[PDF] Handheld PDF readers?

edited December 2008 in Story Games
So, I have software that will allow my PSP to read PDFs. But, it only works with simple PDFs, really. I've crashed my PSP before.

Handheld PDF readers - what's the state of the art? What have you tried? Is there a color handheld reader worth looking at? What's my weeping wallet going to look like afterward?


  • I tried the Sony reader, but returned it. In general, the pages turn too slowly; GMs need to be able to navigate quickly to the page they are looking for.

    For now I have Acrobat installed on my Pocket PC phone. I store the documents on a Micro SD card. Right now I'm carrying...

    Don't Rest Your Head
    Shadowrun: Runner Havens
    GURPS Action 2
    GURPS Lite
    GURPS Mysteries
    Panty Explosion
    Primetime Adventures
    Steal Away Jordan
    Secrets and Lies (my game)
    Sengoku Diceless

    and if I'm doing my sums right, that's about 2.5% of the card's capacity.

  • Do you find it legible on your phone's screen?
  • Mark,
    I tried to do that with my phone. But for my bad vision, it wasn't workable. Ironically, I had better luck reading eBooks that were .txt and/or .doc format, because I could change the text size and Word, wrappped the text for me. The pdf reader I have doesn't do that on my WinMobile phone...
    Dave M
  • Yes; it's a small screen, obviously, but the refresh rate is much better. Three-column layout is best, but PTA's two-column layout is still legible.

  • I second that .txt and .doc are easier to read. HTML is going to depend on how the browser interprets it. I'm not hoping for a browser update anytime soon.

    - Grant
  • I bought the Sony e-Reader in part because it has native .pdf support. Unfortunately, that .pdf support is ass. Even with the firmware update, it is too slow and klunky to read .pdfs reliably. I tried to read the Houses of the Blooded pdf as on my Sony. Normal page turns are about .6 seconds (according to the specs, and it jives with my experience.) The large pdf page turns were more than 2 minutes. Yes, support=ass.

    Option: use Bookdesigner or any number of more specific apps to convert the .pdf to a more acceptable format for whatever device (phone, reader, computer monitor, &c) you choose. I have used LibPRS to convert .pdfs to (Sony native) .lrf with acceptable results. RPGs are generally image-heavy, so it may be a little more work for that, but you would have a native, resizable and reflowable text in the end.
  • edited December 2008
    I've actually gone in a completely different direction...


    It's not for everyone, but it works nicely for me. Tonight I'm going to try and install Ubuntu onto an SD card and make it a dual boot machine.

    Overall, it's worked pretty well for me. I have had a pdf crash the native reader and going through an rpg pdf can be a bit slow depending on how the pdf is made. But it's worked pretty well for me, and since I wanted to learn my way around Linux, it's a pretty good way to go.

    As a bonus, I can connect to the internet and do other stuff too.

    Going with something like this might be the best way to go, depending on what you're after. The problem is that some people pick up one of these "sub-notebooks" or whatever they're calling them these days, and expecting full notebook capability from them.

    You can get an awful lot of functionality from them, but at the end of the day if you want a real computer, you're going to have to buy one.

    I went with the XO instead of something like the MSI Wind or one of the Asus EEE for a few reasons.

    One is because I like the idea of a kid somewhere being able to benefit from me picking it up.

    One is because I wanted to start to learn my way around Linux stuff and have some fun doing it.

    And one was because I wanted a decent reader.

    You can get an idea what it looks like here:


    The ability to rotate the screen around and lay it flat is pretty sweet.

    It's particularly nice because you can read something in the full color backlit mode, or just turn it all the way down to a straight black and white mode. For me? It was worth the money I paid. And if you don't want to opt into the $400 Give One Get One program? You can still up an XO from the last G1G1 promo they did on Ebay. Either look for "OLPC" or "XO" and you should find 'em. Average price seems to be ranging from $100 to $250.

    The machine isn't all sunshine and lollipops but for what I want out of it, it's worth every penny.
  • I've been reading PDFs on my iPhone. You have to either get to them through the web browser or install extra software to get them onto there, but it's full-color, renders them quickly, and, while the screen is small, has excellent zoom capabilities.

    Oddly enough, while the ability to display PDFs is built-in to the iPhone OS, it seems to rely on the application calling it to do memory management. I first tried it with an app called "MobileFinder", but that crashed often. Now I'm using "Files Lite", which has had no problems for me.
  • Something called the Readius is supposed to come out sometime soon, I think. It looked pretty cool.
  • Eee PC user here, sporting ubuntu netbook remix.

    As others have pointed out, hey, it's a computer. And it's limited (especially the screen size, though the newer models add a good bit of real estate there). But the portability is considerably greater than a regular laptop--no worse to carry than a mildly hefty trade paperback. That plus wireless, proper internet make it pretty dandy for gaming purposes. As the price is basically not different from the e-readers, I think it remains the better deal unless you absolutely must have e-ink.

    Also, evince kick's Acrobat's ass. At least in linuxland.

  • J,
    I have an eee PC and when I tried to use the default linux on there (is it debian or xandros), it could not handle the small screen. Does ubuntu handle it better?
    Like, I installed pidgin and when I brought up the preferences screen the OK/Cancel buttons were off the bottom of the screen. I broke down and put Windows on it, because that and smb/printer support was non-existant on that distro. Do you have a linux suggestion that might be low pain/painless and still let me print to a printer shared from a Vista PC?
    Dave M
  • edited December 2008
    All linuxes do that, and have done for... ah, like 12 years now. Maybe Xandros went a bit too far in the slimming and customization. Both Ubuntu and Fedora have distros aimed at the EeePC, and both would do that.
    (as in: print to a smb printer)
  • edited December 2008
    Posted By: efindelI've been reading PDFs on my iPhone. You have to either get to them through the web browser or install extra software to get them onto there, but it's full-color, renders them quickly, and, while the screen is small, has excellent zoom capabilities
    I agree, it works really well on my iPod touch. There are several free apps that will let you push or pull files between your i-thingie and a wireless-enabled computer. Plus some other ways to download files from file storage sites on the net, like box.net and, I believe mobileme.

    On top of that there's a program called Stanza, for iPod/iPhone, Mac, Windows, than can convert between a number of eBook formats, PDF, and text, and get them onto your iPod/iPhone.

    On the Mac, it will even convert a file into an mp3 using the OS's built-in speech synthesis. I'm not sure how useful this would be...could get tiresome listening to a computerized voice reading OSRIC through your car radio or while jogging...and it's not a super-fast conversion, but it's a neat concept.

    I've been using these apps more to read eBooks, like free original Conan texts from Project Gutenberg Australia, but they'd work well for game materials, too.
  • Something cool I just discovered: Don't Rest Your Head has a 'text reflow' option with Acrobat, so that the entire text wraps at whatever font size you need. Most PDFs, including Spirit of the Century, don't seem to have this option.

  • I just got a Blackjack II phone,,, and im wondering if I can do something similar to make it a PDF reader.

    Actually, that would rock.

  • Thanks to the person who recommended Files Lite. The For Pay version (simply called "Files") has the missing feature in iPhone PDF readers that I've been hunting for for some time now. Go To Page! This was the missing piece that actually makes the iPhone a practical PDF reader. I'd been using Air Sharing, and the jailbreak app WildEyes, but neither of them had a jump to page option. Also Files seems faster at opening PDFs and more responsive. It even handles the graphic heavy Mouse Guard PDF without too much stuttering!
  • On the Eee running Linux, you can hold down Alt while dragging a window to access off-screen elements.

  • The Mutant City Blues PDF doesn't read on my phone. Even on the laptop, some of the text inset boxes have a background that makes them hard to read.

  • I have a Dell Mini Laptop with Windows XP on it. I usually just use that. It's nice to have the internet when I need it too. I think it was around $350.
  • The Amazon Kindle is poor for this (or anything with many diagrams) the PDFs have to be converted to another format. I have high hopes for future iterations.

    I also have a couple of the first G1G1 OLPC machines and haven't had much satisfaction with PDFs though it's been almost a year since I messed with them.
  • My experience with my XO laptop (aka OLPC/G1G1) is quite the opposite. It even handles the OD&D PDFs I got off DriveThruRPG, which don't work in Preview or on my iPhone. And the ebook mode makes for convenient reading.
  • edited February 2009
    Foxit, the company that makes cool pdf converters, has a preorder on a cheap ($230) reader that is coming out in March. I wants it.


    EDIT: made it linky
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