Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tablets for PDFs: iPad vs Nexus 10

Update: I bought one. See the review here.

So for some time I've had an original series iPad which is a very nice tool. From a roleplaying perspective the use I would get most out of is as a PDF reader. For those that know me you know I have about 1,000 RPG books which take up a lot of room. Now I wouldn't get rid of them, but I would love to be able to have them and make use of them electronically.

Like many roleplayers I get my RPG PDFs from DriveThruRPG, and I buy quite a lot of them. I'm not entirely sure why I buy so many these days when I also buy the books, but there you are.

So for me the holy grail for a long time has been to own a tablet that I can use to read my PDF collection comfortably enough that I don't need to buy everything in physical format.

About 6-7 years ago I bought a Toshiba Satellite table (from back in the days where table meant a laptop with a convertible screen and a stylus.) It worked well as a tablet but it was very heavy to hold on your arm, and the resolution of 1024 x 768 on a 14" screen was not sufficient to make reading PDFs comfortable. So it ended up being used just as a laptop before being forgotten about.

The original iPad is nice, light enough to use for a long period of time and has available the greatest piece of PDF software ever written, GoodReader. Responsive, fast and able to store hundreds of my PDFs it's useful, but the downside to it is that the screen is just too low a resolution. Again 1024 x 768 isn't sharp enough to read a full page of text comfortably.

So that leads us to today. What now? Well I've looked at some PDFs on the iPad 3 (to test the new retina display) and they are much sharper at that resolution and fully readable. So does that end my search? Well Apple products are expensive, and at the beginning of the year I switched to an Android phone (Google Nexus) which I'm starting to prefer over the iOS ecosystem for the most part, so that complicates matters.

Google has the Nexus 10 coming out in the next few days at a cheaper price than the current generation iPad. So what has it got going for it? Well it's Android which I'm starting to like, and it has a nice high resolution 10.1" screen at 2560 x 1600 compared to the new iPad's 2048 x 1536. So they are actually comparable. My biggest concern however is that the iPad has a 4:3 ratio screen and the Nexus 10 a 16:9 ratio screen. This means that the Nexus 10 will not be able to display most PDFs fully screen, there will be bars at the top and bottom of the screen when held in portrait mode. And because of the widescreen the width is slightly narrower than that of the iPad meaning the page will be slightly smaller.

So what to do? What to do? I don't know yet. On Android the best PDF software I've come across is EZPDF, which is okay, but not as good as GoodReader on the iOS. However EZPDF does have the ability to double tap on a column and have it size and lock to the columns in the PDF, whereas GoodReader is always free floating. This can allow it to make better use of the screen ratio and very clear text.

It comes down to I don't know what I want to do. I would like the Nexus 10, but unfortunately due to Google's distribution model I can't get a chance to play with one before I buy to see what they look like. Guess I'll just wait until some others get one and review it. Or see if I can look over someone's shoulder on the subway.


(So I bought one. See the review here.)

1 comment:

  1. If you are looking tablet specially for PDF reading than iPad is good choice. But I like the specification of Nexus 10 with insane resolution 2560*1600 in just 10 inch display. There are lots of good PDF readers available in the market to try. Just go with nexus 10.

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