I want full-text and I want it now!

If spinning wheels and extra clicks to get to full text irritate you, you will appreciate the immediate download on Read. As soon as you click on an article citation, the PDF begins to download in the background. This saves valuable time. Downloads are just a few seconds slower on Docphin.

Now, if you’re the kind of user that only wants to see what’s available in full-text, then you will want to check out Browzine. It partners with your institution to only show you what is available in full text. No chance of getting frustrated because your institution doesn’t subscribe to a specific title.

Point: Read. Runner up: Docphin.

I want to save and edit PDFs.

Like to highlight your PDFs? Make notes and add comments? There’s really only one choice: Read offers the ability to highlight, underline, add notes, and even draw on your PDFs. If you annotate a PDF, you’ll be prompted to save it to your favorites. Annotations are saved locally on your device and do not sync with the app on any other devices you might have.

Point: Read (We’d love to issue a bonus point if they would sync PDFs with your account, making them accessible on all registered devices.)

I want to read articles offline.

Maybe you like to browse tables of contents and save articles for later reading on the train, in line, or somewhere else without an internet connection. Each app has its own flavor of offline reading:

  • Docphin offers Dropbox integration, so you can save your PDFs into Dropbox, then mark them as favorites for offline access within Dropbox.
  • Read puts your favorites right onto your device, accessible through the app.
  • Browzine offers multiple choices: PDFs can be saved in Browzine or any PDF app available on your device.
  • DocNews is the only one to disappoint: there was no clear way to save PDFs for offline reading. While the app features Evernote integration, this only saves the citation and abstract, not the full text, to a DocNews Evernote notebook.

Point: Docphin, Read, and Browzine.