Here are some notes regarding portable computing devices which fall in the broad "tablet" category. We focus specifically on devices to read papers (and especially PDFs) on, which excludes phones and laptops that are either too small or unwieldy.

We focus on devices that can be rooted with our own operating system. Considering the environment, this generally means Android derivatives like LineageOS although alternatives are acceptable (like postmarketOS, Replicant, OmniROM, resurrection remix, and what the hell is Dirty Unicorns exactly?) . This excludes proprietary platforms like Apple products but also many other tablets which run proprietary versions of Android or even Windows. Exceptions are made for devices that were under our possession or evaluated directly.

  1. Tablets and e-readers
  2. E-readers
    1. Kobo
      1. Kobo Glo HD
      2. Aura h2o
    2. Onyx
    3. reMarkable
    4. Sony
      1. PRS-T2
      2. DPTS1
    5. Freewrite
  3. Tablets
    1. Sony
    2. Samsung
    3. Asus
    4. iPad 4
    5. Lenovo
  4. Phones
  5. A word on sizes
  6. References

E-readers

An e-reader "also called an e-book reader or e-book device, is a mobile electronic device that is designed primarily for the purpose of reading digital e-books and periodicals." For the purpose of this documentation, the difference between an e-reader and a tablet is that an e-reader has an electronic paper display which uses no battery when idle. This leads to a longer battery life (weeks instead of days) at the cost of a lower refresh rate (think 4-20Hz max instead of 60Hz for old CRTs, 120Hz for iPads and 600Hz for newer TVs). The E Ink corporation holds many patents on the technology which unfortunately keeps the price quite high when compared with regular displays.

As far as I know, all e-reader batteries are non-removable.

Kobo

Kobo (an anagram of "book") is a company that was started by Indigo books so it used to be Canadian but was bought by the Rakuten conglomerate. They make e-readers and tablets but we'll focus only on their e-readers for now as they run a proprietary OS. They are interesting only because they make cheap e-book readers. Although their OS is Linux-based, it's mostly proprietary.

Their firmware is (deliberately?) easily modifiable. I wrote wallabako to sync my articles to the reader, with moderate success.

Kobo Glo HD

The Glo HD is a nice device and I have used it extensively.

Downsides:

Around 130$ retail price?

Aura h2o

Similar to the Glo HD, the Aura h2o is larger, and waterproof, but more expensive:

Otherwise similar to the Glo HD. Retail price around 180$CAD.

Onyx

The Onyx Boox Max 2 is an awesome creature:

Downsides:

reMarkable

The reMarkable seems promising:

Downsides:

There's a library to write applications for it (here's also an development tutorial) which is a good sign, but then why write applications when you can run Android on other readers?

Some notes from a friend:

See also this list of reMarkable resources.

Sony

PRS-T2

The Sony PRS-T2 was my first e-ink book reader. It died in a 1.5m free-fall after a ski trip by -20°C. Those are extreme conditions and I considered it served me well. The device actually still works, but the display (or more precisely the "substrate") is cracked which means the display does not work anymore and "repairing it would [not] be a cost-effective thing to try to do".

Downsides:

DPTS1

The DPTS1 is a fantastic device and was the first to introduce "real paper sizes" to e-ink displays. The DPTS1 itself is discontinued and has been replaced by the DPT-RP1/DPT-CP1 (10.3", 13.3").

Downsides:

Freewrite

Le freewrite pourrait être une façon intéressante de me forcer à écrire. Amener seulement ça dans une chalet dans le bois pour une semaine. Mais ça coûte vraiment cher, probablement à cause de l'écran "E ink" (550$USD).

C'est aussi une machine beaucoup plus restreinte (délibérément) qu'une tablette générique.

Tablets

Tablets are basically like ebook-readers, except they use a normal, backlit color display which uses more power and is less readable in direct sunlight. It's also not good for your eyes and your sleep, but those are generally cheaper and more powerful than ebook readers because the technology is more common.

Sony

Sony has a Xperia Z2 tablet that was recommended on the #tech channel. Apparently, it "runs mainline" (thanks to postmarketOS, although that's without cameras or sound) and there are builds for Sony tablets on LineageOS (LOS).

The Z2 doesn't seem to be on sale anymore (nothing on BestBuy or Amazon) but the next generation is the Z4 which is also supported by LOS. The Z4 has better dust protection (IP65 instead of IP55), is lighter (389g), a better screen and processor.

But even the newer Sony machines are seemingly hard to find in Canada: nothing at Monoprice, BestBuy, Canada Computers, and Amazon has weird stuff at 2000+$.

Samsung

The Galaxy tab S2 (LOS page for 8.0 and 9.7") were recommended on Reddit as "pretty much the only recent tablet that's also capable of running official LOS":

Bestbuy: 380$ for 32GB S2.

Much cheaper alternatives are available as well, like the Galaxy Tab E 9.7" (LOS page) at 200$:

Asus

Another player in the tablet market is Asus. The only one supported by LOS is the ZenPad 8.0:

Bestbuy: 200$ for 16GB, 250$ for 32GB.

Definitely on the cheaper end of the market.

iPad 4

Donated by family. Specifications:

Downsides:

Originally priced at 500-700$USD, now at around 250-350$USD.

Lenovo

Lenovo made a weird mix between a tablet, a laptop and a e-reader that we should mention her. The Verge has a good review of the thing called the Yoga Book C930: it's basically a folding tablet/laptop mix that has a dual e-ink and normal display, where the e-ink display doubles as a keyboard.

Insane.

Phones

When a tablet goes below 9", it's not a tablet anymore. See phone instead. Some people wish they had those without a baseband, but unfortunately that's not possible right now.

A word on sizes

As usual, sizes can be confusing. Here are a few examples of diagonal sizes:

Most recent Samsung tablets are either 7" or 10" in diagonal, but they basically made so many sizes we can't keep track anymore. Apple iPads are either 10" or 12".

References

Created . Edited .