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Old 03-05-2011, 09:35 AM   #1
Gray_Mouser
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"Cheap" Ipad1 as an ereader?

Hello all,

I've been considering buying a reader for some time now, but have been disappointed by the limitations.

I need a device that supports technical pdf (including scanned ones), djvu and other ebook formats as well. They are the kind with charts and equations, so reflowing is out of the question. I do need a big screen.

Touch screen would be nice, but only if it allows me to get the definition of a word by touching it.

Handwritten annotations and highlighting would be a huge plus, but only if it is not a chore to do so.

Pocketbook 903 seemed promising for a while, but the lack of functionalities made me reconsider. Furthermore the price is somewhat higher than what I'd like to spend.

Now the Ipad 2 has been announced, the Ipad 1 dropped in price and I'm wondering if it could be the right choice after all. But I have a few concerns:

- What about connectivity? I want to be able to copy my pdf to the ipad easily... I know there is no usb port, but is it possible to transfer files through a local network? I have heard about dropbox, but I cannot let a third party see some of my files (for example if it is an important document from work). Is it possible? It seems Itune is the way Apple wants Ipad owners to handle their files; does it mean Apple can control what is transfered to the Ipad?

- I would have prefered an eInk screen, but I can't say I ever had any issue with LCD screens. Still, do you think it's possible to read ebooks for a few hours without eye strain? We're talking about a couple of hours during the week end, or an hour in the evening before sleeping.

- What about file organization? Can I copy my pdf files to a folder that can be accessed by different applications?

- Are there applications that allow access to a dictionnary from a pdf file by just touching a word? I've had conflicting information about Stanza for instance. What about Iannotate?

- Are there any important restriction I should be aware of? I've read some pdf couldn't be opened or transfered to the Ipad... Some of my pdf can be as big as 90 Mo...

- What is the expected autonomy for reading? (I'm considering buying the wifi version by the way) Is it possible to read while it's charging?

- Is it convenient to watch videos? How hard is it to convert them to the right format? Is it possible to plug headphones?

That's a lot of questions, I know. Thanks in advance to those of you that will answer!
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Old 03-06-2011, 02:04 AM   #2
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I own an iPad1 (which I recently gave to my dad for a "personal video player" (I load it with foreign films and burn in oversize subtitles because he's almost deaf). He also uses it for eMail and a bit of web surfing. He's almost 97 and has lost most of his technology skills. The iPad lets him do stuff that he's forgotten how to do on his Mac.

The iPad's iBooks app is marvelous. Occasionally I run into an ePub that iBooks can't handle but Bluefire Reader can open it. There are many ePub and PDF reader apps (most are free). The first app I bought (and I still think it's the best) is GoodReader which can open text, Word, PDF and many other formats. It can also facilitate the sideloading of documents into GoodReader which you may then "open with..." some other compatible app on the iPad. Don't like what it looks like in that "other" app? Delete the file from there and "open with..." some other app.

There are apps that permit annotation and highlighting (GoodReader, for one) but it doesn't do ePub (yet).

GoodReader lets you ftp into your Mac or PC and select the file(s) or folders you wish to copy (in either direction). DropBox also works but that's going to the cloud (which is not necessarily a bad thing).

iTunes is used to transfer files but, as I indicated earlier, GoodReader lets you ftp files over -or- (and this is the case with many iPad apps), each app will have its own "drop" area within iTunes for you to add files to or from the iPad. iTunes will not stop the transfer of files in this "sideloaded" manner. Don't worry about Apple stopping you from doing things you want. You can even jailbreak the iPad (although I'll let you google that phrase to see what can be done once that's accomplished).

re: e-ink. I own a Sony 650 and, while the screen is wonderful is bright daylight (or even in open shade like my covered back patio), reading in bed requires more light than I currently have on my night table. The iPad, though unreadable in broad daylight and open shade, is perfect indoors because of the backlighting (which may be adjusted as you require). The thing to remember about backlighting is that is needs to be no more than 3x as bright (or no less than 1/3 as bright) as the surrounding area. Example: On an airplane at night, I adjust the screen brightness way down (or switch to night mode which gives me light text on a dark background). Don't be misled by the anti-backlight trolls.

File organization: Every app has its own sandbox. If you download an ePub to iBooks, it isn't accessible to any other app. However, if you eMail an ePub to your iPad, you may choose which app to open it with (and you may do this multiple times with that ePub); accordingly, the ePub is copied to the target app's sandbox (each app has its own sandbox).

There is no "Desktop" or "Documents" folder in which all documents are found.

Dictionary reference from a PDF you're reading - I'm not sure about this but I'd bet $50 there's an app for that.

Enormous PDFs might prove a bit slow. I break my PDF textbooks into 10MB (more or less) chapters. These are page images (no text, just png's or jpg's glommed together as a pdf).

Read while charging - Absolutely; no problem!

Videos - easy as pie. I use Handbrake or, if there need to be subtitles, Submerge. I also have a Turbo264 so I can use that for hardware-powered encoding. On my Core i7 iMac, Handbrake usually gives me about 140-170 frames per second transcoding from AVI to H264/MP4. There are many apps that can do the transcoding automatically if you don't want to tweak settings.

Headphones - yes, no problem. 3.5mm plug (computer-size, not phone-size).

Hope this helps.

Oh, by the way, I mentioned that my iPad is now with my Dad. I'll probably order the iPad 2 because the "always-on" video-out capability of the new iPad2 will permit me to use it in my classroom with ALL apps (whereas the older iPad1 model requires apps to be specifically written to send video out the dock connector port...and there weren't all that many). If you don't require that feature (and don't require 1080 video out to an HDMI-equipped TV), then save your money and get the discounted iPad1 (or an extra $50 by buying a refurb from Apple and then get the AppleCare to extend the warranty to two years).

More questions? Ask away.

Barry
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray_Mouser View Post
- I would have prefered an eInk screen, but I can't say I ever had any issue with LCD screens. Still, do you think it's possible to read ebooks for a few hours without eye strain? We're talking about a couple of hours during the week end, or an hour in the evening before sleeping.
This is entirely a personal issue. I find the answer to be yes, provided you set the brightness to a suitably low level for your environment, others would find the answer to be no.

Quote:
What is the expected autonomy for reading? (I'm considering buying the wifi version by the way) Is it possible to read while it's charging?
At least 10 hours and probably more, with no network activity and low brightness. Yes the iPad s fully functional while charging.

Quote:
Is it convenient to watch videos? How hard is it to convert them to the right format? Is it possible to plug headphones?
There are also apps which will play a much wider range of video formats without converting. I use OPlayerHD. Yes, there is a headphone socket. You can also watch videos streamed from your computer and converted on the fly.
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:23 PM   #4
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Thanks, you helped me a lot.

I could care less about the video capability of the Ipad 2... On the other hand, I'm now afraid that applications which are now going to be developped won't be Ipad 1 friendly because of the extra horse power.

Furthermore, I often have to read more than one book at a time. Since the ipad 1 is unable to perform multi tasks, this could be an issue too. Of course, the problem would be the same with an e-ink device.

Finally, according to another thread, it seems there is no "one touch definition" application after all (at least for pdf files).

Maybe I'll wait for a discount for the Ipad 2 when the 3rd version is released.

Thanks again !
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:23 PM   #5
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Furthermore, I often have to read more than one book at a time. Since the ipad 1 is unable to perform multi tasks, this could be an issue too. Of course, the problem would be the same with an e-ink device.
I'm not sure what you mean by this.
The reading apps will remember where you are in each book, so you can switch back and forth between books and keep your place in each.
With the iPad 1 you can switch back and forth between reading apps at will, rather than alt-tab with windows you double-click the home button to get a list of apps to switch to.
Your books aren't going to be doing anything while you aren't looking at them, so I'm not sure what you think you lose by not having multi-tasking?
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:06 PM   #6
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Try a Sony PRS, I believe you will be pleasantly supprised. Apple owners tell me that the ipad is ackward for ereading.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:39 PM   #7
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Thanks, you helped me a lot.

I could care less about the video capability of the Ipad 2... On the other hand, I'm now afraid that applications which are now going to be developped won't be Ipad 1 friendly because of the extra horse power.

Furthermore, I often have to read more than one book at a time. Since the ipad 1 is unable to perform multi tasks, this could be an issue too. Of course, the problem would be the same with an e-ink device.

Finally, according to another thread, it seems there is no "one touch definition" application after all (at least for pdf files).

Maybe I'll wait for a discount for the Ipad 2 when the 3rd version is released.

Thanks again !
Until Apple clarifies the ebook app and content purchased outside the iTunes store, in good conscience, I can't recommend any iOS device to anyone interested in reading.

But you also bring up a valid point I had not considered. Developers are likely to get sloppy (we are a laaazzzzy lot for sure) with all those extra clock-cycles to burn up. But also Apple will likely become pretty lax about app overhead. Why would Apple let less efficient apps through the looking glass? Well, to sell more new hardware of course. As apps begin to demand more and more hardware/system resources it means more and more upgrades for devout users or those locked into the platform thanks to app lock-in from apps by developers who develop only for the iOS platform.

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I'm not sure what you mean by this.
The reading apps will remember where you are in each book, so you can switch back and forth between books and keep your place in each.
With the iPad 1 you can switch back and forth between reading apps at will, rather than alt-tab with windows you double-click the home button to get a list of apps to switch to.
Your books aren't going to be doing anything while you aren't looking at them, so I'm not sure what you think you lose by not having multi-tasking?
Not being sure about the level of multi-tasking happening in iOS apps and the OS itself, how would the ability of something simple like keeping open multiple pages in a reader app be classified in iOS terms? Lots of people really could use that ability to flip quickly between pages in one book or in multiple books all open at the same time. So far as I know none of the reader apps currently support this in more than a work-around fashion via bookmarks.

I would think the older hardware could still easily support it but until we see the apps to make it happen it's hard, for those of us without more than a cursory understanding of the hardware and the OS of the first gen devices, to say either way.

On first blush though had the OP not brought up the argument of app bloat, errr, overhead increasing for the new gen devices, the iPad 1 at $400 would seem a no-brainer if you can make use of what the iPad offers. But still the $400 device is, as I recall, only an 8GB device and these days that is not a lot of content.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:27 PM   #8
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snipenekkid, the ipads are 16, 32, or 64 GB. There is no 8 GB iPad.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:34 PM   #9
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For PDFs and technical books, I've not found anything better than iPad and GoodReader combo. It is just amazing! I also have a Kindle DXG and the PDF experience is limited there.

I don't read novels on the iPad and they are not my kind of books anyway, but iBooks does an great job on that aspect; good dictionary and nice fonts as well. The graphic layout and shelves is eye catching too.

I upload my books and PDFs using Calibre (via URL) and DropBox. No complains.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:40 PM   #10
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Furthermore, I often have to read more than one book at a time. Since the ipad 1 is unable to perform multi tasks, this could be an issue too. Of course, the problem would be the same with an e-ink device.
Not to be sarcastic, but you just have 2 eyes! lol ... You can read several books but not at the same time. The multitasking capabilities are something that you will see on music programs, for example, while you read a book or use a word editor (at the same time) but in terms of ereading experience, multitasking does not do too much.

Even on Android, my Galaxy Tab, if I am using Aldiko or Kindle for Android, I need to close that book before open the new one, I cannot keep two books opened using the same application. I can keep one opened on Aldiko and the other one on Kindle, and switch back and forth with the task manager, but still, won't display both books on same screen. Not 100% sure about this on Honeycomb but I believe is the same.
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Old 03-11-2011, 05:35 AM   #11
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Not being sure about the level of multi-tasking happening in iOS apps and the OS itself, how would the ability of something simple like keeping open multiple pages in a reader app be classified in iOS terms? Lots of people really could use that ability to flip quickly between pages in one book or in multiple books all open at the same time. So far as I know none of the reader apps currently support this in more than a work-around fashion via bookmarks.
Nothing to do with multi-tasking, that is up to the app developers to code it.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:19 PM   #12
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Try a Sony PRS, I believe you will be pleasantly supprised. Apple owners tell me that the ipad is ackward for ereading.
I own a PRS-650. It's an okay eReader but the screen is really too small. My iPad1 is a better eReader. Why?

1. Bigger screen = more text at a given size (or bigger text at same qty).
2. All eBooks (in every app I have that does ePub) have a flag so you come back into the book exactly where you left off. (I don't think my Sony does that except for the current book. Leave that book without manually setting a bookmark and, when you open that book again, you're at the first page without knowing where you left off.)
3. Adjustable backlighting permits you to set what you need for the surrounding environment.
4. iPad has a power adapter so you may read while plugged in. (Must buy a charger for the Sony; if you plug the Sony into a computer using the USB cable, you're in "charging mode" and can't read.) Even if you plug the iPad via USB/Dock Connector into your computer, you may still read while the unit is charging.

Downsides to the iPad when compared to the Sony:

1. iPad can't be used in bright daylight or even open shade.
2. iPad needs to be charged every few days (unless you do more than read books in which case you'll have to charge every day).
3. iPad is heavier.
4. You can (and sometimes will) do more than read. Distractions...distractions.

As I gave my iPad to my father, I'm trying to decide which iPad (1 or 2) to get now. I'm leaning toward the older one as it's cheaper and, having used one for the last 11 months, I think I'd rather put the extra money into my next MacBook Pro as the "power" features of the new iPad2 would be more useful to me in the OSX (as opposed to iOS) arena.

Of course, YMMV. PM me with questions if you wish.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:22 PM   #13
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2. All eBooks (in every app I have that does ePub) have a flag so you come back into the book exactly where you left off. (I don't think my Sony does that except for the current book. Leave that book without manually setting a bookmark and, when you open that book again, you're at the first page without knowing where you left off.)
This isn't true. The Sony 650 (and every other Sony I've ever owned) remembers your place in any book you have started, regardless of whether or not that book was the last you read.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:55 PM   #14
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Bilbo, You're absolutely correct. I just checked and it worked. I must have been doing something wrong (though what it was, I can't imagine). Thank you for posting the correction (and I apologize to the forum readers for the misleading info!).

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Old 03-11-2011, 06:04 PM   #15
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Now I'm really torn again...
I was just shopping down at BestBuy for some Mac adapters and stumbled across the color Nook. The screen is an inch (maybe more?) taller than the 650 so more text (of a given size) can fit. The user interface is simple to configure font, size, margins (very much like the iPad). Apparently, it can be "rooted" to expose the Android OS underpinning the BN user eReader interface. The back-lit LCD is razor-sharp and the backlighting may be controlled precisely. BestBuy has it for $249 and the left-over iPads are $399. So why should I spend $150 more on an iPad if I can get a color Nook which will open all of my non-DRM'd ePubs, pdf's, etc.?

Hey! I bleed in six colors but I'm having trouble being an Apple fan-boy (especially when the extra $150 will help me buy a 15" Macbook Pro rather than the 13").

I'm confused and it's getting worse...
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