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Old 03-20-2017, 06:17 PM   #1
cheflo
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Kobo Glo HD vs Amazon Paperwhite3 - PDF support and Open Source Commitment

Hi,
I'm looking into buying my first ereader and after doing some research, I have found that the Kobo Glo HD (with KOreader) and the Amazon Paperwhite 3 most closely matches my criteria of an affordable device with a great ebook reading experience coupled with good PDF reading and decent annotation capabilities (I will replace paper taken annotation, I don't want a tablet since it hurts my eyes).

The Paperwhite is currently slightly ahead in terms of features (since it allows PDF annotations, KOreader only does highlights I believe), but part of what plays into my decision, is the philosophy of the company behind it. Since I am new to the ereader world, I don't really know the reputation of Amazon and Kobo in this area. Some quick research yields that Kobo is supporting Epub, which is more of an open standard than Amazon's modifications to MOBI. I noticed that Richard Stallman had some negative comments on Amazon kindle book distribution model, but I don't know if that is just because Amazon is the bigger player and more prevalent in the US.

Is there anything to consider from the open source/respect user rights/privacy side of things? Has Kobo somehow supported the development of the open source ereader tools (KOreader, ko2pdfopt, KoboStartMenu, etc), or do they just happen to be similar in name?

Edit: I updated the title to reflect what is actually being discussed below.

Last edited by cheflo; 03-20-2017 at 07:22 PM.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:25 PM   #2
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I am not understanding your concerns.
Also, what type of pdf are you wanting to read? Straight text is ok. Tables and images are another story.
As to your last question, just similar in name.

Are you planning to buy books or just sideload?
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:34 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response. I am planning to read mostly scientific pdfs, so usually 2-3 columns and 0-2 figures per page. I have seen that the paperwhite has ok annotations and a nice zoom to column feature (seems to also be available in KOreader).

I am planning to buy books, sideload PDFs (sometimes from textbooks), and download free books from project gutenberg and similar sites.

To rephrase my questions around open source: Has any of these companies showed a history of supporting open source software or open standards for ereaders (for example by releasing the code to their own software)? If so, I would like to support that company if the products are somewhat similar in terms of features and price.

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Old 03-20-2017, 06:42 PM   #4
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Given that you want to read scientific PDF, a tablet would do you much better than an eInk Reader.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:50 PM   #5
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I stare on a computer all day (and night sometimes), so my eyes appreciate any break they can get from an LCD screen. I have previously tried with a matte tablet for reading, but it's not comfortable for me due to the eye strain.

That's why I mentioned this is to replace reading printed articles. I would still manually transfer any notes and highlights to the PDFs on my computer, which is what I currently do after annotating printed articles.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflo View Post
Thanks for the response. I am planning to read mostly scientific pdfs, so usually 2-3 columns and 0-2 figures per page. I have seen that the paperwhite has ok annotations and a nice zoom to column feature https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN9UOjryAA4.

I am planning to buy books, sideload PDFs (sometimes from textbooks), and download free books from project gutenberg and similar sites.

To rephrase my questions around open source: Has any of these companies showed a history of supporting open source software or open standards for ereaders (for example by releasing the code to their own software)? If so, I would like to support that company if the products are somewhat similar in terms of features and price.
Quick answer on the open source, neither has released their code.

Now Project Gutenberg usually has a format that is easy to read on each ereader (epub for kobo, mobi for kindle).

As to that video, I have some suspicions. From the title of the pdf, it was formatted specifically to work with the Paperwhite. I have a pdf that works great on an ereader too. It took me an hour to get it that way.

It really depends on the pdf and textbooks with lots of tables do not read well on an ereader.

Now Kobo is easier to hack than a Kindle.

Hope this helps.

For the price, either will work. Look over both stores and see which you like better for books.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:05 PM   #7
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With your requirement for PDF's my recommendation is the Kobo Aura ONE With the 7.8" screen. A six inch screen for PDF does not work out too well.

If you where not looking for e-ink then I would recommend a 10" tablet, windows or Android would work.

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Old 03-20-2017, 07:10 PM   #8
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Thanks gbm, I was looking into the Aura ONE, but the higher price point is a big turn off for me. And from what I have seen on the video I posted earlier and this one, six inches looks like it will be sufficient for me (although the reviewer in this video is making the same point as you, he really likes the larger screen). The portability of the 6" screen is a plus also.
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:13 PM   #9
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I found this issue on the KOreader GitHub. I thought they were only lacking PDF annotations, but it seems like note taking capabilities are also absent from ebooks, which is a big drawback for me.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:16 PM   #10
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I can't speak to all your concerns but I'll comment on what I can.

I own both a Kindle PW3 and a Kobo Glo HD (and others) and I use KOreader on both. I like KOreader - its 'night mode' is a killer feature for me as I generally find the lighting on ereaders skips from too dim to read comfortably, too feeling like it's too bright. But as you say it doesn't support any kind of note-taking which is a shame.

I use PDFs at work for technical manuals and view them on a PC and that's fine. I've never found the experience on any ereader that good. It's gotten better but I still avoid PDFs, which as I mostly read fiction I can do easily.

On Open Source etc. - Kobo is a little bit more open. Both companies provide closed-source reading/interface software. Kobo support epub as well as their own proprietary format (sometimes known as 'kepub'). They support Adobe-DRM'ed epubs so you have a number of different vendors you can buy from. Also that means it's easier to find library support. Amazon primarily support their own formats and they seem to be making them harder to reverse-engineer. (see the thread on 'KFX').

It's easier to install 3rd party software on Kobo. Going back a few years they actively encouraged it and indeed provided sample code etc. These days you get the feeling that they merely tolerate it, and the code is increasingly out of date. Amazon on the other hand clearly want to lock down their devices and you need to jailbreak a Kindle to install 3rd party software like KOreader. There's also evidence that they deliberately try to close off the loopholes that allow for jailbreaks, in successive versions of the firmware.

FWIW I think Richard Stallman's objection is to DRM and closed source (he would say 'non-free') software, so neither Amazon nor Kobo would cut it. You have to decide whether you're as much of a Free Software purist/extremist as that. I'm not.

I guess my experience overall is that I'm slightly more in the Kobo camp. Kindles are well-made and their software tends to be a little more stable. But Kobos are often nice too and they are more flexible, even with the standard software. For example Kobo supports the side-loading of fonts without the need for a jailbreak+'hack'.

Not sure if any of that helps. Feel like I may have rambled a bit. Oh well
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:44 PM   #11
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And another note: not sure how long you can still get jailbreakable kindles.
The newest firmware cannot be broken out of jail.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:00 PM   #12
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Thank you for the detailed reply latepaul, I greatly appreciate it!
I didn't know about the potential problem with brightness adjustments. I did read that the Glo HD has warmer LED color, which I consider a plus.

What you say about the relative openness of Amazon vs Kobo, matches the impression that I have been getting from reading reviews and forum discussions. However, I'm sad to hear that Kobo seems to become decreasingly engaged in supporting a vibrant community of 3rd party software.

Based on what I have read about the devices respective software design principles, I would also place myself more in the Kobo camp, without even owning a device yet =). Mainly because I appreciate that they allow the user to decide more about their device, for example the side loading of font that you mentioned (a similar example on the amazon side, is that they provide user annotations as a text file rather than some inaccessible binary format).

Having that said, it doesn't make sense for me to buy a device that lacks a feature I think I will be using quite often (note taking), although I would be ready to jump through some hoops if there was a way to get it working on the Kobo... I did read somewhere that it is possible to annotate a bookmark rather than a highlight, is this something you are familiar with and could it be used as a workaround for the missing annotations feature?
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:00 PM   #13
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You mkght consider a Chinese ereader. Boyue and Onyx sell Android ereaders. The pdf reading apps will always outnumber anything Kobo or Amazon offer. You can find them on banggood. Also booxtor in the Onyx subforum sells them in Europe. Also you can often find them used. But you'd need check there is an app that works ok on them and suits you're need. Also you might consider a larger screen Onyx. If you go Kobo I'd suggest the H2O. The extra size helps. Personally I'd use an onyx/boyue in landscapd mode.

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Old 03-20-2017, 09:05 PM   #14
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Obviously Kobo is more open than Amzon. But the dev community for Amazon is more vibrant. If you choze Amazon make sure you get one that can be jailbreaked. Perspnally I'd go Anxroid. I found the Kobo dev community limited while an Android reader is highly flexible, but not every app.works.
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Old 03-20-2017, 09:08 PM   #15
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I use ereaders only for reading. I'm not interested in and have no experience with annotations etc. However, I have yet to find an e-ink reader which offers a good experience with pdf's. I avoid the pdf format on e-ink readers like the plague. As a general rule they do not even convert very well to a more ereader friendly format. Sadly, my prediction is that if you buy a Paperwhite or Glo HD to read scientific pdf's you are going to be very disappointed.

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