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Old 10-25-2010, 06:52 AM   #1
Andrea Sperelli
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Best eReader for Maths-Physics books

Hello, everyone.
I appreciate very much the "educational" job you do about eReader and mobile devices, so I'm asking you for advices in a very particular matter.
I have, as you can understand from the title, a very huge collection of Physics and Maths ebooks and e-articles in one, and only one, poorly portable format: pdf.
These files are mostly genereted by LaTeX software or, specially the less recent ones, by scannering old and pretty unfindable chartaceous books.
That means they are in an A4 or even A5 format.
I strongly hoped that something like ebook readers would have been "THE" answer to the need of bringing a huge quantity of these books around (home, university, labs); but then I discover that pdf files are not actually suitable to ereaders, expecially for one who has the need to go looking, for exemple, to a formula substitution lying three (A4) pages before.
So, getting to the point: would ereaders still be a good solution, after convertion of all pdf files to more suitable formats?(and in this case, what about formulas?)
Would TFT screen devices be a better solution (I'm thinking to Android tablets)?
I also need to specify I wouldn't like to use a netbook, nor an iPad.
Sorr for the logorrheic post, and thank you all.

Last edited by Andrea Sperelli; 10-25-2010 at 08:05 AM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:48 AM   #2
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hi there,

it seems you are in a similar position to me, i have a ridiculous quantity of philosophy ebooks and articles, non of which i can bring myself to read on a PC or laptop! they are all PDF, but mainly just straight text, whereas i imagine maths and physics stuff will have a lot more diagrams etc.
it seems that you can do a pretty decent job converting txt based pdfs to the MOBI format using the mobipocket software, but im not sure how well this world work with image rich articles. the new sony readers have reflow, which basically converts the PDFs into the appropriate format in realtime, but im not sure how well this works.

i am still undecided as to whether an ereader would really be beneficial, but hope this helps
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:03 AM   #3
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A Kindle DX might be workable for this, but I suspect you'd find a full-fledged Tablet PC more comfortable (that's what I reach for when I need to read such instead of my PRS-600).

In addition you'll also have access to nifty software like Infty Reader:

http://inftyreader.org/

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Old 10-25-2010, 10:04 AM   #4
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Although it is possible to convert PDF's to the one of reflowable formats, the results for textbooks (formulae) and technical specifications (diagrams) are poor, IMHO. Considering the wide popularity of A4/letter size PDF as the publishing format for those documents, I believe that the proper solution is a device that can display an A4 (or letter) PDF's, with a zoom function for details.

At the time that Kindle DX was introduced, sirbruce was kind to capture a screenshot for me. You can see the results here.

Based on that, and if you share my view about conversion from PDF, you will need a bigger eInk screen to display A4/letter sized PDF's. The price of these devices is still relatively high, but we are getting there.
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Old 10-25-2010, 01:41 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your answers.
You seem to strighten my feeling that "normal" ebook devices are not the solution I was looking for. In my dreams, I would have used an ereader at work (software developer manuals), or for studying (physics books), or for fun (what about the possibility to bring with me tons of jazz scores when playing with friends?).
The curse is that all the things I'm in require books, manuals, sheets, all coming from pdf files.
The screenshot of the Kindle DX Ankh posted is pretty good, but what about bouncing back and forth among the pages of a 50+MB pdf?
My deduction is: if I cannot convert pdf files into other formats (not in an optimal way, at least) then I cannot use an e-ink device for my scopes.
Please tell me if I'm wrong.
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:02 PM   #6
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I'm thinking along the same lines, and my current solution is PocketBook 903 Pro.

Reasons: Hi res display, memory card slot, built-in DJVU support.

Kindle DX G may have the pearl, but unhacked it's djvu support is limited and it has no memory card slot. It's more of a "buy and read DRM books" platform than "read djvu/old scanned math papers and annotate them with pen" like PocketBook.

But the true math reader/annotator platform does not yet exist.

It needs to have a bigger display (11-13"), higher resolution, support for HTML5/MathML, etc.

Maybe in 3 years time as tablets progress.

eReaders are mainly targeted at main-stream basic fiction book reading (with little illustrations, no obscure formats and definitely no math mark-up).
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Old 10-25-2010, 03:35 PM   #7
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PocketBook 902/903 would be my suggestion.

Maybe Asus DR-900/950 but there's no timeline when they will be available outside asia.
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Old 10-25-2010, 06:37 PM   #8
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PocketBook 902/903 would be my suggestion.

Maybe Asus DR-900/950 but there's no timeline when they will be available outside asia.
Well, I've just seen this video on youtube.
Nice device! And djvu support would be great to me! Nonetheless, I have to say that the PocketBook still seems a little slow to me (I also have to say that the guy's Hitler hairdo makes me feel ill...)
So...let's put aside for a while the great advantages e-ink technology brings: how do you think a 10'' android tablet would perform in displaying PDFs ?(please consider an intensive use: something about 5-6 hours a day)

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Old 10-25-2010, 06:48 PM   #9
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eReaders are mainly targeted at main-stream basic fiction book reading (with little illustrations, no obscure formats and definitely no math mark-up).
I definitely agree, but I can't actually see why tech majors don't consider tech-scientific community a good marketplace in which invest.

Last edited by Andrea Sperelli; 10-25-2010 at 07:47 PM.
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Old 10-25-2010, 10:15 PM   #10
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The screenshot of the Kindle DX Ankh posted is pretty good, but what about bouncing back and forth among the pages of a 50+MB pdf?
That screenshot was taken from a 15 MB PDF file that I asked sirbruce to download and try. According to him, there were no problems with the manipulation of the file. Truth to be told, that was Motorola manual with very well done PDF (searchable and all), your mileage might vary.
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Old 10-26-2010, 05:27 AM   #11
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That screenshot was taken from a 15 MB PDF file that I asked sirbruce to download and try. According to him, there were no problems with the manipulation of the file. Truth to be told, that was Motorola manual with very well done PDF (searchable and all), your mileage might vary.
I see...this sounds pretty interesting.
Moreover, I found out Kindle Store actually sells Physics books like this, for exemple.
Even if...ONE HUNDRED bucks for a digital book...simply nuts....
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:36 PM   #12
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The only clear cut answer is an Ipad.....(ducking for cover!!)
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Old 10-26-2010, 06:47 PM   #13
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The only clear cut answer is an Ipad.....(ducking for cover!!)
Oh...well, maybe it really is.
I saw in your sign you own a kindle3. How does it perform on PDFs?

By the way, if one decides to let down e-ink technology, then there would be many "solutions". I just don't know how proper this solutions would be...

Last edited by Andrea Sperelli; 10-26-2010 at 06:56 PM.
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Old 10-26-2010, 07:54 PM   #14
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By the way, if one decides to let down e-ink technology, then there would be many "solutions". I just don't know how proper this solutions would be...
That really depends on your needs and patterns of usage.

LCD screens are definitely faster and work well for searches, zoom-in/out, quick rotation from landscape to portrait, colour (pie-charts, illustrations, etc.)... E-ink battery life is superb, and is favoured by many for prolonged (and mostly sequential) reading.

Tech specs these days are gigantic, they are rarely consumed "in one sitting" and searching, zooming, rotations and scrolling are more frequently needed/used in that mode. When textbooks are used as a reference material, the pattern of usage is similar, I guess. A new title is likely to be read in more sequential manner, favouring eInk.

Either way, you are about to dish out a nice chunk of money, and secondary uses for your device (web browsing, media, prolonged reading for pleasure, battery life for vacations) are also of (some) concern. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 10-26-2010, 08:00 PM   #15
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Oh...well, maybe it really is.
I saw in your sign you own a kindle3. How does it perform on PDFs?

By the way, if one decides to let down e-ink technology, then there would be many "solutions". I just don't know how proper this solutions would be...

I also have an Ipad that I use exclusively PDF's...The Kindle does not compare to the Ipad for that function at all....
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