Recommend me an e-book reading device for mostly pdfs
May 16, 2015 11:49 AM   Subscribe

I have a lot of books and articles in pdf form and I would like to read them on an eye-comforting and portable e-ink type device thing. What should I get? Ages ago I was recommended a nook, but I don't know if that's still a good choice or if I should just yield to kindle dominance. Annotation support would be nice I suppose but I'm find with just carrying a notebook and pen as well.
posted by kenko to Technology (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you can afford the premium stuff... Kindle Voyage

Else, step down to the Kindle Paperwhite.
posted by kschang at 11:57 AM on May 16, 2015

I use a Samsung Galaxy Note 2014 10", and bought it with the specific goal of reading PDF and worried about comfortable reading. (I was still worried, and considered the even larger size, honestly.) It has a good pen and annotation capability, but I haven't found I use it much, have not made the effort to get used to doing it that way.

But, it's been wonderful in practice, and I've actually switched to reading everything on it. What seems to make the difference, compared to reading on my monitor for instance, is the much higher resolution and pixel density. So that's what I'd recommend you focus on in choosing a device, above all.

If you want an e-ink device specifically, I know there are a couple 10"-sized ones out there, and would recommend them over a smaller device, except they're niche and expensive. Some small-text, physically large hardcopy books, especially the two-column sort, I still prefer to zoom in and pan around the page for, and that gets annoying quickly. And with a smaller device, you'd have to do that more often.
posted by solitary dancer at 12:03 PM on May 16, 2015

I LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite, but I don't think it's good for PDFs. They just don't render well on e-ink. For PDFs, I prefer to use my iPad. I have an iPad mini, though, and it's kind of small for most PDF books/articles, which are usually designed to be like full-size sheets of paper. Next time I buy one, I'm planning on getting a full-size tablet primarily for easier reading of PDFs. The new iPads are super light. Annotating is easy on iPad, too.
posted by hansbrough at 12:04 PM on May 16, 2015

The newest Kindle Paperwhite supports PDF reflow, which can make reading PDFs much easier. See here.

For my android devices, I've been using Moon+ Reader. So far it does a very good job of reflowing the text and you can select the font to use and tweak many rendering options. And you can sync your last position via Dropbox or Google Drive. Pro version only.
posted by beowulf573 at 12:08 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh also, being able to use it on Linux is an absolute necessity. Doesn't matter if the setup is kind of involved but it has to actually be possible.
posted by kenko at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2015

I have a Kindle Paperwhite 2 (as in the video beowulf573 linked to), and I'd have to agree with hansbrough: I don't like it very much for PDFs. When it comes to just reading e-books, it's fine, but I tend to mark up PDFs (it's clunky on the Kindle) and the zoom feature isn't great.

Admittedly, I've never used a tablet or another e-reader, so I don't have a wide frame of reference. Even so, I'd say don't get a Paperwhite if you're planning on using it as a PDF-reading device. That was my mistake.
posted by xenization at 3:27 PM on May 16, 2015

I have Nook Simple Touch and love it; LifeHacker also says "By and large, the tone of the nominations thread is that once you get one of these and root it, you’ll have an experience unparalleled by any other ereader on the market—and one you’re in complete control of."

So, as a Linux-using person, getting your hands on a Nook and rooting it might be your best bet.
posted by damayanti at 3:42 PM on May 16, 2015

Response by poster: I don't care about having an android tablet, though; in a way, that would be bad—I just want to read on the thing, not be able to experience arbitrary internetical distractions.
posted by kenko at 7:26 PM on May 16, 2015

Another Nook Simple Touch here; using it to type this answer. It's useless for anything but ebooks in the stock setup, but great for lots of things once rooted. Unfortunately, PDF reading is not one of those things. I've found reflow to be very clunky with all the free android PDF readers and panning around zoomed pages is a nuisance. Eink screens are great, but look for a large one if you want to view PDFs regularly.
posted by sibilatorix at 9:13 AM on May 17, 2015

The Kobo ereaders seem to handle PDFs reasonably well, based on reviews.
posted by Lexica at 2:45 PM on May 17, 2015

I am making more of a software-feature recommendation here, but PDF readers that have a margin-cropping ability are wonderful. This feature allows you to crop away the white space that exists at the top, bottom, left and right of just about every PDF, reclaiming that screen space for text and thus making the text larger and easier to read. The app I use is GoodReader on an iPad. I don't see this option in software very often but it's so conceptually obvious and useful that I wouldn't go without it on any kind of e-reader, now. (It will even remember different margin-croppings for the left and right pages of PDFs that are set like books.) On the iPad, I also use an Accessibility feature that inverts screen colors by triple-clicking the Home button; in this way a white-background PDF may be given a black background with white text. (I'd rather see this built into the app but it's not.)

Since you are presumably interested in the whole PDF-reading experience I thought these things would be relevant.
posted by sylvanshine at 9:30 PM on May 17, 2015

Yep, another Nook Simple touch user here too. They're great but I agree that it's just not big enough for reading PDFs.
posted by guy72277 at 6:55 AM on May 18, 2015

Response by poster: UPDATE: I got a kindle. The one (1) pdf I've tried it out on so far works fine. Will the raggedy-ass pdfs lurking somewhere in my files also work fine? Who knows!
posted by kenko at 8:11 PM on May 20, 2015

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