13 Replies - 1158 Views - Last Post: 18 February 2013 - 12:57 PM

#1 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 08:10 AM

So I've decided that it would be useful to have an e-reader of some sort for the various tech manuals and language specs that I have bookmarked in all of my browsers. I'd like an e-ink reader, both for battery life and readability reasons. Unfortunately, the only ones I see on the market today are small screens - 6" - and the stuff I'm most interested in is typically distributed as a PDF formatted to letter-size (A4, if you like).

Keep in mind that I'm not in the least interested in using this to read fiction, this is purely for reference materials, manuals, and articles that are only distributed electronically. Also, while I have no objection to a tablet particularly, it's not an attractive idea for me, primarily because I don't want a machine whose battery state requires attention.

So far, of the machines I've looked at in person (several Kindles and nooks) the Kindle Paperwight seems to have the resolution to make reading letter-sized PDFs reduced to the 6" screen at least plausible, but I'm concerned that this will be annoying over the long term. Anyone have any experience using these tools for this purpose? What have you come up with, and how is it working for you?

The other possibility, which I haven't looked into at all, is conversion from PDF to some other format. I see that there are converters out there - if you've tried them, do they work reasonably well?

At this point, I'm ready to pull the trigger and get a Paperwight, but I'm not excited by the prospect - it seems the best of a pretty bad lot. If there's anything that's preferable that I haven't come across, I'd like to take a look at it. Suggestions would be welcome.

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#2 supersloth  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:23 AM

my old coworker used to use the kindle dx for that stuff. i think they are discontinued now.

for the record i love my paperweight. but i don't use it for reference materials. if you're not attached to e-ink, i also love my nexus 7, which handles pdf's (and everything) like a fucking pro.
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#3 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:32 AM

I want a paperwhite pretty badly, but when it comes to tech/reference materials, give me the paper version. The only reference I use on my computer is an API.

I can't even qualify what it is about reference materials that makes me want them in dead-tree format.
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#4 supersloth  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:43 AM

irony, probably.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 12:08 PM

Kindle DX? Looks like just the thing, but the cheapest used one, with a broken 'o' key, is $200 (wow - someone wants over $700 for a refurb!). $250 for the cheapest non-broken one. Might be worth it, though. Good call.

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for the record i love my paperweight. but i don't use it for reference materials. if you're not attached to e-ink, i also love my nexus 7, which handles pdf's (and everything) like a fucking pro.


Batteries. I already carry two phones (thanks, work!) and two laptops, I'm sick of being tied to chargers. Charging every few weeks sounds good to me. I'm not anti-pad, but I'd like to give the e-ink a shot.

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I want a paperwhite pretty badly, but when it comes to tech/reference materials, give me the paper version. The only reference I use on my computer is an API.


I can get with that, but so much of the stuff I want isn't in paper, or at least is easier to get as a download. Particularly language specs and the like, which I really like to be able to fall back on.
I do prefer a paper copy, though. A book gets used to you - it's easier to find what you need in a book that you've used a fair bit. When I was doing a lot of translation, my dictionaries would pretty much open themselves to whatever I was looking for. Really made things move along nicely.
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#6 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 14 February 2013 - 02:35 PM

I second the Nexus 7.
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#7 Cheribasa  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:55 AM

The Nexus 7 looks awesome. Just wait till I get the cash for one.!

I third the Nexus 7.
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:16 AM

As soon as I want a tablet, I'll have a look at the Nexus 7. And I might - but not for this purpose.

So far I'm toying with the idea of the Kindle DX. The idea of a larger reading surface appeals to me, but I'm not sure about getting the used machine. If not that, then the Paperweight, but still I see nothing to be excited about there. Seems like there's a huge interest in these things - why is the market so empty?
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#9 h4nnib4l  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:33 AM

It seems like the e-readers are the sideshow to the content providers. Nook vs. Kindle is really Barnes and Noble's vs Amazon's content. Amazon came out with the Kindle Fire to compete in the tablet market (because they're the next player on the "One of Everything" show), but the other e-readers are single-purpose devices that, for most people, will never access content not purchased from the device creator's marketplace. There is a place for more devices (your desire for one is a prime example jon), but I don't think that people have made that association yet, and nobody wants to be the one to bet capital that/when they will.
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#10 supersloth  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 09:43 AM

actually, that raises a pretty good question, do you plan on buying content from the marketplace of the device you get? or are you just gonna load it with pdf's you already have?
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#11 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:00 AM

No, almost everything I need is publicly available. Think of language specs, that sort of thing. I could imagine buying an electronic copy of some of the O'Reilly "Cookbook" titles, but if I couldn't load those onto it I'd be okay.
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#12 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:39 AM

I would find an e-reader device comfortable for reading fiction, but for tech references I feel nothing beats that stack of books on my desk. There's just something about the thick and heavy things riddled with strips of paper I tore for makeshift bookmarks.

That ultrabook I got last summer has a matte finish to it, I can turn the brightness down and it's pretty comfortable to read off of. It's no handheld tablet-shaped thing, but I never have just a book out since I'm working out the information from the book on my computer. It's handy for the reference and the computer to be one in the same.

Even with the ultrabook, I'll sometimes just have the actual physical book anyways. I love the stubborn hardcopy paper and the un-evolved 90s look of the ThinkPad.

This post has been edited by WolfCoder: 15 February 2013 - 11:43 AM

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#13 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:49 PM

I'm guessing you intend to use this while sitting at a computer. I did a google search for small external monitor and came up with this:

http://www.ebay.co.u...5941#vi-content

With a bit of research, you might be able to come up with something similar that is more suitable to your needs.
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#14 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: What reader do you like for tech materials?

Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:57 PM

Thanks for the suggestion, but the notion of a reader was really what I had in mind.
I've found a reasonably priced Kindle DX which is on its way to me - hopefully it works out nicely. Should arrive late in the week - I'll post an update at the weekend, in case anyone's curious about how it goes.
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