HP TouchPad Vs. iPad 2 In PDF Smackdown Test

Thanks to Jonathan Ezor (aka webOSquire), I have screensnaps of my standard Google Books PDF — Success: A Novel — displayed on the HP TouchPad using Adobe Reader.

Prior posts in this series for comparisons:

Google Books PDF Smackdown: NookColor Vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab Vs. iPad
Google Books PDF On HTC Flyer
eInk Nook Reading Google Books PDF
More PDF Action On Rooted NookColor
Google Books PDF On Rooted NookColor

And if you want to play along at home:

Success: A Novel at Google Books

Success: A Novel at my Google Docs (for people outside of the U.S..)

I use Google Books because they can be quite freaky.

First of all, they are image scans of a book. This makes them processing intensive and also large. Some old magazines can be over a quarter of a gigabyte!

Second, I have a lot of them I intend to read, so any device I buy has this as one of the top items on my checklist.

Third, if a device can do a Google Books PDF, most other PDFs will be trivial to handle.

Here’s that test PDF shown on the HP TouchPad using Adobe Reader. The navbar is shown in most of them:

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Without navbar:

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Here’s the page selector:

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These next two are pinch-out zoom-in:

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Don’t worry about that type being muddy. It’s an image scan. The book’s original type is like that. Also, Google tends to give people lower-resolution PDFs as downloads than the ones they display in their own website.

That’s exciting in itself. But this amps it up:

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Two PDFs opened at once! (That Spider-Man is from this collection.)

But wait! There’s more! This is an issue of Processed World magazine from the Internet Archive.

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What’s interesting about this is that the iPad could not display that when I tried it back in January.

Here are two screensnaps I did back then:

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Since then, we have the iPad 2 and updates to the iBooks program. So what’s the result today? Let’s find out:


And he did!

Update July 1, 2011: Oops! He didn’t tell me his iPad was running iOS 5.0!! Today, at the Apple Store, I tried to open this PDF on an iPad 2 using iOS 4.x — and it didn’t work at all! So I asked him WTF? on Twitter and he forgot to mention the iOS 5.0 bit. So, if your iPad hasn’t been able to view it either, now you know why. At least it’s something to look forward to!

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That’s an exciting development on the iPad. It knocks down an objection I had against it.

However, I think the HP TouchPad wins with this:

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Having more than one PDF open — here it’s the Google Books PDF and the Processed World issue — is just amazing. I can especially use that when I need to refer between Google Books PDFs for text comparison or other research purposes. For those of you who deal with PDFs a lot, I think that justifies your HP TouchPad purchase right there.

At any rate, whether you choose an HP TouchPad or an iPad 2, the real winners today are PDF users! I’m glad to see the iPad can now handle what it couldn’t do earlier. But man, two PDFs open at once? Killer!

Thanks again to Jonathan Ezor and to John Barker for the screensnaps and testing!

Previously here:

HP TouchPad Can Do PDFs



Filed under iOS, webOS

9 responses to “HP TouchPad Vs. iPad 2 In PDF Smackdown Test

  1. pateret

    can you search within a PDF on the touchpad?

  2. Awesome. PDF’s are the sole reason I bought a Touchpad off ebay for $200 and returned my recently purchased nook to walmart. The nook handles pdfs like crap. Plus I hear there’s a decent comic book reader for webos, but we’ll see.

  3. guest

    Saw your post when I was searching for PDF performance on the touchpad. I am having issue with how TP handles PDF. 1. the resolution is quite bad zoomed in. Everything looks fine full screen, but when you pinch to zoom it gets blurry fast. A lot the times the text is not readable on the TP when the same document reads fine on the iPad2. 2. It handles large files poorly. I have some 100mb PDFs and they load extremely slowly after the first 10 pages. I don’t know, I feel there is still a lot of room for improvement for HP or adobe on this app. Thanks for the writeup.

  4. Jonathan Teo

    Just a couple of observations using Touchpad’s PDF reader:
    1. Page navigator is pretty useless. As you can see in screenshots in this article, it is good for books about 20 pages long.
    2. The thumbnails preview offer a slightly faster way to navigate to a page. But is still too slow for large documents (100’s to 1000’s of pages).
    3. Unable to follow hyperlinks in table of contents or anywhere else within the document.
    4. No support for highlighting, comments.
    5. Rendering is a little slow; may cause eyestrain.

  5. Chris B

    do a search and overclock your touchpad..it makes all the diff in the world on pdfs…much smoother

  6. Brian

    The bluriness problem is due to the Touchpad being hard-coded to one resolution when rendering a PDF page, and not actually re-rendering larger just because you zoomed. There is a hack to up the render resolution, but that also slows down rendering of pages that you don’t want to zoom on. I didn’t see any mention of how the Touchpad also starts every session from page 1, or any organization of your documents (any folders are crushed into one giant listing). Since PDF rendering is just an app from Adobe and not an API, nobody’s going to write a replacement.

    Apple’s stock reader in iBooks is the low end of what’s available in iOS. The best I’ve seen is Goodreader, which brings its own renderer to the party, plus a ton of options to get files in and out of its little sandbox filesystem.

  7. sami

    now…which of them is the best?

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