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Old 07-30-2007, 10:43 AM   #1
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Tablet PC as ebook reader

Hello

I just registered here and fresh from posting in the introductions forum. I have a question for you.

Anyone experienced with using tablet pc's as an ebook reader? WinXP Tablet pc version and various ebook reader software.

My eyesight is getting worse and I find I need a larger screen than the 6-8 inch screens available on a lot of ebook hardware, so I'm looking at the Fujitsu (new or used) Stylistic STxxxx lines of tablet pcs. I don't see plugging it in occasionally as an insurmountable problem. I can live with it, I'm just looking for something I can sit in the den or bedroom and read, not stuck sitting in front of the pc. If I'm looking for "carrying it around with me outside the house" functionality, I think I'll just have to wait until there is a larger size dedicated reader device available. One thing I've noticed. I think I read too fast to be comfortable with turning them sideways and reading one paragraph at a time. Can't seem to get right with that.

Can anyone share their experiences or offer me any commentary about using tablet pcs or alternative poor eyesight situation solutions?

I'd appreciate it

Last edited by wayspooled; 07-30-2007 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 07-30-2007, 01:39 PM   #2
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I use the HP tc1100. The keyboard is detachable, which makes a smaller lighter reader. There is also a toggle input on the side which allows 1 handed page turns without touching the screen.

Just as an FYI, I also read books on my pda phone, and I am a fast reader. Even though I may only view a paragraph or less, the refresh is so fast it doesn't bother me. It is important to note that that is in part because it is so light, and that I can hold and operate the reader with one hand.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:52 PM   #3
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So far as I know, software e-book readers are not customized for WinXP tablet edition. However, there is a large selection of WinXP e-book software that should work well. Some of these have PDA/tablet roots, and so need little tablet customization anyway. I like FBReader for non-DRM content, and MobiPocket's Reader - but there are plenty of others. On my Pepper Pad 3 and Nokia 770 I actually dislike the "tablet" aspect (i.e. the need for a stylus). For reading (page turning) it is typically possible to avoid this, but not always for navigation between titles.

Finally, e-book reading is not CPU or graphics (or disk) intensive. So if this is your primary use for the tablet don't go for the top of the line model. Look for the cheapest model with the screen that you want.
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Old 07-30-2007, 09:42 PM   #4
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I googled it and this rave review makes it sound great! I wonder too, if the Asus EEE 701 laptop would be suitable. It is very light and holdable -- much like a hardcover book. Weight is an issue with these readers unless you want to prop it on a table. But then why not read on your PC?

I find that screen size is not so much the issue, but font size is. A PDA screen can give you large text with a short line length. That is good for a fast reader. If I were wanting to view PDFs I would want a large screen. For fiction, it doesn't matter.

You can play with conversion methods on the Sony Reader to give you the font sizes you need. This is easy to do and the results are good. If your eyes feel better with backlighting, you might borrow someone's Palm to see if that is a suitable solution and if you can get the font sizes you need. For a mid-sized screen the eBookwise-1150 is cheap and good.

If you can't get a comfortable read otherwise and decide to drop > $2000 on a tablet PC, I am sure you will have a great time with it. The Fujitsu sounds like a supurb machine.
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Old 07-30-2007, 11:33 PM   #5
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2 obvious plusses for a tablet PC, as opposed to a dedicated e-book reader: You can read e-books in as many formats as you can find readers for your PC (I have 5 on my PC now, including the Sony Connect emulator); and you can use the PC for things other than reading.

Something else to consider is how comfortable you are reading an LCD screen, which is what you'll get with a tablet PC. Many of them should give you the options of adjusting your font resolution (the "Cleartype" setting), as well as size, to get the optimum reading comfort for you.

As for any purchase that is that major, I would highly recommend getting a first-hand look at the device before you buy, to make sure it will work for you... catalogs and websites can't tell you what it's like in your hand.
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Old 07-31-2007, 12:00 AM   #6
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Re: Font sizes:

If you are reading correctly formated pdfs on a windows devise using adobe reader, there is unlimited enlargement of the font using reflow and magnification. Lit files have to be reformatted to get sizes past a certain point as do Sony ebook files.

Re Tablet pc's:

Windows Tablet edition is XP Pro with pen input support. While most reader programs may have limits on how the font size/style can be manipulated, there are settings in XP to help with vision issues, and if those are not enough, other programs are available to do even more.
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:26 AM   #7
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A "seconded" on the any format point. A tablet will let you read any format and treat even locked PDFs as a readable size mostly. Especially nice reading things in portrait mode instead of the standard laptop mode.

But due to their generally more power intensive use they need to be plugged in almost constantly to be useful as well as booted up (unlike most dedicated ereaders). But since it sounds like you were planning on treating it like an appliance anyway, 'sall good.

On the third hand...er, foot...limb, whatever, it makes a fine reader when reading from a comfortable chair or couch. Depending on you eyesight you won't be needing much of a reading lamp either. Add a nice adjustable book holder and it gets even better.

My two favorite programs are Ubook (cheap) and Ybook (free). Both do basically the same thing but differ in bell and whistle allocation.

Of course, it never hurts that low end convertibles are finally starting to show up. Saw several in Sundays ad section at the $400 mark that would be fine for reading as well as general household use (email, web, finances, text, maybe some board games).
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:36 AM   #8
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I read mostly flat on my back. A laptop is better because the screen is already at the right angle and you don't have to hold it up like a tablet. We should have eink though. LCDs are killers for old eyes.
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Old 07-31-2007, 11:45 AM   #9
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Of course, it never hurts that low end convertibles are finally starting to show up. Saw several in Sundays ad section at the $400 mark that would be fine for reading as well as general household use (email, web, finances, text, maybe some board games).
That sounds interesting! What are you referring to?
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Old 07-31-2007, 02:54 PM   #10
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I concur mogui, Links are good...
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Old 07-31-2007, 03:58 PM   #11
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I read mostly flat on my back. A laptop is better because the screen is already at the right angle and you don't have to hold it up like a tablet. We should have eink though. LCDs are killers for old eyes.
if you get one of those laptops that also doubles as a tablet, then you have the best of both worlds.
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:04 PM   #12
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I think convertible refers to a small laptop that can rotate its screen around and become a tablet. But the prices are intriguing
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Old 08-01-2007, 11:58 AM   #13
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I have a Fujitsu 5030 tablet with the 8-hour battery and I used that for a year as a reader. PDF's looks great. But there were a number of negatives (weight 5lbs), size, etc. So I recently got a Sony Reader and after learning how to convert my PDF documents with RasterFarian, have been exclusively using that. Think I will sell the tablet on Ebay.
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Old 08-01-2007, 07:45 PM   #14
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if you get one of those laptops that also doubles as a tablet, then you have the best of both worlds.
Good idea JS. I'll keep an eye out, I need a new business machine.
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Old 08-01-2007, 10:15 PM   #15
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My experience

I currently own an eBookwise 1150, a Nokia N800 and a Fujitsu 5031 Tablet PC. As others have stated, the tablet is the most flexible and obviously has the largest screen.

On the tablet, I have FBreader, CoolReader and MS Reader for reading most ebooks. CoolReader gives a more book-like experience, but FBreader reads some ebook formats that CoolReader doesn't. MS Reader only reads LIT files, but there is a Tablet PC specific version that is very nice. For reading a PDF, I use either Acrobat Reader or PDF Annotator, if I want to markup the text. The main drawbacks to the tablet are portability, weight and battery life (3-4 hours w/o WiFi).

On the Nokia, I use FBreader, because that is the only ebook reader available that I know of. FBreader has improved greatly in recent versions. The Nokia version seems to lag behind on features compared to other platforms (you can get a version for the PC and several other computers). After I changed a few settings (font size, paragraph spacing, etc.) in FBreader, I find the Nokia is just fine for reading ebooks. Although the screen is small, it is very readable, especially with a larger font for my aging eyes. The battery life is very good. I get 6 hours of reading with the WiFi turned off. One drawback is the paging key position (top edge, left). I'm going to try remapping some keys in FBreader. For reading a PDF, the small screen size is an issue. You have to zoom and scroll, but for occasional PDF reading, it isn't too bad (much better than on the PDA phone I used to have). You can either use the built-in PDF reader, or install Evince, which seems to do a better job.

As for the eBookwise 1150, it is still a very nice ebook reader for the money, which is much less than most other solutions. However, with the Nokia and the Tablet PC, I don't use it anymore. In fact, I still have it for sale if anyone wants one.

One additonal comment that applies to all of these reading devices and software: the markup capability varies from nonexistant to useable. FBreader is planning on adding bookmarks soon. CoolReader does annotation, bookmarks and highlighting, but the interface is kludgey. MS Reader (tablet version) does rather well with all of these. Acrobat Reader supposedly has limited annotation capability, but I couldn't get it to work with any PDF at all (unprotected ones included). That is why I bought PDF Annotator (not perfect, but useable).
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