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Old 12-27-2011, 11:16 PM   #1
smallandodd
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Question grad student needs

I can't find a student/academic post since February of this year, so I'm emerging from lurk-mode. Hi.

I'm looking for the best economic reader for my needs. I'm absolutely willing to go iPad but it might be overkill. If a stripped down tablet for half the price suffices, I'll go that route.

Here's my situation:

I've got 2 more semesters in my library and information science masters, and applying to business school to start this fall. So I've got some 21st century grad school experience and have a few more years to go.

The first few semesters, the iPhone and Netbook served my purposes. The iPhone's got my audiobooks/music, the netbook is good for carting around campus and taking notes/entertaining myself during class. My email and calendar are in google, which I can access through both. I don't do social networking.

I got it in my head to get an ereader for newspapers/magazines. I kept saying iPad and enough people told me to not spend money on a toy I might not want that I got a Nook simple touch this past summer.

The Nook simple touch can take instapaper's converted articles to epub but it was hard to keep track of what I had and what I read and what days there were. I can get the Economist and Businessweek through calibre but I'm seriously stressed out by the text-only magazine format. I don't have a sense of the article as a whole and the experience is more stressful than gratifying. The nook is perfect for library books or reading one of the thousands of ebooks I have so I don't regret buying it, but it's not doing what I want for school.

This is what I want:
  • View newspapers and magazine articles as laid out
  • Ability to read pdfs of articles--this is huge. I don't want to print out and lug around all of those pdfs I might not use. I want to be able to scan through quickly, decide what I want to keep, make some notes, and discard the rest--without killing a lot of trees.
  • Annotate or at least highlight those pdfs/articles. I liked the ability to do it in the nook. Note: my pdfs aren't complicated formulas but I expect a lot of data--and tables do not translate into the nook.
  • Easy access to filestructure and files.

What would be really nice to have, but not a dealbreaker if I can't get it:
  • Access to dropbox or evernote and/or other centralized file locations. I'm okay loading things on at home or at work and reading offline if that'll save me hundreds of dollars.
  • Microsoft Office capabilities--even if just opening, but working in would be kind of awesome too.

Things I don't really need:
  • Email/calendar access. I can do that easily enough on my iphone.
  • Audio/mp3 capability. Ditto.
  • 3G. I don't have 3G on my nook simple touch and I haven't even missed it. I don't anticipate immediately needing an article or something so badly I can't wait until I get home or to a wifi spot to load it. It's not like I print up articles on the go, I painstakingly print and pack them all up and flip through on my commute.

Initial thought: iPad 2 Wifi at 32 gigs. I won't have the extra cost for the data plan, and I can access dropbox and evernote. I can search through the academic catalogs and download my pdfs and view them there. Seems like GoodReader is an app a lot of people like.

But, is there an option that might not do everything an iPad can, but might serve my purposes?

Please, ask me more questions too, there are probably things I've forgotten.

Thanks!

ETA: Maybe a little more information about me: I'm only a part-time student, I work full-time, and live in a city. I commute on public transportation and spend a lot of time working in coffee shops rather than my apartment. I'm really looking for a good portable way to do a lot of my research and reading, not so much the work itself. And I think full-time student needs are really different than part-time students.

Last edited by smallandodd; 12-27-2011 at 11:30 PM.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:49 AM   #2
PrincessV
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Hi,

Since you're considering an Ipad 2 32G+WiFi ($599), may I suggest two alternatives:

1)Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 & 8.9. (32G+WiFi) (on sale @ bestbuy $549)
Both are similiar in style of the Ipad 2
I believe the 10.1 has an usb port (I could be wrong)
The 8.9 is about the size of your netbook but not the weight.
No issue with the screen size

2) Acer Iconia A500 ((32G+WiFi) ($499)/A501 ((32G+3G/WiFi) ($599)
It's a little heavy but has options the others don't & the WiFI only is cheaper than the others
SD card slot
HDMI slot
USB Port

I'm not sure about Annotate/highlighting, but reading PDF is not an issue with either the ACER or the Samsung. There's probably an APP that will allow you to highlight.

I replaced my bulky Franklin Planner with a tablet. I wanted something with a calendar, task & note option. I had the Acer Iconia A501 & liked it. However, I found it was a bit heavy & it didn't fit comfortable in my purse. The addition slot options excited me, but I was a bit challenged to take advantage of it.

I ended up with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (4gLTE). It's slim & light weight. I added Documents to Go for the few Office files I need.

You'll want to do a comparison to determine which best fit your needs.
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:35 AM   #3
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Also consider a Toshiba Thrive. I gave one to my daughter, got it for $250 on Black Friday. Big advantage for the Thrive when using as a netbook replacement: it has a full sized USB port, so you can plug in a standard USB keyboard (no worrying about bluetooth configs, etc). Works well, no configuration needed.

Most of the other stuff is covered by apps. I have an iPad (first gen) and Android tablets for my kids, so I can speak to both OS's. I personally prefer the Android OS, but iOS is definitely more popular right now.

As far as office applications, get QuickOffice Pro for $15 (Android or iOS), it allows you to edit documents, presentations and spreadsheets created by MS Office. Can also view PDF's, not sure if it can annotate them. Probably one of the reader apps can do that, in the form of notes and bookmarks. PrincessV's recommendation of DocsToGo is another good office suite, I just happen to use QuickOffice Pro.

Magazines: look at Zinio. Personally not for me, but is very popular and displays the magazines the way they would look on paper.

File structure and files: not gonna happen on the iPad, for that you'll have to have an Android tablet. And there are dozens of "file explorer" type apps out there, many are free (or offer a free version). And consider that the iPad is not going to let you add storage (no SD card slot), many of the Android tablets will.

Dropbox makes a free app for both OS's. Consider Google Docs as well - it is tightly integrated into Android. (You can have both).

I know you don't need the audio portion, but since you likely have iTunes for your iPhone: If you were considering an Android tablet, look at Songbird. It will sync your iTunes music library with your Android tablet, and keep up with changes. Very cool.

In any case, the Thrive is going to be less expensive than the iPad, Galaxy Tab, Xoom and others with the same capabilities. However, it is thicker, due to the full size USB and HDMI ports (about the same thickness and weight as a first gen iPad).

The recommended tablets by PrincessV are all good as well. I had put a lot of research into tablets recently (bought one for each of my three kids), so I looked for usefulness and value. I bought Toshiba Thrives for my oldest to use in school, and an Acer Iconia Tab A100 (7 inch) for my youngest to use for eReading apps. I've been pleased so far.
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:44 PM   #4
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I don't have a 10" Android-based tablet but the iPad 2 + GoodReader works great for PDF. Easy access to the folder/file structure is shot, but GoodReader has various methods available for syncing. The iPad 2 also has amazing battery life. The advertised 10 hours isn't a lie. I'd say for what you want, the iPad is a safe (but expensive) choice.

I've got a 7" Nook Color running CM7 and the screen size/resolution just isn't big/high enough for my reference materials in PDF (lots of charts, diagrams and formulae).

I think the big thing here is finding what apps are available for Android. Even if you can't test it yourself, if you can find at least one app with good reviews that does the things you need it to do, you can then go researching what hardware would work best for you and your budget.
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:18 PM   #5
smallandodd
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Thanks for the tips

Thanks for the breakdowns.

I broke, though. Ordered a refurbished iPad first generation, wifi only, 32G. The bells and whistles of the iPad2 (dual core for streaming/games, better camera/face time) aren't why I want a tablet so the extra expense didn't seem worth it.

The GoodReader app gets great reviews and I'll figure something out about keeping track of articles.

I can make shelves on iBooks for different projects.

I've also got Evernote so attaching them in there and opening them in a different app could work. Or leave them in dropbox.

I'm glad I broke out of my shell on this forum, though, I spend a lot of time lurking.

Thanks again!
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