Best tablet for reading academic papers and keeping notes on them.

Discussion in 'What Tablet PC Should I Buy?' started by tevang, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. tevang

    tevang Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Dear forum members,

    I am looking for a tablet for the following usages:

    • to read colored academic papers (PDF format) and keep simple text notes on them.
    • to browse the internet and download academic papers
    • OPTIONALLY to have DropBox app or Google Drive, to synchronize automatically my e-book and academic paper libraries.

    I am certainly NOT LOOKING for a tablet for the following usages:
    • drawing.
    • watching videos.
    • playing video games.
    • taking photographs or recording videos.
    • listening to music.
    • etc.

    Could you please recommend me some tablets to look at because I feel I am lost? Ideally, they would not be very expensive and would have a large screen for comfortable reading.

    I thank you in advance.
    Thomas
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  2. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    Tons of tablets work pretty well for this. Broadly: large-ish Windows 10 tablets (11"+) with Drawboard PDF (no subscription needed for custom toolbars etc), a used older iPad Pro 12.9" with pencil, or an Android based large e-Ink reader.

    Important things to consider:
    - do you need to be able to use it outside in full sunlight? If so: e-Ink is the way to go
    - do you need Windows for file management? If so, iPad is out.
    - what kind of battery life do you need? If you need 10+ hours, e-ink is great. If you need 7+ hours, iPad is probably good. If you can do with 4+ hours, there are lots of Windows options. If you only need one or two hours, you could even get a clipboard from a Surface Book 2 on eBay.
    - budget, and willingness to buy used. What kind of price are you willing to pay?
     
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  3. tevang

    tevang Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you JoeS for your reply! Read below for answers.

    After these clarifications, could you please point me to specific tablets to look at?
     
  4. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    We're really going to need to know your budget! Are you hoping for $200, or willing to pay $600+? Also, what screen size do you think you'll need?

    If you hate Windows, that basically leaves Android tablets, iPads, Android e-ink readers like the Boox Max3, and proprietary/"other" OS e-ink readers like the Sony DPT-RP1. I'm not familiar with the Android options that support inking. I think Samsung has a few.

    If you need true 'full sunlight readability' I'd recommend an e-ink reader, but those tend to be pretty pricey, at least when new. The Boox Max 3 and Sony devices are pricy, as in "more than $700". Plus, if you need a color display, e-ink is out - for now, those are all black and white.

    Tricky. I'm thinking a used first gen iPad Pro 12.9" with Pencil off eBay might be an option, but it will not have great sunlight readability, and might not meet your budget.
     
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  5. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    eInk is the best possible system for reading. Glowing screens of any kind are awful for spending time going through lots of text. For some reason, they make the viewer jumpy, eye-strained and they affect the memory in a negative way. I think it's a combination of operating system realities, (there are so many tempting bells and whistles going off around the edges of your documents), and the technology itself. Whatever the reason, people generally retain things much better when reading from paper, or from its closest digital cousin, eInk.

    The problem is, reliable eInk tablet manufacturers don't ship color screens yet, and their black & white screens are linked to very low power computing guts, making common file organization tasks and certainly web surfing, hopelessly impractical.

    My recommendation is to get two devices; a decent eInk device for reading documents, (I like the Kobo line), and a low-profile but sensibly equipped laptop which can do everything else, and then to choose your device appropriately depending on the task at hand.

    The long and short of it being that the standard iPad style tablet is not enough, (and can even be a liability), for the serious student. But if you don't mind losing 20% of your mental productivity because of the device, then I'd probably recommend either an iPad pro from Apple, or one of Samsung's Windows tablets, simply because they work well and have a lot of support.
     
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  6. tevang

    tevang Pen Pal - Newbie

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    @JoeS I wouldn't like to exceed the 400$. The bigger the screen the more comfortable the reading and note-taking are. Imagine that the articles are normally A4 pages with 2 columns.

    @thatcomicsguy I totally agree with what you wrote, that people retain things much better when reading from paper. That's the reason I always buy academic books (maths, physics, chemistry) in hard copies and print out the papers that I must read. Regarding the e-ink devices, do they support full-color display? Most of the Figures in papers are colored and if you view them as black and white you miss the meaning, especially the plots that have colored dots. Having 2 devices is what I had in mind. I am a computational chemist, I have a powerful laptop and a desktop at my disposal, I spend most of my time programming and reading in front of the screen, but usually, when I want to read a complicated text I print it out and take notes on it. As such, I have piles of printed documents which make document and note organization difficult. I want to mitigate this organization problem by keeping the documents in electronic form, hence I want to buy a tablet.
     
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  7. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    While color e-ink exists, there are no consumer devices that do what you want (large screen, annotation) in color. Seems like a used iPad Pro 12.9" from eBay is your best bet at the moment. You can get one for less than $400 including shipping, but you'd have to buy a pencil separately. Make sure you get the right pencil, the cheaper used iPad Pros only support the "Apple pencil gen 1". Logitec Crayon might also work, which is cheaper than the Apple pencil.
     
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  8. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ain't it amazing that, here we are in 2020, and the "Paperless Office" has STILL not been fully realized. -I remember people first talking up the idea THIRTY years ago!

    Though, we're certainly a lot closer in many regards. Can you imagine doing spread sheet analysis and keeping invoicing records all on paper these days? Yowza!

    For brief look-up documents, computer screens are fine. But for long form reading and note-taking, they're only just now beginning to get there.

    There isn't really a push for it from the greater population, but enough people are interested that some groups are doggedly pursuing the tech.

    I've stared with some tech-lust at this product:

    https://www.amazon.com/Dasung-Ink-M...690b11cf94cb7baa04efa7282aded4&language=en_US



    It'd be super neat to be able to stick a Wacom digitizer layer under one of those! It would re-invigorate my DIY muscles...
     
  9. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    That's some next level rickrolling there :D
     
  10. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Hold the phone..!

    When the heck did this thing appear...

    https://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-C930-Touchscreen-Computer-Fingerprint/dp/B07XG9T898

    [​IMG]
    It's only around $700!

    Can you drive Photoshop to that screen, I wonder?

    I've been asleep this past year, apparently.


    UPDATE************

    Discovering for myself what everybody already knew apparently...

    It's not an art unicorn; you can only do lame drawing on it using slow and goofy "app" style drawing programs. So it's a nothing-burger in that regard.

    But to address the OP of this thread...

    For document reading, this might actually be kind of useful.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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