What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

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EGARCH
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What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EGARCH » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:08 pm

I am on the market for a tablet to read scientific papers, mostly in PDF. An ideal tablet will have a pen to write notes on the margin, etc. Any recommendation? Thanks!

bloom2708
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:44 pm

Can you comment more about taking notes in the margins? Do expect the notes to be saved outside of the .pdf or added to the .pdf you are reviewing.

Most .pdf applications are readers. The ability to edit/append a .pdf might require some special software.

What is your budget? A Surface Pro with stylus might run $700 and up. I don't think an iPad pro comes with a stylus but you can likely add it on.

Samsung Galaxy Tab (S, A, E) are more reasonably priced. The S is the flagship. I have a 9.7" A that I can use for many things. It doesn't have a stylus.

The notes/saving will be your biggest hurdle.
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dbr
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by dbr » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:49 pm

I am afraid I can't comment either on the notetaking, but for extensive reading I am hands down in favor of a full screen monitor like 23" etc. or bigger. I understand that may not be a helpful answer to your question. I actually had a house guest visit us who needed to do some professional work while he was here and he shipped us a 23" monitor to use with his laptop. It stays here for future use. My wife has no interest in anything smaller than a 21" iMAC.

For portable use I have had a standard iPAD 2 (9.7") and now like my iPAD MINI 7.9" I can't imagine doing any serious technical reading on either of those. For e-books I still have my old Kindle (6") which also would be too small.

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mhc
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by mhc » Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:55 pm

The Samsung Galaxy S3 can come with an S pen. It may do what you are looking for.

I have an S2. I really like it. It is easy to read anything on it.

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dual
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by dual » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:16 pm

EGARCH wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:08 pm
I am on the market for a tablet to read scientific papers, mostly in PDF. An ideal tablet will have a pen to write notes on the margin, etc. Any recommendation? Thanks!
The Sony DPT-S1 fulfills your requirements and then some. It's expensive but well worth it. The newer version, the DPT-RP1, is good too but I have read is a PITA to load data. You might still be able to find DPT-S1's on ebay.

There is a smaller tablet with similar capabilities called the ReMarkable. Here is a video review comparing them. Towards the end they show how you can use the tablets to read and annotate documents like papers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbYIsfwNXSU

EGARCH
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EGARCH » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:20 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:44 pm
Can you comment more about taking notes in the margins? Do expect the notes to be saved outside of the .pdf or added to the .pdf you are reviewing. I am not sure if I have the technical knowledge to distinguish between the two... but I would like to be able to do similar to what I would in a paper. Write in the margins using a pen, not the built in keyboard, and (obviously) save it.

Most .pdf applications are readers. The ability to edit/append a .pdf might require some special software. That is a good point. I usually download the papers from scientific journals or other depositories, and use "freely" available pdf reader to open and print the papers.

What is your budget? A Surface Pro with stylus might run $700 and up. I don't think an iPad pro comes with a stylus but you can likely add it on. My budget is up to $1000. Obviously the cheaper the better.

Samsung Galaxy Tab (S, A, E) are more reasonably priced. The S is the flagship. I have a 9.7" A that I can use for many things. It doesn't have a stylus.

The notes/saving will be your biggest hurdle. Unfortunately this is a binding constraint for me.
bloom2708 - thank you for the suggestions!

I am looking for a paper replacement, so-to-speak. I read multiple scientific papers, usually 20 to 60 pages per paper, per day for work. I usually print it if I am going to read it in detail, which I am okey if I am in the office. I then take notes on the margin and scan and email it to colleagues elsewhere. The problem comes when I am travelling and/or when I am home during the weekend (I don't have printer and scanner at home). Also, after a while I will have piles and piles of papers on my desk to discard. So, I would like to replace this with a tablet.

So in this paper replacement tablet ...
  • I would like to write on the margins with a pen (not the built in internal keyboard), highlight some texts, and save it.
  • I presume a regular paper size display will be good for the eye, so that will be a nice thing to have.
  • Also, I will be holding the tablet when I read, as opposed to placing it on a table, so I would prefer a lighter weight.
Thanks again!
Last edited by EGARCH on Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

EGARCH
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EGARCH » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:23 pm

mhc wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:55 pm
The Samsung Galaxy S3 can come with an S pen. It may do what you are looking for.

I have an S2. I really like it. It is easy to read anything on it.

I will read more about the S3. Thank you for the suggestion!

EGARCH
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EGARCH » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:26 pm

dual wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:16 pm
EGARCH wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 4:08 pm
I am on the market for a tablet to read scientific papers, mostly in PDF. An ideal tablet will have a pen to write notes on the margin, etc. Any recommendation? Thanks!
The Sony DPT-S1 fulfills your requirements and then some. It's expensive but well worth it. The newer version, the DPT-RP1, is good too but I have read is a PITA to load data. You might still be able to find DPT-S1's on ebay.

There is a smaller tablet with similar capabilities called the ReMarkable. Here is a video review comparing them. Towards the end they show how you can use the tablets to read and annotate documents like papers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbYIsfwNXSU
Never heard of it (though it does not say much as I am probably the least tech savvy millennial) but I will look into it. Thank you for the suggestion!

ddd
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by ddd » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:40 pm

You can write notes on pdfs with iOS iBooks. it's available on all Apple phones and tablets. download the pdf and add it to iBooks. open, pick a pen, start writing or typing.

EGARCH
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EGARCH » Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:50 pm

ddd wrote:
Fri Mar 02, 2018 5:40 pm
You can write notes on pdfs with iOS iBooks. it's available on all Apple phones and tablets. download the pdf and add it to iBooks. open, pick a pen, start writing or typing.
I like the screen size of iPad Pro but I am not sure about the functionality. I will read more about iBook. [I have always used Samsung phones.] Thank you for the suggestion!

michaeljc70
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:39 pm

I don't know about taking notes. I can tell you, you will want something in the 12-13" range if you don't want to scroll to see one page at a time (unless you have really good eyesight). I use my 11.6" Chromebook (convertible) to read PDF magazines. I consider that the smallest size screen to be able to read pages without scrolling.

If the materials were in eBook format (Mobi or ePub), then you can change the font size. You can do that on some PDFs, but it depends how they were created.

FraggleRock
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Read and annotate PDFs

Post by FraggleRock » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:56 pm

Look at iPad Pro + PdfPenPro for iOS.

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tuningfork
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by tuningfork » Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:28 pm

Surface Pro 4. Comes with pen and Drawboard PDF reader that allows you to annotate, draw and highlight. The screen is large enough that you can work with a full size page without scrolling. It's light enough to hold like a book.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:24 am

I haven’t experimented in great detail but on any iPad/iOS device you can edit any pdf. No special app is needed, no need to go into iBooks or anything else (although iBooks might be a way to keep your PDFs organized if you prefer that). The handwriting part, I can make notes using my finger so a stylus would work as well. No reason to think it wouldn’t.

On a related note, iOS 11 made big changes to PDFs and file management. You can make PDFs out of more content—any web page you’re looking at, for example (I realize this isn’t the OP’s request). As for file management, you can create, save and manage files and folders in locations on iCloud to other cloud services—just like you would on a desktop computer. Before you’d have to do this directly from each cloud account. Now, I can save and work on my Dropbox, google drive, and mega cloud accounts directly from one place (my iPad’s iOS Files App). If an app is needed, Files launches it when I tap a file to open.

cheesepep
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by cheesepep » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:45 am

Definitely some sort of tablet would be best. The two on one notebooks will do the trick but not as well and will be inconvenient at times. No need to go iPad Pro as any ordinary iPad will no. Can buy any stylus you need. Most important part is which software you use to take notes in AND organize them AND search for them.

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dual
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by dual » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:42 pm

Unlike epub, pdf documents will not reflow to accommodate the screen size of your device. Scientific papers are formatted for large journal pages and use small fonts to reduce their length in the paper journal. Therefore, you need a large tablet to be able to read them as you would on paper. Of the devices mentioned here the Sony DPT-S1 is the largest: the clear screen size on mine is 21x27 cm (8 x 10.5 in in real numbers :D

Unlike a normal tablet, the Sony uses an e-ink display:
Pros:
much lower power consumption than a liquid crystal/backlit display
as a result does not require a large battery so the tablet is very light (360 grams)
and has long life. I use mine regularly and it lasts a couple of weeks between charges
Cons:
no color
tablet is specialized to reading/annotating/writing pdf but cannot run browsers or other tablet apps
Specialized market so it is expensive ($700 at BHphotovideo)

wrongfunds
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by wrongfunds » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:46 pm

But how would he be able to share the handwritten notes with other people unless the software allows to embed that information in to widely used file format aka another pdf file? Do Apple/Microsoft/Samsung/Sony product have the ability to do that?

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dual
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by dual » Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:15 pm

wrongfunds wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:46 pm
But how would he be able to share the handwritten notes with other people unless the software allows to embed that information in to widely used file format aka another pdf file? Do Apple/Microsoft/Samsung/Sony product have the ability to do that?
The annotated document is saved by the Sony as a pdf file, which can be shared and read with common pdf software like Adobe Acrobat or Sumatra.

I think any of the other tablets can also save the annotated documents as pdf. Annotating and saving as pdf is supported by the Adobe reader and similar apps on Android

ctraveler
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by ctraveler » Sat Mar 03, 2018 1:49 pm

Either 10.5 inch iPad Pro or 12.9 inch iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. I read for hours a week on my iPad and love it.

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Pajamas
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by Pajamas » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:20 pm

Must it be on a portable tablet? Would it be possible for you to do this on a large desktop screen instead?

If you are not actually editing the papers, it might be easier for you to take notes on a widescreen monitor with the text open on the left and a word processing program open on the right. That seems to work best for me when studying and taking notes from books and articles. That also makes it easy to have other windows open with needed resources at the same time. I also prefer writing in general with a real full-size or at least laptop-size keyboard rather than with a stylus or virtual keyboard.

If you need to actually annotate the pdf text without using a separate document, that would be easier on a larger screen, too.

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EyeYield
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by EyeYield » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:28 pm

There are a many PDF apps at the Apple App Store that will let you do everything you want to do with PDF’s.

Readdle make the PDF Expert, which can be bundled with the PDF Converter, or my favorite bundle, with Scanner Pro and Printer Pro. Scanner Pro lets you scan photographs, convert to PDF, then email, fax, etc, directly from the app.
So you can write in the margins, highlight, print, send, rescan, etc.

PDF-Document Expert, by Kdan seems to be good and free, but I haven’t tried it yet.
Many more......
I’m using iPad Pro 10.5 for most of my reading - love it, but sometimes it can be a bit heavy - like when reading in bed - so I sometimes read with an iPad mini.
Last edited by EyeYield on Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TravelGeek
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:37 pm

Pajamas wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:20 pm
Must it be on a portable tablet? Would it be possible for you to do this on a large desktop screen instead?
The OP clarified the use case in one of the follow-up posts:

“The problem comes when I am travelling and/or when I am home during the weekend (I don't have printer and scanner at home).”

I use a regular 9.7” iPad (Air2) for most of my reading (Kindle Oasis for beach/outdoor ebook reading). As others have pointed out, pdf documents don’t necessarily work well on these smallish screens if their layout was designed for larger (full page) printouts or screens. And the margin would generally be tiny.

I don’t know what the OP does afterwards with the notes / annotations. I’d think an electronic searchable version (i.e., not scribbled handwriting) might be useful, which brings us back to keyboard use unless there are annotation apps for tablets that reliably convert handwriting into text via OCR.
Last edited by TravelGeek on Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stan1
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by stan1 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:40 pm

Seems like this needs to be a software/workflow discussion first before hardware given what OP wants to do.

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Pajamas
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by Pajamas » Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:41 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:37 pm
The OP clarified the use case in one of the follow-up posts:

“The problem comes when I am travelling and/or when I am home during the weekend (I don't have printer and scanner at home).”
I would still go with a widescreen monitor at home. I would probably get a convertible laptop for travel if it were 100% necessary to read articles and take notes while traveling, although I would try to avoid taking notes while traveling in the first place and just read instead. The monitor could be used with the laptop at home.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:28 pm

stan1 wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 2:40 pm
Seems like this needs to be a software/workflow discussion first before hardware given what OP wants to do.
:thumbsup
Right! Don’t put the cart before the horse. Probably lots of good hardware (and software) options. Will come down to personal preference.

michaeljc70
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:50 pm

I have an Acer 11.6 convertible Chromebook. I just installed a free Android app (Xodo Docs, but there seemed to be many others) and was able to annotate a PDF. You can draw on the pages, make notes that you click to call up, highlight text (using different methods like color, underlining, etc), or write text directly on the pages. There are other features, but this is what I saw in playing with it for 5 minutes.

jjface
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by jjface » Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:56 pm

If all you are doing is reading pdfs of fairly small size 20-60 pages then you can do that on any of the major tablets with pens - surface pro, ipad pro, samsung s3.

Personally I would go nuts messing with files on an ipad. So much easier to deal with a proper file system and use microsd cards etc. So I would go with a surface pro or samsung s3 personally. The surface pro will double as a full laptop in case that interests you. Whereas the samsung will be better to unwind with after reading all those papers. Use drawboard pdf if you get a surface pro and on the samsung you can use something like xodo or iannotate or one of the many pdf apps available. I use xodo to annotate pdfs on my samsung a tab 10.1 which is a slightly older samsung tablet with a pen and still works great.

Still you could make a ipand pro work for you too if you prefer apple products. It works but I don't think it is the best tool for the job.

TravelGeek
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by TravelGeek » Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:18 pm

jjface wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:56 pm
Personally I would go nuts messing with files on an ipad. So much easier to deal with a proper file system and use microsd cards etc.
Drop the files into your favorite cloud drive (eg Dropbox or Google Drive). Gives you a file system that you can access from anywhere, from any device.

AntsOnTheMarch
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by AntsOnTheMarch » Sat Mar 03, 2018 10:56 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:18 pm
jjface wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:56 pm
Personally I would go nuts messing with files on an ipad. So much easier to deal with a proper file system and use microsd cards etc.
Drop the files into your favorite cloud drive (eg Dropbox or Google Drive). Gives you a file system that you can access from anywhere, from any device.
:thumbsup

Exactly! iOS 11.x files app has a similar file system interface as the desktop. Anyone coming off a desktop computer should be able to figure it out in minutes.

jjface
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Re: What are the Best Tablet to Read PDFs?

Post by jjface » Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:39 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:18 pm
jjface wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:56 pm
Personally I would go nuts messing with files on an ipad. So much easier to deal with a proper file system and use microsd cards etc.
Drop the files into your favorite cloud drive (eg Dropbox or Google Drive). Gives you a file system that you can access from anywhere, from any device.
Just not the same. Yes you can make it work and I'm sure some love cloud computing but not me. Just adds extra steps. Nothing beats a physical drive with a proper file system to me.

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