Comixology has updated its Comics iOS app to take full advantage of the Retina display found on Apple's new iPad. Version 3.1 introduces a new high-definition digital comic format dubbed "CMX-HD" that offers a remarkably sharp reading experience to owners of the tablet. Just a select number of comics are currently available in the Retina-optimized format, but Comixology CTO Marc Goldberg promises the company will be filling out its catalog "over the next few months." But what about file sizes? Will iPad 2 owners need to sacrifice storage for a benefit they can't see? Thankfully it seems that's not the case according to our initial tests. We downloaded the same issue of Batman and Robin on a new iPad and an iPad 2; the CMX-HD comic took up 41.5MB on the new hardware, and came in at just over half that (21.7MB) on the elder iPad. Comics also now features the ability to share recommendations directly via Twitter, Facebook, and email directly from within the app.
But again, the real star of the show here is that new CMX-HD format. We downloaded a pair of Retina-ready comics to give things a look for ourselves and were genuinely blown away by the upgraded quality. You might remember that in our review of the new iPad, Josh said that the Retina panel resembles "a glowing piece of paper," and this is a perfect example of that descriptor. Contrast and color saturation are markedly improved, and zooming is much more useful thanks to the uptick in resolution. We even purchased a physical comic book to compare Comics against, and as the gallery below suggests, distinguishing between the two can prove a challenge — in the best possible way. Suffice to say, if you've been holding out on starting a digital comic collection, the pairing of Apple's new iPad and CMX-HD content might be enough to push you over the edge. Best of all, for those with an existing library, upgrading to the new HD format will come at no extra cost. The app is available now as a free download in the iTunes App Store.