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I am interested in experiences from gamers that use a Kindle Fire HD with PDFs purchased from Paizo?

I just got the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" and am curious about the user experience before I purchase any PDFs from Paizo. It looks so much more appealing to me to do this than tote around 6-9 books around, but I am concerned about whether the large-format PDFs are legible and usable in-game on the Kindle screen.

Does anyone use the Kindle to reference their game books in play, and if so, what are the pros and cons?

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Never used a kindle fire, but had a hp touchpad that worked fairly well with paizo pdfs. Using the d20pfsrd website was quicker for me than using the pdfs for most rules lookups. –  Colin D Sep 25 '13 at 13:50
    
I've never used a Kindle Fire, but I used an old-school Kindle to read through Eclipse Phase once. It's feasible, but requires a real feel for the device and good eyes. I've used my Galaxy for similar purposes, even though it's not a full tablet. –  Kyle Willey Sep 25 '13 at 14:31

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Test out other, free PDFs first...

My wife has the 7-inch HD kindle fire which she uses for 4e gaming and reading (in addition to many other things). Ultimately whether or not you find PDFs readable on the screen is up to your own personal preference. Screen real estate is limited compared to a monitor so you'll only be able to read snippets at a time, but the search feature is your friend and will allow you to jump anywhere.

In general comparison between PDFs and Rulebooks.

PDFs are much faster and easier to use (and of course eminently more portable) when looking up specific information. If you have a rules question or need to reference a specific feat or item, the PDF will always be quicker than the book. Likewise you can easily make an archive copy of the PDF to store on your personal google drive or skydrive to access from anywhere.

Books on the other hand look and feel nice. They are nice to display on shelves and can be more enjoyable to use if you are just browsing or using them for a character creation only "zero session" as players can look at more options at once.

If you're unsure which you'll prefer, there's plenty of free Paizo content that you can test drive, like this Rise Of The Runelords Player's Guide

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3  
I disagree. When I am already familiar with a book(core rulebooks), I have found that it is quicker to look up rules in physical books than the corresponding pdf. This has been true for me even in well indexed/bookmarked/linked pdfs. –  Colin D Sep 25 '13 at 14:16
    
Some of it depends on preference and tech-savvy. If you're good with spacial memory, books often work better, but if you're really fast on a computer and you don't remember places of passages well, PDF is superior. –  Kyle Willey Sep 25 '13 at 14:32
    
@ColinD, knowing the phrase you are looking for or page number allows you to jump there near instantly if you, as Kyle states, are skilled enough to do so. Also, and this should be noted, PDFs are usually cheaper than the printed version. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Sep 25 '13 at 15:43
    
There is definitely a usability tradeoff when interacting with the same content in a different medium. One thing not mentioned is the PDF reading software used, which can have a huge impact on usability. I just find the statement 'PDFs are much faster and easier...' to be incredibly misleading. Can I suggest changing 'PDFs are much' to 'PDFs can be'. –  Colin D Sep 25 '13 at 16:05
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@ColinD He specifically asked for people's experience, to me it is much easier and faster and as such I said so in my answer. Kindle Fire's format PDFs quite well natively when they are opened to read and I would suggest just using the built in Kindle Reader software on the Kindle Fire over trying to use Adobe Reader. If you disagree with the statement submit your own answer as to why you feel books are the better option. –  Joshua Aslan Smith Sep 25 '13 at 17:49

I recently got a Surface Pro, and have been using it for the D&D Next PDFs along with a couple other games, so can relate my experiences.

PDFs are difficult to share at the table. We usually share the books around the table, someone looking at the Monster Manual while another is looking at the Player's Handbook. It's probably not a good idea for the PDFs to be your only source for the material, as it will increase your waiting time to get access to a book. (Also, some of the players are not as careful as I would prefer to be passing around expensive hardware.) I would recommend PDFs only if you are the primary user with little sharing.

Switching between PDFs isn't trivial. This will depend on the software you use, but even with my PDF reader keeping the page I had open, I can still get lost switching between books.

You may need to start remembering page numbers with PDFs. With books, I would remember about where in the book my content was, open to a page in that area and go backward or forward from there. That's much more difficult to do with PDFs, and I ended up just memorizing a few of the more frequently traveled page numbers.

Load times on PDFs can slow you down. I have a few PDFs that can take a while to load each page due to the resolution, making scrolling through them quickly frustrating. This is based a bit on hardware and a lot on the PDFs you are using, though.

You can't "save your spot" easily. I will often be looking at one page, and discover I need to look up a table elsewhere in the PDF. I can't just put my finger there while scanning through for the content, instead I need to remember the page number.

That being said, there are a few up-sides:

  • Ctrl-F - easily the best part of a PDF. Being able to find some random text in 350 pages is amazing.
  • ToC and Index links - If your PDF is set up with them, they help a lot with navigating the book.
  • Scrolling feels nice - This is strange but true (for me). I enjoy scrolling through the book with a tablet compared to a book.
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Legibility on tablets (and computer screens) is largely determined by the pixels per inch (ppi) the screen is capable of. Printed matters typically is at 300 dots per inch and for something on a screen to look like the printed page it has to support 300 pixels per inch.

The good news is that the ongoing tech progression of tablets means that many tablets are close or beyond 300 ppi and are affordable.

Examples include a iPhone/iPod touch at around 326 ppp, iPad at 264 ppi, Google Nexus 10 at 300 ppi.

The remaining issue is the light emission of a active screen. Many individual are uncomfortable at reading a lighted screen at any resolution due to the emitted light. One reason that e-ink tablets like Kindle, Nook, etc still continue to sell is that they work by the reflection of light like a book. Although e-ink technology is very slow and not well suited to use for references like RPG rulebooks.

My experience is that the number of complaints about staring at a active screen drop when the ppi goes up. Some people can comfortably read on a iPhone/Nexus 4 size device because of the high ppi.

Finally if you are going to be using a iOS device I recommend the use of Goodreader to manage your PDFs. Specifically its ability to use folders, have multiple documents open in tabs, and cropping features make it a excellent program to use for references like gamebooks.

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