Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
x Turn on thread page Beta

Tablet in the sunlight watch

Announcements
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    I'm a postgraduate student and over this summer will have a lot of reading to do and with the return of sunny weather I want to work outside again.

    I need a digital device for note-taking, however. Mainly, I use little more than zotero and word on my PC at the moment. The other day I took my laptop outside and, as you can imagine, it was essentially unusable.

    So all I really need is the ability to read e-books and pdfs and the ability to take notes somehow but without reduced screen visibility in the sunlight. This is something I wanted to get last year but never got round to it!

    What are the options here? Any advice is much appreciated!
    Offline

    12
    ReputationRep:
    I wouldn't expect too much sunlight in England.

    Maybe a waterproof device would be more suitable
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    I dont think the device would matter as they are all similar screens, have a look a screen protectors you could use ??
    • Community Assistant
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    I've never used them but a Kindle is probably your best bet. Tablets on the whole are reasonably terrible devices with the exception of some higher end devices like the Surface Pro lines which act more like a laptop. Normal ranged stuff such as Notes and Tabs from Samsung don't last very long and quickly become slow and outdated.

    A Kindle on the other hand is built as a reading device. The screens in particular are completely different from what you'd find in a traditional tablet. While they have reduced functionality they're designed to be reading devices. There's an expectation that you might be outside reading under a tree or whatever so anti glare and similar features are advertised prominently. Battery life is also meant to be better due to lower power screens and specs in general.

    Note taking is a little more difficult. Kindles do offer some note taking capabilities such as jotting in the margins but you won't be opening an app for word and saving reams of text. However personally I would prefer paper notes in this case. Read from the Kindle, note down important stuff using a notebook and later type the notes up if you want. That also encourages you to review them (and would help retention following the 12/24 hour note review methods). Read it once, note it once, reread the notes as you type them up. Just in making your notes you've covered content 3 times.

    If you're dead set on getting a tablet the only ones I'd personally suggest are the Surface devices from Microsoft. They're expensive but they offer the functionality of a laptop with the portability of a tablet. But like all laptops/tablets you'll be charging them daily. On the plus side you get a powerful laptop type device as well. But this isn't the cheapest or most effective solution.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    Whilst once an advocate of hand-written notes, I am fully converted to recording all my notes digitally and that is how I would like to continue - hence the desire to get a table that can be used out in the sun.

    I have briefly read about e-ink devices (kindles mainly I believe?) and wondered if this kind of thing would be the solution I am seeking? I have also read that these are hackable and can be run as an android device, or have I misunderstood this?

    I really don't think I need a high-functionality tablet. Just something I can type in and something that I can read in that works in the sunlight. A family member has a surface and I have used extensively and almost everything on there would be superfluous to my needs. I have a laptop and will continue to use that inside but just want to be able to read and write (in note form) on the tablet or whatever device is best outside.
    • Community Assistant
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    (Original post by micah114)
    Whilst once an advocate of hand-written notes, I am fully converted to recording all my notes digitally and that is how I would like to continue - hence the desire to get a table that can be used out in the sun.

    I have briefly read about e-ink devices (kindles mainly I believe?) and wondered if this kind of thing would be the solution I am seeking? I have also read that these are hackable and can be run as an android device, or have I misunderstood this?

    I really don't think I need a high-functionality tablet. Just something I can type in and something that I can read in that works in the sunlight. A family member has a surface and I have used extensively and almost everything on there would be superfluous to my needs. I have a laptop and will continue to use that inside but just want to be able to read and write (in note form) on the tablet or whatever device is best outside.
    You're correct that Kindles are the main E Ink devices. You're also correct that you can wipe the OS on the Kindle and replace it with Android. The Kindle OS is basically just a modded version of Android anyway.

    There are a few issues here though. You'll be limited in what Android build you can install. You'll also lose the benefits that really come with a Kindle over a standard Android tablet. If you want something running Android just buy an Android tablet.

    In that respect I'd recommend a something that has native support for pen input. That is it has dedicated stylus functionality. Something like the old Samsung Notes. A Windows tablet is also an option and means less faffing transferring notes between Android and what I assume is a Windows laptop. You'd have to look into specific models though to see what screen size and price point you want though. My 10.1 inch Note was excellent for reading and I certainly wouldn't want something smaller.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Acsel)
    You're correct that Kindles are the main E Ink devices. You're also correct that you can wipe the OS on the Kindle and replace it with Android. The Kindle OS is basically just a modded version of Android anyway.

    There are a few issues here though. You'll be limited in what Android build you can install. You'll also lose the benefits that really come with a Kindle over a standard Android tablet. If you want something running Android just buy an Android tablet.

    In that respect I'd recommend a something that has native support for pen input. That is it has dedicated stylus functionality. Something like the old Samsung Notes. A Windows tablet is also an option and means less faffing transferring notes between Android and what I assume is a Windows laptop. You'd have to look into specific models though to see what screen size and price point you want though. My 10.1 inch Note was excellent for reading and I certainly wouldn't want something smaller.
    Thanks for this.

    So the benefit of the kindle is the E ink screen -- are you suggesting I would lose this benefit if I wiped the OS and installed 'normal' android?

    It seems to me that the main feature that would help me with my issue is the E ink screen as that will allow me to read outside, am I correct?

    If we are talking about windows tablets/samsung notes etc would I now be looking at tablets don't have an E ink screen and therefore are harder to read outside, or are the ones you've suggested usable in the sun?

    Just trying to understand this all in my head.
    Offline

    5
    ReputationRep:
    Samsung's Super Amoled screens are some of the best. I have used them for years and work great in full sunlight
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Chamchu)
    Samsung's Super Amoled screens are some of the best. I have used them for years and work great in full sunlight
    Thanks for this. Which tablet do you use in particular? Do you know what the starting price is for one of these? Will look into them more.
    • Community Assistant
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    (Original post by micah114)
    Thanks for this.

    So the benefit of the kindle is the E ink screen -- are you suggesting I would lose this benefit if I wiped the OS and installed 'normal' android?

    It seems to me that the main feature that would help me with my issue is the E ink screen as that will allow me to read outside, am I correct?

    If we are talking about windows tablets/samsung notes etc would I now be looking at tablets don't have an E ink screen and therefore are harder to read outside, or are the ones you've suggested usable in the sun?

    Just trying to understand this all in my head.
    Not quite, the E Ink display exists no matter what you have installed. It's a piece of hardware. What you lose is anything related to the Kindle OS as a whole. For example if you've got a Kindle Fire used it to stream videos via Amazon Prime you'd lose that functionality since to my knowledge Android doesn't support Prime Streaming with an app. That's the sort of thing you lose. The Kindle OS is designed specifically for use on a Kindle. That's what it's optimised for. It's meant to be super power efficient and focused on things like reading. Android is not optimised in this way. You'd need to jump through a few hoops to actually get an Android tablet set up in a way similar to a Kindle.

    The E Ink display is one of the main advantages. In combination with that the Kindle as a whole is a lower power device. E Ink displays aren't the only type of display that can be read outside. They're the most power efficient display though which is why Amazon often advertise the Kindle battery life span in a matter of days as opposed to hours. Combined with low power internals and you've got something battery efficient.

    An Android (and pretty much any tablet) on the other hand is not efficient. The screens take up a lot of power and they often want to focus on performance. This eats up battery life so you just end up with a different problem (tether to a charger).

    Normal tablet displays and Kindles will all work out in the sun. However the Kindle uses a lower power display so you'll get better performance. If you take an Android tablet outside in normal to harsh sunlight you'd need to crank the brightness up. You'll be able to read but you won't be there for that long and will constantly find yourself needing to recharge.

    If I'm honest there's no real good solution that I can think of. The Kindle is the better reading device. Long battery life, designed for reading and just generally good at what it does. It isn't good for taking notes though. An android device will be better for taking notes as the apps give you a better range of options but you'll run into problems with battery life when you need to turn the brightness up to be able to read. If you install android on a kindle you'll get the benefit of the E Ink display and somewhat decent battery life but you'll be stuck on an old android release and may find apps don't work as they should.

    The other thing is how exactly do you want to take notes? Because even on a tablet you may struggle for note taking. Let's say you've got a PDF open to read. Will you be constantly switching between apps for taking notes and reading the PDF? Will you benefit from Samsung offering native split screen support so you can have the notes and PDF on screen together? Do you want to take notes on the PDF itself?

    There's really no perfectly elegant solution. Even before technology you'd still have multiple mediums. You might have a textbook to read from and be taking notes in a separate notebook. If you're trying to emulate this you'll struggle to find a truly efficient solution. At best you'll have an android device and be flicking back and forth between apps all day.

    There's benefits and drawbacks to both. I think to pick an appropriate device you'll need to weigh up all the benefits and drawbacks. Is battery life more important to you? Do you care about constantly switching between apps? Do you want to hand write on the tablet or type notes with the built in keyboard? The answers to these questions will point you in the right direction.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    10
    ReputationRep:
    Thanks for the extensive reply.

    I will use the device for no more than lets say 6-8 hours at once (and that would be a very long stretch).

    Mostly I will be reading from a physical book and making notes on a very simple word processor app -- that's all I require. I thought this may be possible on the kind or, at the very least, a hacked kindle. The notes will be typed on the tablet. So I don't think having an older version of android will necessarily be much of an issue for me.

    I appreciate the issues you raise regarding reading, for example, a PDF on the tablet whilst also wanting to take notes on the device. I don't mind switching between windows if it's easy because this will probably account for maybe 15% of my time whilst 85% will be spent reading from books as described above.
    • Community Assistant
    Online

    20
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    (Original post by micah114)
    Thanks for the extensive reply.

    I will use the device for no more than lets say 6-8 hours at once (and that would be a very long stretch).

    Mostly I will be reading from a physical book and making notes on a very simple word processor app -- that's all I require. I thought this may be possible on the kind or, at the very least, a hacked kindle. The notes will be typed on the tablet. So I don't think having an older version of android will necessarily be much of an issue for me.

    I appreciate the issues you raise regarding reading, for example, a PDF on the tablet whilst also wanting to take notes on the device. I don't mind switching between windows if it's easy because this will probably account for maybe 15% of my time whilst 85% will be spent reading from books as described above.
    6/8 hours a day may be pushing battery life on an Android tablet. But if you're reading from physical books I would recommend an Android tablet. I'd like to recommend a Samsung Note although the range doesn't seem to have been refreshed since 2014 while the Tab range has. Specifically the Note offers a stylus (although if you're typing notes then you may not use it much or at all).

    I would assume the Tabs also offer native splitscreen. So if you did need to have a digital book open at the same time as your notes you can. You'll also find support for Office, Evernote and other common note solutions with things like OneDrive offering a way to transfer notes between the tablet and laptop. On the whole that would be my recommendation.

    I doubt you'd want it due to cost but the Windows Tab is available. More likely you'd be looking at the Tab S range. Older Tabs will also suffice although won't be amazing.

    Aside from that if you find yourself wanting a keyboard instead of using the on screen keyboard you can grab a wireless keyboard.

    So yeah, overall I'd look into getting a Samsung Galaxy Tab of some sort. It's the best compromise for what you want and if you decide you want a stylus or keyboard later you can purchase them separately.
    Offline

    5
    ReputationRep:
    I currently use the Samsung galaxy tab s 10.5 but it may be quite a expensive for what your needs are.

    I do agree with what Acsel says. However, I dont find battery life a major problem with my tablet. Its when your doing CPU intensive tasks like games or lots of multitasking + background apps, that really drains the battery. Just sitting with it on and occasional scrolling should be fine (depending on tablet). I couldnt give you a number of hours though, but 6 should be just about fine (just reading that is). However, if it does run flat, whack it on fast charge and go make yourself a cup of tea and im sure you will be able to finish what your doing before the end of the day with enough charge.

    Look at tablets specs and any brightness above 252 cd/m2 I think will be fine for outdoor use. Maybe google it.

    With multitasking, android would be your best bet. You will have access to the entire google play store, with lots of apps available for word processing and productivity. I just use google docs so all my notes are in the cloud and can be accessed on any device at any time (useful when typing notes in lectures then using library computers to add to them). I dont recommend a kindle fire. My mum has one and I find them quite slow and frustrating. I wouldn't recommend hacking anything as I think that may void any warranty.

    Also, I would by separate keyboard for whatever device you chose. Typing on a tablet takes some getting us to, and writing notes in bulk will be a challenge. I have a cheap (£17) Bluetooth keyboard that attached to my tablet and its pretty easy just to type away for hours on end to in lectures. also gives you the ability to "Alt - tab" to another app, like a pdf document, making multi tasking easier. Some tablets even offer split screen abilities to have two apps open at once to save you switching back and forth.

    Personally, I recommend buying an android tablet. Maybe spend a little more then you planned to have one a bit more future proof and better functionality. I use my tablet religiously at uni for all notes in lectures and seminars on the go, everything syncs straight into the cloud so I can go home and have it ready on my laptop (very recommend). I can read and manage and pdfs or Ebooks very easily. You will also use it a lot outside of academia whether its just watching a film while cooking or just browsing the internet in bed. If your a girl then it will fit in a handbag a lot easier then a laptop.

    However, each to their own. Excuse my dyslexia. Check reviews before buying anything to make sure its what you want. hope this helps.
    Offline

    5
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Acsel)
    6/8 hours a day may be pushing battery life on an Android tablet. But if you're reading from physical books I would recommend an Android tablet. I'd like to recommend a Samsung Note although the range doesn't seem to have been refreshed since 2014 while the Tab range has. Specifically the Note offers a stylus (although if you're typing notes then you may not use it much or at all).

    I would assume the Tabs also offer native splitscreen. So if you did need to have a digital book open at the same time as your notes you can. You'll also find support for Office, Evernote and other common note solutions with things like OneDrive offering a way to transfer notes between the tablet and laptop. On the whole that would be my recommendation.

    I doubt you'd want it due to cost but the Windows Tab is available. More likely you'd be looking at the Tab S range. Older Tabs will also suffice although won't be amazing.

    Aside from that if you find yourself wanting a keyboard instead of using the on screen keyboard you can grab a wireless keyboard.

    So yeah, overall I'd look into getting a Samsung Galaxy Tab of some sort. It's the best compromise for what you want and if you decide you want a stylus or keyboard later you can purchase them separately.
    I agree
 
 
 
Reply
Submit reply
Turn on thread page Beta
TSR Support Team

We have a brilliant team of more than 60 Support Team members looking after discussions on The Student Room, helping to make it a fun, safe and useful place to hang out.

This forum is supported by:
Updated: May 5, 2016
Poll
Do you agree with the proposed ban on plastic straws and cotton buds?
Useful resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.