Technical books are big and heavy so I prefer to read them in digital formats, which I have found is only possible thus far for me, through computer monitors and my Nexus 7 tablets. The Nexus 7 tablet is only 7″ diagonally, making it tiny and uncomfortable to read text with diagrams while computers are well… I get distracted all the time and find it hard to read through an entire document. Weirdly enough, I also find that if I tilt my head downwards like I’m holding and reading a book, I can read much quicker.
(Head to the 2nd-to-last paragraph for quick rant on TI’s awesome MIPI DSI to eDP converters to be used on high-res eDP displays with Raspberry Pi’s DSI port)
Now, there are existing large tablets on the market, such as the monstrous Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.x series and Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. They are ultra thin and large but also fairly expensive and out of my budget ($500-$900).
During work experience earlier this year, my boss gave me a monitor that doesn’t stay on for a long time – could be due to a blown capacitor (there was 1 when I opened it up). I also have another 17″ LCD sitting in my room doing nothing. So I could turn them into portable e-readers by using a Raspberry Pi A+, LED strips to replace the CCFL tubes and a HDMI-to-VGA adapter.
Let’s talk Pros and Cons.
- Cheaper: Pi ($25) + LED strip ($10) + Power ($15-$20) + Batteries ($40 x 3) + Monitor (Free) = $175 approx.
- Larger screen estate
- Matte screen
- Much thicker and heavier
- Much lower resolution, could be an eyesore for long period of time
- No touch screen
- Involves lots of development time
- Washed out colour
- Lower brightness
- Battery life concern
Now let’s break down the Cons if see if there are any mitigations for them.
- Thicker and heavier is expected, the screen is already much thicker.
- Nothing I can do about that. Let’s focus on the positive that we’re getting much larger screen estate here.
- Could be fixed with Microchip GestIC with a sensor board mounted behind the display.
- Too bad, though it’s cheaper, that’s an upside.
- The Pi may be able to be programmed to use a grayscale colour profile.
- Too bad.
- The iPad 1 used 2 batteries. Maybe I can stack up 2 or 3 iPad battery packs to make up for the Raspberry Pi’s height and extend the battery life that way.
What if you want to use a laptop/tablet display like the newer eDP or embedded DisplayPort displays that the newer iPads and MacBook are using? Well, Raspberry Pi has DSI display ports. Earlier this year, I noticed that Texas Instruments has been manufacturing MIPI DSI-to-eDP chips! How good is that!
No FPGA mess, only that now you need to come up with high-speed PCBs and dedicated power supply ICs and lines to supply higher voltage lines (still DC though), and signal integrity to make sure that the power supply noises doesn’t interfere with display signals. And what’s more? All Raspberry Pi has DSI ports, even the older ones.
So yea, just something to think about.