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Old 07-07-2008, 09:52 AM   #1
alpman77
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PDF reading on Small Size PDA

Hello all,

I have just signed up.

For a long time, I am trying to figure out the possibility and convenience of reading pdf formatted ebooks on a small PDA.

The fact that, I am looking for a phone-PDA for mostly ebook and pdf reading and other PDA applications.

And, I just could not figure out what to purchase. I dont want heavy and very big device.

What do you think of 2.8" and 2.5" screen PDAs, when it comes to pdf reading?
What do you think of the resolution? QVGA is enough? Or should I look for VGA?

Thanks in advance,
Alpman77
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:51 AM   #2
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alpman,
Actually, more important than your screen size are 2 factors:
  1. Can the PDA/phone you own or want run Adobe's PDF reader for PDAs? and
  2. Are the PDFs you want to read tagged to reflow?
PDF readers for PDAs are not all equal. Many of them, made by vendors other than Adobe, will take a PDA and turn it into an image to read, which means you will find yourself scrolling your PDF page left to right to read a single line, then down and back to the left for the next line. Muy mal, Cisco.

Adobe's PDF reader for PDAs is designed to reflow text, so you don't have to scroll left to right to read. However, the PDF has to be "tagged", that is, it needs additional coding embedded in it to allow it to reflow. That must be done by the people who created the PDF... it can't be done by you after the fact. (Anyone else know of another reader that reflows tagged PDFs, speak up here!)

So, if your PDA/phone has Adobe's PDF reader on it, AND the PDF is tagged to reflow, you can read it on your device, resize the text to your liking, and only have to scroll downward to read.

That said: I use a 320x240 QVGA screen for PDF reading, and I think it works fine, and has a great resolution for text. You can also read e-books in other formats besides PDF, of course (the readers are all free... download 'em all!).
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:18 AM   #3
alpman77
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Hi Steve,

Thanks for the quick response,

I am just trying my chance, as you will probably say no, but,
for untagged pdfs, is it not possible to first convert it to word and again reconvert to pdf while "tagging" (by the way, I have no clue how it is done while creating the pdf, so this question may be absurd really),

second,
for the untagged pdfs,
does 2.5" and 2.8" make a big difference, say, do I get less annoyed ) with 2.8" while scrolling the doc to left and right while trying to read?

And what about the figures and tables in the pdf docs?
How do they get "tagged"?

Of course, I am first of all assuming that the PDA can run adobe reader. But, dont every windows mobile device run adobe?

Thanks again,
alpman
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
However, the PDF has to be "tagged", that is, it needs additional coding embedded in it to allow it to reflow.
I don't think that is true. I can set reflow view on Adobe 8 for the PC even for non-tagged PDFs. It just works much better with tagged files.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
(Anyone else know of another reader that reflows tagged PDFs, speak up here!)
The Foxit Mobile Pro reader supports reflow mode. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/mobile/winmobile.htm

BOb
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilotbob View Post
I don't think that is true. I can set reflow view on Adobe 8 for the PC even for non-tagged PDFs. It just works much better with tagged files.

The Foxit Mobile Pro reader supports reflow mode. http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/mobile/winmobile.htm
Yes, but the point was about PDAs. Does Adobe 8 reflow non-tagged PDFs on a PDA?

And I see that Foxit's beta release does indeed support reflow of tagged PDFs.
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:18 PM   #6
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Going down the line:

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpman77 View Post
I am just trying my chance, as you will probably say no, but,
for untagged pdfs, is it not possible to first convert it to word and again reconvert to pdf while "tagging" (by the way, I have no clue how it is done while creating the pdf, so this question may be absurd really),
Some PDFs can be converted to Word... usually by a tedious copy-and-paste method, as far as I know. (Again, somebody else jump in here, if you know of a better technique or software to do this.) If you get it into Word, then yes, you can create a "tagged" PDF (you need the full version of Adobe Acrobat to create tagged files... I don't believe anyone has added tagging ability to the drivers that come with the standalone reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpman77 View Post
second,
for the untagged pdfs,
does 2.5" and 2.8" make a big difference, say, do I get less annoyed ) with 2.8" while scrolling the doc to left and right while trying to read?
It won't make that much of a difference. Judging by the comments in other threads here, you'll get seriously annoyed at left-to-right scrolling at any screen size!

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpman77 View Post
And what about the figures and tables in the pdf docs?
How do they get "tagged"?
Mostly, they don't. Which will really suck, if you were hoping to use them for textbooks and the like. Most figures and tables will either be converted into graphics that you'll set in your menu at either full size or fit-to-screen... or, in the case of some tables, tagging will completely mangle them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alpman77 View Post
Of course, I am first of all assuming that the PDA can run adobe reader. But, dont every windows mobile device run adobe?
Yes, they do. However, Adobe reader is a large app, requiring a lot of processor power and space, and older PDAs may not have the power for it. (That's the reason for so many third-party readers, designed with fewer features to use less processor power and space.) Newer PDAs are mostly okay to run Adobe reader.
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
alpman,
Actually, more important than your screen size are 2 factors:
  1. Can the PDA/phone you own or want run Adobe's PDF reader for PDAs? and
  2. Are the PDFs you want to read tagged to reflow?
PDF readers for PDAs are not all equal. Many of them, made by vendors other than Adobe, will take a PDA and turn it into an image to read, which means you will find yourself scrolling your PDF page left to right to read a single line, then down and back to the left for the next line. Muy mal, Cisco.

Adobe's PDF reader for PDAs is designed to reflow text, so you don't have to scroll left to right to read. However, the PDF has to be "tagged", that is, it needs additional coding embedded in it to allow it to reflow. That must be done by the people who created the PDF... it can't be done by you after the fact. (Anyone else know of another reader that reflows tagged PDFs, speak up here!)

So, if your PDA/phone has Adobe's PDF reader on it, AND the PDF is tagged to reflow, you can read it on your device, resize the text to your liking, and only have to scroll downward to read.

That said: I use a 320x240 QVGA screen for PDF reading, and I think it works fine, and has a great resolution for text. You can also read e-books in other formats besides PDF, of course (the readers are all free... download 'em all!).

Are Google and Internet Archive pdfs viewable on a pda, hand held pc etc? What about DJVU? All the e-ink readers suck on both and I don't like reading on a Tablet PC.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:01 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpman77 View Post
Hello all,

I have just signed up.

For a long time, I am trying to figure out the possibility and convenience of reading pdf formatted ebooks on a small PDA.

The fact that, I am looking for a phone-PDA for mostly ebook and pdf reading and other PDA applications.

And, I just could not figure out what to purchase. I dont want heavy and very big device.

What do you think of 2.8" and 2.5" screen PDAs, when it comes to pdf reading?
What do you think of the resolution? QVGA is enough? Or should I look for VGA?

Thanks in advance,
Alpman77
I read ebooks on a PDA. My device is a Tapwave Zodiac 2, with a 320x480 color screen, running Palm OS 5.27, and about half of its function it to be a pocket library.

I can view PDFs on it. There is a splendid open source PDF viewer for Palm OS called PalmPDF. But in practice, I use PDFs only when no other format is available for the information.

PDFs are the worst format for handhelds. They assume a larger screen or a printed page, and they generally don't reflow to fit the smaller screen. Depending upon the PDF and the layout, you may have to side scroll to read them, which is actively painful.

By all means, get a PDA, but don't do so for the purpose of reading PDFs. There are many other formats a PDA handles well. Here, for example, I have about 3,500 ebooks on my device. Most are HTML files converted to view with Plucker, a free, open source. offline HTML view for Palm OS. I also have a fair number of documents in Mobipocket format, plus some eReader volumes, plain text files, and Word and RTF files.

Mobipocket has viewers for Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian smartphones, and Blackberries, with a Java based viewer currently in alpha status. the Mobipocket Creator application that generates Mobi formatted documents can use HTML files, Word dopcuments and RTF files, PDFs, and plain text files as source material. Both Mobi Reader and Creator are free of charge.

Take PDFs out of the equation, and make your decision based on what else you might do with the device you buy. In general, larger screen and higher resolution are preferable, but they come at a higher cost.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMcCunney View Post
PDFs are the worst format for handhelds. They assume a larger screen or a printed page, and they generally don't reflow to fit the smaller screen.
To be more specific, untagged PDFs are the worst format for handhelds. This is not the fault of PDFs, or any indication of their worth... it is due to the creators' not setting the "tagging" into the PDF when they create it. This is often a function creators do not know about, and should be advised about when they create PDFs that may be viewed on a PDA.

If you have the ear of someone who creates such PDFs, you should let them know about the tagging function, and ask them to use it. Tagged PDF files tend to be a bit larger than non-tagged PDFs, but as most modern machines can handle the file these days, it's rarely an issue.
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Old 07-08-2008, 11:16 AM   #10
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I don't think that is true. I can set reflow view on Adobe 8 for the PC even for non-tagged PDFs. It just works much better with tagged files.

BOb
Adobe 8 for the PC adds temporary tags automatically to reflow the document. This is mentioned in the manual. The only no Adobe product I know that can reflow without tags is PalmPDF.
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Old 07-08-2008, 11:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
To be more specific, untagged PDFs are the worst format for handhelds. This is not the fault of PDFs, or any indication of their worth... it is due to the creators' not setting the "tagging" into the PDF when they create it. This is often a function creators do not know about, and should be advised about when they create PDFs that may be viewed on a PDA.

If you have the ear of someone who creates such PDFs, you should let them know about the tagging function, and ask them to use it. Tagged PDF files tend to be a bit larger than non-tagged PDFs, but as most modern machines can handle the file these days, it's rarely an issue.
ActiveSync can add permanent tags after the fact. They are not quite as good as source tagged files but work ok in my experience.

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Old 07-08-2008, 11:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
To be more specific, untagged PDFs are the worst format for handhelds. This is not the fault of PDFs, or any indication of their worth... it is due to the creators' not setting the "tagging" into the PDF when they create it. This is often a function creators do not know about, and should be advised about when they create PDFs that may be viewed on a PDA.
Agreed, but how many tagged PDFs are there, as opposed to the usual non-tagged variety? And how do you know when you get it whether it's tagged?

As a general rule, I use PDFs on my handheld only if no other format is available for the information. And if no other format is available, I might try ripping the PDF with Mobi Creator. How well this works depends on the PDF.

I think PDFs are wonderful for what they are, but display on a small handheld screen isn't normally a design criteria when they are created.
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Old 07-08-2008, 11:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Agreed, but how many tagged PDFs are there, as opposed to the usual non-tagged variety? And how do you know when you get it whether it's tagged?
True. There are more untagged than tagged documents out there, as far as I can tell from anecdotal evidence. It would be nice if there was a way to determine the existence of tagging, either before downloading, or before opening, but I don't know of one... even Adobe can't tell you that until you actually open the file.

(Of course, there'd be no issue if every PDF creator simply tagged all of their documents...)
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:05 PM   #14
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And how do you know when you get it whether it's tagged?

In Adobe Reader do View Properties, or maybe it is File Properties and it tells you if the PDF is tagged or not.

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Old 07-08-2008, 12:21 PM   #15
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In Adobe Reader do View Properties, or maybe it is File Properties and it tells you if the PDF is tagged or not.
I should have said "How do you know before you get it?

If the intent is to read it on your handheld, tagging is largely a must, and if it isn't tagged, might as well not get it.
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