Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Portable PDF reader

More and more books, especially tech books, are only available as PDF. Another advantage is I can get the PDF delivered immediately rather than the "2-4 weeks" amazon.jp likes to tell me. But I don't like sitting at my computer to read - I want to be able to sit in an armchair, on the train, in a cafe, etc. to read (see also my moan about php Architect magazine going PDF only)

I've done some searching, and some asking, and I suspect the device I want does not yet exist, but I'm open to suggestions. I don't want the heavy bulk of a notebook. The Kindle (or similar) seem hard-wired for content being sold by Amazon (or whoever), which is no good at all (Update: PDF supported since version 2.3, and content can be uploaded over USB cable; see wikipedia article)

I'm very interested in how easy it is to read a PDF formatted for A4 on an iPhone (or iPod Touch), as that would have lots of other advantages (e.g. portable video player, as well as portable email and web browsing in the case of the iPhone).

UPDATE: list of e-book readers
Apparently the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month will see some new e-book readers announced. So, sitting on my hands seems best at the moment.

Video demo of AjiReader viewing a PDF on the iphone (apparently the app costs $1)

Another video demo showing PDF, DOC, XLS, PPT but the comments seem to be saying you need a jail-broken phone for this?

UPDATE: (8 months later!)
The new Kindle looks good. I decided to stop Waiting For The Next Big Thing, and went ahead and pre-ordered one. It does PDFs, it does Japanese, everyone I've spoken to says e-ink is great; but, above all, at $139 it is now affordable.

I also ordered the case with built-in light; it was 1/3rd of the total cost, so I dithered a lot about that. But while I think the case is over-priced it also looks very cool.

Some people said the 6" screen is still too small to read A4 PDFs in comfort. If I find it unusable for that (my key need) I'm hoping I might be able to resell it at only a small loss. After all, ordering from Japan is a pain.

I'll put up a review in about a month. Watch This Space :-)


Unknown said...

Apple finally reveal their ipad:

Looks good. Pricey, but that was only to be expected. For you industry analysts: I'd probably buy at 30-40% of the launch price.

I'm also considering a netbook; one of those where you get the hardware free and unlimited net connectivity in return for a 2-year contract. I've heard that will be around 3000 yen a month.

This page (Japanese only) seems to be describing that deal:

The monthly prices are here:

I'll need to study that a bit more; something linux based would be perfect.

Unknown said...

By the way, thanks to Mr. B and Mr. D for installing a PDF of my choice and letting me test reading it on their iphone.

As they warned me, A4 PDFs are just about readable but not comfortable. If the screen and resolution was 50% bigger in each direction, it would be.

Unknown said...

Interesting article on impact of ipad:


Of the 8 they look at they don't seem to think any will survive the ipad marketing machine without price cuts.

The consensus of the comments seems to be the opposite though: only a dedicated e-reader is good for serious reading, and ipad/netbooks are inferior.