ChristopherFritz's Study Log

My electronics family for reading Japanese manga (and English-translated manga) on has expanded. This is a good time to list out what I use, in case someone is curious what’s out there for e-manga reading and they also happen upon this study log.

Desktop Computer

My desktop computer is useful for reading manga on for two situations:

  1. When I’m reading a page in Japanese, then switching over to the official English release to read the same page in English.

  2. When I’m transcribing, or I’m writing about the material (such as for a book club post).

You can’t beat the ergonomics of a desktop computer (compared with a lot of alternatives), and I have access to many tools, whether it be software (to OCR kanji lacking furigana), the Internet (such as, and a real, physical keyboard. This also provides the largest screen size of all my devices (even if my monitor is somewhat small by most peoples’ standards).

However, my desktop computer is not suitable for reading in bed, nor for reading on the bus, nor for reading while at a convention. Thus, handheld options are preferable to have around.

Smartphone (Samsung Note II)

(Coin included for size comparison with other images.)

I used to not have a smartphone for the longest time. Finally, I got one for Anki reviews, which led to also using iKnow (even though its offline support has never been the best for me). Since I don’t use the smartphone for communication, I don’t use a data plan, meaning no Internet lookups when reading manga. However, Takoboto is a great Android app for dictionary lookups.

Advantages of the smartphone include:

  1. Due to its small size, I always have it on me when I’d be reading manga away from home. (I keep it in my backpack to take with me each day to ensure I get in at least a few iKnow reviews each day.)

  2. With the battery I have in it, I only need to recharge it two or three times a month.

The main disadvantage is the small screen size. Even if I zoom in as much as the Kobo app I use will allow, it’s can still be difficult to read some furigana.

Tablet (Samsung Note 10.1, first model)

(Coin included for size comparison with other images.)

This is my main manga-reading device. It’s also an early model tablet, and is very slow. It’s a really poor experience going from viewing manga in an e-reader app to looking up a word in Takoboto and back. If I had a newer tablet, this would not be an issue, but I’m cheap, so I endure it. If I use it every day, I typically need to recharge it a couple times a week.

I mostly read English manga (and Japanese Yotsuba&! where I’m not looking up many words), and leave the Japanese manga to my smartphone. Regardless of what I read on the tablet, for some manga I find myself having to zoom in to see the text comfortably.

E-reader (Kobo Aura H2O, first edition)

(Coin included for size comparison with other images.)

I love e-readers. It’s almost like reading on paper, and even with heavy reading the device only needs to be recharged once every month or two.

Not too long ago, I read a preview of a novel for young readers on the device, and that was a wonderful experience. When I get to reading books in Japanese, this is the device I will use. It’s small enough to fit in my sweater pocket, or into the same backpack pocket where I put my smartphone.

I don’t use this device for manga, however. At 6.8 inches, the screen is simply too small. And the device is a dedicated e-book reader (not a tablet), so it understandably has a processor to match. While I can zoom a comic in, such as to 200% size and rotate it a quarter turn to make reading easier, the whole process of zooming and scrolling a page is too slow.

Honorable mention: this device has a light built-in for reading in dark environments. (Please read in a well lit room.)

E-reader (ONYX BOOX Gulliver)

This is my latest acquisition, and it arrived only today. It’s a 10.3-inch e-reader.

(Coin included for size comparison with other images.)

I wanted a 13-inch, but readers in the 10-inch and up range seem to all be tablet-oriented, with processors and memory to match, as well as having a focus on precision stylus use with a digitizer screen. This all leads to one thing: expensive. Even after I saved up enough money for the Gulliver, I waited three months to be sure I really wanted to spend this much on a device to read comics on, especially when I didn’t know how Japanese comics would appear on that size screen.

With the little amount of time I’ve had to play with the Gulliver, I have a good impression. I can install Kobo and Takoboto. I can easily and quickly switch between the two, as well as a built-in note-taking app where I can write down things I want to look up when I’m online, or mention in a book club posting.

(Coin included for size comparison with other images.)

The screen size looks like it may be a little small for reading furigana on. Since the screen size is just a little larger than my tablet, this was a known possibility. But zooming in and scrolling a zoomed in screen are faster than it feels like an e-ink screen should be capable of, so it probably won’t be an issue.

There’s no built-in light for this which I originally expected to be an issue, but the bus always has lights on, so it’s not like I’m in the dark during my prime reading time.