E-book ponderings

By Brendan Moyle 07/03/2012

So far the lure of an e-book reader has escaped me but of late, I’ve been pondering as the options increase.

I do seem to accumulate a lot of pdf files- scientific papers and the like- and it strikes me that would be a possible good use for an e-book reader. It’s often inconvenient to have a laptop running in many places. And my desire to transport lots and lots of printouts is pretty weak.

The other potentially useful application I see, would be as a photo-album viewer.

Which I guess makes reading actual e-books pretty low on my list. So do any e-book aficionados have any recommendations of e-book readers that handle pdfs well and display photos gorgeously? 🙂

0 Responses to “E-book ponderings”

  • I don’t have a dedicated book reader but use my android phone.
    Advantages of android:
    Lots of devices so can find one that suits your purposes in a range of prices.
    Huge range of apps, many of which are free so a good chance you’ll find one that will fit your device and needs.

    Lots of devices so apps are not guaranteed to run properly.
    No quality control of apps so lots of dross to wade through to find the good stuff.

    I use Coolreader for ebooks but this doesn’t handle pdfs.
    when I do have pdfs to read the free office app thinkfree does ok.
    Pictures? don’t know, not interested.

  • well, I do have a smart phone but it doesn’t handle pdfs & the screen is a bit small for photos 🙂

  • The iPad would actually be ideal for you. The most excellent GoodReader handles all kinds of PDFs as well as other document types. It syncs nicely with Dropbox but can also get a file from an URL.

    Photos, of course, are gorgeous on the iPad. It handles Kindle and other ebooks beautifully.

    Then there’s all its Internet capability and a fine selection of apps, including Reeder for RSS feeds.

    I use my iPad a *lot* for reading stuff, for viewing videos and for other purposes.

    Unlike a phone, the screen is an excellent size for actually reading.

  • Brendan,
    I think you should consider a tablet like an iPad, rather than an eReader.

    I have an eReader and use it a lot. However it doesn’t always handle PDFs well. Partly because some PDFs are either page images or a a mixture of page images and text. This means that problems occur when the text is enlarged. Personally I sort my PDF books and convert the problematic ones to ePub format.

    I do have the desire to complement my eReader with an iPad to avoid such needs for conversion. Easy enough but time consuming.

    Double column PDFs also don’t enlarge well.

    As far as images are concerned so far only black and white eInk screens are available here. I understand the Russian education system is getting a larger eReader with a color eInk screen suitable for PDFs and text books. But I don’t think the colour would be suitable for photos – more comic book color.

    For me the ideal would be an eReader for books and a larger tablet like an iPad for PDFs, including textbooks and technical books. The advantage of the eReader is less distraction and longer battery life plus ability to read in sunlight. Also much greater portability.

  • And I will put in a plug for the iPad: Kindle for reading books (although there are apps that come pre-loaded; I just like Kindle better), + it’s great for photos (you can get a cool little camera connector that lets you download from the camera chip), + apps like Noterize let you read your pdfs & annotate them as well 🙂

  • Hmm, I’m thinking this isn’t auguring well for dedicated consumer electronics (MP3 players, consumer cameras & the like) when we now have mutifunction gadgets (smart phones, tablets) that can do all of this.

  • Personally, I find the single function of my eReader and mp3 players a real advantage. Far less distraction. Longer battery life. Better portability

    However, it is true that the increase in the tablets available seems to have put a dent in the number of eReaders sold.

    That said, I can see myself looking closely at the new iPad to complement my current devices.

  • If you are looking for a way to read and organize your pdfs of papers, book chapters, etc then I’d suggest you look at Papers (http://www.mekentosj.com/papers/). I use it on my desktop and sink to an iPad (can sink to iPhones). I’ve about 2.5K pdfs all accessible. I also use it instead of EndNote for writing of articles. Whilst only a mac platform at the moment, they have released a beta for PCs, so that is not far away.

  • Brendan – most e-book readers are black and white, and use e-ink, so they’re not great for viewing photos (and, I reckon, probably wouldn’t be able to).

    Phones are good, but the small screens can make reading them for long periods of time painfully arsy in terms of turning pages etc.

    Which leaves tablets. Now, you have a choice of Apple vs the other guys. TODAY saw the announcement of the iPad 3 (http://gizmodo.com/5891158/new-ipad-hd-the-third-generation). Most Andoird tablets have not, unfortunately, fared very well in tests of, well, much other than being Not Apple*. The big thing here is that if you want to see gorgeous photos, you need to use something which can display them…

    Here’s a comparison table of leading tablets (feel free to disregard the iPad 3 column) http://gizmodo.com/5891208/comparison-the-new-ipad-vs-other-leading-tablets. CNET is also, generally, pretty good on reviews for things 🙂

    And a final thought – while I didn’t get the point of digital books (I like paper ones), now that I’ve regularly started reading e-books (I use my partner’s iPad), I find I’m reading FAR more than I used to, which can only be a good thing! And it’s great for travel, of course 🙂

    Additionally, the less one has to print out, the better. And good apps/e-readers allow one to annotate stuff, highlight etc, etc etc, which is great for making notes! Additionally, if you aren’t using Diigo in your browser, I’d heavily suggest you look into what it can do. It’s amazing 🙂

    * It sounds like I’m a fanboi. I’m not, I promise. A number of Apple vs non-Apple fights attest to it 🙂 I’ve been a big advocate of Android for ages, but when it comes to sheer useability…

  • Wow, thanks for all the comments.

    Yeah, I’d wondered if any e-book readers had colour screens. Shame, as the portability and the battery life kind of matters. It does seem like the latest Kindle is showing convergence to the tablet. I guess we get to ‘watch this space’.

  • Brendan, heres a link to a video of an upcoming colour e-Reader – Video Review of the Ectaco Jetbook Color e-Reader. I think it will launch first on the Russian education market – but maybe the sort of thing we could get here in a few lears – a large screen, colour e-Reader. it would be ideal for text books, including coloured images from books, and pdf – even multicolumn and page image ones.

    But I don’t think it would have the brilliance of something like and iPad. Because the e-Ink screen is passive. (Hard to tell from the video but it doesn’t look as good as a tablet image). It uses reflective light – hence long battery life. Whereas the good colour comes from the light emitting screens (hence short battery life).

    I suspect that it might be a while before you can find a device with long battery life and light emitting screen.