7 best magazine cover tech innovations

Breathing covers, lenticular loveliness and more

In honour of Entertainment Weekly hosting the first-ever full motion video advert in its magazine, TechRadar has compiled a list of the seven best magazine covers that have blown us away – whether through sheer ingenuity, tech prowess or all-out craziness.

1 Empire 'Behind the Mask' (2005)

The first living, breathing cover ever! Okay, maybe it wasn't quite living but Empire's brilliant approach of adding Darth Vader's iconic breathing to its pages cemented the mag's brand and was one of the best celebrations of the original

Star Wars Trilogy coming out on DVD.


we're just glad that they didn't go with a talking Jar-Jar Binks cover to celebrate Episodes I-III as that would have been very, very wrong.

Tech used: a simple microchip – similar to the ones used in those really annoying singing birthday cards

2 Wired 'You are Here' (2007)

Teaming up with Xerox, Wired invited 5,000 subscribers to create their very own cover. All they had to do was send in a picture and location, and their own personal cover was sent in the post.


The stunt was all part of Wired's 'personalisation of all things cyberspace'. While Wired (and its publisher Condé Nast) didn't make any money on the promotion, it did show the magazine once again pushing the boundaries of what is possible in magazine publishing.

Tech used: a mere JPEG and a little help from Xerox

3 Esquire 'E-ink cover' (2008)

Men's magazine Esquire used the magic of E-Ink to power up its 21st Century issue, which perfectly exemplified the future-babble that was within its pages.

When TechRadar spoke to the makers of the E-Ink tech and they said it was something that was eight years in the making.


The reason that it took that long was that Esquire wanted to do the same sort of thing in the Year 2000 but the technology wasn't quite ready. How's that for forward-thinking?

Tech used: E Ink – the same stuff that makes up the words for the Sony Reader

4 Rolling Stone '3D cover' (2006)

3D, man – it's the future (not garlic bread, after all!). Yes, we have been saying that for a while and with Avatar out soon it should be the case but Rolling Stone had the right idea in 2006, using 3D technology for its 1,000th issue.

Rolling stone

Instead of going with the 3D glasses approach, though, Rolling Stone made it really 3D, with a lenticular design. Groovy. The cover featured 150 pop icons and cost $1 million to make.

Tech used: it's all about the lenticular printing here, which gives off a lovely illusion of depth.

5 Total Film 'LED Terminator' (2009)

The Terminator's red-eyed stare is one of the scariest images in the history of cinema and so was perfect cover star for Total Film's 150th issue.

After months of negotiation Total Film – made by Future Publishing, TechRadar's publishing company – managed to get the Terminator on-board, coupled with a two push-button LED light design which created the iconic blinking look.

total film

While the magazine's LED tech did have a limited lifespan, you could still get 800 to 1,000 pushes out of it – enough to impress your mates and scare the crap out of commuters on the tube.

Tech used: LEDs – fiery red, evil-looking LEDs

6 Time 'Person of the Year' (2006)

So, who was the person of the year in 2006? It was YOU. Well, you, me and everybody who had joined a social-networking site and uploaded things to that little known video site called YouTube.


Yes, Time magazine honoured everyone in 2006 and the way they showed this on the mag's cover was by using a YouTube frame and a reflective material – so it was just like looking in the mirror. Simple but very effective.

Tech used: tin foil – well, some sort of reflective mirrored paper so you could both read the magazine and do your hair

7 Opium 'Infinity issue' (2009)

As tech innovations go, this has to be up there for the most innovative. While many of you may not have read or know about Opium magazine, but the style tome had a fantastic gimmick on its front cover this year.


Essentially, the makers of the mag have created a story which will take 1,000 years to read. The cover was printed using high-quality acid-free paper and features a story which is a mere 10 words long (written by conceptual artist and journalist Jonathon Keats) but the catch is only one word will be revealed every century. This is due to the way the cover was printed, using multiple ink layers.

We will not be around to see pretty much any of the story, but you have to admire Opium doing something that's a bit different in what is a difficult and saturated market-place.

If only Jeffrey Archer decided to write all his novels this way, TechRadar would be so much happier.

Tech used: Ink and acid-free paper

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