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Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 07:33 AM #1
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
Pathfinder Lite: New Tablet Optimized PDFs
Paizo Releases Updated "Lite" PDFs - Optimized for Tablets
I was going to post up my review of Blood of Fiends tonight, but I will have to put that off until tomorrow because right now, this story seems more exciting to me. Or at least -- more timely.
Earlier this evening, Paizo released "lite" PDFs of all of their "hardcover" e-Books released to date. These so called "lite" versions are new versions of the PDFs previously released; however, these versions are designed and exported with use on tablets and smartphones in mind. While these new PDFs are "full versions" of the books and include all of the artworks that the originals do, the principal difference you will notice is that the backgrounds on the pages are far less busy. The graphical flourishes, while visible on the edge of the page, are largely missing beneath the text itself. Paizo Digital Product Assistant Chris Lambertz advises that she also tweaked various export options with a view towards making all of these PDFs work much better on tablets and smartphones.
Now, this may (or may not) be all that important to you. There are a lot of people who still prefer the feel of a book in their hand and appreciate its ease of use as a rules reference at the table. And that preference is just fine. I have multiple hard copies of all of the Pathfinder hardcovers for that purpose too.
However, for those of us who bring an iPad (or two) to games outside the home to use them as their sole source for Pathfinder rules, this is potentially a very big deal indeed. The problem so far has been that some of the "hardcover" PDFs are quite slow when used on an iPad -- even when using a high speed PDF app like GoodReader. The slow speed of the Core Rulebook, especially, makes looking up a rule on an iPad at the table quite problematic and slow. Frankly it brought things crashing to a halt. So much so, that I picked up another iPad ver 1 (used and cheap) just for use as a rules/monster reference at the table while my "main" iPad remained open at the Pathfinder Society Scenario I happen to be running. Rather impractically expensive solution? Oh, just a little.
So I downloaded all of the Pathfinder hardcovers tonight and have installed them on my iPad version 1 and ensured I had updated to the latest version of Goodreader. Then I sparked up the Core Rulebook to take the new "lite" version of the PDF for a spin.
WOW. What a frikkin' difference. (Actually, that's not quite the word I'm looking for, but Eric's grandma reads the front page.)
The Pathfinder Core Rulebook loaded mighty fast indeed. I was delighted and began to page through the book to see how snappy the new lite version felt during use. The book paused at about the 4th page in and processed for about 2 seconds and my smile drooped. "Damn. Back to this", I thought. But no, it was only a hiccup. After that the document began to move extremely fast. Hyperlinks within the document came up extremely fast. Navigating through the document through the use of the slider bar was near instantaneous. I started fist pumping in victory and moved to load up the APG to take it for a spin as well.
While the prior version of the APG was always more iPad friendly than the Core Rulebook was, the new lite APG is even better. Vroom, Vroom. Nice!
Turning now to the lite versions of the PDFs I often go through repeatedly at the table, all three volumes of the Bestiary were all remarkably snappy. The understated nature of the new backgrounds certainly made the document look different on the screen and the Bestiary pages look noticeable "whiter" during use due to the changes in the page border. Still, that's a small price to pay for links in the Index that are near instantaneous and for pages that snap up almost instantly. The net result of the new lite versions of the hardcovers is that I no longer need to bring two stupid iPads to PFS. Just one is MORE than enough (as it should be), thanks very much.
The file sizes on most, though not all of the documents, have decreased in size. Oddly, the Inner Sea World Guide and the GameMastery Guide both seem larger in terms of the file size (the "lite" version of the Inner Sea World Guide is now 237.7MB in size, about 90MB or so increase). Of all of the new lite versions, the Inner Sea World Guide still performed the worst of any of them. My guess - and that is all it is - is that the layout and content of the Inner Sea World Guide is simply on the "heavy" side of the graphics ledger. Or it just may be that this one needs a little more tweaking still.
I have not dared to try my iPod touch armed with Goodreader on a new lite PDF, but Chris Lambertz at Paizo confirms that the new lite PDFS are now working on that platform as well.
Paizo has confirmed that they will continue to release a "lite" version of all of their hardcovers going forward, so we can expect that we will shortly be seeing lite PDF versions of the Advanced Race Guide and the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition and Ultimate Equipment Guide over the next three months.
For those who have purchased the hardcovers via subscriptions from Paizo in the past (and thus have a PDF version) or for those of you who just bought the PDF from Paizo.com, you should have received an e-mail this evening advising you of the new lite version awaiting you in your downloads section. Either way, there is no charge for the new lite version of the PDF if you already own a legit copy.
If you have been on the fence as to whether an iPad (or other tablet) makes sense for reading game PDFs, this may be the prod you need to knock you off the fence. While everybody has their own view, I would suggest that a cheap used 16GB iPad version 1 obtained off of Craigslist or a similar used source is a cheap(er) way to put your toe in the water. There is no need for a 3G version - just tether a normal WiFi iPad to your cell phone for wireless access. Though if you prefer a new iPad, the iPad 2 continues to be available at an attractive entry price of $399.00 if the cost of a new iPad3 is a bit heavy for your wallet.
Last edited by Steel_Wind; Saturday, 12th May, 2012 at 03:22 PM..Robert
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Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 09:20 AM #2
Waghalter (Lvl 7)
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 10:00 AM #3
Gallant (Lvl 3)
And so it begins... This will change how I play and what I buy. Once again Paizo nails a customer need. I am delighted.
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 10:18 AM #4
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Excellent stuff - I've been using my Android tablet for games stuff for a few months, and even the 1 file per chapter PDFs were a bit slow and clunky to use. I'll be trying these out
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 12:41 PM #5
Lama (Lvl 13)
i still got 1 second lags from times to times on the new iPad.... but it's much better than the old versions!
thats a great move Paizo.
I LIKE COMBAT AS WAR!!!!!!
the essence of D&D is "The thrill of victory the agony of a natural 1" - Mike Mearls, Gen Con 2012
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Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 02:30 PM #6
Defender (Lvl 8)
Once again Piazo scores big in my book.
No wonder they are head of the pack!
something wicked this way comes
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 03:20 PM #7
Defender (Lvl 8)
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 03:28 PM #8
The Grand Druid (Lvl 20)
I have to say that my testing around with these has been smooth and much faster. This is the kind of customer service that I am so thankful for with Paizo. They don't really have to make things better once released, yet they continue to do so.
"There's a fine line between a superpower and a chronic medical condition."
- Doctor Impossible
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 03:51 PM #9
The Great Druid (Lvl 17)
very cool. Now I wait the ereader version...
Saturday, 12th May, 2012, 04:02 PM #10
Spellbinder (Lvl 16)
Still loading them on my iPad (takes some time on my slow rural connection to download, throw back up to Dropbox and then back down to my iPad, because I am too lazy to connect my iPad to my PC), but the Ultimate books both worked splendidly.
As others have said, this is what makes Paizo great. They've heard people asking for lighter versions for tablet devices and once they were able to find a way to do it while meeting their production values they've made that offering available. My tablet was already quite useful at the table, but this helped make it even more so. Awesome stuff!