RCU Review: RC Pilot RC Pilot Magazine

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    Contributed by: Burc Simsek | Published: May 2012 | Views: 17650 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    RCUniverse.com Review of RC Pilot Magazine


    Every so often, something comes along which makes you think "why didn't I think of that?". RC Pilot Magazine easily falls in this category. RC Pilot Magazine is a novel twist on the delivery method of a magazine. Originally built to run only on tablet devices RC Pilot recently introduced a web version to accommodate users without tablets.

    Although you can read the magazine on a tablet or any computer, for the best experience, we recommended an iPad tablet. According to Michael Kranitz, CEO of RC Pilot, the magazine is available on all versions of the iPad, Android tablets, Amazon's Kindle Fire and through any computer connected to the Web. A quick visit to their website (www.rcpilot.com) reveals that they are working to serve as many different platforms as possible. The Web version is a Flash-based application that can be viewed from within a browser.

    Users can purchase the tablet version through the Apple App Store, Android Market and Amazon's Android Market and they can get the web version directly on the RC Pilot website. You can purchase the magazine per issue or subscribe for a year.

    Printed magazines are known to spend a good amount of resources on their layout and presentation but lack the ability to provide a multitude of photos, audio, animation or video within the articles. On the other hand, online magazines can provide an endless content of pictures, audio and video but are usually restricted by html delivery systems. This is where RC pilot magazine really shines. Once the user downloads the magazine to a tablet, the content is always there, whether the reader is on a plane or at the field. RC Pilot magazine takes the best of both printed and online magazines and delivers content in a very engaging manner.

    In addition to a new approach for content delivery, RC Pilot magazine also aims to provide articles that are less about products and more focused on pilots, techniques, companies, clubs and the people who are actively involved in our great hobby. When RC Pilot does cover products, they pull no punches. In the May 2012 issue, for example, RC Pilot took a very candid look at a Banana Hobby F/A-18 in a story entitled "Outstanding Looks, Mediocre Performance." According to the advertising, each issue will also provide a %100 scale article that will deal with full sized airplanes.

    • One of a kind delivery system
    • Unique articles
    • Available on tablets and online
    • Interactive advertisements and reviews

    • None found

    The first order of business is to actually get the magazine downloaded to the tablet. I use the iPad2 and was able to simply download the free reader application from the App store. The main rcpilot.com website has direct links which will take you to the appropriate store if navigated from the tablet it self. A search for RC Pilot also yields the same results from the App store. Once the reader application is installed, each available issue is listed along with the option to purchase the issue. A subscription option is also available. After subscribing or purchasing the magazine, the issue is then downloaded to the tablet. Each issue was around 450MB which made for a manageable download although I can see the 16GB memory of my already full iPad2 exhausting pretty quickly with files this large, but if things get too crowded, you can archive any of the RC Pilot issues and restore them at any time if you feel the urge.

    After selecting which issue you want to browse, the application launches the magazine and you are greeted with a small video of the cover that transitions to the cover image which is pretty neat. 

    Watch RC Pilot Magazine in action on the iPad2 

    Finally, an RC magazine as exciting as the sport!

    • » The hobby's best video plays inside the page
    • » Compelling photography in vivid high resolution
    • » Engaging, professionally written stories
    • » Interactive advertisements
    • » Audio, 360-degree panoramas and more

    The second page of the issues (so far) have contained small informational videos on how to actually browse the magazine. The idea is simple and very intuitive where each article occupies a full screen of the tablet when held in portrait orientation. To read further in the article, you simply swipe down. To move to the next (or previous) article, swipe right or left. Small arrow icons indicate that there is more content along with page numbers on the lower left hand corner of the article.

    In addition to swiping to move from article to article, tapping on the screen will bring up the contents to the left of the page. Clicking on the upper right top icon will bring up a scrubber which will allow you to jump quickly to the article you are interested in. The whole concept is very nice.

    As mentioned before, the Tablet based delivery system really allows for the authors/editors to create some very attractive content. Having larger text callouts or images that are wrapped by the article text is common place in printed magazines but harder to achieve with online magazines. RC Pilot Magazine looks like a professional printed magazine but provides capabilities that the printed magazines cannot offer such as video and photos that are embedded right in the article.

    Additional features include thumbnail image viewers, 360 degree rotating images and slide out informational widgets which make reading the article an interactive process. On occasion, a small icon next to an image or video indicates that more content is available if the tablet is rotated. This is a very nice feature especially when you want to watch a video or look at the available photos in landscape orientation utilizing the whole screen of the tablet.

    Aside from the unique delivery content and visuals, RC Pilot Magazine delivers engaging content that is not just about product advertisement. From what I have seen so far, each issue contains articles about professional, up and coming pilots, "every day" pilots. Articles about flying fields and the people who fly there are interesting to read through. I was particularly interested in the "%100 Scale" articles that focus on full scale airplanes and the pilots that fly them.

    Advertising seem to have been kept to a minimum and the few ads that exist are presented in an interactive manner where additional video content is used to spice up the ad. A ?buy now? button can be found in certain ads which will directly link you to the manufacturers web site for that item you just have to purchase immediately.

    Although RC Pilot Magazine is not mainly focused on products, the reviews that exist are presented in a thoughtful, summarized format, leaving out instruction re-hashes and assembly photos unless absolutely critical. The reviews are further enhanced with interactive charts, image carousels, text boxes with scroll bars and embedded video and photos of the product that is under review.

    Beginning with the February issue, RC Pilot began offering a web version of the magazine for those without tablet computers. The online version gives you three different size options after you have purchased the magazine to view it on your favorite browser. I used Chrome without any issues to browse the free Jan 2012 issue. I did not however find a way to transfer my purchases on the iPad to the web browser and had to purchase the Feb and March issues twice. According to the company, the purchase of issues on the iPad, Kindle and Android markets is controlled by those companies. RC Pilot controls the web purchases. If someone buys on the web and then wants to transfer to a tablet, they will give you a pro-rated refund.

    One of the original goals of RC Pilot Magazine was to provide a unique delivery method along with engaging articles and a novel presentation method. While the magazine certainly achieved that on the tablet versions, there was cause for concern when it was available only on the tablet. I remember thinking to myself that this is great but I dont see how this can be achieved via a web browser. Well I was very wrong when I saw the first web edition of the magazine which seems to contain a great amount of the novel delivery method in the web edition as well.  While the touch screen concept cannot be replicated with the online version, a significant amount of the funtionality is present in the web edition. The swiping of the pages is replaced with a small navigator on the bottom right of the page and the table of contents can be pulled out from the upper right of the page. I really like how the table of contents is easily accessible and allows you to quickly navigate the magazine. 

    I was particluarly suprised to see that most, if not all, of the small widgets such as the pull out specs tabs and the image carousels were present in the web version as well. It seems the only thing that is missing seems is rotation feature which can only be provided with a tablet device. 

    RC Pilot Magazine is not your regular run-of-the-mill, advertising oriented RC magazine. The unique content and presentation method allows for an engaging and interesting read. To get further feedback on the magazine, I took my iPad out to the field and showed some of the regulars at the field what the magazine was all about. The feedback I received was mostly positive with the most interesting comment being that the magazine read like a Harry Potter newspaper with animated images. Several people commented positively on the embedded video content along with the image carousel capability. The ability to have all the articles handy in the tablet which would also reduce clutter on the coffee table was an interesting comment I received.

    As an avid RC enthusiast, I was very pleased with the first three issues of the magazine and have heard that the May issue is especially good. Both the tablet and web version really makes a magazine come to life. Add to that a very unique table of contents that provides interesting and engaging articles and you have a winner.  I congratulate Michael and team and look forward to my next issue every month!

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    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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