eReaders: A solution for the simmers paper problem

I do allot of reading and my bookshelf is full again. On top of that I have manuals that I’ve printed from all the freeware and payware add-ons I have, not to mention the piles of arrival, departure, and landing charts, sitting on another shelf. Does this sound like a problem you have? I have a solution.

I few months ago I bought a flight video and the pilot had a really neat Tablet PC that stores plates and charts. I thought it was really cool but putting out $500+ for a tablet PC was not going to happen. I already have a laptop but it’s not really convenient to use on my little desk which is already cluttered with my PC and a Saitek yoke system.

Recently, I started looking at eReader’s (see description below) because I am an avid reader and I have shelves full of books as I mentioned. I thought to myself, “I can get an eReader, clean off the shelves of books and let my wife use the bookshelf for her decorations and family pictures.” My wife has been eying it for a long time now so I’m going to lose it sooner or later. Plus, no more stacks of books lying around gathering dust.

Then, it dawned on me… charts, manuals, plates, yes!!! I fly to many locations. I can load my eReader with all of these that are occupying another shelf next to my PC. I’ll be just like the pilot in the video. I set out to find one that matched my requirements. Much to my surprise they all did and so it came down to a matter of price, clarity of the screen, and storage space. I just needed it to open PDF and ePub files which they all do.

I looked at the Sony line-up which was impressive. Viewsonic and Pandigital have nice ones in colour but it was $100+ more than I wanted to spend. Plus, colour ones use far more battery power resulting in a charging every day I figured. I looked at a few more from other sources and found one at a local online computer shop who has a store in my area. On the way there I stopped at Chapters/Indigo (large book store chain in Canada) to see if the latest Computer Pilot and PC Pilot magazines were available.

It was there that I saw the Kobo eReader. It has a 6” screen that’s clear, has 1gb of RAM built in, expandable using SD cards, recharges by plugging into a USB port on the computer, and built in WiFi. WiFi isn’t a big deal because you can connect the eReaders to your PC and upload files to it, but it’s a nice option. It was $139, a little over my budget, but only by $9. By the way, when they tell you that you get 100 free books, don’t be excited. They are classic books and you can get them for free on the net at many bookstores without using an eReader.

So, off I went with my Kobo and connected it to my PC. After 30 minutes I had my PDF charts, aircraft manuals, checklists, and on and on, on my little eReader. It’s fantastic!!! I can zoom in and out and turn them sideways for a wider view (the screen is 3.5” x 5”). You have no idea how much easier it is now to set up the FMS without having to dig through wads of paper. I jumped on line and went to NavCanada and FAA’s site and downloaded charts for places I visit often. They are all in PDF format.

Here’s a few pictures for you. They are a little blurry and I do apologize. I assure you the images on the reader are sharp. My camera has been having problems focusing lately, due to age I think, and I’m overdue for a replacement.

Computer Pilot is available in PDF format so I don’t need to visit Chapters anymore to get this magazine. It loads into my eReader just fine even though it is in greyscale. It can be hard to read but I zoom in to make it easier to read. The page turning is slow with magazines due to the heavy graphical content, but it’s less than five seconds to turn to a new page which isn’t that bad.

This isn’t the usual type of article I do, but I thought that I would introduce you to the advantages of these eReaders as it relates to our hobby. They may be a little expensive for some of you, but they will come down in price soon enough now that colour one’s are available. If you have an eReader share your experiences with us and if you buy one, tell us what you’ve loaded into it.

What is an eReader?

It’s an electronic device with a screen for viewing documents. They average 5” x 7” and about a half an inch thick. eReaders allow you to view PDF and ePub files. Some of the more advanced ones will open text, jpegs, and gif’s. The screens are greyscale but colour ones are starting to arrive on the shelves with a heftier price tag. Most greyscale versions fall between $120 and $180 Canadian currently. They do not have a back light so you will need a light source. You can buy cheap reading lights for less than $10 at a bargain store. The screen is very easy to read and is typically a light beige colour giving nice contrast to the text, but not bright so that it will cause irritated eyes after a short period of reading.

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia comparison of some of the currently available eReaders. This is a big list and should give you all the comparison data you need.

Andrew Barter

0 Responses

  1. Funny you should mention it. Two days ago it dawned on me I could use my Kindle to view the excellent but tome-like PMDG MD11 manuals in PDF format. Amazon will also convert PDF files to the native Kindle format and then you can use search, add bookmarks, change the font size, etc. Now I’m thinking of getting the large format Kindle DX.

  2. Yeah funny this is mentioned, I got tired of having to open PDF files, and got a Entourage Pocket Dual Book off HSN. When I got it it was small, I still feel one needs a decent 9″ or 10″ screen along the lines of maybe a Galaxy Tab, Kindle DX, or IPad so you would have a decent size page. I do have a small display Mimeo which comes in handy.

  3. A 9″ or 10″ would be a dream and I can only imagine the price. I found that 6″ was a decent compromise. 5″ was too small even zoomed in while 6″ at 100% viewing was ok. Full page view on a plate required my reading glasses but at 100% it was ok as you can see above.

    Rob, I wonder if there’s a converter that will change from PDF to ePUB.

    Tom, I wanted to call it LCD in my review but I think you are closer to being correct. When I push on the screen there’s no liquid distortion so I presume there’s a thick plastic cover over the screen to protect it giving it a plastic look.

    The Kobo runs on Linux which I just found out. Interesting.

  4. Interesting article, I have been using my e book reader for this purpose for awhile now. I have the nook from Barnes and noble, it works really well, but everything is in black and white. Personally I would prefer color, so I am going to purchase the Nook Color when it comes out. Plus it holds lots of PDF files.

  5. No the problem with PDF to EPub is that the pics are not converted. You have to that manually. Therefore me asking for publishers to publish in epub format. Epub is nice because you can enlarge while not messing up readability. If you enlarge pdf’s you have to move the document over the screen to scroll. Epub adjust itself. But their is no good converter available without a lot of work afterwards editing etc.

  6. Was in a B&N last night after dinner and saw the color nook. After playing around with it I find it is the better way to go as readers is concerned if you do not want an IPad and you are looking for a decent reader. Dont know but with the birthday coming up and christmas sorta hinted to the wife. Its wireless, has a browser, sd card, recharge and the resolution looks awesome for maps and plates if its anything I saw looking at National Geographic on it or Popular Science. Its all in beutiful color.

  7. If you are still following this I have to report that I had to exchange my Kobo Reader. An image of a book became frozen on my screen. No problems with the exchange at Chapters in Toronto.

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