Just tested an iPad for reading scientific journal papers - bad news of iPad 2

Discussion in 'iPad' started by thesmoth, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. thesmoth, Feb 2, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2011

    thesmoth macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    One of my main reasons for wanting an iPad is to put all of my hundreds of scientific journal articles on it, and dispense with my old practice of printing hard-copies to read. There are a lot of things I want out of a PDF reader for iPad (highlighting/annotating, good organization of PDF files into different categories to easily find what i'm looking for, etc...) but the very basic thing I need is a high quality display.

    I downloaded a PDF file from the web onto the iPad, and I was really impressed that it asked me right away if I wanted to store it in iBooks. I was also very happy that having the article full screen, the text was JUST big enough to read. This was great because pretty much all journal articles use a similar layout and font. Now the very bad news is that the resolution is just way to low for this to work. With the page full screen the text was small, but big enough to read. The problem was that the low resolution of the iPad 1 screen made the text blurry and hard to read. I could easily pinch-zoom or double tab a section to read it better, which is something I would probably do quite frequently; however it is a 100% necessity that the resolution be high enough that I can read through and scan the page to find what I'm looking for, and THEN zoom in on the paragraph/chart/graph/table I want. With the iPad 1 this won't work because the resolution is too low and the text is very blurry and hard to read. I CAN read it, but it's not nice on the eyes, and it's not until you zoom in that it starts looking sharp and nice.

    I was hoping this wasn't true, but a retina display is 100% necessary to use the iPad for reading journal articles like this. I was hoping that it would work fine with the iPad 1 resolution, and that a retina display resolution would just be 'bonus', but that is unfortunately not the case.

    If any of you are academics and needing to read lots of PDF journal articles, you will definitely want to pass on the iPad, and also pass on the iPad 2 unless it has a retina display. I am very disappointed by this discovery, because I was really hoping this could replace my printed papers.

    EDIT - After further use, it is NOT to due with the resolution of the PDF file, but of the iPad its self. I have used it more and it is not as blurry or bad as I thought at first, although a full screen PDF document is not super clear (still readable though). A high resolution display would make reading very small text like that MUCH easier and nicer, but it is still doable with the current resolution and not as 'make or break' as I first thought it was.
  2. jimHdk macrumors regular

    May 10, 2010
    Perhaps it's time for some glasses. I have no problem reading text on the iPad. Obviously higher resolution would be better but a retina display is not necessary.
  3. racer1441 macrumors 68000

    Jul 3, 2009
    As someone who has been using the iPad for journals since it came out, I'm calling BS.

    It's purely subjective. It will work for most, but won't for some, just like any screen.
  4. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    You clearly don't know what the OP is talking about. Journals in PDF format do not scale nicely by virtue of being PDFs.
  5. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I opened a regular journal article from JACS (journal of the american chemical society) in PDF form, and full screen it was very obviously blurry. You can read it, but it's not very sharp and very noticeable blurry. Once you zoom in it looks VERY good, but at full screen it is not acceptable.

    I have 20/20 vision so that isn't the problem. I'm not saying it's so blurry that you can't read it, but it's much harder on the eyes and notably blurry.
  6. zenio macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2011
    I have had this same experience with PDF's. Perhaps Apple will address it.
  7. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    So could this be fixed by using a different PDF viewer, other than the built in one/iBooks? Maybe an adobe reader or something?

    Really that is my only complain. When zoomed in I thought it was fine for reading.
  8. andiwm2003 macrumors 601


    Mar 29, 2004
    Boston, MA
    i didn't buy the iPad for that but was hoping to transfer my 300 papers to the iPad for easy reading.

    But not only do I not know a good search tool for the collection of papers I also find the resolution insufficient. Even more I think the screen should be as large as the physical size of the iPad instead of having a 1 inch becel. Also I would need an easy way to download papers to the iPad at work without using iTunes, email or such. Ideally USB but that is not going to happen.

    In any case I would only recommend the iPad for scientific papers if the resolution doubles (Retina or whatever you call it).

    But my guess is that this is another two years away.
  9. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    Sad, I would have bought one first day if it had a retina display.

    Oh well i've been doing just fine with my macbook pro and hard copies so far, I can wait another year for the iPad 3.
  10. PhoneI macrumors 68000

    Mar 7, 2008
    I currently have over 100 technical books and journals loaded on my iPad. I have absolutely no problem reading them, seeing the text, making the fonts bigger (with pinch to zoom). I am middle aged with decent vision. I have no idea why you are having a problem
  11. LiloThePleo macrumors 6502

    Aug 8, 2010
    Yup no issues here with the text quality on my university papers. If the PDF itself is low quality then you can't expect any screen to fix that, retina display or no retina display. Try downloading your PDF's from an alternate source.
  12. omni macrumors 6502

    Jan 20, 2008
    What this has to do with ipad2 is beyond me.

    But I have literally 100's of PDF's loaded up on my ipad and I read them all with Good Reader and have ZERO complaints.

    In fact, I think the Ipad is the single best PDF reader on the planet, no hyperbole.
  13. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    The are high resolution PDF files.

    Someone do me a favour and check out the JACS website, download a PDF, and take a look at it in full screen and tell me the text doesn't look very pixelated, blurry, and low quality.


    The high res PDF's are the ones i'm talking about. I'm sure there was nothing wrong with the iPad I was using, and i'm also certain it was blurry. You guys must be looking at larger images with larger text than I am, so i'm sure if you look at one of the same PDF files i'm talking about you'll see the same thing.

    And pinching to zoom is fine, as I explain in my original post, but also being able to read the page in full view is important.
  14. SteveKnobs macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2010
    I'm not understanding why you HAVE to read them in full page? I read psych journal articles daily and the pinch-to- zoom works fine. What is the function of having the entire article in view at once? And this reason cannot be the only reason you're not happy with the iPad.
  15. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    Well if I have to skim through dozens of articles to find what i'm looking for, I want to be able to quickly glance through an article to find the section I want, read a bit of it, and then zoom in once i've found it. I don't want to have to zoom in everywhere to read it. Being able to quickly scan through it to find A) if it's relevant to what i'm looking for and B) which parts exactly I want to read at the time, is important to me. Having to do this while zoomed in seems like a pain, and although it's not impossible to do this full screen (as I said before I can still READ it, it's just blurry) in the iPad 1, but it would be MUCH nicer and easier with a high resolution display.

    If this is one of my main reasons for buying an iPad and it cannot do it optimally due to a low resolution display, then it makes sense for me to not buy it and to wait for one that has what I need (high resolution display).
  16. PhoneI macrumors 68000

    Mar 7, 2008
    hey, to each their own, but the iPad has changed the way I carry and read all of my technical documents. To me the advantage of being able to carry my entire library of documents outweighs any issues of needing to scroll around the screen and zooming in and out. Again, I have no issue with the resolution (however more is usually better)
  17. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    Yes, I admit i'm being picky, and the benefits of carrying EVERYTHING with me and having it weigh a constant amount (1 paper or 1000 papers are the same physical weight on the iPad, but carrying the hard copies would be a different story) would be huge. I guess I feel that if i'm going to pay a large sum of money for a device with the primary goal of reading high resolution PDF documents, i'd like a screen with high enough resolution to be able to OPTIMALLY view my content.

    We'll see, I may end up getting an iPad 2 anyway due to gadget lust, and then i'll make due with the low resolution screen.
  18. SteveKnobs macrumors 6502

    Jun 23, 2010
    I mean I respect your opinion and your choice to spend your money as you seem fit, but even with a high-resolution screen, I'm not sure you would be able to do what you want. I feel like you would still have to zoom in at least a little bit- the screen is only 9.7 inches. I'm not sure about everything that is out there, but if there was an app that held all of your PDF's and allowed you to search within them, similar to what Preview on OS X allows you to do- well that would be quite efficient.
  19. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    Yes I suppose that's true, and I guess we'll never know until we have a high resolution iPad to compare with one day.

    Looking at it earlier today it just struck me that a high resolution display would help a lot, and would really be the only major upgrade I would think the iPad needed. I don't care about cameras or other odds and ends, I just want to be able to read things well.
  20. MrWillie macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2010
    Starlite Starbrite Trailer Court
    Hmmm, $35 for 48 hours.

    I have many PDFs on mine, to include graphics. I have no problems. You do know you can double tap to zoom in and out right ?

    Have you tried the not so high resolution PDFs ? Any particular reason you are downloading the higher res documents ? (I have a theory on the reason).
  21. zenio macrumors 6502

    Feb 2, 2011
    I'm in complete agreement. This is just what's required as a proper solution.
  22. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    This is a bit OT, but I'm about to try Nature's iPad app.

    It should be interesting to see how they handle these kinds of issues -- certainly Nature has plenty of diagrams and images and small fonts and all the rest.
  23. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I get them free through my university. I'll try the low resolution version tomorrow. I just clicked high resolution so the images were better and I could zoom in more, etc...

    Do you think maybe the low res version would look better? I will test tomorrow and then check back.
  24. k995 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 23, 2010
    Get some reading glasses ? Sorry either you had a bad PDF or something is wrong with your eyes, magazines even with small print read fine on an ipad without zooming in.
  25. thesmoth thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oct 7, 2008
    I'll try a few more PDF files, but it was a VERY high resolution PDF file. When you zoom in beyond a certain point it is super clear, just when it's full screen the text seems too small to be displayed clearly by the low resolution of the iPad screen.

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