Apple iPad is an awesome device for reading PDF documents and ebooks – the screen is brilliant, the text and graphics are perfectly legible and it almost feels like you reading a real book.

PDF Readers for iPad

Favorite PDF Reading Apps for the iPad

The iPad has built-in support for the PDF format. For instance, if you get a PDF document as an email attachment or if you happen to click a PDF link inside the Safari browser, you can read the contents of that file inside the iPad without requiring an external PDF reader app.

However, if you have more than a couple of PDF documents to read on your iPad, it makes sense to have a dedicated app. Now there are a few dozen PDF reading apps, both free and paid, in the iTunes store so let’s see which of them are worthy enough to deserve a place on your iPad.

One of the most versatile document viewer app for the iPad is the 99 ¢ GoodReader that can handle PDFs and a large variety of other formats including Office documents, web pages, audio and video files.

Page turns are a bit slow on Good Reader

You can transfer PDF files from the computer to Good Reader on the iPad via iTunes or using your local Wi-Fi network if you have one. The software can also connect to your online accounts at Google Docs, Dropbox, etc. so you can download PDF files from these locations directly on to the iPad and read them even while you are offline.

GoodReader is a fantastic app for reading PDFs but there’s only one downside. When you turn a page, the next page is not rendered instantly and this lag become slightly more evident when you are flipping heavy pages (that contain graphics).

Displaying Two PDF Pages

The next good choice for reading PDFs on your iPad is the Cloud Readers app – it’s both free and simple. You can either use a USB cable or your wireless network to copy PDFs from the computer to Cloud Readers.

There are two things that I really like about Cloud Readers – one, it renders documents really fast and second, there’s a unique “Two Up” view so can you display two pages of a PDF side-by-side (see screenshot).

Another PDF reading app that you should seriously try on your iPad is Stanza from Amazon, yes that same company that also develops the Kindle e-book reader. Like Cloud Readers, Stanza renders PDF pages extremely fast but there’s more.

Stanza has an integrated dictionary so you don’t have to quit the app to find a word meaning, you can easily arrange books in categories* and it also display thumbnails of books and magazines. If you don’t like the default cover image, grab a new one from the web.

PDF Organizer in Stanza

[*] Good Reader has folders while Stanza has categories or subjects which are more like labels in Gmail – you can associate one or more categories with a single PDF document.

[**] You can find a mobile version of Adobe Reader for Android and Symbian phones but surprisingly, they have nothing to offer for the iPhone OS that powers the iPhones and the iPads.

Also see: The Best PDF Tools