It is important to remember that PDF is not a reflowable format. This means that if you try to read them on a small screen (like a phone or Kindle) then it will either be very small or require that you pan back an forth. Basically each page is like a photograph.
Technically it is possible to convert pdfs to a reflowable format, but the results are usually very bad, especially for documents that are formatted as books with headers and footnotes.
So if your intention is to read pdf’s on an e-ink readers, then you might want to look at one of the large format e-ink readers. Amazon doesn’t make any, and the ones that exist are very expensive. Onyx makes a series of 13.3" that run between $600-$1000. They are intended for PDF reading.
But if you just want to read Pali suttas on an e-ink device, then you are in luck. All of the Wisdom books are available as kindle/epub format. Here is a page that gives information on what is available…
If that is the way you want to go, it doesn’t really matter what you choose for an e-ink reader as almost all available in kindle and epub formats.
Getting one with a back-light is a good idea. As far as eye strain, it isn’t like a computer screen at all.
I have a Kindle Oasis 2017, with the slightly larger 7" screen as opposed to the normal 6" of all other kindles. I find PDF’s ok to read on it but prefer refowed text. LCD screens hurt my eyes too, it’s impossible for me to read any difficult material on them, i feel that my eyes just want to flickering light (all these screens have a refresh rate) to stop and so get through the material as soon as possible. If i find a good long form article online i sometimes spend extra time converting it to a doc then emailing it to my kindle but it’s not convenient.
I hope one day a fast eink screen will be available for web browsing. Staring at a light all day can’t be healthy and is probably one of the factors responsible for the modern attention fragmentation, as well as the nature of the internet itself.
i found kindle paperwhite to be easy on the eyes. I use a fire tablet now; not as easy. Both can be obtained with abundant RAM for about $100 US, give or take $30.
I have read pdfs on both; i never noticed a problem, but =D i was not evaluating features, and probably just did not notice the lacks more asute users might see.
I want to use text ti speech, as my eyes fatigue easily now. But one reason i have not, is a desire not to expose my memory to badly pronounced pali. I know i could play videos, if they have good quality captioning. Just a project waiting for energy in this body.
I bought a Kindle backlit Paperwhite in December. I’m very happy with it. It is extremely well designed, convenient, durable.
Best of all if you find a dhamma PDF it is very easy to convert and put it on your Kindle. You just attach it to an email, then email it to an address your Kindle has. Amazon servers intercept the email, convert the PDF and queue it for downloading by your kindle the next time you connect to wifi
The Kindle Paperwhite IMHO shines for pleasure reading. Not so much text books where you are going to be jumping around an index, table of contents, or interacting with diagrams.
I don’t know much about them but Kobo devices are another option.
Personally, I have a very old 1st or 2nd gen Kindle that has physical buttons (no Android OS or touch-screen), these old ones last forever on battery since they do so little. I’ve never connected it to the Amazon botnet doing all my transfers over USB.
It’s worth noting that Amazon is very interested in what you read and how you read it, including tracking your eyes with the front-facing camera as you reach each word on a page. They will go to any length to get that data if they can and store it in a database. Even if this technology isn’t being used now, it will be as soon as it’s feasible — it’s the natural tendency for companies interested in Big Data.
I used to have similar worries about my discount card at the local supermarket.
Then I asked myself what would happen if they tracked all of my purposes.
They would see someone not buying meat, milk, eggs. They would see someone buying a lot of vegetables, fruit, and progressive food. They might relay that information to food producers…who might, you know, make less meat, milk, and eggs…and introduce more products people like me would like. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, grain products that are better for people, animals, and the planet.
My Kindle paper white is good for reading slowly things I don’t want to mark up, and as noted above Amazon converts pdfs. However I most often use my iPad. I use the Booktopia reading app, which is free from Booktopia; when I choose to download a PDF I select ‘save to Booktopia’. It doesn’t allow study markup but does generate contents automatically and I may have a second app open at the same time for note taking or search. I consider it adequate for some study purposes and brilliant for general reading. Sometimes the original filename isn’t adequate for my purposes but can be easily changed… If they are collecting data on my reading choices I trust they find them edifying and sometimes I tape over the selfie camera.
I prefer e-ink for reading, but there are some ways to make LCDs less bad IMO.
Apps like F.lux, Twilight, or even Windows “night light” reduce blue light from your screen, making them have a warmer orange/red glow. This is easier on the eyes and less stimulating on the nervous system. Great for evening usage.
Getting a higher refresh rate monitor may help. Refresh rate is basically the frequency at which your monitor flickers. With high refresh rates like 120 Hz or above, it flickers so fast that your eyes perceive it as more continuous so it’s less fatiguing in my experience. YMMV so try before you buy. Most monitors are 60 Hz.
No. I just get a blank page, even after waiting a bit.
I’m guessing the browser isn’t sophisticated enough for the web tech used.
I had better luck reading suttas on dhammatalks.org ( Thanisarro Bhikkhu’s site ). The menu system is optimized for mobile devices. On the other hand, when I enlarged the fonts the text ran off the edge of the screen. If you don’t mind smaller fonts you can probabally use the Kindle Paperwhite to read an occasional sutta directly from the site, but it would be cumbersome for extended study.
I think the sweet spot will be when Ajahn Sujatos translations are all in ebook format.
“Kindle” is used interchangeably for distinct devices from Amazon. There are their eInk readers like the Kindle Paper White that are optimized for reading large amounts of content, ebooks. The screen technology is different. Then there is Amazon’s cheap tablet PC called “Kindle Fire” where it is more conventional screen technology that hurts your eyes when reading for a long period of time.
To make it worse the term “ebook reader” is also used interchangeably for dedicated eInk devices meant to give a better reading experience and APPS for reading books (without being able to copy them ) on conventional screen technology on computers, phones, tablet pcs.
The eInk devices SHINE for a better reading experience. I don’t need reading glasses with them because they have more dpi for the text then printed books which use lower dpi to save money. They devices do one thing and do it well : reading books for pleasure. They aren’t all that great for other things.
If you want to use PDFs as text books you are better off with a tablet PC. There are devices optimized for PDFs as text books but they are insanely expensive. Likewise if you want to surf the web, see things in color,etc…anything other than pleasure reading books, you are better off with a tablet PC.
If you want to do pleasure reading of books, you aren’t going to find anything better than an eInk device and I think the Kindle Paperwhite is as good as it gets.