It all started in 2011 when I picked up issue #649 of Amazing Spider-Man – the second issue in Dan Slott’s ‘Big Time’ story – because I was going on holiday with my parents and I wanted something to entertain me on the journey.
This is part of a series of articles exploring all the ways we're using tech to thrive in 2024. Read them all here.
From then, I’d regularly visit my local comic book shop to spend my allowance on the next chapter of Spidey’s adventures – through his No One Dies crusade, Otto Octavius’s run as the Superior Spider-Man, and Spider-Verse, which would partly inspire the films (though there’s a lot of differences between the original and adaptation).
When my allowance wasn’t enough to fund my fix, I started working part-time at a local supermarket stacking shelves and checking product dates – my monthly paycheck allowed me to branch out into X-Men, X-Force, and Avengers stories, as well as other series when a crossover event called for it.
Then I went to university.
The last series I read was the Secret Wars arc in which Doctor Doom runs a world of different universes all mashed together – the finale of which sees the Marvel continuity semi-rebooted in an all-new all-different universe (which mostly combines aspects of the original 616 and Ultimates continuities). I had nothing against the reboot, I even picked up a few of the first issues and loved them, but comic books were, unfortunately, the most sensible hobby to drop when my schedule became too busy and something had to give.
Post-reboot, if I wanted to keep up with my favorite Spider-Folk (Peter, Miles, Gwen, and Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk), the plethora of X-Men, and various Avengers teams, I’d have to follow no fewer than 10 series – with some releasing fortnightly rather than monthly – and I just lacked the space and disposable income to keep my habit up.
In 2024, after an eight-year break, I’m returning to the wonderful world of comics with the help of the cheap tablet I bought on Black Friday – my trusty Lenovo M10 3rd gen – and learning a lesson that my tech doesn’t need to be perfect, just perfect for me.
An Unlimited world of comics
Thanks in part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, my love for comics hasn’t waned. If anything, it's grown stronger since I stopped reading them religiously in 2016. But the problems of space and cost that I had at university remained – or at least I thought they did.
Earlier this year, I was chatting with friends about my long-lost love of comic books and one of them told me about Marvel Unlimited – basically a Netflix for Marvel comics. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a tablet: something large enough to make it a worthwhile upgrade to reading on my phone but cheap enough to justify using it to only read comics.
I found what I needed during the Black Friday sales, and as soon as it arrived, I bought a year-long subscription to Marvel Unlimited.
Marvel Unlimted has its flaws. Finding new stuff is simple, but going back to find everything I wanted to read from 2015/2016 was tougher than expected. I also wish my Library could be sorted more neatly – I don’t feel like I need all three Comics, Lists, and Following tabs; one would do fine.
There’s also a three-month delay between physical and digital releases – although it’s not that long a wait, and as I mentioned, I’m nowhere close to reading new stuff yet.
On the flip side, I can read as much as I want without my collection taking up reams of real-world space, and this all-I-can-eat buffet of comics costs just $69 a year (around £55 / AU$102). That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than the £50+ a month I spent at the height of my superhero addiction.
The tablet I need right now
I’m using the Lenovo M10 3rd-gen tablet to access the Marvel Unlimited app. This cheap and cheerful gadget isn’t great. Arguably, it’s not even good. Videos lack vibrancy, the audio performance leaves a lot to be desired, it noticeably chugs whenever I boot up an app, and it frequently crashes when I try to play Marvel Snap.
However, for my digital comic book needs it’s basically perfect. The 10.1-inch display hits the sweet spot of being big enough to read everything on the page without zooming in but not so large that it's unwieldy. It runs Android – an operating system the Marvel Unlimted app supports. Most importantly, it was cheap; in the Black Friday sales, I picked it up for £109 (around $138 / AU$204).
So in 2024, while I’m devouring comics like Galactus does worlds, I’m going to remember my tech resolution: new gadget buys don’t always have to be the best thing in the world, they just have to be the best thing for me. Yes, my Lenovo M10 can’t hold a candle to an iPad Pro, but it cost roughly 85% less than Apple’s entry in the best tablet competition and does everything I need it to.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect more from budget tech – budget shouldn’t be synonymous with bad. Equally, sometimes we do need something that’s the best of the best. But if I can, I’m going to try to be better at settling for second (or even eleventh) best if it fits my needs, rather than being suckered in by unnecessary upgrades that only make my tech more pricey, not more useful.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.