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Ask Slashdot: Tablets For Papers; Are We There Yet?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the getting-closer-at-least dept.

Handhelds 180

An anonymous reader writes "When I was younger, engineering and science offices didn't have computers yet. It was the tradition: Piled Higher and Deeper desks, and overloaded bookcases. I ended up doing other things, and haven't been in a regular office for a couple of decades. Now I'm older, spending a lot more time with the screen, and finding my aging butt and back aren't as pliable for the long hours of reading papers. And while looking at rather expensive chairs, etc for a solution, what I'm remembering is we used to be able to lean back, feet up, while reading the stapled print-outs — makes a change from hunched-over writing and typing. So I'm what wondering is this: Are We There Yet with tablets? You guys would know — What makes a good tablet for reading, sorting, annotating, and searching PDFs, etc? Hardware and software — what tablets have gotten this really right?"

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180 comments

Ipad and Dropbox! (4, Informative)

StonyCreekBare (540804) | about a year ago | (#42156647)

Works well for me. I just stuff PDFs into my dropbox folder on my desktop, and read em on the iPad. Makes for a happy combination. There is also an Android tablet in the house, works about as well. Seems like a solved problem from my perspective. I never print anything for reading any more...

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about a year ago | (#42156719)

This is the major reason I got an iPad. It works really well to put papers in Dropbox on the pc and view them on the iPad. Tough I may check out iAnnotate for the annotation capability.

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (4, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156751)

I may check out iAnnotate for the annotation capability.

iAnnotate was the reason I bought an iPad — I just wanted a tool for reading and marking up hundreds, if not thousands, of PDF documents. I've been hugely impressed, not just with the software, but also the support*. I use it multiple times every day, and am a huge fan.

I use owncloud on my computers, to keep everything in sync, and, since this can expose things via webdav, it makes syncing with iAnnotate trivial too — it all fits together really rather well.

*At one point, after their support team had dug into an issue caused by my own stupid fault (incorrect permissions setting on my server, which was causing the synchronisation to fail), I tried my best to convince them to accept a donation, pizza, cash, whatever, to say thank you for their time, as it was worth way more to me than the $10 purchase price, and yet they declined. I could not convince them to accept anything for their efforts.

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42158097)

Yup. iAnnotate and the iPad are a big part of my workflow now. Hundreds of papers annotated, sorted, searchable and available from Dropbox (important ones on my iPad) any time I need.

And absolutely when I need to read a paper it goes to DB, onto my iPad and my feet go up.

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42158245)

And absolutely when I need to read a paper it goes to DB, onto my iPad and my feet go up.

but your pants go down rite?

Re:iPad and Dropbox! (3, Informative)

aisnota (98420) | about a year ago | (#42158221)

iPad App's for BYOD Legal or just student uses. All of them are Apple VPP US/UK vetted, but I am not sure if my notes for the other side of the pond make sense in the context of your publication plan, left in for reference none-the-less and have sold 1,000 or more in that program, make sense for legal papers, term papers with Klammer more of an integration bridge to the Windows world.

1: Cymbol £1.49 / $1.99
-- Finally Pilcrow , Section , Trademarks ®, Superscripts and with much more easily tied with your favorite App's on the iPad (Keynote/Pages/Mail/Numbers/Notes/iDraw/iAWriter), with Unicode2Glyph conversion!

URL https://itunes.apple.com/app/id416714959

2. iAnnotate £6.99 / $9.99
Personal favorite for speed, iAnnotate PDF is the most powerful annotation application for the iPad bar none from much experience by yours truly.

URL https://itunes.apple.com/app/id363998953

3. Klammer £0.69 / $0.99
Open EML, Winmail.dat and MSG files (MSG support via in-app purchase) on iPad and view their contents and attachments. All that business communication your device did not view in the Mail application is now accessible to you with just one touch.

URL https://itunes.apple.com/app/id386777877

4. Dropbox Free plus storage
Any file you save to your Dropbox is accessible from all your computers, iPhone, iPad and even the Dropbox website! But the key is mobile tablets and across Linux to other platforms via that web interface.

URL https://itunes.apple.com/app/id327630330

Does that outline what you should have now?

Mendeley / Xournal + Thinkpad X230t (1)

gmeb (17697) | about a year ago | (#42156975)

For keeping a collection of papers, Mendeley is great! It's possible to annotate the papers with notes and a yellow marker. The yellow marker can behave a little bit erratic at times though -- Xournal behaves better in that regard, but it doesn't keep track of a collection of papers.

The best tablet IMO is a Thinkpad X230t (t for tablet): you can use it as a regular laptop to do real work, but fold it over and with its pen, you have the ideal user interface to take notes just as you would on paper. I still regret that I chickened out a few years ago and bought a "regular" Thinkpad X201 instead of a X201t...

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (1)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42156875)

I work through a lot of papers on my iPad. Most documents, including MS Word, pop up and I can read them. I haven't bought a PDF markup App yet, but they are available. Of course the iPad is heavy.

The kindle fire may be an option. I have had limited luck with the FIre as Amazon seems to want to sell books, so I have not used as much for reading my work stuff.

The iPad mini is certainly a better form factor, lighter than many tablets, and maybe even has a large enough screen to read for older eyes. Of course, there are many android tablets that can say the same. In the end, the infrastructure for reading on a tablet exists. The only question is finding one that is confortable for individual use.

Re:Ipad and Dropbox! (1)

hankydysplasia (1555945) | about a year ago | (#42157027)

I purchased iAnnotate and PDF Expert for iPad. Journal article reading was the reason I purchased an iPad. I wait for the Retina display because I love not having to zoom around the page to read. I lean toward PDF Expert because the interface is more standard, cleaner, and less gimmicky. It's also being continuously developed with frequent updates. Both programs do pretty much all the same functions, and Dropbox (and other cloud services) syncing means you can switch platforms and devices without losing anything. Annotations are written to the file.

(I have no association with either company.)
http://readdle.com/products/pdfexpert_ipad/ [readdle.com]

Nothing's changed! (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year ago | (#42156651)

I work in industrial applications. I don't know if it's the industry or mechanical engineers, but there's a lot of databooks (Omega, Allen Bradley), backup CDs (!) piled high in the same building, etc.. I remember this was the same in 1995. Maybe instead of CDs we had tapes in 95.

Just wait a little. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156665)

iPad 8 will be perfect for you.
But you won't be able to decide what to read: Apple will decide for you.

Re:Just wait a little. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157299)

Enough. I swear to the Great Sysadmin in the Sky, I'm fucking sick and tired of the snotty anti-Apple bias n Slashdot. You know what little kids? Back n the early days of Slashdot we really knew how to slam a company. Microsoft was the devil, I was building opm sources tools, and we were going to open the world. Yadda yadda.

Then I grew up and realized that proprietary platforms have their place. Some companies will work on boring stuff that open source devs don't want to touch. You know, like nice clean UIs. Or simple ways to install and manage software for non-techies. Stuff like that.

And if proprietary is all at bad, then why does the open source world spend so much time ripping it off? I just discovered an open source RSS reader for Linux that is the spitting image of Reeder for OS X and iOS. It's an exact copy. But that's ok because it's "open" right?

Fuck I hate the Linux community at times.

Re:Just wait a little. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157759)

Then I grew up and realized that proprietary platforms have their place.

No you didn't. Your bitch ass gave up to resolve the cognitive dissonance from open source not taking over like you wanted. At least be honest with yourself.

It's an exact copy. But that's ok because it's "open" right?

You don't have the slightest clue what open source software is about. But, hey, keep running your dick sucker, skippy. You might even convince somebody.

Fuck I hate the Linux community at times.

Oh, another anti-Linux troller abusing AC privilege. GTFO, fuckboy.

Problem is (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156679)

For a good reading experience you want a large (screen size) and thick (battery size) tablet, which is going to be too heavy to hold comfortably for long periods of time.
Pure readers with e-ink screens of course are lighter (and cheaper) than tablets with comparable run times, but then you lose all the other applications, tablets bring. Personally I've got both but would kill for usable (and affordable) holographic screens. Until then the answer to the headline's question is: No.
Obligatory link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines

Re:Problem is (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42158113)

What? An iPad or equivalent Android has an 8 hour battery which is plenty. Not to mention the OP is probably reading at his desk with power available if needed. It's not too heavy, particularly if you've got your feet up and the thing supported on your legs.

Holographic screens? Keep dreaming.

IPads for sure... (3, Informative)

masdog (794316) | about a year ago | (#42156687)

The iPad has several good PDF reader apps, including some that do annotating. There are a few free PDF readers like BlueFire, but the best one that I've seen is a $5 one called Goodreader for iPad. With the advent of free online storage like DropBox, SkyDrive, or Box, you can put your PDFs online and just download them when you want to read them. I'm sure some of the better Android tablets will also do a pretty good job as a PDF reader, but I haven't gotten my hands on a Galaxy, XyBoard, or Nexus to play with them.

Re:IPads for sure... (2)

sdavid (556770) | about a year ago | (#42156741)

Let me also suggest Goodreader. Goodreader is a lot more than a document reader. It can access Dropbox or network servers and do simple syncing with network drives. I use it to keep my current documents folder synced to my iPhone so I can quickly look up a student's grade or check an old draft of one of my papers. For research files, I use DevonThink, which can sync the desktop version to an iPad client. It also incorporates a workable PDF reader. I can't remember whether it supports annotation, but it can send files to Goodreader if need be. This is such a common use case that I'm sure there are similar applications available for Android tablets, but I'm only familiar with the iOS ones. I'm also hopeful that Windows RT may be useful for this purpose. Since it has a full file manager and can connect to network shares, it could be a great document reader in an office environment. Time will tell there.

Re:IPads for sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157185)

To OP
1. Goodreader
2. Therefore iPad

I looked at the iPad, and decided it wasn't for me, until I sat next to someone in a group, and he had his texts on an iPad, and was annotating them.He used iAnnotate, which I've tried, but the UI is too busy for me and gets in the way. Goodreader is neat and clean, and also reads an alphabet soup of other file formats.
The developer has said there won't be a Goodreader for Android, because it's very deeply tied to iOS features. Pity, because I quite like the look of some 7" tablets.
iPad Mini is a very useful size for PDF reading, but the better screen on the later iPads would also be good. I've got an iPad 2, which I'll stay with until there's a Mini with more dots.
I use an iMac, so syncing with iTunes is not a big deal, but it's not as elegant as you'd hope. If Windows or Linux on desktop, nebulous solutions would be good.
Annotation works well on regular PDFs--I now convert stuff I write myself to PDF to read on the tablet--and also on image only page scans (in my case, Ancient Greek: the pages are still OK to annotate). Goodreader lets you put in visible text on the page, and also little comments bubbles, as well as doing highlighting.
E-ink is better for reading books, but my Kobo is very poor for PDFs. Ergonomically, a tablet is fine if you put it on a desk or table (I'm old and fat, and have a crappy back), but it would be worthwhile getting some kind of a stand. The magnetic cover Apple sell is good if you will only use the tablet in landscape orientation. A combined case/stand/keyboard might be of use if you do a *lot* of annotation, but I hardly use my keyboard at all (though I might take it with the iPad for travelling use).
You also get the other uses of a tablet, but reading and annotating PDFs is why I got mine, and it is great; I prefer to watch cat videos on my desktop, though.

Re:IPads for sure... (4, Informative)

Silas is back (765580) | about a year ago | (#42157241)

It's astounding how many use Goodreader or iAnnotate on iPad when there is an absolutely fantastic paper management app available in the form of "Papers", made by Mekentosj. It has a Desktop (Mac + PC) counterpart so you can sync, it has all the major search engines built in, supports your university's proxy, has annotation features and what not. I love the thing! (I am not affiliated with that company in any way)

iPad and iAnnotate (5, Interesting)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156691)

I can't say what is right, but, having finished a masters in law via distance learning, with all my reading done on my iPad, I could recommend this as a solution. iAnnotate worked incredibly well for me, as a tool for reading and annotating PDF documents, which I then synchronised back to the server so they were available for access, including the notes, on my computers for actually writing things up. I'm now testing an iPad Mini, to see whether that offers a better experience — the lower quality screen is bugging me at the moment, but I do like the lighter weight.

I found the backlit screen irritating at first, but considered it a necessary evil for the benefit of having the annotation functionality, which my previous eReaders did not have. I bought a Kindle a couple of months ago for reading fiction, and found I really struggled with it — I'd rather read on the iPad (via iBooks, usually via DeDRM and Calibre). Perhaps oddly, I find I read much faster on the iPad than on the Kindle, without a noticeable impact on understanding — I wonder if this is due to me being able to scan large blocks of text quite quickly on the iPad but not on the Kindle for some reason. Suffice to say, having been really looking forward to a Kindle — going back to an eReader, having previously have a COOL-ER and a Sony PRS-505 — I was disappointed. My wife, on the other hand, hates reading from a tablet, and carries her Kindle pretty much everywhere.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156701)

iAnnotate PDF [branchfire.com] — looks like there is an Android version coming soon too.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (2)

blackest_k (761565) | about a year ago | (#42157751)

I'm already using it (1.13) it isn't too bad but there are a few bugs the major one being the hidden search box. it just needs a minor layout change and it would be spot on for me on Android.

More of a practical issue is ocring scanned texts. If your pdf is actually a series of pictures search isn't going to work. Some software can ocr but it tends to prefer straight typed lines so if the scan is slightly slanted the success rate of the ocr goes down if successful you can have an image with a hidden text layer behind it which should navigate you to the appropriate page.

it is a bit of an issue with lecture notes as often you are given a handout you make hand written notes on the handout and you have a bit too much work to do trying to make them into a really useful form for the tablet or laptop or ereader.

Autodesk do a handy app sketchbook express, its a sketch pad but it is useful for doing quick rough diagrams. it saves a few pages which would be hitting the bin not long after the scribbled idea gets used or rejected.

Ocr and handwriting recognition both can be issues. I believe the samsung one note has good handwriting recognition but I am not sure what is available for other tablets. A stylus of some sort is useful at times a rounded tip seems to work better than a flat one. There is a problem of storing a stylus with many tablets as they were not designed with this kind of input in mind.

Most tablets will support bluetooth keyboards and mice, some have full size usb host ports that will take a wireless keyboard dongle or an external hdd On android I find adb push foo.bar /mnt/storage a useful command yes i could connect to the network mount a share and copy, or copy to a flash drive or micro sd card but adb is less hassle. I've not tried scanning directly to my tablet yet My Archos 101 g9 does support dual boot of ubuntu and ics so i'd be optimistic that ubuntu could use my scanner directly and i can write to a shared location such as the mico sd card. Android has an interesting take on printer drivers I can share my printers with googles cloud printing service and run a service (built into/ shipped with the chrome browser). so tablet to cloud , cloud to my netbook and over my lan to my printers connected to my nas (running debian).

One more issue some pdf files are locked and cannot be edited or annotated. Some software will ignore this and let you annotate others will not.

           

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | about a year ago | (#42156827)

I'm now testing an iPad Mini, to see whether that offers a better experience â" the lower quality screen is bugging me at the moment, but I do like the lighter weight.

I'm curious about that, actually. I find the iPad is just slightly too large to make reading really comfortable, at least for long periods of time. However, I've never really read something that I needed to annotate, instead I just end up reading, well, books. For just plain reading I prefer my nook to the iPad for a couple of reasons: it's smaller and lighter, it's easier to hold on to (rubberized cover versus metal), and it has page forward/back buttons on the side.

But I've never needed to annotate or edit things, so my experience probably isn't very helpful. Note that the nook does support PDFs and you can (in theory) add notes to them, but the way the nook Simple Touch does annotations is very slow and clunky, and PDF support is kind of wonky at best (at least for the ones I've tried). The most annoying thing about the nook software is that you can't zoom in on figures, which probably makes it entirely useless for most users here.

Actually, that's probably a useful bit of advice: if you're looking for a tablet that you intend to use for scientific use, skip the nook: it can't zoom in on figures in PDFs. At least, I've yet to find a way to do it. Which made reading some of the charts in one of the ebooks I did buy for it, well, flat-out impossible.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156853)

I find the iPad is just slightly too large to make reading really comfortable, at least for long periods of time. However, I've never really read something that I needed to annotate, instead I just end up reading, well, books.

I used the "fullsize" iPad, and it is that bit too heavy to be comfortable holding it at a good angle to avoid a cricked neck for reading over longish periods. That being said, the retina screen was beautiful to read on, and I miss that on the Mini — perhaps enough to make me return the Mini, and put up with the extra weight.

I think a huge chunk of this is "what works for you." My wife hates reading on the iPad, and loves her Kindle; I'm struggling with the Kindle, but like reading on the iPad, even though I previously enjoyed reading on eInk devices. Without annotating, I don't retain as much information, or have thoughts easily to hand for reference in the future, so that kind of makes my decision for me anyway, until better annotation support for eInk-based readers is available.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156881)

Even after paying $10 for the program, iAnnotate apparently requires users to register with their e-mail address. Privacy lost. And my business lost, too.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156969)

iAnnotate apparently requires users to register with their e-mail address

It was a good couple of years ago since I first installed it, but I'm pretty cagey about this sort of thing, and don't remember having to give an email address. I think there's an option to register for an online account for some online document conversion functionality, but I haven't done this, and it has not caused me any problems in my use of the application (nor nagged me to do so).

Perhaps worth double-checking if you are otherwise tempted?

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42156927)

Backlit screens are annoying because the brightness is set too high. When I turn mine down, it is perfectly comfortable to read for a very long time, even in a dark room. I also find that the 7 inch tablets are much better. The other ones are too big and heavy.

Re:iPad and iAnnotate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157841)

Papers

http://www.mekentosj.com/papers/ipad

Big Chief (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156693)

Been using them since Kindergarten.

iPad and Sente (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156699)

Mac-only...but iPad with Sente let's you read and markup PDFs and syncs everything with your desktop (via an online server). It also pulls info about papers from academic databases and works as a reference manager for writing papers.

It worked a treat during my phd...dealing with 1000s of PDFs.

iPad with GoodReader (5, Informative)

adenied (120700) | about a year ago | (#42156707)

My wife is finishing up her PhD in a biological science field. A couple years ago she was carrying like 70+ printed out papers around with her so she could reference them when writing at home or at a coffee shop. She got an original iPad and started using GoodReader and said it changed the game completely for her. She's on an iPad 3 now but the effect is the same.

I got her old iPad when she upgraded and I loaded literally a couple thousand papers and other documents I've saved over the years (mostly IEEE and ACM papers and a ton of standards documents I reference for work), luckily all already organized. GoodReader will let you load things and keep whatever directory/folder organization you have. It's great!

Re:iPad with GoodReader (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156773)

Can you transfer/export the annotations? This sounds interesting, but depending on one device and one piece of software won't work for me if I want to come back toa subject 5 years from now.

Re:iPad with GoodReader (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156783)

Can you transfer/export the annotations?

I use iAnnotate rather than GoodReader, and the annotations are added to the PDF directly — open the annotated PDF on my computer, and the annotations are there. There is also an option to export the annotations on their own — I've occasionally used this when I have highlighted key parts of a text and wanted to extract these to a new file, for a quick reference / summary.

Re:iPad with GoodReader (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42158125)

For the last paper I had published the journal actually had iAnnotate Pro instructions for correcting the galley proofs.

Re:iPad with GoodReader (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157073)

Indeed.. I have dozens of ANSI, IEEE and CCSDS docs on my iPad, along with hundreds of journal articles, along with a complete set of navigation charts (easier to put them all on, rather than just a few), etc. Nautical Almanac, Sight reduction tables (I was into celestial nav for a while). Goodreader saved me. (iBooks doesn't deal with this well)

Company to Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156715)

If you work for a good company, then yes, things have changed. The new iPad also lets you make notes on the page that you are reading as well. I just want to sit on a couch with coffee or tea and read my documents.

No, not really... (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42156727)

Things have gotten better; but I'd say that we aren't there yet.

E-ink has gotten good enough for light reading of anything that reflows adequately(and cheap enough that there is little risk in giving it a shot); but the refresh rate and available panel sizes and resolutions still make serious PDF crunching rather ugly.

The newer iPads have the resolution and speed to do PDFs justice; but capacitive touchscreens aren't exactly god's gift to stylus-based annotation. Yeah, they sell capacitive styluses; but it isn't exactly a Wacom...

"Traditional" tablet PCs had the Wacom pen input for annotation; but some mixture of technical limitations and PC OEM tastelessness always made them slower, clunkier, and more tethered to their AC adapter than was ever entirely comfortable.

If I had the cash, and really wanted to get away from the 'just-a-decent-laser-printer' solution, I'd strongly consider a portrait-oriented Cintiq display mounted on an ergotron-style floating arm. A Cintiq 22 or 24 is far too heavy to treat like a tablet; but the arm should give it effectively zero weight, and you'll get reasonably high resolution and excellent pen input.

Re:No, not really... (5, Interesting)

SoftwareArtist (1472499) | about a year ago | (#42156809)

A friend recently got a 10.1 inch Galaxy Note, and he raves about the stylus. It literally is a Wacom tablet that doubles as a screen. You might give that a try.

Re:No, not really... (4, Interesting)

mcelrath (8027) | about a year ago | (#42157141)

Well, technically, we were there, and the industry decided to start moving backwards.

I still use a Thinkpad X61 tablet which has a 1400x1050 screen (150 ppi) and a wacom digitizer. I've been using it to annotate PDF's for years. However, it's on it's last legs but there is still nothing to replace it with.

I made a paper cutout of the size of the screen for 10.1" and 11.6" and 13.3" Windows 8 devices at 1080p, which have respectively 218, 190, and 166 ppi. (In my opinion, 150 ppi is the absolute minimum to be able to read subscripts in a full-page maximized document). You'll notice that all these 16:9 screens are substantially narrower and taller than a sheet of paper. (16:9 is an aspect ratio of 1.78, while 8.5"x11" paper is 1.29) So maximizing the width of a full page on a portrait TV-screen gives you closer to 1.5 pages at a time. The old 4:3 monitors were perfect for documents in portrait mode (aspect ratio 1.33 -- so enough room for a toolbar). Why in the bloody dripping hell everyone decided to use TV screens for computer displays boggles my mind. On the most common Windows 8 screen size, 11.6" at 1080p, an 8.5"x11" document is compressed into a 5.69"x7.36" space. How good are your eyes? For those of you with your calculators out, that's less than half the area of the original 8.5"x11" paper. Sure you could zoom it, welcome to an unending hell of fiddling with scrollbars on a tablet device. Oh and don't forget those 1" document margins wasting screen space. Do you know a good PDF reader that can reliably zoom away margins for screen reading? Neither do I.

The only reasonable upcoming windows 8 device, in my opinion, is the Asus Taichi [engadget.com], the 13.3" version of which has been indefinitely delayed [theverge.com]. :-(

Everything else on the market either has: too small of a screen or no digitizer. So, in case anyone from the industry is reading this, bring back 4:3 screens, make them around 14" diagonal with very small bezels and while you're at it, give us > 200 PPI or higher and resistive digitizers!!!. An 8.5"x11" sheet of paper has a diagonal size of 13.9". There's a huge market out there that is unsatisfied. Everyone on the damn planet uses paper, and we need devices that emulate paper use-cases. The OP and myself would definitely buy such devices. Screw Apple and their narrow-minded "no stylus" initiative. Paper has been in use for thousands of years. It's not going to stop tomorrow.

Re:No, not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157525)

Okular's "Trim margins" mode works well for me. If you're on Windows, there's the KDE on Windows project, which has a functioning Okular binary: http://windows.kde.org/

Re:No, not really... (1)

qvatch (576224) | about a year ago | (#42157585)

goodreader (ios) can cut margins. Its not automatic, but it is very quick and it remembers. I can comfortably read papers on my ipod, although scrolling (with helpful jump buttons) is necessary.

Re:No, not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157337)

This is a hugely overlooked feature of some new win 8 tablets/convertibles.... a digitizer! Apart from drawing a colored line in some paint program, a capacitive screen, even with a pen is USELESS. With a digitizer I will be looking forward to finally moving away from paper for engineering diagrams and math input.

Re:No, not really... (4, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#42157493)

The newer iPads have the resolution and speed to do PDFs justice; but capacitive touchscreens aren't exactly god's gift to stylus-based annotation. Yeah, they sell capacitive styluses; but it isn't exactly a Wacom...

The Samsung Note tablets are not just capacitive. They can distinguish between your fingers and the pen. It's not even modal. In other words, if you're reading something, you can just use your finger(s) to flip the pages and the pen to highlight what you want. The tablet even knows when you're just hovering your pen over it, or whether you're actually touching the screen with it. It's quite amazing.

My only recommendation is that you if you get such a tablet, you get the latest version of the Note -- not the original Note. Samsung did a much better job integrating this technology in their latest version.

Kindles are the way to go (3, Informative)

Dan93 (222999) | about a year ago | (#42156729)

Or any e-reader tablet that uses e-ink (unlike kindle fires). I find that it's just as easy to read as print without the eyestrain that comes from reading LCD screens. Also the battery on those things are AMAZING. I rarely have to charge mine more than once per month.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (4, Informative)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#42156815)

Much as I love my Kindle, it's not quite there for PDFs. While great for text (e.g. novels), it can't reflow a PDF well (or at all?), and the screen size makes it too small to reasonably view most PDFs at full size. A Kindle DX might be better, but still not ideal. Obviously color will be a no-go.

I would recommend an iPad or something similar for technical documents and most other PDFs. Goodreader + Dropbox is a great combination.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (1)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#42156959)

I've never seen a DX. Do they still make them? Can you buy them in the UK? It sounds ideal for this sort of thing - just show the pages as-is.

I have no idea why PDFs are such a dog to work with. I mean, I appreciate that it's a shitty format which wasn't designed to (re)flow, but how hard can it be to handle this adaptation in software? I'm sure you can come up with pathological cases which are tricky, but most ebooks I've seen would appear to be `text here..picture here...header/footer/page numbers where you'd expect them to be`. Problem?

Re:Kindles are the way to go (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#42157009)

They still sell the Kindle DX, though it hasn't been updated in a long time (which is too bad), so it doesn't have the newer features--it's a lower PPI display and no backlight. Searching for it on amazon.co.uk yields nothing, so it looks like that's a no-go. You could undoubtedly get one off eBay, but I'm not 100% sure it would work outside the US, so I'd check on that before doing anything.

As for why PDFs are so tricky... I've never looked at the spec, nor tried to write an eReader app, but PDFs are designed to be print-ready, which I would assume to mean that the layout of elements (text, graphics) is specified absolutely. In an eBook file, such as MOBI or EPUB, the text is actually basically stored as web pages. Where an eBook file says "next have this chapter division", the PDF probably says "put this text at coordinate (500,250), bold," etc.

Once again, I could be wrong; maybe someone else can chime in. But if what I described is indeed the case, it makes sense that it's hard to translate it to something that reflows well--there's no semanticity like there is in a proper eBook file.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (1)

jsdcnet (724314) | about a year ago | (#42157103)

You're basically correct. PDF stands for *PAGE* description format. It is intended to specify exactly how big the page is, and where all the elements go on it. epub/mobi and similar e-reader formats are mainly HTML/CSS inside, so they can reflow just like any other web page.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157649)

PDF actually stands for Portable Document Format.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (4, Interesting)

lucm (889690) | about a year ago | (#42156993)

Much as I love my Kindle, it's not quite there for PDFs. While great for text (e.g. novels), it can't reflow a PDF well (or at all?), and the screen size makes it too small to reasonably view most PDFs at full size. A Kindle DX might be better, but still not ideal. Obviously color will be a no-go.

I would recommend an iPad or something similar for technical documents and most other PDFs. Goodreader + Dropbox is a great combination.

I agree for the PDFs and even eBooks that have diagrams or pictures, Kindle is not convenient. However a few months ago I lost my Kindle and decided to read stuff on my tablet, and what happened is that I basically stopped reading. Instead of sitting for a few hours and reading books I ended up picking up the tablet, firing up the eReader app but quickly switching to email, web browsing and games. I stayed less longer in coffee shops, doodling around on the tablets and getting restless quickly.

Then I bought a new Kindle and immediately I went back to reading a lot (usually two books a week). My tablet is now a living room fixture for when I watch a movie; when I go to a coffee shop I bring my Kindle and use my phone if I want to check my emails, which happens a lot less often when I read.

With my first Kindle I used to turn the wifi off to save battery but with the new one I find that I actually like the always-connected approach. I like to take notes and it's convenient that they follow my Amazon account, it makes it easier for me to go and buy a few books to dig a little more in a topic I found interesting. The Kindle is as convenient for buying books than the iPod Touch for buying music.

Tablets are great to read articles, emails and view diagrams. For books there is nothing like the Kindle (it's even better than actual books!).

Re:Kindles are the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156823)

iRiver Story HD. It's got the higher resolution (768x1024), SD card slot (unlike the Kindles), handles PDF and djvu in addition to epub, and has great support for organizing files in folders.

Re:Kindles are the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156833)

can they handle pdfs well?

Re:Kindles are the way to go (1)

Dan93 (222999) | about a year ago | (#42156887)

Yeah, they're handle PDFs, but you have to turn them on their side because of the small screen size. That can make it inconvenient, but I personally don't have problem with it.

Closest thing I've found... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156753)

The closest thing I've found is the Onyx Boox M92. 9.7" e-ink display and a fast enough processor for rendering PDF documents with diagrams. Still not quite good enough, though.

(Ignore the people suggesting iPads and the like. An illuminated display is guaranteed to give them eyestrain problems eventually, even if they claim they're having no problems now.)

Re:Closest thing I've found... (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156825)

Ignore the people suggesting iPads

There's always a trade-off — for me, I'd rather ensure I was reading in good lighting conditions, and reading for reduced periods and taking regular breaks, but with the ability to make annotations and the like easily, than to be able to read for considerable periods and lack that support. Without annotating, I'd end up reading things multiple times, which wouldn't work so well.

(I really, really wanted to use an eInk reader for studying, having loved reading fiction on them, but I found that they just did not work for me, hence getting the iPad. Now, having got myself a Kindle for my leisure reading, I find I struggle to read on it, and would rather read on a tablet screen, as I find reading far faster. Two and a bit years ago, before having used a tablet for all the reading for a reading-heavy course, I would have pushed an eReader too — having seen what worked for me, I've got a slightly different view.)

Re:Closest thing I've found... (1)

Dan93 (222999) | about a year ago | (#42156931)

Most e-readers allow annotations, including kindles.

Re:Closest thing I've found... (1)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156979)

Most e-readers allow annotations, including kindles.

From memory — it was some time since I checked, and perhaps a software update has improved things — some basic annotation was possible on the Kindle, but it was not at all easy, particularly to type anything of more than a few words. I'll see if things have improved — thanks for the heads-up.

Standing tables (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156763)

There is another way: a standing table. If you can have a normal table and a standing table, and a normal notebook, you're done.

Re:Standing tables (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#42156939)

There is another way: a standing table

I second this. I use this arm [amazon.com] to mount a 27" monitor from an overhead shelf. I pivot it between a stand-up desk and an adjacent bed. I work about two hours standing up, then pivot the monitor and work another hour lying flat on my back, then repeat. The only time I sit in a chair is for meals and meetings (and I usually combine those).

we are NOT there yet. (3, Informative)

Lluc (703772) | about a year ago | (#42156805)

LCD screen tablets == eyestrain after a long reading period. If you do not read for long periods of time, perhaps a 10" would work for you.
E-Ink screens are too small and/or too slow to render a typical journal article well.

Re:we are NOT there yet. (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42156953)

LCD screen tablets == eyestrain after a long reading period.

Turn the brightness down. It makes a big difference. When I discovered that, all those problems went away.

Re:we are NOT there yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157071)

WOOHOO! Mods on the attack!

Re:we are NOT there yet. (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about a year ago | (#42157489)

Indeed, we are NOT there yet.

Remember, humans are still meat-bags. We still need to mark-up and underline and scribble notes –– to sort our thoughts. When reviewing, I still print and scribble to organize my analysis. My final review is indeed typed into a browser, but the process is still not reasonably do-able without the intermediary stage of physicality.

Nothing is faster than a pen on paper, nor is it likely to be any time soon.

Give me a tablet that I can spread out over my desk, enabling me to compare 8 pages at a time, to stick my fingers and post-its in for quick back-and-forth referencing, and I will buy it. Until then, paper will remain king for complex writing, reviewing, and editing.

Sorry.

Re:we are NOT there yet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157785)

Also, no book search system is faster or more intuitive than the trusty flip-the-pages-with-your-thumb maneuver.

Digital systems have huge advantages, however, in terms of broad, lateral search and physical size per document.

I think that means we're going to be living in a world with both paper and digital systems together for a while yet.

Re:we are NOT there yet. (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#42158143)

Sitting in a dark room with a spotlight shining on your e-ink screen will give you eyestrain too. Turn the brightness down. Your eyes don't know whether the photons are reflected or not.

nook or kindle (e-ink versions, not HD) (2)

RedHackTea (2779623) | about a year ago | (#42156807)

For long hours of reading, I have to suggest a tablet with e-ink. But since everyone is different, you should try them out in the stores first.

I personally own a nook touch, which is probably the least liked tablet on /., but I really enjoy it. Since it's e-ink, the interface is slower and less responsive, but you get used to it. I look at a computer screen all day, so it's nice to read on a device that reflects light similar to paper rather than another screen shining it at me. I can read for noticeably longer with less eye strain.

The upsides are of course built-in dictionary, highlighting, bookmarking, notes, etc. The dictionary and bookmarks are really the best part. The downsides are no built-in browser (does kindle have one?) -- so can't search wikipedia and/or another dictionary site -- and none of the apps or eye candy and the small size. Solely for reading, e-ink versions reign supreme in my opinion. If you don't think reading will be the primary focus, then of course go for iPad or an Android tablet with HD.

samsung note tablet (3, Informative)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42156821)

I am frequently checking the state of tablet technology to do paper annotation. I write and annotate documents a lot. And any interface which is not paper and pencil like is typically useless to me. So all the tablet tend to be terrible on their own. I had a look at those stylus for ipad, that's better but still not enough. It is too imprecise which prevent proper annotation and drawings

Though, Itried a galaxy note (the phone one) with the spen, and that was a very convenient device to annotate a document. Except it is phone size so it is too small for real life use. The tablet version should be perfect. If you want to annotate stuff, you should check it out and see if it works for you.

The wrong question? (2)

greenreaper (205818) | about a year ago | (#42156829)

Focusing on the existing structure of papers, PDFs and the like restricts our vision. We should be asking ourselves what is the best way to communicate information, and then figure out what devices can enable that.

Re:The wrong question? (2)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about a year ago | (#42156869)

We should be asking ourselves what is the best way to communicate information, and then figure out what devices can enable that.

As part of the bigger picture, and the future of information sharing and knowledge creation, I agree fully with you.

As someone with a stack of documents in .pdf which I needed to read, my immediate need was finding a device which could enable me to do that :)

from one geezer to another... (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year ago | (#42156861)

I'd suggest that you look at several of the eReaders out there.

My local Staples has the Kindle and B&N has the Nook. For reading, I prefer the matte screen with eInk. A lot stress on the eyes. Added bonus is the longer battery life than the full color versions. And cheap as heck.

My Motorola Android Razr Maxx makes a good portable eReader as well, but for eBooks only. Not so much on PDFs which don't resize well..

Personally, I can't stand extensive reading on the iPad, although my daughter did get a piece of software for writing screen plays, forgot the name, but it does make the screen a bit easier to take.

MS Surface or ASUS Transformer (2)

Orcris (2652275) | about a year ago | (#42156877)

Every major tablet OS has the right tools for doing this. I would suggest getting a tablet with a keyboard (like the MS Surface or ASUS Transformer Pad), or getting a 10 inch tablet with a bluetooth keyboard.

well ... (1)

overshoot (39700) | about a year ago | (#42156893)

I think I'm officially a geezer (past 60) and I'm spending Saturday afternoon in the lab taking notes on a 10" Galaxy Note, and while theDUT temperature stabilizes I'm catching Lagrange and checking /. All that said, I still ease my old eyes by killing trees for large schematics. Don't knock 300 dpi on 22"x17"

Lovely paper (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#42156911)

I still like paper. But I was mocked just the other day by a co-worker for drawing a diagram by hand with a pen and ink, no less. I may be a dinosaur.

Ipad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156919)

Apple's Ipad is the way to go.

Papers? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#42156923)

What sort of papers are we talking about?

Newspapers? You can already get most respected newspapers in an app, or ebook format.

Papers please? For keeping official documents on, like an electronic green card - I doubt the red states would accept it yet.

But the other sort of paper - if your sitting in the bathroom reading on your tablet and you find theres no toilet paper - well i don't think your tablet will do a good job of wiping your arse...

six of one (1)

burdickjp (2530248) | about a year ago | (#42156925)

Right now he's reading things on a desktop...which likely has an LCD display. This would, in my book, nullify most arguments against LCD display tablets. No, they aren't perfect, but they're no worse than the alternative. Maybe the new wave of Win8 tablets would be good? Alot of them have active stylus inpt capabilities. I use a Dell Latitude ST for all of my ME classwork. All of my textbooks are on it. I use OneNote for assignments. It works very well, even with Windows 7, which is not a very touch-friendly OS.

Try strand up tables? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156981)

A number of people where I work have or are getting stand up tables. I am considering this myself. We a spend a lot of time sitting and meetings and standing up whIle writing code sounds good.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156983)

First the change-refusing generation that fights their 1970ties daytime routine with teeth and claws has to die out.

Papers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42156987)

For me the answer is very simple. There is an amazing app called "Papers" that you can get on OSX, Windows, and iOS. iPad 3 or 4 with retina display make figures and tiny text look amazing. The best alternative on iOS to Papers is an app called Mendeley, which is also cross-platform.

Ergonomics (4, Informative)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | about a year ago | (#42156991)

My company makes software for allied health professionals, and a large number of our customers are chiropractors. They are starting to use tablets quite extensively for recording their medical notes, so I am perfectly positioned to offer a slightly tangential response. Full disclosure: I am not a chiropractor - I've just worked with thousands of them, so I know a bit about spines and posture.

Subby, you mentioned that your back isn't what it used to be. This is an important factor.

During our lab trials of tablets, we received a lot of feedback about the ergonomics of tablets - and one tester actually had to be excused from testing after a measly 15 minutes due to neck pain developing. Here's the problem:
- A tablet has a very small screen. Don't let anybody trick you into thinking that a 10.1" screen is big. Its not. You have to hold the tablet quite close to your face to be able to read it comfortably.
- Even the lightest tablets still have significant weight. You can safely anticipate that your tablet will weigh about a kilogram.
- When you hold a kilogram weight up in front of your face, it distorts your body's centre of balance. In order to compensate, your body transfers weight either resulting in you leaning backwards, or sticking your backside out. Either of these are posturally abnormal positions. For the first 5 minutes, no problems - but for extended periods, this can (and likely will) result in back pain, neck pain and headaches. Over weeks and months, it will damage your spine.
- The alternative is to sit in a relaxed position and hold the device in your lap. Sounds good until you realise that your entire body is falling into a C shape (when seen from the side). This is also an abnormal position for the spine - and creates the same problems. We see a lot of x-rays of children who spent excessive time with the iPod/PST/handheld device in their lap - their spine is worse than that of a 40 year old.

In the end, we published an official white paper advising our customers that A) tablets work fine; the technology is sound and reasonably mature; B) we DO NOT recommend that they use them.

Re:Ergonomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157369)

So, where is the paper?
Can you point us to a draft?

Re:Ergonomics (1)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#42157411)

And then you go on to sell them an overly expensive solution right?

The thing is tablets work fine. Dead Tree Books are way heavier than tablets (the average tablet now weighs ~0.5kg and the better ones (Apple, Samsung) have never weighed over 0.6kg so your premise is BS).

8-10" is plenty, most books don't even get that big plus you can zoom and turn the brightness down to a comfortable reading level. Put a leather cover on and you won't even notice it's not real paper.

If you just want to lay back and read, you would need some type of retinal projection going on or those smart glasses (both may actually be more strenuous and unnatural than reading a book) or some kind of brain interface that can simply feed you the information but we're not there yet, give it about 5-10 years.

Re:Ergonomics (1)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | about a year ago | (#42157791)

Now, be nice. Your acidic remarks are unecessary and uncalled-for.

We are currently one of the cheapest products in our marketplace. We do not sell hardware - and for people who really want touch screens, we recommend wall mounted all-in-ones that sit around U$900.

Oh, and by the way, your ~0.5kg is false.

iPad weight = 652 grams (here is a citation: http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/ [apple.com]). That's the lighter version.
iPad cover weight = 338 grams (citation: http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/features/apple/3345046/best-cases-covers-for-new-ipad/ [pcadvisor.co.uk])
Apple make lighter cases, but the lightest I've seen still comes in at about 180 grams.
Total weight 830 grams at best - though if you choose the 'recommended covers', it will be much closer to 1kg.

Also, subby wasn't talking about reading books. He was talking about reading stapled printouts. There is a big weight difference. If you want an eBook reader for bedtime or on a plane - then, sure, grab one. Please do your research before posting snippy responses in /.

Re:Ergonomics (1)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#42158057)

Actually when I road tested e-readers a few years back I found exactly this problem, nearly all of them ended up feeling too heavy after a while.

It is not just the weight: it combines with the lack of heft so they are harder to hold. In the end the light, quilted back Kobo won the round (it didn't hurt that it has some of the least harmful DRM terms of all ereaders).

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157011)

imho we ARE there.

I initially tried out a Lenovo Thinkpad tablet but the n-trig based pen system wasn't responsive enough. I've since switched to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 and it is AMAZING. My wife uses it to take notes, lecture from, annotate, email etc etc. Between S-Pen, Kno and other pen aware apps, this tablet fills all of our needs. She works in neuroscience for a university and in a lab and reads and annotates on many papers on her Note 10.1.

I'd strongly recommend you check it out.

Regards,
Anonymous

Don't sit for long periods, that's the main issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157083)

Buy a LifeSpan treadmill desk, model tr1200dt. It solved my lower back problems. I walk at 1.2 miles per hour, and do so for at least 30 minutes at a time. I then undock my laptop, walk 3 feet to my normal desk, and dock it there. I work at the desk for an hour, but stand up at the 30 minute point for about 1 minute. Then I go back to the treadmill desk.

Best money I ever spent, wish I had bought one years ago.

Kindle (buttoned one) (1)

VAElynx (2001046) | about a year ago | (#42157151)

I use Kindle to read papers in .pdf format. It works pretty damn well if you ask me.
Sure, the font can be a bit small ,but all that means is *take off glasses*

Nothing (1)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | about a year ago | (#42157161)

The IEEE standard for papers is still a two-column format, and the paper is only downloadable in PDF, so the first problem is that the paper is completely unreadable on anything other than your printed paper. PDF sucks, and therefore Kindle, ipad, etc. will all suck. This is totally fixable but I haven't seen an application yet that does it.

Other problem is that I like to literally draw on papers as I read them... to check the math, to call attention to something, etc. Nothing I have seen has as simple and easy to use of an interface as a pen and paper. Relatedly, when I desire to draw up a schematic or other technical drawing documentation, I have found that trying to do it on a computer is so complicated that it ruins my train of thought. It's not hard, per se, but compared with a marker on a whiteboard it sucks. Take a cell-phone-camera picture afterwards and it's preserved and digitized for ever.

Perhaps if Windows 8 takes off, and touch screens become the norm for all computers, and we can get rid of this ridiculous abstraction of a "mouse", we'll be able to accomplish more of these tasks on a computer. Still, for brainstorming or putting simple thoughts to paper, I don't know if I can see a future use case where the tablet takes over from pen and paper/whiteboard and marker. Unless doing it on a tablet adds something, it's just not worth it.

It's all ergonomics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157163)

I have an iPad, and when I read for any more than a few minutes, I have to keep it supported (on a desk/on my lap etc.). A bunch of stapled pieces of paper have the size of a letter/A4, weighs almost nothing, and has great resolution. Hard to beat.

Galaxy Note 10.1 (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#42157295)

Virtually any tablet will satisfy your all your needs excpet for one: the need to annotate/take notes/ do anything written or drawn.

You really have three options for something to satisfy this last need ( actually one option a active pen/digitizer, but the tablets that come with one come in three flavors ):

1) Windows Slates. These are tablets made out of Windows laptops. Examples include: EEE Slate, Samsung Slate. Approximate price $1500.
2)Windows Surface Pro. Approximate price $1000.
3) Galaxy Note 10.1. Approximate price $500.

Warning: don't be fooled into thinking you can add a pen later. For a decent digitizer you need some sort of tech built into the screen.

Must it be a tablet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42157373)

At home I have my PC monitor on a swivel arm so I can turn it around and switch between chair and bed. Most of the time I'm on the bed in a Chac Mool-like position with the Bluetooth keyboard in my lap. I find this the most back-friendly position. I only get back into the chair when I have to type fast and with the extended keyboard. A netbook or ultrabook can also be used it in that position but it gets a little uncomfortable.

Related question: Why do we still have offices when the data are online and everything is mobile? For better supervision? Or for the water cooler talks? My uneducated guess is that people could be more productive if they weren't forced to work in an office, but also less controllable.

One Cheap Enough to run a beowful cluster on (1)

hoolaparara (1952522) | about a year ago | (#42157457)

Or at least afford one each for the minimum number of pages you'll want open, all run from the same account at the same time!

calibre and the tablet or e-reader of your choice. (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about a year ago | (#42157599)

There is no doubt that e-readers have made carrying large quantities of documentation around with you much, MUCH easier. What is tougher to do is manage your library. Fortunately, someone has already made tremendous strides to resolve that issue.

calibre [calibre-ebook.com] provides a great way to organize your library of e-books and online periodicals in conjunction with the tablet or e-reader of your choice. The website has a highlights video [calibre-ebook.com] which does a good job of covering what calibre is capable of.
At this point, calibre provides automatic download scheduling for almost 1,400 online magazines. More are added by users of calibre all the time. A sampling that might be of interest to academics include "Journal of Hospital Medicine", "Journal of Nephrology", "Microwaves and RF", "Scientific American", etc.

Once you've added a book (or collection of books) to your library, calibre provides plenty of tools to categorize it by subject, author, publisher, and just about anything else you care to name.

So, once you've got your papers and periodicals organized in calibre, pulling them into your e-reader is simply a matter of plugging into a USB port on your desktop or laptop. If you want to grab something when you're away from your desk, there's a Web front end that's pretty serviceable, too.

calibre is licensed under GPLv3 and is supported under MS Windows, OS/X, and Linux. There's even a portable version for loading on a USB stick to make your library truly portable. :-)

BTW, the Grand Tour video was created when the current version of calibre was 0.8.0. Kovid Goyal has been conscientously providing updates every Friday for as long as I've been using his app. The current version is 0.9.8. I think he went from 0.8.0 to 0.8.78 before making the leap to 0.9.0. :-)

As to which e-reader to use? There are a huge number of tablets and dedicated devices out there these days, although even the dedicated ones have all pretty much morphed into tablets. My personal favorite is the Nook Color but I've found that it's underpowered to handle large PDFs with a lot of graphics. However, calibre provides a pretty decent conversion utility for PDF to EPUB. The Nook does a much better job of managing memory for the EPUB format, so the large PDFs aren't even that big a deal for me.

Android + RepliGO Reader (0)

melstav (174456) | about a year ago | (#42157773)

I see that several people have suggested the iPad, but I'm astonished that I'm the first to suggest RepliGo Reader. It's pretty damn awesome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guF533z4bdM

I highly recommend watching the demo video

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