipe to life and features step by step guides to recreate tasty dishes from the comfort of your own home.

Other interactive features include links that you can ‘click’ on from the front cover of the magazine that takes you directly to the article that you want to read as well as hyperlinks to baker’s blogs and websites for extra viewing pleasure.

This magazine is delightful to read. The text is clear, concise and to the point which focuses on quick, interesting facts and information.

The Best Baking Magazine is the best way to recieve the latest baking news and celebrity interviews at your fingertips. It is free for the first 7 days and then only £2.99 per month. 

This magazine is a must-read for any chef including beginners and experts.

The Brilliant Baking Magazine is exactly what it says on the tin.

It’s brilliant. 



Dare by Superdrug - the magazine app: Magvault review

Reviewed on: iPad (available on iPhone)

Published: Every other month

Subscription: Free

Appstore links to get the magazine are here


Reviewed by: Zara-Ann Hughes

Dare by Superdrug is an easily accessible magazine app that would appeal to anyone interested in the latest beauty trends, celeb style and high street beauty products.

After tapping on the appstore link in, you download the app and are transported to the magazine’s ‘storefront’ where you are presented with a library of issues ready to download individually for free.

In terms of content the app features expert advice, celebrity looks and interviews, beauty survival tips for the winter, make up tutorials and fashion.

Although the app is aimed towards women, there is a feature on men’s hairstyles as well as an easy go-to guide for Christmas presents.

As a product of a high street store it focuses on affordable and practical products and beauty tips, as well as offering cheaper alternatives to expensive branded beauty products.

Interactively this app is impressive; it offers a ‘tap and buy’ option, so if you’re tempted by the product on the page you can buy it there and then, this magazine is like the classic Superdrug catalogue, but better.

Although the design is basic, it flows and invites the reader to actively play a role by offering an alternative to a page cluttered with information in the form of a feature that enables you to view different products independently on the same page with the swipe of a finger. It also comes with the option to expand and minimise multiple tabs giving you a choice of content.

It could benefit from a wider collection of feature articles, however it is very inclusive and a reader would not close this app feeling disappointed. For a free magazine you cannot go wrong.

Overall, this entertaining app has taken advantage of the digital platform with accessibility and interactivity at the forefront.