Mini Review: Pathfinder Lite PDFs

Paizo announced yesterday that they have released “Lite” versions of their hardcover rulebooks and Inner Sea World Guide in PDF format. The products released in this manner are:

These versions of the PDFs are created with the idea of being tablet or netbook friendly. Paizo has achieved this by simplifying and compressing the background in the PDFs and other minor export options to help speed them up on mobile devices.

As tablets have seen increasing use at the game table this has been a frequent cry heard on the Paizo forums to release the PDFs in a lighter format. The originally release PDFs have more intensive backgrounds and layers which often caused for slower rendering on tablet type devices (and even lower end laptops). Finally, Paizo has found a way that they are happy with to keep the quality of their product and answer the pleas for lighter weight PDFs.

Before I delve into how these new Lite PDFs perform, let me go over my current PDF reading setup and past performance.

I use a first generation iPad for a good portion of my gaming materials these days. I use it for notes, the occasional dice roller, web access and of course PDFs. I use GoodReader for my PDF reader on the iPad. It has some excellent features including Dropbox integration, annotation abilities, custom bookmarks, tabbed PDFs and with its read-ahead caching can provide a performance boost when reading PDFs synchronously.

Reading Paizo PDFs on the iPad generally has worked well. GoodReader caches the next page so at a normal reading pace things flow smoothly. The problem historically has been when you want to jump from section to section within a PDF, say as one might do at a game table. Here the delays were much more noticeable with the page redraw taking a second or two. For the most part this led me to hope I wouldn’t need to reference the PDF too much during game play because of these delays.

Granted, some of these cons were taken in stride when with the iPad I could carry my entire Pathfinder book collection in one slim device. It made attending conventions much easier on the back than it used to be and freed up room for snacks in the backpack! Still, I was certainly one of the people hoping for a less heavy PDF of the various Paizo products for the iPad.

This morning I loaded up several of the new Lite PDFs on my same iPad with the same PDF reader software. I worked with the Advanced Players Guide, Bestiary 2 and 3, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat. They all worked quite well on my iPad. The page turns were smooth, I could jump around using the Table of Contents with speed and then page forward and backward from that spot with minimal delay.

The Lite versions of the PDF are definitely much improved over their heavier weight PDFs I had been using of the same books. I still need to see how they do at a full game session, but I suspect this week I will be leaving my hardcover books at home on the shelf and just relying on the iPad this week.

This is one of the many reasons so many gamers really feel Paizo really gets us gamers. Paizo already had my money for all of the PDFs in question. They aren’t really making anything more from me by releasing these lighter weight versions of the PDF as I already owned them. But they listened to their customer, found a way to release these PDFs in a manner which met their production standards and ran more smoothly on the ever growing number of tablets at the gaming table.  Thanks Paizo for listening!

Tankard Rating

5 tankards out of 5 tankards

2 thoughts on “Mini Review: Pathfinder Lite PDFs

  1. Pingback: Friday Knight News - Gaming Edition: 18-MAY-2012 | Game Knight Reviews

  2. I wouldn’t count myelsf as an authority but I’ll certainly pass along my opinion. The reason Pathfinder is better than D&D is pretty simple, I think. When Wizards made D&D 3.5 they fixed plenty of game errors and made their system both more comprehensive as well as player friendly. It was a solid game. Solid. But that’s not to say it didn’t have it’s own problems. And to compensate, us players made our house rules -the little fixes to the eyebrow-arching-WTFs of 3.5. But, as I’m sure some graph some where can prove, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft was making strides in the gaming arena and very slowly D&D was losing it’s footing. Unfortunately, Wizards’ answer to this dilemma was firstly, in printing way too many pointless books (how many Monster Manuals are there anyway? Sheesh!). Then when that didn’t pan out, they made a game that well, basically played like WoW tabletop. They strayed too far from the game we all loved. This D&D 4.0 wasn’t an upgrade, it was a whole other game. Paizo and their game, Pathfinder, became what we really wanted. It’s our D&D game with all the house rule fixes built in. Paizo immediately made their material accessible, encouraged alternate rules, created unique classes (that weren’t Recycled Prestige Classes) and basically started up where Wizards’ so happily left off. It’s D&D 3.75, if you will.If nothing else, it seems to me that Paizo is working on a gaming community where as Wizards is working on publishing more stuff.

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