How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Do You Prefer Print Magazines, Online Articles, or Both for Your Important Geeky Reading Needs?


We all love to read information about new computer hardware, gadgets, software, and how-to articles to help us and satisfy our need for geeky knowledge. This week we would like to know if you prefer subscribing to/buying print magazines, doing all of your reading online, or using a combination of both.


Image by Lenz Grimmer.

Note: We have not included books in this particular poll because they tend to focus on a specific topic in great detail. Our poll is more focused on general geeky reading goodness.

Print magazines can be very useful in their own way. The articles that interest you may be longer and more detailed than what you find online, can include lots of images and useful charts, and are already formatted in a usable format if you need to keep them for reference material and future use. Another nice thing about print magazines is their portability. You do not need a power source or battery to access them and if you accidentally drop them, then no harm done. The downsides are that they are only released every so often and contain a set/limited amount of information per issue. Depending on the particular publication they can also be expensive.

Online articles and sources of reading are very different from print magazines in the amount of information that you can access at a specific time. As long as you have an internet connection, your favorite blogs, RSS feeds, and a search engine at hand, you can read to your heart’s content. If you are searching for a particular topic you may have to invest a bit of time to find a group of articles on that subject, but chances are you will find adequate amounts to suit your needs. Only need a portion of the information you find? Printing or saving the parts that you need is a definite bonus and minimizes storage requirements. Some downsides to online articles and sources are that they can vary in their quality (i.e. accuracy, readability, etc.) and may be buried amidst a lot of useless “chaff” set up to generate advertising revenue.

This week we would like to know if you prefer print magazines, online sources, or a combination of both for your geeky reading needs. Do you prefer print magazines for important information such as specs on hardware or other topics? Perhaps online sources provide just the information you need on a given topic much better than a print magazine. Maybe it takes a combination of both just to keep up with your appetite for geeky information of all kinds. Let us know your thoughts and recommendations in the comments!

[polldaddy poll=”4488145″]

Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 02/2/11

Comments (12)

  1. Hatryst

    I write for a tech magazine, so I prefer it too :)
    And I read articles on HTG regularly, so I like online reading as well !!

  2. Ryan

    It depends usually nearly always online unless there is a magazine I spot with a particular article I am interested in or I am need of some reading for a long journey. The thing I like about magazine is discovery new software or equipment by having a great variety of articles. However I don’t have the money to waste on by a magazine every month and I usually skip half the articles and forget about it.

    …But when it comes to guitar/music I always get the magazines.

  3. Grant

    By the time it hits paper, it is out of date.

  4. Lady Fitzgerald

    I clicked a combination of both. Most online magazines I’ve seen (examples: Smithsonian, National Geographic; yeah, I know these are not geeky but they are ) are multilayered which make them a hurt in the donkey to “flip” through. The Dead Tree (DT) versions are easier to flip through and, having a flat menu, easier to find things in. One of my “geeky” magazines is available as a scanned PDF online but all the ads have been removed (I actually find ads to be useful) and many product evaluation articles have also been deleted (or the product name edited out).

    However, I don’t have room for a collection of DT magazines laying about so I cut the spines off my DT magazines and scan them to searchable PDFs. Searchable PDFs are easy to bookmark, add virtual post it notes, conduct searches in, and occupy only a small portion of a harddrive (and they are easy to back up). Right now, I’m organizing them in folders by month and year but I need to work out a less cumbersome way of storing them to make searching easier (such as combining a year’s worth into a single file). Since one of my backups is in the cloud (Carbonite), I can access my magazines when away from home.

  5. Kerensky97

    I used to read Wired but they made me hate print.

    Articles were great although some showed a bit of bias towards whoever gave them Money; but the Ads were freaking ridiculous. If the magazine has more space devoted to ads than to articles you know you have a problem. For one it should be free with all the commercials I’m forced to sit through (works for Broadcast TV).

  6. KB Prez

    I do most of my geeky reading online. For longer articles, I would prefer print, but it’s a lot quicker to find what I need online.

  7. Daryl

    Online – print stuff is already too out of date by the time it’s been published!

    Also, as most online nerdy tech stuff is via blog, I value the comments from other readers as they often lead me to something new or interesting.

  8. John Shelton

    I prefer the printed magazine format in online distribution. This becomes a Hybrid print magazine. I can download it (usually to the desktop) and read it at my leisure. I can access the magazine from anywhere that I have internet access with my computer. I can print any specific articles that I want to keep a hard copy of, and I don’t have a paper magazine that I have to pay to dispose of at some point. I should expect a cheaper subscription price because the publisher saves paper, printing, and distribution costs and I expect them to share that savings with me. The tree-huggers are kept happy.

    The only problem with this plan is that modern computers all use a screen aspect ratio (16:9) optimized for viewing Panoramic movies and very much NOT for reading print documents. (Not even an ideal aspect ratio for TV viewing.)

  9. Anonymous

    I prefer online for timeliness. Many people have already pointed out that by the time it hits the news stands that it’s already out of date. And you’ll get no argument form me there either. So when it comes to current information I prefer online. In fact, I prefer getting it right here!

    However… No one can beat the portability of print. No one can even come close to the cost or durability of paper. I personally don’t have an e-book or iPad or any of those “portable” electronic readers so I may be a bit biased. But you just can’t deny that print articles are cheap as opposed to a Kindle or something. And print articles are durable too. I mean, what’s more portable or durable than paper? (Wasn’t that in the article, in fact?)

    Then again, most online publishers are free. So lugging along even a laptop may be an acceptable trade off. And besides, who doesn’t like free?

  10. grigore

    Print magazines in pdf format + online sources :)

  11. Project Management Tools That Work (Bruce)

    I read all my print technical magazines primarily when working out (IEEE, ACM, etc while on stepper or stationary bike).

    Nontechnical print I usually do while eating or traveling (financial, newspapers, or other lighter reading etc.)

    I still learn more from print (concepts, trends, history, etc.) than from on-line, but on-line is where I go when I have a specific question for which I want an answer. I too like the comments from other folks which many times are more valuable then the on-line article I’m reading.

    I wouldn’t mind all my print migrating to a kindle/ipad, but I still want indepth full color articles and the ability to read while not sitting in front of a full sized computer (or laptop, etc.).

    I would like to see my kids’ 20 lbs school backpacks be substantially replaced by kindles/ipads.

    When I read whitepapers on line (something detailed that I have to think about), I often have the PDF player read it out loud to me. Otherwise it would put me to sleep and I’ll have not learned anything.

  12. Gouthaman Karunakaran

    I read CHIP + A Bunch of blogs on my RSS Reader.

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