Google Books PDF Death Match: Aftermath

The Google Books PDF Death Match series of posts:

– Part One: Barnes & Noble Nook HD+
– Part Two: iPad Mini
– Part Three: iPad 4 with Retina Display
– Part Four: Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

Partially contradicting my iPad Mini test is this photo:


More — and a video — after the break.

Brandon Steili, who did the photo, says in a Comment:

Using your test PDF “The American Magazine” it loads perfectly in GoodReader on an iPad Mini.

The problem is not that you’re testing and trying to find a device that fits your needs… it’s that you’re using stock software and basing your decisions on that software. In most cases what’s on the device from the manufacturer is a starting point only and for all intents and purposes is garbage.

I should have carried over what I said in the Nook HD+ post to all of the other posts in this series:

Some of you out there might think this is an unfair test because I wasn’t using software designed for PDFs. Too bad. I can’t use special PDF software on an iPad or any other device in a store. And I’m not going to buy devices to test and then return them. That’s unfair to the seller. This is what demo models are for — and posts like this so people can try it for themselves with PDF software and report in Comments (hint hint).

The thing about Apple is that iBooks has gotten significantly better over the years. At one point it couldn’t even do Success: A Novel. Now it handles it just fine. Apple needs to continue to improve iBooks to handle these massive Google Books PDF files now. There’s certainly the horsepower in their tablets to otherwise do so.

I’m against the argument that goes, “Buy the device then go buy this software and it’ll work.” Without proof, that’s nothing more than a double-gamble. And history is on my side here. Back in the Apple II days, VisiCalc was the thing to get. Well, where I worked at the time, someone got VisiCalc. And the slowness of it was just stunning.

So how was Brandon able to do it when I couldn’t get the iPad Mini to seemingly complete and/or do anything with the download? Third-party software:

I followed the links to the PDF using GoodReader’s built in web browser. It took a few minutes for me to download it.

Using a little bit of “I would normally do it this way” I also downloaded it to my Mac and transferred the file to GoodReader using iTunes. Frankly that method is more reliable.

Note: The download time was the same on the Mac and the iPad – slow either way. Could be my network connection or Google throttling downloads.

GoodReader! He bypassed using Mobile Safari.

And here is a video Brandon did:

He also reports in a tweet that pinch zoom takes:

about 2-3 seconds for it clear up the text.

That doesn’t seem all that bad.

Also in Comments, Jean Kaplansky says PDF Expert (which I’d never heard of before now) is better than GoodReader:

Hey! I did the test! Calm down. I didn’t bother with the Galaxy Note 8 since you already went there. I did bother with the iPad 4th Ed.

Findings: once downloaded, the PDF was navigable in Safari, GoodReader, and PDF Expert. The pages do not resolve immediately, but I expect this because of the scans. It took approximately 60 seconds for Safari to send the PDF over to PDF expert. Once in PDF Expert pages turn fairly smoothly. I’ve found that PDF Expert tends to have slightly better throughput than GoodReader, in general. I never open PDFs in iBooks because iBooks is generally useless for PDFs. At least it is for me. I don’t use apps where I can’t highlight and annotate.

Let me repeat this bit:

It took approximately 60 seconds for Safari to send the PDF over to PDF expert.

Now I wonder if the iPad 4 was sending it to iBooks but I just didn’t realize it’d take so damn long.

As for Android, on Twitter @TheTechChat reports:

Opens fine on the Nexus 10 using ezPDF Reader. Reasonable speed, as well, and of course sharp as hell.

I’d say it’s comfortably usable. Page turns are just a tad slower than with a smaller document. Navigating to later pages is fast.

The Nexus 10 is a 10.1″ tablet with a dual core ARM A15 Samsung Exynos 5250 CPU and Mali T604 GPU, 2GBs of RAM and a Retina-class screen of 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. Its AnTuTu score is 13,750.

That AnTuTu score is lower than that of the Chuwi V88 iPad Mini clone, with a Rockchip 3188 Cortex A9 quad-core CPU at 1.8GHz, Mali-400MP4 533MHz GPU, and a 2GB RAM model. I wonder if it would be even faster on the Chuwi V88?

As for being shown wrong, I don’t mind. I got the information I wanted. That’s the purpose of these blog posts.


Filed under Android, Google Books PDFs, iOS

2 responses to “Google Books PDF Death Match: Aftermath

  1. Brandon

    ” I can’t use special PDF software on an iPad or any other device in a store. And I’m not going to buy devices to test and then return them. That’s unfair to the seller.”

    I agree completely. That would be absolutely the worst thing to do.

    Choosing a device based on 3rd party software is a huge gamble as you mentioned. No promises that the software will continue to be updated across OS versions. But this gamble applies to every device – including PCs. Windows itself lives only because of the applications available for it. Otherwise you’d Have IE and calculator to fill your days. So while you’re taking a gamble on third party apps, it’s a gamble we’ve all been taking for decades.

    The key is finding a way to best determine the device and apps which will work best for you. Crowd sourcing your testing is quite possible the only way to do it since your nano-fondles aren’t going to get you all the information you need.

    What I would do is find the form factor you like the most, then based on that find the device which has the best specs vs. cost in that form factor. Once that’s said and done – start fishing for people to help you find the software you need. Android or iOS … the software to do what you want is there.

    As for bypassing Safari – technically I didn’t. All apps use iOS’s UIWebView for in-app browsers, which ultimately is the core of Mobile Safari. So, while I didn’t use the Safari APP… I still used the core of Safari. Not exactly the same thing, but close enough.

    • mikecane

      >>>since your nano-fondles aren’t going to get you all the information you need.

      Not all, but nearly enough. I’ve watched iBooks progress from rotten to good handling Google Books PDFs. In the beginning, it couldn’t do them at all. Now even Success: A Novel is handled well on an iPad Mini. I’m not sure anyone else has even noticed that progress.

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