Monday, September 6, 2010

You Got Your RPG PDFs on My iPad!

Yep, you guess it, this post is about reading PDFs, in our case RPG PDFs, on the iPad.

Now, I've been reading PDFs on electronic reading devices since BEFORE the release of the Kindle DX.  The solutions were far from perfect, as PDF reflow wrecked havok with the formating of most  RPG PDF tables, and those that chose to show their pages in real format were impossible to read on a 5" screen.

Then came the Kindle DX, a 9" electronic book reader from Amazon with a screen large enough to show PDFs in their true format and still be readable.  Still, at times the print was a bit on the small size, and some PDFs choked on the Kindle DX (not many, but enough to be annoying).

Along came the iPad this past spring.  Billed as a "do everything" device, it does an awful lot... some things great, some not so great... but for our purposes, as a PDF reader of RPG materials, I have found it to be second to none.  If it wasn't for the glare in direct sunlight, it would be nearly perfect. 

An iPad is nothing without the proper set of tools and apps.  Below you will find some of the ones I find most helpful.

DropBox - free "cloud computing" storage, you can save a file in your Dropbox folder on your PC, open it on your iPad, then grab it later on your Macbook.  It is the definition of awesomeness.  There is a limit to the amount of online storage you get for free (which can be added to for free when adding free referrals).  I can't see paying for the service at my usage level, but I'm sure some folks obviously do.  Yes, if you sign up via my link, I'll be able to add more RPG materials to my DropBox account.  I'll just thank you in advance ;)

BTW, you can delete files from your DropBox folder without deleting it from your iPad.  I'm just addicted to syncing the damn stuff accross all my devices.

GoodReader - my "go to" PDF reader in the iPad.  It has handled evey PDF I have thrown at it without a problem:  trust me, that's alot of PDFs.  It is 2 bucks in the Apple App store.  DropBox in my method of choice for getting the PDFs into Goodreader.  You just open your DropBox folder within the app and it syncs up to the files you want to the iPad.  No muss, no fuss.

iAnnotate PDF - this is either a gimick or an awesome tool, depending on whether or not you can get use out of it's main features:  the ability to highlight, annotate, add pinned remarks / notes, tabbed PDF reading.  It will not work with well with scanned pages (so some old school scans might be limited in mark-ability).  Update PDFs are save seperate from the original, can be uploaded to your PC and can be read by your PDF reader, higlights, remarks and all.  10 bucks, so make sure you will have a use for it before your spring for it. 

You can DropBox your file into the app, and send the marked up file to DropBox for distribution on your other devices.  You can also use the DropBox app to open the file into iAnnotate PDF (which is confusing, I know.  The first method opens up your DropBox folder in the iAnnotate App to grab the file, and the second opens the folder in your DropBox app and allows you to choose the application to read it with.)

Fast PDF - advertised as the fastest PDF reader for the iPad, I'm not going to dispute that.  I still prefer GoodReader for my PDF reading.  That being said, this app has a really cool feaure that is worth the 3 buck price of admission on its own:  a virtual bookshelf.  Have you seen the bookshelf that Apple displays your books purchased from the app store?  Same concept, except for your PDFs.  What fun is telling someone you have 157 RPG PDFs on your iPad, then showing the LIST on Goodreader.  Instead, show them the BOOK COVERS on your virtual bookshelf.  'Nuff saif, its a damn cool gimmick and it works.

There are many more PDF reader apps, some I own, some I've never touched, but these are the ones I use constantly.  As you can guess from the amount of mini-reviews I do, I have access to alot of PDF content.  I need apps that make them a pleasure to read on my iPad, and these are them.

Thanks to Andugus from White Haired Man for asking the questions that got me thinking that led to me writing stuff that ended up on this page.

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  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject on my mind.

  2. It's been on my mind a bit too... i just needed a nudge ;)


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