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I have many .pdf books and docs ... is there a decent portable device to download and read them on the go? I heard about e-book readers and pda's, but am frustrated in internet searches? Must I settle for a laptop to read them?
So far, every solution I've seen to this one has some serious disadvantages.
The most promising, however, depends on how far you want to stretch the definition of "laptop".
Personally, I have yet to come across a good, portable, PDF reader.
Dedicated devices, such as the various ebook readers that I have seen, all suffer from what, in my opinion, are serious problems. Besides being more expensive than the usage justifies, the most common issue is simply that they often only read a proprietary format, not PDF. That proprietary format is typically one with DRM (Digital Rights Management), preventing you from easily transferring your ebooks from one computer or device to another.
I'm a big fan of PDF. Outside of dedicated readers it's ubiquitous and simple to use and view.
So where can we read PDFs?
I'll throw out two solutions:
Look into a "tablet PC". These are typically smaller than a laptop. Most are possibly still bigger than you're looking for, but there are some fairly small form-factor devices out there.
Advantage number one is that PDFs just work. You're running Windows XP, you download Acrobat Reader, and off you go. With a WiFi or other network connection, downloading's just as easy as any other PC.
Advantage number two is that it's more than a PDF reader. You've got a PC in your hands. Read email, do work, whatever, when you're not reading PDFs.
If I were looking for something to do a lot of mobile PDF reading, this is probably the route that I would go.
The route that I did go?
Look into a Palm OS device. Adobe makes an Acrobat Reader for Palm devices, like the Palm Pilot, or my Treo cell phone. It's what I use. I always have a book on my phone (an interesting phrase in and of itself) to read for those times when I'm out somewhere and waiting for some reason.
The down side to the Palm reader is that they must be loaded onto your device from your PC. They actually get converted and shrunk for the Palm Acrobat reader before they're copied over. That means you can't simply download a PDF to your device, you need to download it to your PC, and then "hot sync" it over.
The other downside is that part of that process often loses some of the "look and feel" of the document. It's only natural that things might look different, since the Palm screens are typically much smaller than regular PC displays. On some occasions things can even get slightly mangled.
However for straight text reading, it's a viable alternative that could work with a device you already have - a cell phone or PDA. I know I don't leave home without it.
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