I still remember the sheer excitement of comic books back in the 80s when kids would usually spend their lunch money, if they had to, to get a glimpse of their favorite Marvel character. But that time is long gone, and now we have a multitude of high-tech ways to store and read thousands of comic books on our computer without paying a dime. BDReader aims to do just this by letting you read comics stored in PDF, CBR and CBZ formats. The open source application supports a dead simple user interface and hotkeys for easy navigation. But what really makes it standout from the crowd is the Panel mode, which automatically detects panels in a page and display them in the right reading order.
The main application window of BDReader has a bare bones design. You can start reading comics right away by either clicking File > Open > Filename or simply dragging & dropping the target file on the application window. As stated earlier, it can open PDF, CBR and CBZ files. And once a comic is loaded, you can use onscreen left, right, up or down buttons, or alternatively keyboard arrow keys, to navigate the pages. But other than that, the application feels fairly lacking in terms of navigation; there’s no variable zoom, for instance, or no jump to last page and bookmarking options.
On the bright side, the developer has thrown in a rather interesting Panel mode which makes comic reading a more comfortable experience. Panel mode basically detects each panel (close captioned image) on a page and displays that as a separate preview. This way you don’t have to zoom in or out the image to go through each one (panels just does it for you). There’s also a Split mode which scrolls a page from top to bottom so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Besides its trio of reading modes, BDReader also lets you switch to Full screen for distraction free reading, and toggles side bar thumbnails and page preview settings.
BDReader is no way a feature-laden application but its Panel and Split modes are an interesting proposition. The application works on Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. Testing was carried out on Windows 8.1 Pro, 64 bit edition. You can download it for free via the link below.