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Old 01-22-2022, 12:00 AM   #1
Matej101
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Big screen owners, please help me out

Hello,

I'm an engineering student. I got my first ebook reader a few years ago, a worn but perfectly functional first generation Paperwhite. It's been hiding up great, and I really like it, but I think I need a bigger screen.

I read a lot of textbooks, lecture slides and similar things. Unfortunately, they often come as a PDF, usually A4 or similar page size. Conversion is out of the question, because it badly messes up math and chemistry notation, and some of the books I read are also layed out in several columns per page for some reason.

I was looking at 7.8 inch readers, mostly the pocketbook inkpads because they're readily available here in the Czech repubic. But is 7.8 enough? Do any of you have experience reading full size pdfs on a 7.8 inch pocketbook? Or do I need to go even bigger than that? Maybe it doesn't even need to fit the entire pdf on the screen, if the reader isn't as clunky and frustrating as on my old Paperwhite.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:11 AM   #2
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Hello,

I'm an engineering student. I got my first ebook reader a few years ago, a worn but perfectly functional first generation Paperwhite. It's been hiding up great, and I really like it, but I think I need a bigger screen.

I read a lot of textbooks, lecture slides and similar things. Unfortunately, they often come as a PDF, usually A4 or similar page size. Conversion is out of the question, because it badly messes up math and chemistry notation, and some of the books I read are also layed out in several columns per page for some reason.

I was looking at 7.8 inch readers, mostly the pocketbook inkpads because they're readily available here in the Czech repubic. But is 7.8 enough? Do any of you have experience reading full size pdfs on a 7.8 inch pocketbook? Or do I need to go even bigger than that? Maybe it doesn't even need to fit the entire pdf on the screen, if the reader isn't as clunky and frustrating as on my old Paperwhite.
As a minimum, I would suggest a 10.3" screen, 13.3" is better. Even better would be a tablet (Apple, Android, Windows, whatever) with a colour screen and more CPU and RAM to throw at rendering a PDF.
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Old 01-22-2022, 02:25 AM   #3
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I strongly second the suggestion to get a tablet. A minimum of 11 inches, I'd say, and bigger if you if you can. I read all my PDFs on an 11 inch tablet with a color screen and would not like to read them on anything smaller. If I were reading them for a serious purpose, such as your need for study materials, I'd DEFINITELY not want anything less.
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:42 AM   #4
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As a minimum, I would suggest a 10.3" screen, 13.3" is better. Even better would be a tablet (Apple, Android, Windows, whatever) with a colour screen and more CPU and RAM to throw at rendering a PDF.
The Android eInk devices are fast enough to handle PDFs well like those from Boox and Boyue. Hell my Note Air is actually faster than my Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. I still find colour LCD devices are too distracting to read PDFs on, especially often dry academic stuff. It's way to easy to start browsing reddit or YouTube.

Also please remember that screen aspect ratios are really important to consider. A 10.3" 16:9/16:10 screen has about the same viewable area for a PDF page as a 7.8" 4:3 one, you can just see a little more of the next page. 10.3" 16:9/16:10 Android tablets are everywhere so it's worth mentioning.

OP if your eyes are good with tiny text you may get by with a 7.8" reader but I strongly suggest going with something from Boox or Boyue because Pocketbook, Kobo and Amazon all skimp on RAM and CPU power that make reading PDFs unpleasant. They also have better built in PDF readers with the ability to autocrop margins to make the best use of screen real estate.

A 10.3" 4:3 device like the Boox Note Air is a good compromise between price and size. 13.3" devices like the Boox Max Lumi are closer to paper but are extremely expensive.

Last edited by salamanderjuice; 01-22-2022 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:10 AM   #5
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Alright, thank you for the suggestions! I was afraid bigger was the way to go.

I think I would really like to stay with e-ink, since it's a lot easier on my eyes. The main reasons I like that old Kindle are the reduced eyestrain, the battery life and the way those things just keep on going for years. A windows machine would seem to be terribly power inefficient, Android devices generally don't last that long, and and iPad is a little outside my price range...


I realize I'm trying to balance requirements that go in very dirrefent directions

I think I'll try printing a page or two from some of my PDFs, make paper cutouts of various display sizes and see what I can fit on what screen.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:49 PM   #6
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Using a 10.3" screen in landscape mode to see the top half then the bottom half of each page would show content at the same size as a 13.3" screen.

An 11 or 12 inch tablet with a 1.33 aspect ratio will bee significantly better for PDF than a 11 or 12 insch screen with a 1.6 aspect ratio.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:51 PM   #7
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Print at 300 dpi 16 shades (inc Black & White) for best 7.8" and 8" screens.
The 10.3" screens are maybe the same number of pixels. Print at 227 dpi 16 shades (inc Black & White).

i.e. 7.8" best screens are 1872 x 1404 pixels, white, 14 greys and black.
A 10.3" screen (Elipsa is maybe newest?) is ALSO 1872 x 1404 pixels, white, 14 greys and black.
Both are 4:3
The better approx €250 10" approx LCD tablets are 1920 x 1200, some are 1920 x1080. Cheaper ones are lower resolution. They often use sub-pixel addressing on black text (using red & blue edges in one direction) to increase text sharpness.
So called retina models at 10" to 13" approx actually use 2 x 2 pixels for each document or font pixel and thus turn off the sub-pixel addressing, so you don't actually have 3840 x 2400, but 1920 x 1200, or the 4:3 equivalent.

So if the PDFs are not needing colour and are not scanned pages and your eyesight (even if reading glasses needed) can read 6pt print, then the 7.8" or 8" eink may be as good as 10" 16:9 LCD or 10.3" eink. If you find 6 pt tiring then the 10.3" eink might do. But really to be sure of reading A4/Letter PDFs and decent shades/colour you need 13"+ LCD tablet with decent resolution (retina models are just extra cost), such as at least 2400 x 1560. A retina model would be 4x the 13" pixels listed.
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Old 01-22-2022, 12:54 PM   #8
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However if you want to scribble notes on a blank page at a lecture and later convert to computer text the Kobo Elipsa is good. You'd want KOReader instead of the native Foxit reader on any Kobo so as to crop off the margins without zoom in/out.
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Old 01-23-2022, 09:53 AM   #9
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Done my comparing.

Looks like:

a 13" can fit a full A4, but the e-ink ones are astonishingly expensive

a 10.3" can fit an A4 scaled by .75, or .9 when you remove the margins. The cheapest one is the InkPad X, but there are quite a few options slightly above that. There's also the 9.7inch pocketbook, but the DPI is really bad.

a 7.8" can fit about half of what a 10.3 can. That means either full pages zoomed out to 0.55, or half a page zoomed to 0.75. They are quite a bit cheaper, there are lots of options and they can be had in color.


Looks like all the good 10.3 and the good 7.8 screens are basically the same resolution (1872x 1404), or very close to that. The 7.8s are 300dpi while the 10.3s are 227.

I haven't been able to find a book that I couldn't comfortably fit inside a portrait-oriented 10.3", which means it would also fit a landscape 7.8. This assumes 7.8" readers can be switched between landscape and portrait mode.

I still think I would like to keep the display as small as possible (while fulfilling the requirement of reading a PDF), because of cost and durability. Smaller displays should be much harder to break, assuming similar thickness.

So, are there any landscape-capable 7.8" readers that are also responsive (or at least responsive enough to prevent extreme frustration when dragging a page around. I'm coming from a machine with an 800mHz single core and 256 MB RAM)?

Barring that, I'll look for 10.3" devices.

I never had a stylus-capable device, and I'm not sure I would use the functionality even if I had one. I tried writing with a borrowed iPad and the stylus is just too slippery for me. I also tend to lose pens a lot...
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Old 01-23-2022, 10:20 AM   #10
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Only a couple of iPads have true stylus support, a digitiser. Capacitive touch used with a stylus is simply a grease free alternative to a finger and is very low resolution.

Colour eink is pastel or dark and 1/2 resolution both ways, or 1/3 resolution one way.

Dragging a page around & zoom in/out is horrible even on a high end tablet. Especially horrid on eink.
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Old 01-23-2022, 11:28 AM   #11
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I don't think the pen I tried was capacitive, it was the kind that can tell the tablet where it is even before touching the display. My issue wasn't with resolution, but with my own precision - the (physical) pen tip was "gliding" around too easily on that glossy glass surface. Maybe it's different on e-ink or a matte display, I haven't tried any of those.

Here are my 10.3" options:

The InkPad X at 9490 crowns (389 euro)
The Onyx note air at 11490 (471 euro)
The Onyx note air 2 at 13490 (553 euro)
The Onyx note 3 at 14490 (594 euro)
I'm not including anything above that, I'd really like to fit under 400 euro, the lower the better obviously.

The Remarkable 2 is somewhere around that price range too but from what I read it's mostly for writing, and my main use case is reading, and not just pdfs.

There's only one vendor that carries the Kobo elipsa around here, it's horribly expensive and the site looks quite dodgy.
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Old 01-23-2022, 04:24 PM   #12
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The Onyx note air at 11490 (471 euro)
I have the Note Air and am very happy with it.
The main difference to the Note Air 2 is the writing foil, which increases writing comfort but reduces the clarity and contrast of the screen.
There is no problem reading pdfs in landscape format.
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Old 01-23-2022, 04:40 PM   #13
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Only a couple of iPads have true stylus support, a digitiser. Capacitive touch used with a stylus is simply a grease free alternative to a finger and is very low resolution.

Colour eink is pastel or dark and 1/2 resolution both ways, or 1/3 resolution one way.

Dragging a page around & zoom in/out is horrible even on a high end tablet. Especially horrid on eink.
That was true in 2015 but today the entire current lineup of iPads support some version of the Apple Pencil even the $329 base model. Of course, it's not included but there are plenty of cheap 3rd party knockoffs that use Pencil digitizer for like $30. The last model to get Pencil support was the mini but other ones have had it for several years.
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Old 01-23-2022, 04:53 PM   #14
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I don't think the pen I tried was capacitive, it was the kind that can tell the tablet where it is even before touching the display. My issue wasn't with resolution, but with my own precision - the (physical) pen tip was "gliding" around too easily on that glossy glass surface. Maybe it's different on e-ink or a matte display, I haven't tried any of those.

Here are my 10.3" options:

The InkPad X at 9490 crowns (389 euro)
The Onyx note air at 11490 (471 euro)
The Onyx note air 2 at 13490 (553 euro)
The Onyx note 3 at 14490 (594 euro)
I'm not including anything above that, I'd really like to fit under 400 euro, the lower the better obviously.

The Remarkable 2 is somewhere around that price range too but from what I read it's mostly for writing, and my main use case is reading, and not just pdfs.

There's only one vendor that carries the Kobo elipsa around here, it's horribly expensive and the site looks quite dodgy.
The main thing that effects pen feel is the type of material on the screen and on the pen tip. An iPad is hard plastic on glass and so feels super slick. Others will use softer plastic or rubbery tips to get a better feel but the tips tend to wear out faster. There is also matte screen protectors that are sold to give a more paperlike writing feel. They aren't necessarily made for evey model but you could always buy bigger and cut down to fit. If you get a device that uses a Wacom pen like the Boox line you have a huge choice of pens and tips that work for it. MyDeepGuide on YouTube has a video where tries out a bunch on pens and tips.

The fastest devices are those made by Boox followed by Boyue. They have the most RAM by far (Note Air has 4GB for example vs. 1GB in the Kobo Elispa and InkPad X) and have decent modern midrange smartphone CPUs.
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Old 01-24-2022, 12:10 AM   #15
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I don't think the pen I tried was capacitive, it was the kind that can tell the tablet where it is even before touching the display. My issue wasn't with resolution, but with my own precision - the (physical) pen tip was "gliding" around too easily on that glossy glass surface.
Some artists I know buy the screen protectors like the "Paperlike" brand to solve that problem.
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