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Next Issue review: Is magazine all-you-can-read buffet a bargain or bust?

Next Issue offers over 100 different magazines for a set price each month with unlimited reading.
Next Issue offers over 100 different magazines for a set price each month with unlimited reading.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Next Issue recently discontinued single magazine subscription reading in favor of its all-you-can-read model, leaving magazine readers to wonder if the company's unlimited access plans are worth the money.

Next Issue's lower tier, costing $9.95 per month, consists of monthly periodicals, while the $14.95 plan includes both monthly and weekly magazines.

If you enjoy reading magazines, you'll revel in Next Issue's vast selection of over 100 periodicals. Their monthly titles include Ladies' Home Journal, Fortune, Money, Consumer Reports, GQ, Car and Driver, Good Housekeeping, Men's Health, National Geographic and Cosmopolitan.

Weeklies include People Magazine, Time, Newsweek and Us. If you grab a few magazines off the grocery store aisle every month or subscribe to a few of them, Next Issue may offer a cost savings along with a bonanza of reading material.

Many special interest magazines
Many special interest magazines Ben Gabbe

Many special interest magazines

You'll find only limited kids' magazines (National Geographic for Kids and Sports Illustrated for Kids). The service features a heavy concentration of special interest titles, though, such as Successful Farming, Golf, Do It Yourself, Popular Science, Organic Gardening, Bicycling, Golf Digest, Yoga Journal, Runner's World, Ski, Popular Photography, Popular Mechanics and Shutterbug.

The service also offers technical powerhouse magazines such as PC Magazine and PC World along with cooking publications like Cooking Light, Allrecipes, Eating Well and Every Day with Rachel Ray.

You can sign up for a 60-day free trial of Next Issue using this link and have instant access to the service's library of over 135 magazines.

Keep in mind, however, that you need to enter a valid credit card number in order to start the trial, and Next Issue will begin charging it monthly after the trial period ends unless you cancel your subscription.

Before committing to anything, you should also know a few things about the Next Issue service and the smartphone and tablet app that it uses.

Slow performing app
Slow performing app Beth McIntire

Slow performing app

The Next Issue app performs sluggishly, especially in turning pages. Perhaps because of magazines' graphics heavy content, turning pages doesn't happen instantaneously like it does when using Amazon's Kindle app.

Kindle books also let you bookmark your place so you can return to it later, but Next Issue doesn't have a way to do that. It also doesn't always return you to your last spot in a magazine when you exit and return to it, leaving you to slowly page your way back to where you left off.

Magazines that you "pin" should be readable without a data connection, but I couldn't read magazines offline. Even magazines that had I'd supposedly downloaded already seemed to require an Internet connection to continue downloading content as I read them. This gives paper magazines a distinct advantage over Next Issue, since you can definitely read them anywhere, whether on an airplane or a long car trip.

When I read a paper magazine, I often like to tear out a page to reference later or send to someone, or clip a coupon, neither of which you can do using Next Issue. Obviously, I don't expect the ability to clip coupons, but some sort of clipping capability would certainly be welcome.

With no built-in way of saving portions of a Next Issue magazine, I used Android's built-in screen shot function (available in later versions of Android) by holding in the power and volume down buttons simultaneously for a couple of seconds. If your version doesn't have the built-in screen shot capability, you should be able to find a free app in the Play Store to do it for you. The screen shot method does work, but it's slow and cumbersome, especially if you find a number of pages in a magazine that you'd like to save.

Heavy battery drain on tablet
Heavy battery drain on tablet Beth McIntire

Heavy battery drain on tablet

Reading Kindle books seems to very slowly drain my tablet's battery, but reading Next Issue magazines sucked it down in a hurry. Digital editions of magazines contain the same advertising as their paper brethren, so you'll page through possibly dozens of graphics-heavy advertisements while browsing a magazine's articles. Draining a tablet's battery quickly adds another reason why Next Issue won't replace magazines for reading material on my next trip.

I also didn't have much room on my tablet for Next Issue's magazines. They take up a significant amount of space despite needing an Internet connection to read them, and the app offers no setting for storing reading material on a microSD card instead of internal device storage. If you already have a fair number of apps installed on an 8 GB tablet, you won't have room for many magazines before you start seeing low storage space messages pop up.

If you think you'd still like to give Next Issue a try, I recommend signing up with a Visa gift card with a small balance left on it, so that Next Issue cannot continue charging you in the event that you forget to cancel at the end of the trial period. If you decide to continue the subscription, you can change your payment method later so Next Issue can charge their monthly fee.