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Reading PDF files using iPad 3

Zhigang Suo's picture

Reading PDF files of papers and textbooks on computers has long been difficult for me.  The resolution of the screens has been too low.  The computers have been too heavy for reading in couches and beds. 

In recent months  iPad 3 has made a difference for me.  The resolution of iPad 3 is so good that color pictures often look better on screen than in print.  iPad lets me read comfortably anywhere.  I’d choose to read a book with iPad even if I have the same book in printed form.  I wish iPad were available when I was young and had a lot of time for reading.  I would have read all these large biology books in bed. 

With the help of my sons, I get things organized by using the following software.

  • Use Dropbox to hold PDF files.  This way I can access papers from any computer. For example, I can use a desktop to download and organize papers.
  • Use PDF Expert (an iPad app) to read and annotate PDF documents on iPad.

I synchronize Dropbox and PDF Expert.  The synchronization is done automatically whenever the desktop, laptop or iPad is connected to the Internet.  This synchronization keeps identical files on all these computers, so I can read and annotate even if these computers are offline.  Any annotation I made using PDF Expert is updated. 

If I add a paper to Dropbox using the desktop at work, I can read the paper on iPad in bed in the evening. No more file transfer.  No more organizing files in different computers.  Just reading.

Let me know if you have figured out a good way to read PDF files.  


Dibakar Datta's picture

 Dear Prof. Suo,

 You may find the following link very interesting ::

The top 10 apps for college professors


Dibakar Datta  PhD Candidate ; Major : Solid Mechanics
Shenoy Research Group
Providence 02912 , USA

Zhigang Suo's picture

This video is wonderful!  I'll try some of the apps.  Thank you so much for the link.

farhan3d's picture

Yes, the new cloud based technologies and these mobile devices have significantly eased the way in which we do research. I used Dropbox, Zotero, Evernote, and LogMeIn during my MS research. The combination of these fantastic tools allowed me to review my documents on the go on my iPhone, retrieve and edit documents on an other computer in another city, and even initiated computer simulations on another computer in another city when I was on the go using the LogMeIn app on the phone. These tools greatly increase productivity, but with that ease should also come a greater output from the researcher.

oh yeah. It is also extremely convenient if you have some results to show your collaborator while on a road trip.

Zhigang Suo's picture

Indeed, with the combination of Skype and Dropbox, my group has greatly increased national and international collaboration.  Research is going cloudy, not just between people and machines, but also between people and people.

Zhigang Suo's picture

By accident I landed on this old post today.  I am still using these three items

  • iPad Air.  Its storage is larger than the storage of iPad 3.  The resolution of the screen seems to be the same as iPad 3.
  • Dropbox.  I use Dropbox for placing most files in the cloud, so that all devices have the same files.  This function has remained unchanged.  Unfortunately, Dropbox is nearly inaccessible in China.  My Chinese collaborators have stopped using Dropbox.  That means we do not have shared folders now.  We are exploring services other than Dropbox.  Annoying!
  • PDF Expert 5.  I read nearly all PDF files using PDF Expert 5 on iPad.  PDF Expert 5 synchronizes files with Dropbox, in a way I described in the original post.  A small change in Version 5 has made a big difference to me.  There is no stop from one page to another.

I read a lot, mostly papers and textbooks, in PDF format, mostly in bed, when light is not on.  PDF Expert 5 allows me to annotate and search.  I have nearly completely stopped reading papers and books on paper.

Do you have any update on how you read?  Have you discovered any useful software and cloud service?   

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