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Old 06-13-2010, 12:26 PM   #1
OldRacer
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Newbie Unhappy with PDF Rendering

OK, I got one of the Woot PRS-300s at $115. My wife has a Kindle but this is my first try at e-book readers. In general it is quite fun, but:

PDF rendering is lousy. Either it is too small, or it is destroyed. The manual even describe one of the bugs: " In certain situations, only text may appear at these sizes as some tables and graphics may be reformatted and altered ..." That is pretty sad, when they ship with a bug that is so bad they have to document it in the user manual.

With a scanned book I have, the reader simply omits some of the graphics even at "S" with the full page displayed. Another major bug, this time not documented.

Questions:
1) Are all the Sony Readers incompetent with PDFs? I expect they all use the same code base. In fact I passed on yesterday's Woot, a $155 Touch, because of this.
2) Is there any indication that Sony plans to fix the problem?

By "fix" I mean that the PDF should be fully rendered at any of the size settings and the arrow keys should pan the image up and down, back and forth, as necessary. Like every other competent PDF reader on the planet: Adobe Reader, Nitro Reader, Foxit Reader, etc.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:52 PM   #2
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Unfortunately, Sony is lousy with PDF, and probably won't fix it anytime soon.

Though, don't blame sony specifically. Almost all e-readers are bad with PDF...

PDF is made for 1-size screens, and reflow of PDFs suck. Adobe Reader itself fails to reflow documents a lot of the time.

Try PDFs on your wife's kindle, and you'll probably experience the same poor problems. It's not sony, it's the PDF. A lousy format for e-readers, and e-readers treat it as such.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:07 PM   #3
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PDF is made for 1-size screens, and reflow of PDFs suck. Adobe Reader itself fails to reflow documents a lot of the time.
I accept that reflow is tough. Actually it is virtually impossible with standard PDFs and totally impossible with scanned PDFs. I don't expect it.

What I do expect is that Sony would render the PDF page accurately and, at larger magnifications, provide controls to pan the e-reader "window" around on the page. This is not technically difficult; it is the norm for PDF reader software.

It is not at all the fault of the PDF format if a reader is not rendering the pages accurately. Laziness or incompetence are the only possible reasons I can see.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:15 PM   #4
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The PRS-300 doesn't allow panning, sorry. It's very inconvenient and unreasonable on the slower screen that the 300 employs. (E-ink screens have low refresh rates, obviously.)
The 300 wasn't really made with PDF support in mind, and it was essentially added as an after thought. Unfortunate, but true.

The next model, the 600, allows you to zoom and pan around a PDF document. I believe the 900 does too. This way nothing is lost. It's very good, actually. (Both of these have much faster refresh rates than the 300, allowing this conveniently!)


Hope I helped!

Last edited by dorino; 06-13-2010 at 01:21 PM.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:21 PM   #5
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The next model, the 600, allows you to zoom and pan around a PDF document.
Thank you. That was the real question, somewhat buried in a mild rant. And, by implication, it seems they are not likely to fix the PRS-300.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldRacer View Post
Thank you. That was the real question, somewhat buried in a mild rant. And, by implication, it seems they are not likely to fix the PRS-300.
Probably not. It's not a problem, as much as lack of a feature? Hard to word, but Sony doesn't consider it important considering the 300 is the 300.
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Old 06-13-2010, 01:52 PM   #7
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I've found that PDFs render fine on my Sony ereader as long as they are sized for the ereader's screen. When that is the case, everything (fonts, graphics, and other formatting) renders perfectly on my ereader at the default (S) size.

Despite its limitations, this is the main reason I've chosen PDF as the format I use to make ebooks for my reader. With other formats I've had even more frustration than the inability to resize an ebook. As an example, with RTFs I've been unable to get it to predictably render the typefaces that I want (serif sometimes shows up as serif and sometimes as san-serif), and since I use fonts to indicate different meanings it affects my reading experience.

What I don't count on with PDFs is be able to do any kind of size manipulation on my ereader (or any reader). As an example, when the PDF is sized for standard typing paper I've found it best to read it after printing it on paper. Despite being larger than my ereader's screen, it isn't as easy for me to read the PDF on a computer screen. With the ebooks I create, when I want to increase the size of the text I just change size of the text in the source document and then regenerate the PDF for my ereader.

Although my ereader can reflow PDFs, I've found that I don't like the results even when the PDF is text only. It tends to lead to awkward formatting (such page breaks in the middle of pages).

As a test, you could make an ebook formatted for your ereader's screen. OpenOffice.org is a free office suite that can generate PDFs. If you set the page size to the same size as your reader's screen, when you page preview the ebook you can see exactly what it will look like on your ereader's screen. This might give you a better experience with PDFs on your reader.

I hope this helps.
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Old 06-13-2010, 03:00 PM   #8
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Solitaire: ePub, Mobi, and formats designed specifically with devices like e-readers in mind all perform better than PDF... Though, a PDF (when formatted specifically for the screen) is fine. I, personally, prefer my e-books in LRF, since it's Sony's native format and I like how it looks the most.
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Old 06-13-2010, 03:22 PM   #9
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Most of the documents i'm currently reading are epub but there are some PDFs too. They did fine on my PRS-900; pan and zoom is fine and somewhat quick. Nothing that i would grump about.

The same PDFs are worse on the PRS-505. Sometimes they don't even open (50-60MB) or cause the reader to hang.
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Old 06-13-2010, 03:28 PM   #10
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PDFs were designed by Adobe for secure electronic exchange of documents that were made to be printed. They really don't even work well on computer monitors without scrolling. If the document was designed to be printed on a 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of paper at 300dpi, then you are talking about 2550 dots by 3300 dots. In comparison the Sony Readers have 200dpi screens that are 3 inches by 4 inches which translates into 600 dots by 800 dots. We can start calling dots pixels and the comparison is that viewing a 2550x3300 pixel document on a 600x800 pixel e-Ink screen isn't going to be a great experience. Not only is the size difference astronomical, the width to length ratio is also different. Even the expensive iPad with its 9.7 inch screen will not display an 8.5x11 inch PDF very well without scrolling.

As mentioned, this applies to all small screen devices whether a Sony or another brand. There is no way you are going to satisfactorily view an 8.4 megapixel document on a 0.5 megapixel screen. It is pretty much like trying to view a large digital photo you took with your camera using the tiny display on the back of the camera. You will get the gist of the photo, but detail won't come through unless you scroll and zoom.

Last edited by jswinden; 06-13-2010 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 06-13-2010, 07:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyDream View Post
Most of the documents i'm currently reading are epub but there are some PDFs too. They did fine on my PRS-900; pan and zoom is fine and somewhat quick. Nothing that i would grump about.

The same PDFs are worse on the PRS-505. Sometimes they don't even open (50-60MB) or cause the reader to hang.
I believe (?) that the PRS-300 is pretty similar in terms of the hardware, screen excluded, to the 505. The 900 and 600 are both much faster devices, so their PDF support is obviously better.

I think.
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