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Popular PDF Viewers Tested (Large PDF)

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to give a few PDF viewer apps a test and let you know what I found out.

Test1: In this test, I wanted a file that had these basic properties:

  • More than 50 MB in size
  • Lots of mixed text/graphics
  • Using text like that you would get if you exported the file with software, or used advanced character recognition.
Test2: In this test, I used a typical scan

  • A typical scanner scan like you find on the internet

For Test1, I downloaded a > 60 MB PDF file called "Defense Advanced Research Project Agency - 50 Years of Bridging the Gap.PDF." Since it is a Government Sponsored publication, it exists in the public domain.

For Test2, I scanned a page out of a popular men's magazine.

Test1 Image Quality:
Stanza - 1st Place
(Click for full size)

GoodReader - 2nd Place
(Click for full size)

Docs2Go - 3rd Place
(Click for full size)

This is somewhat subjective because none of them rendered the test page without some jagginess or fuzziness. Interesting, while I felt that the Docs2Go text was the worst, I found he graphics sharper.

In any case, they were all quite similar.

Test2 Image Quality:
In this case, the results were dramatic to my eye. The images are here for your own scrutiny, but for my eye, GoodReader had dramatically better anti-aliasing in high-contrast parts of the magazine.

First Place: GoodReader
(Click for full size)

Second Place (Tie): Stanza
(Click for full size)

Second Place (Tie): Docs2Go
(Click for full size)


Test1 Page Load Speed:
Stanza - 1st Place
Wins this one with the fastest load times.

GoodReader - 2nd Place
Interesting, Goodreader supports no page-turn animations at all, but showed the normal "empty page loading" checkerboard during load - which I found distracting. It really didn't load any faster than Docs2Go other than any kind of missing animation.

Docs2Go - 3rd Place
Docs2Go combined a more complicated animation with page load times of GoodReader, making it the slowest.

:comingsoon: Stanza won this one hands down with a smooth left-to-right scrolling animation and the page was basically rendered as soon as the scrolling was finished.

Test2 Page Load Speed:
The page load times were effectively the same with a scanned article.

Zoom:
Three Way Tie - But Not All the Same!

Docs2Go
Fast zoom, but also the lowest level of zoom allowed
(Click for full size)

GoodReader
Slowest Zoom, but best quality and highest level of zoom
(Click for full size)

Stanza
A compromise, but didn't zoom as fast as Docs2Go, and not as sharp as GoodReader
(Click for full size)

User Interface:
GoodReader - 1st Place
Somewhat unintuitive up/down sweeping gestures to change pages.
GoodReader had however the best file maintenance features with the ability to make folder and move files. There is, however, no iTunes access to the files, so I would sometimes wonder if I had already moved the file before and copy it again into the GoodReader root folder. On the other hand, GoodReader supports a desktop app for some kinds of synchronization (not tested).

Stanza - 2nd place
Simple tap or left-right sweep gesture to change pages.
Stanza also gets props for an attractive bookshelf, but misses out for poor file organization.

Docs2Go - 3rd Place
The Docs2Go UI is a disaster. There are no general tap zones nor swipe gestures (that I could find without additional reading, you're forced to tap a small button) nor did it allow any kinds of organization.

Conclusion:
GoodReader: A strong showing, and the advanced organization features will attract people who have a lot of files. However, with scanned pages, GoodReader is the only choice; the quality of scanned images and text was the best by far.

Stanza: This attractive performer won in the most categories, but the missing ability to organize the files may turn some off. Also, the anti-aliasing in scanned pages was disappointing.

Docs2Go: Usable in a pinch. If this weren't a somewhat decent Microsoft Office editor, this would be in the recycle bin. If you work more with DOC, PPT and XLS, but need to take the occasional PDF file with you, this is your app.

:comingsoon: If you have a lot of scanned PDFs in high resolution, then GoodReader is the best choice.

:comingsoon: I was surprised by this, but I have to recommend Stanza as a very close second to GoodReader if you don't have too many files and don't need the sub-folders. It is free and looks and performs the best. It is also a really good book reader - one of the only ones that support white-on-black text in ePub books.
 

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  • GoodReader.jpg
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  • Stanza.jpg
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Last edited:
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Reserved for more images.
 

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  • ZoomGoodReader.jpg
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  • ZoomStanza.jpg
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D

deoknam

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This is a cool "experiment" , could you also try it with scanned files in PDF format
 
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Update: Scanned PDF Magazines "Test Scan" from a well-known men's magazine which I bought at an airport and scanned to PDF.

This time, GoodReader gets the clear "win". The anti-aliasing of graphical text and high-contrast edges wins hands down.

All other review items hold true: While GoodReader was the best image quality, the zoom was clearly the slowest.

I'll update the original post.
 

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  • GoodReaderScan.jpg
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  • Docs2GoScan.jpg
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Will look forward to it:p

Thanks man, you almost saved me from making, frankly, a bad recommendation.

GoodReader is one of the slowest, but the image quality is dramatically better with scans - enough to offset the otherwise great performance of Stanza, which still performs somewhat better in text display.
 
D

deoknam

Guest
Thanks numblock! You sure do things in a flash. But I'm still nuts with why my 64mb PDF file turns blank after transferring it to goodreader and docs2go. BcBruno posted on my thread having encountered the same problem . His suggestion is to convert the files to jpeg format. Sounded sane to me. However, matth3w on the same thread commented having scanned files but works fine. I'm totally confuse. I just have go wait though, i shared the files. To matth3w using drop box. Hope he figures out something. Your experiment are helpful I'll put in mind which app to use for a better resolution and which is faster to download.
 
D

deoknam

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Matte3w , I still need you to domthe test. I prefer it in a reading format than flipping through it like in an album. ;)
 

Matth3w

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Ok I didn't install the software oir anything I'll have to try it tomorrow my wife just got home and we are going to dinner.
 

kgian

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I also did my tests. Tried some big 140mb PDFs and the only app that would not crash after reading through the documents was goodreader.
 

bolinao

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i like fast pdf for magazine pdf's,it has a bookshelf and also it is very easy to change pages,with large pdf's it did not crash for me.The only downside is that it cant handle to may mags ,the whole app crashed when i had about 30 mags on it.
 

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