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Studying Physics and Math from tablet

  1. Sep 27, 2014 #1
    Recently I've been overwhelmed by lengthy PDFs and papers.I usually print them and read them in library so desktop is not an option,but it's getting really expansive.Thus I figured tablet would do a great job.Now my question is did someone used tablet primarily as a learning device?Did you have any eye strain?What are pros and cons?I'm needing it for math as well as colorful physics(with lots of illustrations and such) documents.
    So will it prove worthy in a real time studying?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2014 #2
    I personally could not handle staring at a tablet screen for more than a hour.
  4. Sep 29, 2014 #3
    Hey. I am studying thph at the University of Helsinki and I also recently bought a tablet, mainly for study related purposes, but the buy was also facilitated by my health issues, so the decision was firm and clear. I did a bit of research a few years ago about tablets and e-readers and I am aware of the possible negative effects, but there is negativity anywhere. So they say that in case of an e-reader you're not directly looking into a light source and it is putting less strain on your retina. On the other hand, the problem with e-readers is that as far as I understood (someone owning a e-reader might correct me here) a lot of e-readers are unable to display physics/maths texts (they're symbolic) normally -- they are not meant to work for those. They need special file formats -- so I guess you would need to convert the PDF-s and nobody could actually guarantee this will be displayed properly? So in this light, I thought tablet would be a better choice. The other disadvantage of tablet might be that one might get distracted when studying, because the amount of options might lure to do other things with it -- but I take it rather as a challenge to discipline myself to stay focused and I find it to be a good mental challenge as well. To reduce eye strain and glare, an anti-glare film can be added to a tablet and with respect to photoreceptor excitation, one can use an app light Twilight on Google Play Store which adjusts the color temperature and thus You can also filter out lower-wavelength visible light components.

    Using a tablet doesn't mean I'm not using papers, but I just felt that the amount of papers might get overwhelming, especially when doing homeworks. By the way, I do have a laptop and and external monitor as well, but because I personally need to shift working positions often (I have two tables, one for sitting, the other for standing), it would be tedious to move the external monitor often, too. And I definitely find the tablet purchase in my case was justified 100%.
    Good luck with Your choice.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  5. Sep 30, 2014 #4

    I will update now my post. I just saw a fellow course mate today -- he is studying from Amazon Kindle e-reader. The quality seemed really fine and I asked him if there were any problems with files. He said that he doesn't experience any format problems -- pdf's can easily be opened and read. He mentioned that sometimes some letters are not displayed properly -- sometimes only.
    He told me he paid for it less than 100 euros. Because it doesn't have a touch screen, it would be hard to use it for internet navigation, but if You're low on budget, this seems to be quite a good choice to me!
  6. Oct 1, 2014 #5
    I only have experience with iPads and the Kindle Fire. I've never found a decent PDF reader for the Kindle (the situation may be very different on more generic Android devices), whereas there are several good ones for iPad.

    I should expand on what I mean by decent: there must be at least a horizontal lock feature, so you can lock in the optimum zoom and margins. Having to adjust the zoom after every page turn is a non-starter.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2014
  7. Oct 3, 2014 #6
    Eink solves the eye strain issue, since it uses real ink and is either unlit or front-lit.

    Amazon still sells the Kindle DX for $200, which is probably fine for most PDF's, though it may choke on some of the bigger ones or you may have to orient it sideways due to the low resolution of the DX screen.

    The new Kindle Voyage is more than high definition enough to handle pretty much any PDF, but you'll probably have to zoom or read sideways unless you like looking at tiny text, since unlike the DX, the screen is small, but it is also modern, up to date, and much higher resolution.

    The Ectaco Jetbook color 2 is much pricier (around $500), but has a larger screen like the DX and is high resolution with color support. I haven't used it, but it seems to be a good PDF reader, although a bit pricey.

    Sony has released a very nice, super high resolution, black and white eink reader. It is the most ideal one I have seen for reading PDFs (due to its large size and ultra high-res screen) but it will cost over $1000 to get it imported.

    I use my old Kindle 2 for PDF's since every Kindle can read them, but unfortunately, until they come out with a successor to the Kindle DX (something like an extralarge paper-white or Voyage), the market is kind of limited unless you want to spend more than $200 on an ereader, in which case the Sony and Ectaco readers look pretty good.
  8. Oct 17, 2014 #7
    I use an iPad with the display set for white text on black background and that relieves eye strain even better than my e-Ink Kindle. It has proven to be an excellent learning device, although some research suggests that learning retention is still a bit better with the same reading material from a real-paper book. Also, books tend to be less expensive and you can play video lessons from iTunes university or other sources such as from MOOC List (http://www.mooc-list.com/).
  9. Oct 19, 2014 #8
    I have an iPad (with "retina" screen) and I do almost all of my reading on it now. Try the "GoodReader" app for PDFs. They have a crop function that's really useful for reading papers. Most papers have a huge margin and makes it too small, unless you crop it out.

    Do not get the Kindle DX. I had one, it's a pain in the butt to do anything with it since Amazon stopped supporting it.
  10. Jan 20, 2015 #9
    My experience in using tablets, laptops, and ereaders for academic items has generally been unpleasant. The reason I say this is because it takes too long to go back and forth between pages or to browse for something. This to me is the biggest drawback.

    On the up side, these devices are much much lighter than the a stack of books in your backpack. I wish adobe would allow you to open different pages at once in the same pdf. I think with that the laptop option would be fine. Even then the tablets and ereaders tend to lag too long. Sure it's just a few seconds, but it adds up and when you're looking for that equation etc... every second counts toward building your education without frustration.
  11. Jan 20, 2015 #10
    Did you consider a laptop?
  12. Jan 21, 2015 #11
    I'll make another update to my post. Now I'm switching from physics to modern neuroscience and I have more experience with tablets and ereadrers now.

    : I agree if you like to read often mathematics texts from small screens, but I don't see why I would rather choose an iPad over my Lenovo Laptop. With other files: One can convert PDF's to .mobi for free, for example http://ebook.online-convert.com/convert-to-mobi , I really don't see any problems here... Also, I don't like supporting the Apple corporation, in which case I would be more paying for the brand name than any actual benefits -- I've got to use an iPad for a while, and I'd say the eye-strain is definitely not worth the price for me.

    Despite my first post, I decided to sell my Lenovo Yoga Tablet and instead buy Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. I am happy and I like it literally 10x better than the tablet. Reading is so much more easier for the eyes and what I like the most, is the lack of other distracting options in the eReader, but focusing on reading. The tablet was putting so much strain on my eyes, it was extremely uncomfortable to read more than 15 minutes with that. It is so comfortable with the ereader really never having the need to charge it, but continue on with my reading. Lenovo Thinkpad T530 + Amazon Kindle Paperwhite make a very good combo for me at least.

    I don't even have Wifi here in my room, but I am so happy with Kindle, I would not consider buying a tablet again.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2015
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