Tablets for A4 PDF reading - Why You've been lied to

Warning: The contents of this post may shock you. Probably.

I read about 10 books a year (250 pages or so each) and print them out, so I can read them anywhere, on the go. My colleagues look at me like a dinosaur because I don't use a tablet, so I decided that I would quantify why tablets just don't surpass traditional paper yet.

Ebay allows me to buy 7,500 sheets of A4 80gsm paper for £45 which works out to be = 0.6p per sheet.

My Dell HL-2250DN Duplex Mono Laser Printer costs £75 on Amazon and comes with a starter cartridge which should give you about 500 prints @ 5% coverage

Replacement toner on Ebay, refill kit 400g refills the standard TN2220 high yield cartridge about 4.4 times, each cartridge offering a rated yield of 2,600 prints @ 5% coverage. £20 delivered.

Using the tool below and analysing a typical layout of the type of pages I read, my ink coverage on a page is typically 13% (Free trial)

Since Ink cartridges are usually calculated at yield by 5% coverage, my average reading page will be requiring 2.66 times more ink (to be at 13% coverage). Factoring this into the the cartridge refill above:
Replacement toner provides 4.4 toner refils, each rated at 2,600 (5%) = 4.4 x 2600 = 11,440 pages (5%). At my typical 13% coverage, this reduces number of pages to 11,440/2.66 = 4,300 pages.
Assuming the cartridges will not really get anywhere near their rated quote, I will assume they only get to within 85% of their ratings which reduces number of prints to 85% of 4,300 = 3,655. This boils down to £20 for 3,655 sides of print, of the average type of book I read where coverage is 13% of ink per page. This results in an ink cost of 0.55p per page.

The printer is duplex (prints on both sides) so each page will have two sides and cost 0.6p per sheet (above), plus two print sides at 0.55p each = 1.7p per page of paper.
My typical book is 250 pages. This would therefore cost me £4.25 to print the whole thing. As I read about 10 of these a year, the cost per year is £42.50.

As I believe e-ink technology will not be ready for proper A4 use and functionality for at least another 3 years, the cost over three years using this method will be £42.50 x 3 = £127.50 Add to this the cost of the printer = £75 on Amazon and the total layout for the next 3 years is £197.55.

This is comparable to the price of a typical quad core android tablet, at around 9.7" which my colleagues suggest I try instead. Needless to say my colleagues were shocked that it evens out but there are of course advantages and disadvantages.

Why is paper better?
I read about 30 pages (60 sides) per day maximum, and so I only ever need to carry around this many and this only weighs 100g. Try holding a typical 9.7" tablet at around 500g+ and you'll notice how much of an ache it gets to be. You end up focusing on holding the tablet more than enjoying the reading experience.

If I lose the pieces of paper, drop them, crumple them I'm not worried I can always reprint. I could forget them on the train and not give a hoot. With a tablet, I'm worried I'm going to drop it, smash it, crack it, sit on it or possibly have it knocked over by the drunk sitting next to me at the bus terminal.

Paper is gorgeous, A4 and lovely clarity. When you read on an A4 page it's a beautiful experience, especially if you've forgotten about it and tried to live with tiny 7" -> 9.7" unmatured tablet technology.

Save yourself the eyesight and brain tumour. It's a more enjoyable experience, your eyes are naturally more suited to it. There was no need to re-invent the wheel.

Obviously the down sides to using paper, is that i will end up with books that I will either need to give away or recycle. I can write all over them and make notes to my hearts content. Get this, I don't even need a fancy app. A magic gadget called a pen works amazingly.

Incidentally, The printer has a toner saver button which will increase it's productivity by a further 20% and with paper being even cheaper when bought in bulk, it's actually cheaper to print than use a tablet this way. Shock horror.

My advice if you're looking for something to read A4 documents on - get yourself a printer until the Mobius' great grand son's 3rd version is released probably sometime in 2017. Stop squinting at dimly lit, low resolution, over weight hunks of technology you'll pay through the nose for today and see at discount stores tomorrow.

Incidentally, the reason why you keep wondering why companies don't make a brilliant A4 PDF reading e-ink display, when you know they can and why they purposely cripple each new e-reader with stupid and obscenely useless design choices is to a) get you to pay for the upgraded model 2 years later and b) to stop you from reading all those pirated PDF books you leeched off the net that none of the publishers want you to enjoy for free. I know you've downloaded a few Terabytes of them, we all have. If you haven't, collect your copy of halo.pdf at reception.

As I say I don't believe the technology will be ready for affordable, lightweight manageable e-ink displays for PDF's for at least another 3 years. After 3 years I'll either end up with an obsolete tablet which will probably be best used as a doorstop and no physical copies of anything I've ever read, or alternatively choose my method and have a workhorse of a printer that will probably keep on going for many years + copies of everything you've read. Anything else can be recycled.

As usual YMMV.