Saturday, March 25, 2006

Document Readers Part Two

Reading Documents on Your Windows PC – Part Two

Cerience Repligo and Mobipocket

In this post I will briefly present and compare two products I use for reading documents:  Cerience Repligo and Mobipocket.

Brief descriptions of my criteria are available in my previous post:

Reading Documents on Your Windows PC – Part One

Cerience Repligo has been a popular choice for me ever since I purchased a pocket pc.  This is its primary purpose:  to convert documents into a format that is easier to read on your mobile device.  However, I find the accompanying desktop software is also useful.  

Cost:  $29.95 (US); the desktop viewer is free so others can read your repligo files

File formats:  Repligo converts a wide range of files (“Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, Project, Visio, web pages and more”) into its own proprietary repligo (.rgo) format.  According to their website:  

“RepliGo documents keep the original appearance, fonts, graphics, and formatting intact and provide a reflowed text view for easy reading on small screen devices.”

In my own experience this works with most documents but not all.  I have found that a small percentage of PDF documents, for instance, would either not convert into repligo or convert with errors.  

Highlight and Annotation:  Repligo is great for this.  It is easy to pick the color of your highlights.  However, there is no way to print the highlights and notes you add to the document.

Ease of use:  I find it very easy to use.  The interface is simple.

Document Search:  You can search within documents.  Also, with some tweaking some desktop search engines (such as Copernic Desktop Search) seem to be able to include the text of repligo documents in their searches. But it can be imperfect.

Additional Features:  You can add bookmarks to the document and hyperlinks are often preserved.

Mobipocket Reader is primarily marketed as an “eBook” reader, but it has a number of features that may make it useful for reading academic documents as well.

Cost:  The basic Mobipocket Reader is free.  There are other products that allow you to create eBooks and cost more. I review only the free product here.

File Formats:  According to their support forum, the free Desktop Reader can convert Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Visio files as well as PDF, html, and text.  The conversion results in documents with a .prc extension.

The conversion results in text-only documents.  Original page formatting and numbering is lost in the conversion as the text is converted into one long stream (although paragraph breaks are often kept clean).  In my experience, documents with large numbers of images (charts, graphs, pictures, etc.) are difficult to convert.  Some images are preserved.

Highlight and Annotation:  Wonderful options for highlighting and annotating.  And I really like the annotations pane that keeps track of bookmarks, notes, highlights

Ease of Use:  I find the software is relatively easy to use for document reading purposes.  

Document Search:  You can search within documents.  I am not sure whether you can integrate mobipocket documents into desktop search engines, but I would guess that you could with similar functionality to what you see with repligo.

Additional Features:  
As mentioned earlier, Mobipocket is an “eBook” reader.  There are a wide range of novels and non-fiction books available for purchase through their website.

Mobipocket also includes a news reader program that can download content for a range of news-oriented and blog-oriented websites for reading on your desktop pc or pda.


Cerience Repligo and Mobipocket are two of the top choices for the PDA market, but both also can be useful for reading documents on a desktop pc.  I have both on my computers, but I tend to use Repligo more for two reasons:  (1) it better preserves images, charts, graphs, tables; (2) it preserves the original page formatting.  However, if all you need to do is read text the mobipocket interface is excellent and may be the better option.

Categories:  Office Software, Pocket PC

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Document Readers Part One

Reading Documents on Your Windows PC – Part One

An important part of having a paperless office is having the ability to read documents in their digital form.  Preferably, you want to be able to highlight and annotate them just as you would a paper copy.  

So in this post I want to review some of the software solutions that I have tried.  All of these programs can also be used with a Pocket PC, although Adobe Acrobat for Pocket PC is read-only.

I will use the following criteria in my posts:

  1. File formats.  Can I use the software to read (for example) .pdf, .doc, and various versions of webpages?  [the most important here is the ability to read .pdf files]

  2. Can I highlight and/or annotate?

  3. Is the software easy to use?

  4. Are document search features available?

  5. Are there additional features that add to its worth?

I test these products using my regular old Windows PC and my Pocket PC (both are Dell).  

Categories:  Office Software, Pocket PC

Catching up

It has been a while since my last post.  I think I built this blog thing up into too big a deal.  When my unfinished post on web research software began to run into 6 pages of 10 point font I realized I was going too far.  I just don’t have the time to do this as a grad student!

So I will now focus on manageable, bite-sized posts.

Hope someone finds them useful!