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Old 03-16-2010, 05:33 PM   #1
syrex314
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Thumbs up JetBook for Scientific and Tehcnical PDFs-- First Impressions

Howdy,

About a month ago I ordered a JetBook Lite from NewEgg. I've spent a lot of time looking for a e-book reader suitable for scientific and technical PDFs, and concluded I had better wait until I can afford an iRex. But for $120, even if the JetBook isn't perfect, it's certainly worth a shot.

One month later, I'm very happy with my purchase. The screen is much crisper than I anticipated. To my surprise, most PDFs work just fine! There are a few, such as scanned documents, that show up pixellated. But I have had luck with anti-aliasing the pages on my computer before loading on to the device. One PDFs caused the reader to crash and kick me back out the the main screen. Another PDF left me with a few pages that rendered blank on the reader. I'm guessing these are bad PDFs that would work on the device after some tinkering.

Equations, charts, and graphs render fine, though they would be better with anti-aliasing. Any newer documents created with pdflatex or dvipdf look great! Most two-column documents are quite readable at 200% zoom. It's also nice that the reader remembers where you left off with each individual PDF, including your zoom setting and whether you had it in landscape or portrait mode.

All in all, I would recommend this device for scientific/technical PDFs as long as you're willing to put up with a few documents here and there that don't work, or if you don't mind editing PDFs.

As for me, this is the most awesome portable device I have ever owned! It's especially nice for 50+ page documents that I don't want to print, but certainly don't want to read on a computer screen.
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Old 03-18-2010, 03:40 PM   #2
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Hello,

Thanks for your comments. I'm considering buying a jetbook to read pdf scientific articles and books. Could you comment a bit more on the scrolling?. Isn't it annoying the left-right scrolling? Is the scrolling smooth? Does one column of two-column articles fit in the 5" screen?

thanks!
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:02 AM   #3
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Zoom and scroll are a little annoying, but far better than what I've heard is the case with e-ink devices.

For example, I'm reading an article from the Journal of the Optical Society of America from 2002. In portrait mode at a zoom of 200%, 1 column fills 2.25" across the available 3" of the screen. It's not perfect, but for my eyes it's perfectly readable. In landscape, it still fills 2.5" of the 4" available. The next zoom step is 400%, which would not work for either. So the lack of continuous zoom levels is rather annoying.

But at 200% in portrait mode on the JetBook, I can read a column without having to scroll left to right as I go. That's the main reason I've abandoned using my Windows Mobile phone for reading PDFs.

Does that address your question?
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Old 03-19-2010, 11:49 PM   #4
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If the pdf is all text, you can convert it. In which case you never have to zoom, or scroll.
Set your font size and go.

You will lose any images that way though. But for straight text I much prefer it in .txt or .rtf than PDF.
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Old 03-20-2010, 12:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syrex314 View Post
Zoom and scroll are a little annoying, but far better than what I've heard is the case with e-ink devices.

For example, I'm reading an article from the Journal of the Optical Society of America from 2002. In portrait mode at a zoom of 200%, 1 column fills 2.25" across the available 3" of the screen. It's not perfect, but for my eyes it's perfectly readable. In landscape, it still fills 2.5" of the 4" available. The next zoom step is 400%, which would not work for either. So the lack of continuous zoom levels is rather annoying.

But at 200% in portrait mode on the JetBook, I can read a column without having to scroll left to right as I go. That's the main reason I've abandoned using my Windows Mobile phone for reading PDFs.

Does that address your question?

I find the 200% zoom great for full page image PDFs, as well. Have you
tried using the OK button while in an image PDF? One push gives you a 9
segment numbered selection grid that you can zoom to the numbered
segment by using the number keys on the right side of the JBL. The
second push of the OK button gives you 4 segment grid. Once you have
zoomed in you can move from segment to segment with the direction
keys surrounding the OK button.

This feature wasn't in the manual, as I recall.

Luck;
Ken
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Old 03-29-2010, 12:00 PM   #6
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Hello,

Thanks for your answer.

I finally bought a Jetbook lite. It's great for reading e-books (txt, prc, ...), but a little limited for PDFs. I've come to the conclusion that a 5" screen needs a pdf reader with refow (like Foxit mobile).

Also, a continuous zoom and a more continous left-right scroll are a must. Otherwise, you cannot properly center equations and figures. It is a shame that the JBL does not already have proper zoom and scroll, because they are really easy to implement (unlke reflow). The JBL already does the 'fit to width zoom' so it can already zoom at any desired zoom level. It's just not available to the user. I hope that ECTACO firmware guys implement appropriate zoom and scroll soon.

Otherwise, we will have to use the JBL with Android someone is developing in the forum .

Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by syrex314 View Post
Zoom and scroll are a little annoying, but far better than what I've heard is the case with e-ink devices.

For example, I'm reading an article from the Journal of the Optical Society of America from 2002. In portrait mode at a zoom of 200%, 1 column fills 2.25" across the available 3" of the screen. It's not perfect, but for my eyes it's perfectly readable. In landscape, it still fills 2.5" of the 4" available. The next zoom step is 400%, which would not work for either. So the lack of continuous zoom levels is rather annoying.

But at 200% in portrait mode on the JetBook, I can read a column without having to scroll left to right as I go. That's the main reason I've abandoned using my Windows Mobile phone for reading PDFs.

Does that address your question?
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Old 03-30-2010, 11:36 AM   #7
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Hello,

Does somebody know if it is possible to resize pdf documents?. That way, we could make the page width just large enough so that, for instance, the screen is filled with the whole first column of a two column document (and by scrolling right, we would get the second column).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Maltby View Post
I find the 200% zoom great for full page image PDFs, as well. Have you
tried using the OK button while in an image PDF? One push gives you a 9
segment numbered selection grid that you can zoom to the numbered
segment by using the number keys on the right side of the JBL. The
second push of the OK button gives you 4 segment grid. Once you have
zoomed in you can move from segment to segment with the direction
keys surrounding the OK button.

This feature wasn't in the manual, as I recall.

Luck;
Ken
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Old 03-30-2010, 01:59 PM   #8
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I convert all my pdf files to text for that very reason. But the ones I do are just books, that process would strip out any images.
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Old 03-30-2010, 02:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juardo View Post
Hello,

Does somebody know if it is possible to resize pdf documents?. That way, we could make the page width just large enough so that, for instance, the screen is filled with the whole first column of a two column document (and by scrolling right, we would get the second column).
Does Calibre have that functionality? You do set your preferences for your specific device. You might try asking on the Calibre forum on this site.
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Old 03-31-2010, 06:48 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GhostHawk View Post
I convert all my pdf files to text for that very reason. But the ones I do are just books, that process would strip out any images.
Yes, I also convert some books to text. I use Mobipocket Creator, which is able to handle some images too (but it skips many of them).
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Old 03-31-2010, 03:29 PM   #11
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Does Calibre have that functionality? You do set your preferences for your specific device. You might try asking on the Calibre forum on this site.
Hi,

I've tried to use Calibre to convert a 2-column pdf article to pdf using several configurations (output to jetbook, larger pdf paper-size, etc), but it destroys the structure of the document (no columns anymore) and figures are removed.
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:52 AM   #12
syrex314
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juardo,

I have found that for centering the column, equations, or figures when zoomed, the Jetbook does have an almost-continuous scroll option. If you hold down one of the scroll keys for a second or so, you will find the reader scrolls in much smaller increments than if the key is just pressed once.

Ken's suggestion of holding the OK button to go into split mode is also very helpful in getting an entire column to fit the width of the screen.

I agree that the lack of continuous zoom is disappointing. At least a few more zoom levels would be nice. I wonder of there's a way to hack the firmware update and replace the 1600%, 3600%, and 6400% zoom levels with more useful values.

Since a lot of technical documents contain images, or are just a series of scanned images, you can't just convert them to text or use Calibre. The only option is to convert the pages one-by-one to images, edit them, and convert back. A method like this might work:
http://www.troubleshooters.com/linux/pdf2gimp2pdf.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by juardo View Post
Hello,

Thanks for your answer.

I finally bought a Jetbook lite. It's great for reading e-books (txt, prc, ...), but a little limited for PDFs. I've come to the conclusion that a 5" screen needs a pdf reader with refow (like Foxit mobile).

Also, a continuous zoom and a more continous left-right scroll are a must. Otherwise, you cannot properly center equations and figures. It is a shame that the JBL does not already have proper zoom and scroll, because they are really easy to implement (unlke reflow). The JBL already does the 'fit to width zoom' so it can already zoom at any desired zoom level. It's just not available to the user. I hope that ECTACO firmware guys implement appropriate zoom and scroll soon.

Otherwise, we will have to use the JBL with Android someone is developing in the forum .

Cheers

Last edited by syrex314; 04-01-2010 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 04-02-2010, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by syrex314 View Post
juardo,

I have found that for centering the column, equations, or figures when zoomed, the Jetbook does have an almost-continuous scroll option. If you hold down one of the scroll keys for a second or so, you will find the reader scrolls in much smaller increments than if the key is just pressed once.
Thanks, that's great news!

Quote:
Ken's suggestion of holding the OK button to go into split mode is also very helpful in getting an entire column to fit the width of the screen.
Yes, the four segment grid is very useful for 2-column documents.

Quote:
I agree that the lack of continuous zoom is disappointing. At least a few more zoom levels would be nice. I wonder of there's a way to hack the firmware update and replace the 1600%, 3600%, and 6400% zoom levels with more useful values.
I hope that they have added continuous zoom level to the new firmware. I haven't had the chance to check it out yet.

Quote:
Since a lot of technical documents contain images, or are just a series of scanned images, you can't just convert them to text or use Calibre. The only option is to convert the pages one-by-one to images, edit them, and convert back. A method like this might work:
http://www.troubleshooters.com/linux/pdf2gimp2pdf.htm

Thanks, I'll try it out. I used pdfcreator to change the page size, but the JBL ignored the scaling.

Cheers,
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Old 04-02-2010, 02:51 PM   #14
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Yes, the four segment grid is very useful for 2-column documents.
On second thoughts, too good to be true ... You have to do the four segment grid trick for every page
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:23 AM   #15
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Well now I find myself not using the split mode so much. As juardo points out, you need to enter the mode for each page, which is a bit of a hassle. I've also found the pdf reader is more likely to crash in this mode.

The good news is that I've realized 400% zoom is about right to fit a single column across for most documents, which makes it a little easier to read than in 200%. So I've just been keeping it at this level for reading. I wouldn't have expected this since 200% appears to fill more than half the screen across.
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