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Old 10-02-2018, 07:35 PM   #1
VPhil
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Question Best mobile device for Annotating PDFs/Highlighting?

Hi, all!

It seems like the more I search for the right tablet or e-reader, the more options I find and the more lost I am! So I figured I'd come to the experts.
For my needs, I am an avid reader who has finally run out of room for physical books and finds that much of the annotating texts that I need to do, I just... don't, either for lack of a pencil, highlighter, or paper.
What I need, in order of importance is a tablet or e-reader which:
  1. Annotates PDFs and ebooks (particularly badly scanned books in PDF)
  2. Has a larger than 8" screen (I have problems with eye strain)
  3. Can export those annotations either to an app or be sent to my laptop
  4. Comes with/offers a cheap but durable stylus
  5. Doesn't break easily
  6. Won't be completely destroyed if I get caught with it in the rain
  7. Is less than 500 dollars, or 700 absolute maximum
  8. play music, as a nice bonus (preferably with a earphone jack) but it's not totally necessary.
  9. comes with or offers a cheap keyboard accessory

I assume my best bet is a tablet [nearly bought a Galaxy Tab A], but the Kobo Aura One and Sony Digital Paper and Onyx BOOX Max2 were all looking worth a shot. Only thing is I occasionally read color graphic novels and I'm not sure if I'd miss the color terribly.
I'm going to grad school soonish (hopefully a year and a half from now), and I'd like this to last a couple years at least.
I also prefer Android, but I wouldn't say no to another operating system.
Looking forward to your suggestions! Links to video reviews are also greatly appreciated. I've been watching GoodEReader and The E Reader's videos for the past couple weeks.
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Old 10-03-2018, 01:18 PM   #2
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The first thing to remember is that tablets are far better than any e-reader for PDFs. Of course, the e-ink screen makes reading easier. So the first step is to check if you can read PDFs for a long time on a tablet without feeling dizzy or irritated. If yes, just get a Galaxy Tab or something or check out the Lenovo Yoga Book which is very weird and misses many of your points but might actually interest you.

With your criteria in mind the Onyx Boox Note could be a good fit. Has android with a bunch of specialized apps for e-ink. It misses 5 and 9 and is over 500 dollarydoos but lower than 700. There is the Note+ which is very similar but with a flush glass screen. The Note S is smaller and has worse specs, is quite cheaper, but has a very bad resolution which kind of defeats the purpose of that bigger screen. However you should make up your own mind with video reviews. The Note Lite is like the Note except it doesn't support stylus input and is cheaper.

The Remarkable is high quality but expensive and has very limited software. It is however designed with scribbling and annotating in mind. It's kind of like the Macbook to the Onyx's PC.

You can get a cheaper 7.8" device like the Likebook Mars but you'll have to get your own stylus. According to reviews it can support PDF annotation and has Google Play anyway so should be fine. The Onyx Boox Nova might drop in a little while too. Kobo is releasing a new device this month (presumably also in the 7.8" range) so perhaps wait a few weeks.

Last edited by JawadLeLogeur; 10-03-2018 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 10-03-2018, 02:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VPhil View Post
Hi, all!

It seems like the more I search for the right tablet or e-reader, the more options I find and the more lost I am! So I figured I'd come to the experts.
For my needs, I am an avid reader who has finally run out of room for physical books and finds that much of the annotating texts that I need to do, I just... don't, either for lack of a pencil, highlighter, or paper.
What I need, in order of importance is a tablet or e-reader which:
  1. Annotates PDFs and ebooks (particularly badly scanned books in PDF)
  2. Has a larger than 8" screen (I have problems with eye strain)
  3. Can export those annotations either to an app or be sent to my laptop
  4. Comes with/offers a cheap but durable stylus
  5. Doesn't break easily
  6. Won't be completely destroyed if I get caught with it in the rain
  7. Is less than 500 dollars, or 700 absolute maximum
  8. play music, as a nice bonus (preferably with a earphone jack) but it's not totally necessary.
  9. comes with or offers a cheap keyboard accessory

I assume my best bet is a tablet [nearly bought a Galaxy Tab A], but the Kobo Aura One and Sony Digital Paper and Onyx BOOX Max2 were all looking worth a shot. Only thing is I occasionally read color graphic novels and I'm not sure if I'd miss the color terribly.
I'm going to grad school soonish (hopefully a year and a half from now), and I'd like this to last a couple years at least.
I also prefer Android, but I wouldn't say no to another operating system.
Looking forward to your suggestions! Links to video reviews are also greatly appreciated. I've been watching GoodEReader and The E Reader's videos for the past couple weeks.
Well, I'd say an LG G Pad III (if you can find them still) or IV might be a good fit for your needs, except for being an 8" tablet. But it has the added bonus of having a button that changes to screen to black-and-white.

GSM Arena comparison of the two devices I mentioned
YouTube review of version IV showing an optional set of speakers
YouTube video showing off the black-and-white functionality on version III

Last edited by GryphonBR; 10-03-2018 at 02:37 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 10-03-2018, 04:05 PM   #4
JonasKofod
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JawadLeLogeur View Post
You can get a cheaper 7.8" device like the Likebook Mars but you'll have to get your own stylus. According to reviews it can support PDF annotation and has Google Play anyway so should be fine. The Onyx Boox Nova might drop in a little while too. Kobo is releasing a new device this month (presumably also in the 7.8" range) so perhaps wait a few weeks.
So the capacitive screen of the Mars and Nova will allow for annotations when "upgraded" with a regular stylus. I thought that required the wacoom or similar layer?
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Old 10-03-2018, 08:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonasKofod View Post
So the capacitive screen of the Mars and Nova will allow for annotations when "upgraded" with a regular stylus. I thought that required the wacoom or similar layer?
By stylus I mean the standalone ones that are just sticks with rubber tips that mimic fingers. If it has a touchscreen it can obviously be compatible with these. Wacom layers and similar features allow for more sophisticated styluses, pressure sensitivity, etc. which make note taking more pleasant.
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Old 10-03-2018, 10:09 PM   #6
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You mentioned you preferred Android but thought I'd point out that your budget allows for an iPad.

iPad 6th gen (2018) $329
Apple Pencil $ 99
Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard $20-30

Total: $450-460 before taxes, case and apps

Yes, the Apple Pencil is pricey but it's one of the nicer ones I've used.
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Old 10-04-2018, 12:43 AM   #7
VPhil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
You mentioned you preferred Android but thought I'd point out that your budget allows for an iPad.

iPad 6th gen (2018) $329
Apple Pencil $ 99
Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard $20-30

Total: $450-460 before taxes, case and apps

Yes, the Apple Pencil is pricey but it's one of the nicer ones I've used.
While I'm not sure how much a Samsung keyboard is, I think I've seen a 2016 Galaxy Tab A with S Pen for about the price of just the iPad.

Still not used to the idea that stylus tips can wear out, though? That just seems nonsensical to me. Or like some planned obsolescence bull

Thanks for the heads up, though!
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Old 10-04-2018, 01:49 AM   #8
JonasKofod
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JawadLeLogeur View Post
By stylus I mean the standalone ones that are just sticks with rubber tips that mimic fingers. If it has a touchscreen it can obviously be compatible with these. Wacom layers and similar features allow for more sophisticated styluses, pressure sensitivity, etc. which make note taking more pleasant.
Ok, Thanks, I just did'nt know the capacitive could be applied for even that basic level of sophistication.

I am waiting for the Boox Nova to come out, knowingly traded off the features of the Note series. So it is interesting that I can get some of the functionality still.
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:22 PM   #9
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So, with the NOVA coming in a standard, frontlight, and Plus, Wacom layer, whats your take on which would be the better.

I never owned an e-reader, so I would'nt know how much use either of the features would have in practise.
To me frontlight seems odd, since I would'nt naturally start e-reading in a setting where I would'nt do analogue reading. But that could all change with experience.
Wacom layer seems neet. But how much is it used. Is it just as seamless as noting on a paper print-out? And what about the close to A5 format - is that to small for scriblings?

On top of that I have to weigh in extra waiting for the Plus release and a premium of a certain size (50USD?). A lot of variables to consider. Whats your thought?
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
You mentioned you preferred Android but thought I'd point out that your budget allows for an iPad.

iPad 6th gen (2018) $329
Apple Pencil $ 99
Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard $20-30

Total: $450-460 before taxes, case and apps

Yes, the Apple Pencil is pricey but it's one of the nicer ones I've used.
I prefer android as well, but in this case iPad is king especially for annotation of PDFs. Nothing android has comes close.
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Old 10-09-2018, 01:04 PM   #11
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I prefer android as well, but in this case iPad is king especially for annotation of PDFs. Nothing android has comes close.
Agreed. I rely on my iPad for reading and annotating PDFs. An iPad with the "GoodReader" app is an unbeatable combination in my mind.
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