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Thammuz's avatar

What is a good alternative to a Kindle, possibly with a better handling of .pdf files?

Asked by Thammuz (8663 points ) May 6th, 2012

So, my kindle broke down a few months ago, and today, after realizing my productivity has gone down significantly since I stopped reading while on transportation, I contacted the amazon customer service to ask how to send it in for repairs and how much I was going to have to pay.

As luck would have it, it turns out that a) they don’t repair kindles, they just discount you on a new purchase, and b) my model is only sold in the US (3g with keyboard) and therefore I would have to order it and have it shipped which, ultimately, would amount to buying it new.

Obviously my reaction was “fuck this shit I’m getting a new one” and I thought it would be a great idea to try and iron out some of the problems I had with it, one of many of which is the fact that it handles .pdf files as if they were not the most prominent e-pub format.

Right now I’m split between getting an actual e-book reader or just moving up to a tablet altogether, the pricing difference is quite prominent, but I know tablets are, on the whole, superior when it comes to handling large files and pages with pictures, like many of my RPG manuals.

Any suggestions?

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13 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

An iPad might be worth considering. You can get a kindle app for it so you can still view read the books you already have and it does handle pdf’s very nicely.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Nook handles PDFs much better.

jerv's avatar

I have one of the older Nook Colors, which I flashed to CyanogenMod7 in order to turn it into a full-fledged tablet. (I chose the NC because the new Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire are not explicitly supported by CM7, and I wanted an easy install) Running a full version of Gingerbread (Android 2.3) allowed me to among other things use my favorite mobile PDF viewing app, ezPDF Reader, which I use mostly to read my GURPS, Shadowrun, and BattleTech books.

$150 and a few minutes of work for a 7” Android Tablet that carries almost my entire RPG library… good deal, methinks. Far better than what they charge for a Galaxy Tab 7 :D

Now if only SJGames would make a PDF copy of Uncle Albert’s Catalog From Hell, I could dispense with my dead-tree editions entirely!

@Lightlyseared I never found an iOS PDF viewer that worked worth half a squirt of rat piss except for the iOS version of the aforementioned ezPDF Reader. Many of them could not handle my RPG PDFs.

Thammuz's avatar

@jerv as it turns out I found an android tablet that costs about 105€, made in Italy, so local industry, easier customer support and repairs.

You seem to know your stuff pretty well so I’m posting the specs here, tell me if anything seems wrong to you:

Processor Cortex A8 1.2GHz
Ram 1 GB DDRIII
HDD 4 GB Flash
Screen 7.0” Capacitive Touchscreen Multitouch (800X480)
OS Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich
Connectivity WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Audio Integrated stereo speakers
Memory expansion microSDHC (max 32GB)
Webcam Front
Batteria Li-Poly (3.7V, 4000 mAh)
Others Gyroscope, Video Output: Mini HDMI type C, 1080p e 720p

Seems pretty good to me, especially for that price.

I’m unsure if it supports bluetooth but, even if it didn’t, it’s really not a big deal, considering I have wireless networks pretty much everywhere I go and can create one with my laptop to share files with it.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@jerv maybe I’m just lazy but I just used the built in viewer. Its never had any problem rendering any of the files I threw at it from magazines to science text books.

ratboy's avatar

I chose Kindle DX for its large screen because I read mathematical papers that cannot be produced in any of the popular e-reader formats. It does a reasonable job, but I find myself reading most stuff on my iPad.

jerv's avatar

@Lightlyseared Try reading Shadowrun:20th Anniversary Edition or Classic Battletech:Tactical Operations though, and it’s a different story, especially when it comes to annotations and outlines.

@Thammuz Cool find :) Hell, if I had the money, I’d say buy two and I’d pay you back!
The only real downside to it (and possibly why it’s so inexpensive) is that my 1024×600 can display more than that thing’s 800×600; mine can show more of a page in ezPDF and also show HD1080 video without scrunching it… but for the price, I would settle for the lower resolution, especially since I don’t watch HD videos.

Charles's avatar

Just get a plain old mini laptop. It’s about the same size as a tablet, it runs everything (it is a real computer), you can read anything, watch anything, install anything, interface anything, etc. It has a real keyboard which makes typing easy. They are also a LOT less expensive than the latest iPad toys.

The only drawback – a mini laptop isn’t trendy and you won’t look as cool at Starbucks browsing Facebook or other time wasting web pages.

jerv's avatar

@Charles Actually, I have seen quite a few of them. It seems that many people liked the netbook form factor but not their limits. That has led to some computer makers starting mini-laptops, like the new 11” Macbooks with their Core i5/i7 processors (a huge step up from the Intel Atoms of old). However those cost as much as a normal laptop; the ones that are comparable in price to a tablet tend to lack the trendiness.
Still, tablets have advantages in portability and battery life that cannot be ignored, so it really depends on your needs.

Thammuz's avatar

@Charles I used to have a mini laptop, they’re not as comfortable, they don’t fit in a pocket as easily and have usually longer bootup times and shorter battery life.

I already have a laptop for all that, it’s just that i have a commute of about 30 mins every morning and i usually end up doing it standing up on the undergound. I can’t use a laptop without putting it in my lap (at least, not efficently) meanwhile a simple slab with a screen is much easier to handle.

@jerv I’ve been told that that particular model is going out of production but the whole line is pretty similar and usually stays under the 200€ price range. If you turn out to be interested in the future, let me know, i’m always here for my fellow flutherites.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I think it’s worth pointing out that PDF was not (and is not) designed for ebook readers. It might be the dominant e-publishing format, but that’s because most writers are lazy when it comes to researching publishing alternatives.

PDF is a horrible, horrible format, especially all the recent time-limited shit with Adobe LiveCycle that requires a fucking internet connection to work(!), and because it’s its own ecosystem, it rarely instantiates standards, making conversion an absolute fucking nightmare.

If the majority of files you read are PDFs, then you will do far better, I suspect, with a tablet that has enough grunt to its GPU to handle PDF resizing efficiently. PDFs behave in many ways like an image format – you can’t resize the text, etc., so you do end up doing a lot of rotating and resizing to get the text on the screen.

You can, though, get the 3G + keyboard from Amazon UK – I just got one :)

jerv's avatar

@the100thmonkey PDF is also a popular standard despite it’s flaws, so as much as I would like to tell Adobe to eat a dick for it and Flash, so long as that is what gaming companies decide to use to release their e-books, us gamers are stuck with it.

Note that RPG books are better handled as images due to the tables, diagrams, and artwork they contain, so it’s not nearly as bad as you think for that style of book a for a regular text-only book. Still, the main reason I have a tablet is that displaying an 8½×11 page on a 4.5” screen (my phone) sucks.

Thammuz's avatar

@the100thmonkey I know it’s a horrible format, in fact, i would much rather they made it open source, it would make it much easier to handle, but lacking that, it is as it is.

Also, yeah, i decided to go with the tablet option.

@jerv ordered the tablet this morning, will keep you posted on whether it’s crappy or not.

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