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Ask Slashdot: Tablets For Papers; Are We There Yet? 180

Posted by timothy
from the getting-closer-at-least dept.
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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Ask Slashdot: Tablets For Papers; Are We There Yet?

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  • Ipad and Dropbox! (Score:5, Informative)

    by StonyCreekBare (540804) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:08PM (#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...
    • by cashman73 (855518)
      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! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:27PM (#42156751) Homepage

        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.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          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! (Score:3, Informative)

          by aisnota (98420)

          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 wi

    • by fermion (181285)
      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. O

    • by iamwahoo2 (594922)

      I find typical journal papers with tiny font are hard to read even on the best 10 inch tablet. Reading the tiny print can be done, but it is really hard to do for more than 10 to 15 minutes without giving your self a headache. I don't think it is so much a function of pixel density at this point as much as it is just overall character size. However, it is not the tablet makers that need to change so much as it is the journal publishers. Maintaining tiny fonts may have been useful in the day when everything

  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:12PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • by gothzilla (676407) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @02:17AM (#42159567)
        Sorry but it's the source of a great deal of frustration and contention. I got an android before my wife got an iphone. If I wanted to put some music or movies on my phone it was as simple matter of plugging a usb cable and dragging and dropping files. It took both of us an hour to figure out how to get a movie on her phone. Anytime I want to update my media, it only takes a few minutes. When she wants to do the same thing I hear swearing and frustration and how complicated the process is. The final straw was when she got a laptop and synced her phone to it and it wiped everything off her phone, since Apple has decided for her that she can only sync to one library on one computer. So bitch all you want about the snotty anti-Apple bias. Slashdot is a place for geeks who like to be able to actually do what they want with their technology and really don't like it when a company tells us how we will do things, especially when it makes the things we want to do harder and more complicated, if not impossible.
        • by supercrisp (936036) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @10:10AM (#42160889)
          OTOH, I just plug up an iPod Touch, and it syncs perfectly. Upon moving to Android for a phone, it took me a while to find an app that wasn't full of myspace-esque glimmering gimmicks like some 80s boombox; after that it was manually managing files in a folder, which is simple but tedious. That was until I found doubleTwist, which made the Android simple and one-click like the iPhone/iPod Touch. Either iTunes must be really horrible on Windows, or it's because people just have to have their media files all over the drive. And, I know that last one gets a lot of hate: evil Apple oppresses me because it wants my files in one place!!! Well, a) there's an option to not do that, and b) why aren't you also complaining about apps like calibre that do the same thing? And, yes, iTunes wants one library. The model for MacOS is based on individual users that log in, like most modern OSs. So, well, they expect you to do that with iTunes too. And, frankly, it's trivial to get around that with a beginner-level hack (if I can do it, anyone can), or you can buy some $10 piece of shareware to do it for you. No bigs. Sure, Apple stuff is locked down. But not as badly as some say.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.w

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      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.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      A headline is for an expository piece. So a headline that's a question is intentionally leading. This is an "Ask"-type posting, so the "headline" is just the question. Betteridge's Law, such as it is, doesn't apply.

  • IPads for sure... (Score:4, Informative)

    by masdog (794316) <masdogNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:14PM (#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.
    • by sdavid (556770)
      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
      • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

        GoodReader also has Samba support, so great for accessing network resources. Works with services other than Dropbox as well.

        But, to really use the iPad effectively as a catalog replacement I have needed dedicated apps. Navigating a thousand page catalog on any tablet is an exercise in frustration. Separate files for chapters/sections can help, as long as you don't need to jump between them often.

    • Re:IPads for sure... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Silas is back (765580) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @06:45PM (#42157241) Homepage Journal
      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)
      • Sorry - there are reasons it isn't mentioned. The sync is awful, its interface isn't great, and there is no cloud support. I hope that now that they have been purchased by Elsevier (yes, really) they will have the manpower to implement over-the-web syncing, but until then its only usable on one Mac (or two if you can remember to quit it on your other machine...) Love the desktop version, can't believe we are stuck without syncing between Macs and iPads still.
        • I agree that the sync is painful, but it's still better than not having sync (esp. tags and the "read" status) and having to manage papers in folders.
  • iPad and iAnnotate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:14PM (#42156691) Homepage

    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.

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

      • 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 lay

        • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Sunday December 02, 2012 @04:34AM (#42159939) Homepage

          Autodesk do a handy app sketchbook express, its a sketch pad

          I note you are using Android, so my suggestion may not be worthwhile, but I am using PenUltimate for all my hand-written notes, and, for that simple task, it does an excellent job. No OCR, but, frankly, I'm not sure how much processing power you'd need to throw at my handwriting...

          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.

          I may be able to help you here, if you have access to a Linux machine (heck, it may work natively on Android; I don't know): use ghostscript to assist in removing the lock. I have this as unlock_pdf.sh:

          #! /bin/bash

          # takes specified file and prints output using ghostscript

          gs -q -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=output.pdf -c .setpdfwrite -f $1

          Just save the file in question to your machine, and run sh unlock_pdf.sh pdfname.pdf and wait for output.pdf to be generated.

          There may be better ways of doing this, but this has worked pretty well for me over the last couple of years, so I hope it offers some assistance.

        • Acrobat Pro will straighten text as it OCRs, and it tends to be sufficiently accurate. It also will blow thru just about all of the ways a PDF can be locked. I think I've only had to turn to another piece of software once or twice since I've been using PDFs for research. I think most academic/research PDF peddlers just flip some "don't modify me" bit, which Acrobat Pro can undo.
    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      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 edi

      • 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, eve

    • 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.

  • Big Chief (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Been using them since Kindergarten.

  • iPad with GoodReader (Score:5, Informative)

    by adenied (120700) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:17PM (#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!

  • No, not really... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:21PM (#42156727) Journal

    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... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:36PM (#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.

      • by hawkeyeMI (412577)
        I have a Galaxy Note II, and I can even read and annotate papers with that, albeit with some panning around. If I were still an academic reading papers all the time I'd buy a Note 10.1 tablet immediately. It's fantastic for that and note-taking.
    • Re:No, not really... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mcelrath (8027) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @06:31PM (#42157141) Homepage

      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.

      • by Agripa (139780)

        I just print out what I need on an 11x17 inkjet, mark it up, and store it in a 3 ring binder.

        My big desktop monitors, which work like crap in portrait orientation because of viewing angle problems, are not sufficient for most of the PDF files I deal with so no portable device is going to hack it. Even if I did find a tablet that could handle it, how am I going to view more than one page at a time?

        • by mcelrath (8027)
          Multiple tablets. 11x17 has a 1.55 aspect ratio, which is closer to 16:8=1.78 than 8.5x11. The zoom factor is horrible though, nearly 1/4 the area of a full-width page on 8.5x11 vs 11.6 diagonal. Seriously, we need to lobby for tablets matching common paper sizes, at 200-300dpi, not movie and game devices awkwardly adapted to non-frivolous uses.
    • Re:No, not really... (Score:5, Informative)

      by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @07:22PM (#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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by recoiledsnake (879048)

        Surface Pro will come with a pen and active digitizer.

      • I will have to give the Note a look. The Wacom RF tech is spooky accurate(and, incidentally, pretty cool looking. An entire multi-layer PCB antenna array [googleusercontent.com], sorry about the shitty scan, crammed in behind the screen.) Trouble always was that the 'Tablet PC's were still basically just laptops with particularly unreliable hinges and the freestanding tablets(in addition to being alarmingly expensive) didn't allow you to write on whatever you were annotating...

  • by Dan93 (222999) <danielonolan&gmail,com> on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:23PM (#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.
    • by Cinder6 (894572) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:37PM (#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.

      • by lucm (889690) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @06:07PM (#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!).

        • by Cinder6 (894572)

          I read a few books on my iPad before I sold it. While I did manage to several long novels (The Way of Kings, most of the Death Gate Cycle, Malazan series, etc.), I agree that there's a huge temptation to do other stuff on it. I imagine it would only be worse now, what with seemingly every app using push notifications.

        • You're seeing quality-of-print issues: my typesetter friends sensitized me to things you can't see consciously affecting the reading experience. This, in part, motivates higher-quality displays like the retina, and subtle things like designing/adjusting the fonts for particular bit-densities in e-ink. Only a small amount is measurable without brain imaging (:-)). The easily measurable part is reading speed: 30% slower on a good digital screen than on analog paper.
          • by lucm (889690)

            Retina or no retina does not change the fact that high-frequency refresh is tiresome for the eyes and make long reading sessions unpleasant - it does not matter if you read slightly slower or faster if you give up after 15 minutes. There is no refresh with e-ink (except when flipping the page) hence it is as pleasant to read as actual paper. So I guess my hope is that they will come up with higher quality e-ink.

            Meanwhile being able to change the font size, paper color, text density, etc. on the Kindle turns

            • by davecb (6526)

              Indeed: I can easily notice anything up to about 40 CPS refresh (my grandma had 40 cycle power when I was a kid). I don't "see" anything past 60 CPS, but my eyes do, and get tired.

              Interestingly, my newer flatscreens seem better than my old CRT, which had been distinctly better than my old flatties.

              It will be interesting to see if this is a measurable effect: it was initially hard to come up with anything other than anecdotal evidence of differing qualities...

              --dave

  • by Lluc (703772) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:36PM (#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.
    • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:59PM (#42156953) Journal

      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.

    • by Sir Holo (531007)
      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 des
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      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.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Brother do eink "document readers" with an A4 or 10" display. I have not tried one personally and they are pretty expensive, but are designed for exactly what the questioner wants to do.

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      There are paperlike color screens capable of playing video. They are so fast they actually alternate between colors to display more colors like Plasma TVs do.

      Check out Mirosol displays. I don't know why these aren't popular in the US yet. http://www.qualcomm.com/mirasol [qualcomm.com]
      • by Lluc (703772)

        There are paperlike color screens capable of playing video. They are so fast they actually alternate between colors to display more colors like Plasma TVs do. Check out Mirosol displays. I don't know why these aren't popular in the US yet. http://www.qualcomm.com/mirasol [qualcomm.com]

        I saw a demo of one by the original e-ink company running a cartoon at about 15fps. It was also a touch screen. Pretty impressive, but apparently they lose their power advantage over LCDs when they are running at high frame rates. Since it is possible to refresh these screens at 66msec or better, I'd guess that the weak link in the e-ink nook and kindle must be the cpu. Again, this is probably for power reasons.

  • samsung note tablet (Score:4, Informative)

    by godrik (1287354) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:37PM (#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.

  • by greenreaper (205818) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @05:39PM (#42156829) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • 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 :)

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Anything with x and lisp.
  • 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

  • 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"
  • 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.

    • by Richy_T (111409)

      On the other hand, he did spell Visio as Vizio while doing so so I got the last laugh.

  • 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...

  • Ergonomics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wolfling1 (1808594) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @06:07PM (#42156991) Journal
    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.
    • by guruevi (827432)

      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, y

      • 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 [pcadvisor.co.uk]
        • by theNAM666 (179776)

          FWIW, why not mount the tablet on a gooseneck arm with a magnetic mount, when not carrying? (That's what I do-- FWIW, Google Nexus 7 is my choice for most things, 10" for some, iPad, mostly too heavy... iPod touch mounted at 3" is pretty interesting as a monitor, but you're not going to annotate anything on it...)

      • by Alomex (148003)

        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).

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Tablets weigh about 500-700g, less for the 7".

      There is a solution to not distorting your posture, it's called using your muscles to act as the counter-balancing force. Then again, people with poor posture won't understand this. Then the key is movement. A tablet is wonderful to allow you to move and work. Dancing with a small counter-balance for a few hours should actually be beneficial ...if you have enough body awareness to understand counter-balancing :)

      The health of the body is predicated on movem

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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,
    Anonymo

  • 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*
  • 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 a

  • 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, calib

  • A4 size
    at least 150dpi
    daylight readable
    a day or more battery life
    robust but light
    able to take annotations
    minimal DRM sillyness
    quick page turns

    • by allo (1728082)

      now choose at most 3 of there properties. Then you may get good suggestions for a device.

  • Why not use a laptop, then you can sit back with your feet up on your desk? That's how I used to work in a development environment - I had a couple of multiprocessor Pentium Pros under my desk for running builds, but any coding, reading, or writing documentation was done on my laptop, sitting back comfortably with my laptop on my lap, then I'd check in the code, and move my build and SQL scripts over as needed.

    Unprofessional? Perhaps, if you're a client-facing sales "engineer" or technical account manager,

  • I was not and am not an Apple Fanboy.

    However, after an exhaustive search I've settled on:

    iPad 2 WiFi 16 GB (cheapest available -- around $370 at Fry's)
    Goodreader (Around $5 -- most definitely worth it)
    Dropbox
    Adonit Jot stylus (get the $30 version -- you don't need the pressure sensitive BlueTooth version for this). Do NOT get anything cheaper -- you can't write on the margins with your fingers or with cheaper styli.

    I sync various folders of papers in dropbox, annotate them (usually with Dropbox and the sty

  • I like having the tablet on hand, since it is less intrusive in a meeting and in some cases more practical than a laptop. But the weight of all decent tablets is still too much to really recommend it for every case, even if you don't mind spending extra on an iPad. And the speed and software on eBook readers is still not quite there yet to recommend those at all, in my opinion. In terms of software I like Mantano Reader for Android (using it on a Motorola Xoom, which is nice, but heavy). But perhaps my main
  • This is still needed as everything else is still a compromise for 'paper replacement'.

    And yes, i know there s ONE vendor out there that is doing it ( Hanvon ) but we need it to be mainstream.

  • Why a tablet? Do you really want to spend all day holding the damned thing? Forget that.
    Your problem is being hunched over the keyboard & mouse.
    Your solution is to buy an Alphagrip:

    http://http//www.alphagrips.com/ [http]

    Then you can lift your screen to eye level, enlarge the fonts, and finally lean back just like in the old days, touch-typing away in full ergonomic comfort, just like I am now. I would _never_ go back to a crappy old qwerty board mate. Hell, just watch one of the typing demos and you'll get it:

  • ... is a tablet that let's me read PDFs in the same size as the 8.2x11 output I would normally read after it was printed. I would really love a tablet -- or a generic e-book reader -- with a bunch of storage to allow me to carry around all of the PDFs of manuals that I might need when working on a problem at a customer site without having to download something from the web/cloud (which might not be available after all; that's why I'm on-site: trying to fix a problem that might have taken the network down).

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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