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Old 07-08-2014, 03:41 PM   #1
Doranwen
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Something for my dad to read on

I'm not sure I can afford to buy anything just yet, but would be interested in knowing what's out there and what might be up his alley (and thereby what I'd have to save for). My dad is frequently interested in some of the books I have but has no way to read e-books other than sitting at his computer and reading from the computer monitor. While it's nice and large, it's not portable at all. And every time I come across something he'd be interested in, I've been wondering about what e-reader (or tablet, should that be better) would work best.

Here's what characteristics pertain to selecting a reader for him:
- he reads frequently on trips, may be outside, indoors, various levels of lighting but since he's used to reading physical books (where he has to sit next to a lamp or have a flashlight), an integrated light isn't essential
- he's interested in a lot of epubs and pdfs, and some of the epubs have pictures or charts (the pdfs definitely would have the occasional picture or chart, formatting, etc.)
- larger size would probably be better as he does wear glasses for reading and has a hard time with tiny print stuff
- bookstore agnostic, as I have a lot of custom-created files and free/public domain that I'd want to add to it for him, and don't want the hdd reserved for a particular store
- capability to support DRM--though I don't think any of our book sources have it, there's one store I'm still waiting on word back from and he'd definitely buy some from them so would like to have that noted (most devices do, I would think)
- good battery or easy way to charge away from computer (this may rule out some of the ones that have to be ordered from Europe as we're in the US and I found that my e-book reader takes FOREVER to charge using a US plug since it's much lower voltage than the European plug that came with it--which of course doesn't fit any of the wall outlets in our house, lol)
- he is not very computer savvy--we have only basic phones in our house, he's barely gotten the hang of texting; while parents' computer runs Linux, I installed it, and he's never used an Apple product in his life (beyond being frustrated trying to do basic tasks on my grandparents' Mac the one time he tried), so the easier it is to transfer files via USB (should see it as a folder he can copy/paste into, and if he can create his own subfolders that would be best!) the better
- I can't afford to pay too much (or him, should he decide this is his investment to make and not a gift from me), so while I don't have a definite budget in mind, would like to have general prices noted for any suggestions

Let me know if any of the above details are incompatible with each other (and if so, what am I having to sacrifice either way?). What suggestions do you have? Any things I should keep in mind?

I really appreciate you all being willing to give this advice--it's come in very handy for me before and I've been quite satisfied with my selections both times I've asked for help choosing, so I have good hopes here!
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:47 PM   #2
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6" is pretty much standard for e-ink ereaders, although there are some larger ones here: http://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/E-bo...#Large_Devices

Any ereader can be plugged into the computer to show up as a removable drive. You can copy books in, but it would be even easier to use http://calibre-ebook.com to send books.

All ereaders are bookstore-agnostic, and calibre can also easily convert between source formats -- automatically. If a book isn't compatible with your ereader, it will be auto-converted on sending. But you may need to google "apprentice alf" for help removing DRM. (DRM is not bookstore-agnostic. )

Things to keep in mind:
  • e-ink ereaders are great for outdoor use, and long battery life. But they aren't really good at PDF. For PDF, it is best to use a tablet (expensive ) which usually stink at both. You can try k2pdfopt to make PDF easier on e-ink ereaders, though.
  • Do NOT get a Nook! They restrict the storage space to Nook-bought books, and only allow a small portion of the space to use for sideloaded books. They are the only ereader that does that.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:27 AM   #3
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I've used Calibre quite a bit--but pdfs, especially ones with any pics in them, do not convert nicely. So I'm wondering if anyone's had experience with some of the larger-sized e-readers--or tablets, even (he doesn't need the extra features but I'm sure he'd find a way to use them).

Color isn't essential (he's not reading children's storybooks on there)--but I think larger size might be, and being able to display the pdfs in original formatting, including any charts or photos, would be important. He won't be reading textbooks or newspapers (so no 2-column stuff), but he likes a lot of history books, and they often have photos of the people or locations, maps, etc., sprinkled throughout. I don't see a ton of charts in the one I'm looking at but I know at least one of the books has them.

Noted about the Nook! Yeah, I noticed that--my grandma got one, and I was annoyed that there wasn't as much space to put on the books she wanted me to. (And I thought it would be an improvement over the Kindle because I really didn't want to convert all my books to mobi--their preferred format at the time--because most of them were originally epubs anyway.) Oh well. That's long done.

Thankfully all of the pdfs that he'd want that I've looked at are not two-column, just regular books that happen to be in pdf format. I'd convert if it weren't my experience that converting pdf usually looked pretty bad when done (readable, but atrocious formatting looks). Maybe it's gotten better? I haven't really tried. My e-reader will show pics in pdfs but omits them entirely in epubs, so that's even worse. (But then most of the books I read are not pdf.)
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Old 07-09-2014, 02:29 AM   #4
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This program PDF to Epub does a fairly good job of converting most PDF files to a format that is easy to read on ereader's. You can often get it for free during promotion periods at the site. And the Kindle is a good ereader for what you are looking for with great battery life and adjustable front light. And I've noticed that if you take a kindle book and reconvert it to Kindle (in old kindle) via Calibre the size of the book even seems to shrink so it takes up less space than you would think which can be a concern on an ereader if you want to carry a lot of books around with you.

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Old 07-09-2014, 03:30 AM   #5
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Ah, but does it work via Wine? I'm running Linux here--and it will be very awkward if I have to run the program in a virtual machine just to convert all the pdfs, lol. Doable, but awkward.

And it does look like there's currently a promotional--for "authors". Hmm . . . do I count as an author if I'm creating my own math curriculum? *g*

Hmm, most of the books are epubs, would like to avoid having to convert everything if I can, so while I'm not averse to the Kindle, it'd have to have superior features/extra lower price to make that worth it. I currently have an Onyx Boox but that's not the price range my dad would be looking for (I saved up quite a while to get that one because I specifically wanted that!). I do know that he's like me in liking to organize his books, and would probably prefer to create his own folder structure if at all possible.

So far I just am overwhelmed at all the options. What makes many of them different, so I can narrow down somewhat? Are they all about the same two prices, or are they widely varying? Do some of them allow you more control over placing the files on the hdd (allowing you to browse the folders you created) vs. others that require you to search or look under author (which, with nonfiction, would be about impossible here, as I rarely remember the authors of nonfiction books).

And just Kindle doesn't give me any specific ideas either, since I'm pretty sure there's more than one device that can be called a Kindle, especially if one includes older models. I should note, though, that looking at the list of large size e-readers I came across the Kindle DX, which apparently handles both PDFs and AZW/MOBI natively, so I'd just have to convert epubs to mobis if I went for that. It's old enough that Amazon has only used ones, though, and out of the price range I'm looking at for right now, so oh well . . .

I'm still waiting for my dad to respond to my query about size, but pretty sure he'll want the larger size. Neither of my parents have liked the 6" size--to them, that's just too small for a book.
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doranwen View Post
Noted about the Nook! Yeah, I noticed that--my grandma got one, and I was annoyed that there wasn't as much space to put on the books she wanted me to. (And I thought it would be an improvement over the Kindle because I really didn't want to convert all my books to mobi--their preferred format at the time--because most of them were originally epubs anyway.) Oh well. That's long done.
I got my Dad a used Nook Simple Touch for about $30 -- it works well for him. For the NST and NST with Glowlight, memory size for side-loading is not an issue as both can use microSD cards and, therefore, both have a virtually unlimited storage capacity. The newest Nook eReader, the Nook Glowlight, does not have a microSD slot.

My Dad (in his 80s) and I also use Linux. Calibre works great on our machines.

As for your Dad, have you looked at the Kobo Aura HD. It's got a bigger screen and, according to what I read on Kobo's site, it can use both ePub and Mobi files. And, for its size and features, it seems reasonably priced at $170. (I don't own one, so this is not a personal endorsement.)

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Old 07-09-2014, 09:22 AM   #7
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Hmm, most of the books are epubs, would like to avoid having to convert everything if I can, so while I'm not averse to the Kindle, it'd have to have superior features/extra lower price to make that worth it. I currently have an Onyx Boox but that's not the price range my dad would be looking for (I saved up quite a while to get that one because I specifically wanted that!). I do know that he's like me in liking to organize his books, and would probably prefer to create his own folder structure if at all possible.

So far I just am overwhelmed at all the options. What makes many of them different, so I can narrow down somewhat? Are they all about the same two prices, or are they widely varying? Do some of them allow you more control over placing the files on the hdd (allowing you to browse the folders you created) vs. others that require you to search or look under author (which, with nonfiction, would be about impossible here, as I rarely remember the authors of nonfiction books).
Most ereaders do not offer browsing by filename.

But one workaround for Kindle, is to use Collections Manager (hack) to "Create collections from directories". A hidden feature in the firmware allows for nested collections, which most ereaders do not do. (In fact, neither does the Kindle, if you use firmware>5.4.0. )

Still, you can create non-nested collections on the Kobo and others as well. For Sony/Kobo, calibre will create them natively based on user-configured metadata.

Quote:
And just Kindle doesn't give me any specific ideas either, since I'm pretty sure there's more than one device that can be called a Kindle, especially if one includes older models. I should note, though, that looking at the list of large size e-readers I came across the Kindle DX, which apparently handles both PDFs and AZW/MOBI natively, so I'd just have to convert epubs to mobis if I went for that. It's old enough that Amazon has only used ones, though, and out of the price range I'm looking at for right now, so oh well . . .

I'm still waiting for my dad to respond to my query about size, but pretty sure he'll want the larger size. Neither of my parents have liked the 6" size--to them, that's just too small for a book.
The Kindle DX is old because few people wanted the larger size, so they never updated it.

Other than the size, it is no different from any other Kindle, except that it never received many of the updates. The other Kindles can read PDF too -- but the DX is touted for it since it has a larger screen, which makes them easier to read.

Kindle models are all the same, but newer ones are upgraded. The only differences are between Kindle Keyboard (has a physical keyboard), Kindle Basic (5-way controller is cheaper), and the touch models.

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I got my Dad a used Nook Simple Touch for about $30 -- it works well for him. For the NST and NST with Glowlight, memory size for side-loading is not an issue as both can use microSD cards and, therefore, both have a virtually unlimited storage capacity. The newest Nook eReader, the Nook Glowlight, does not have a microSD slot.

My Dad (in his 80s) and I also use Linux. Calibre works great on our machines.

As for your Dad, have you looked at the Kobo Aura HD. It's got a bigger screen and, according to what I read on Kobo's site, it can use both ePub and Mobi files. And, for its size and features, it seems reasonably priced at $170. (I don't own one, so this is not a personal endorsement.)
6.8" isn't really "bigger" than 6". I'm not sure it is worth the extra cost, if that is the feature we are going for.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:11 AM   #8
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Most ereaders do not offer browsing by filename.

But one workaround for Kindle, is to use Collections Manager (hack) to "Create collections from directories". A hidden feature in the firmware allows for nested collections, which most ereaders do not do. (In fact, neither does the Kindle, if you use firmware>5.4.0. )

Still, you can create non-nested collections on the Kobo and others as well. For Sony/Kobo, calibre will create them natively based on user-configured metadata.
Hrm. I got my e-reader specifically for that feature (Onyx Boox Firefly, I think the name was) and have used it extensively. My calibre doesn't have anything in it but the user manual--I use it rarely and remove books after I do. Too much work to get the userdata the way I want it when I already have them all sorted on the hard drive in the physical location that suits them. So that's not a deal breaker for the others at the moment because my dad isn't me and he'll get used to whatever he is presented with, but if one does have that capability, it'd be a bit better.


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The Kindle DX is old because few people wanted the larger size, so they never updated it.

Other than the size, it is no different from any other Kindle, except that it never received many of the updates. The other Kindles can read PDF too -- but the DX is touted for it since it has a larger screen, which makes them easier to read.

Kindle models are all the same, but newer ones are upgraded. The only differences are between Kindle Keyboard (has a physical keyboard), Kindle Basic (5-way controller is cheaper), and the touch models.
Gotcha. If we're going larger screen (and he does want that, apparently, confirmed this morning), then other Kindles are out, and DX being not updated means not likely to go for that. So maybe steer clear of Kindle.


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6.8" isn't really "bigger" than 6". I'm not sure it is worth the extra cost, if that is the feature we are going for.
No, he wants the 9" size of the larger ones.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:19 AM   #9
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There aren't many large-screen ereaders.

But if the DX works as-is, does it really need updates? Updates for what, the sake of being updated? Many people use it and enjoy it. They don't need Kindle FreeTime or Cloud Collections, and AZW3 compatibility is not a dealbreaker -- you can still use MOBI. Many people use MOBI anyway even for new devices.

Don't reject the non-updated DX until you have ascertained that as it is it needs updates to be usable for your dad.

Anyway, good luck in your search.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:36 AM   #10
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Budget sounds important to you. For the very best bang-for-your buck, I recommend a Nook ST (non-lighted). A lot if what has been said re: the Nook above is inaccurate.

The Nook ST has an micro SD-card slot, so that gets around the limit to available memory for non-Nook books. The micro SD-card slot will add a maximum of $10 on the price. If you can get the Nook ST for $30, that's no more than $40, which is a price hard (impossible?) to beat for an unused out-of-the-box e-reader.

In addition, I saw B&N selling the cases for about $10 a while back in-store. Not sure of the price now. Again, should be able to get a case for $10 or less.

The software is good. you can organize books and browse via file tree. Also it comes with Caecilia, an excellent font.
Register for an account via the web to register it. That way you need not enter credit card details when you turn it one. All you need is an email address.

N.B. Do not be tempted to get a lighted version. They are more expensive / not as good.

So my advice is, get a cheap Nook ST, stick a micro SD-card slot and you're good to go. I recommend getting a case.

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Old 07-09-2014, 11:40 AM   #11
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If pdf / large screen is essential to you, then you better get a tablet, but personally, _I cannot read on one_.

Again, the Nook tablets are probably the best bang-for-your-buck. You can overwrite the Nook version of Android with a free custom version of Android if you are computer-savvy.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:10 PM   #12
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You've given me a lot to think about. My dad's been ambivalent about it right now (probably because he isn't used to using one so he doesn't see how he would want it)--I think that would change once he had one, lol. But that means I'm probably going to have to get it as a gift. And that does make budget the issue, at least for right now. I'll see if I can't convince my mom to get in on it at some point.

He does want a larger screen, and a good deal of the files he'd be looking at would be nicely formatted pdfs, so it sounds like a tablet or the Kindle DX or other similar large-screen e-readers would be the thing. I'm seeing the Kindle DX for pretty good prices on eBay, but the trick is getting the deal, of course! (And convincing him, but that's getting easier by the minute.)

At this point I'm going to try for the Kindle DX, with possibly the Onyx M92 (if I can find it cheaply enough--easier said than done) as a backup. (Having had an Onyx e-reader and been very satisfied with it, I'd be confident getting him that.) But the DX sounds very good for his needs, so hopefully I can get it. Thanks for all the help deciding!
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Old 07-15-2014, 01:22 PM   #13
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The other nice feature of the DX is that you can email books to it directly. Amazon will assign you an email address for it when it is registered. You can also use the free "Send To Kindle" app to send directly to the device, as well as storing in Amazon's cloud storage.

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