Author Topic: TABLETS: Need a good one for reading/annotating text documents, pdfs  (Read 768 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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I am a scientist and spend a lot of time writing and teaching (university). Hence, I require a lot of time with the peer-reviewed literature in an attempt to stay current. About 99.99% of this literature is in the form of PDF documents. For years, I insisted on printing these out because I don't like reading large blocks of text on screen. However, recently, I have been experimenting with reading these on-screen, and I have come to really appreciate the lack of need for printing, storing, organizing hard-copy versions. Of course, I can also make the text and figures as large as I want, and this counteracts eye-strain. I also like the prospect of taking my entire pdf reprint library with me anywhere I go.

I am now looking for a tablet so that I can have on-the-go capability and not be tied do my desktop system (Grandpa box) or laptop.

First and foremost, I need a machine that will be good for reading and annotating pdf documents, including highlighting, underlining, and writing comments. I have to have color, as most figures/tables/graphs are in color now. I suppose this will need to have a stylus of some kind for the annotation. My wife is curious to use it as well, and so, secondary considerations for us include web-browsing, and high quality display for sharing photos (I am also a photographer). We also want to cut down on our hard-copy magazines/subscriptions, many of which pile up unread!

What would you suggest? (I do not want an iPad or i-anything!)

« Last Edit: May 26, 2020, 04:01:18 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »


  • Pencil Stache
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Why not ipad?

Microsoft Surface is much improved from what it used to be


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Why not ipad?

Microsoft Surface is much improved from what it used to be

I use an iPad with the Adobe Acrobat app, which allows for highlighting and comments. I can upload PDFs from my computer to my Adobe account in Acrobat. I imagine that any tablet that supports the Acrobat app will have this capacity.

Other e-reader apps, like Kindle, also support PDFs and annotation. I'm not sure how easy they are to use though.


  • Handlebar Stache
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I also agree on the iPad.

I do big, 100+ million dollar construction projects and am constantly having to mark up items on the fly, make notes, etc. I have OneDrive on my work computer, and also have it installed on my iPad. I can pull up a PDF drawing in the field, mark it up on my iPad, and that automatically syncs to my desktop computer.

I had considered a surface pro, but thatís more of a laptop than a tablet in my opinion. Mostly because you have to boot it up and it operates similar to a laptop would. The iPad, is more like a phone. I can leave it turned on all day, all night, stick it in a backpack where I donít have to worry about it overheating. Unlocking it is as fast as my phone, as is accessing things.

It has truly been a HUGE contributing factor to the success of my career since purchasing it. My productivity with this thing has soared.

Also, like you, I was ALWAYS a huge ďhard copyĒ person. I liked to have every single specification printed, drawings, code book, etc. I wanted hard copies of all project documents. With my current job, I was spread between a job site, company HQ, and two separate engineering firms. It was not possible for me to keep hard copies that I could access at all times, like if I was in one singular office. So now, I have virtually zero hard copies of anything. It took some work, and Iím still fine tuning, but it has been much more convenient.


  • Stubble
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another thought is a cheap chromebook - I'm on a $200 HP and it is durable, reliable, and I don't get too worked up about it since it is inexpensive - works great for general reading, web-surfing - but I create and edit documents and spreadsheets on it too, and aside from occasionally missing a larger screen for spreadsheet work, this thing is great - small size when closed makes it convenient in a backpack
pretty sure you can get an app for annotation


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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ipad.  or ipad pro if you want to get fancy.  nice stylus and screen with that one, but much bigger than the littlest ipad.  i have chronic wrist pain and i can't tolerate holding my iphone to read in bed...prefer my tiny ipad.  but i use it only to skim articles.  the ipad pro is a good hybrid between an ipad and a laptop, but heavier. 

how mobile do you want to be?  are you going to use it while in bed?  lots of other considerations in use.


  • Handlebar Stache
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I haven't used, but have seen other academics recommend (no one local to me, so I haven't seen the physical product) this one -- for pdfs.  Not sure how well it does with other formats (webpage probably has more info.).  I don't want something so specialized, nor to pay the cost of purchasing it, but clearly some think it's worth it.


  • Bristles
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you got choices:

Samsung Tab android tablet: in-laws in their 70ís are on their second set, after wearing out their first, from years ago. A really huge phone without cell connection.

Chromebooks: ASUS Chromebook Flip is my other primary machine for years now, other than my Android phones. Chromebooks runs many Android apps, not all. Obviously, less portable than phone, but bigger screen

Microsoft Surface hybrid laptop Ė light, touch screen, detachable Windows PCís. nice but too pricey for my mostly browser use


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!