I don't know what piece of shit ereader you use, but I use a Kindle Paperwhite. I've also use a Kindle Fire, Xoom, IPad (full and mini). IPad Mini wasn't too bad, but the Paperwhite wins hands down. My responses are based on my experience with the Paperwhite; an actual ereader.
- .) The contrast is lousy, it's reading with a piece of slightly frosted glass between you and the text
I have no contrast issues at all. I usually never even notice that there is a "screen" involved, I am just consuming the text.
.) The reflected glare is awful. You can't read wearing a white shirt, for example.
The Paperwhite does not have discernible glare except in some extreme lighting situations, which would be difficult lighting for paper books as well.
.) Every time the system powers up it has to run through the database making a hash of each file it finds. This can take upwards of an hour, depending on the number and complexity of items, and during which the system cannot be used.
I can't remember the last time that my device "powered up". Oh, wait, it was a couple of months ago when I got a software update. Just took a few minutes. When I press the button to use my Kindle, it's ready in 2 seconds or less.
.) It always shows PDFs at "fill the screen" resolution, which means that the margins of the original page are always visible, which means that most of the display area is wasted. I can "zoom" individual pages, but to go to the next page I have to get out of zoom and then reapply the zoom to the next page.
The PDF format is admittedly a pain in the ass in all cases, not just ereaders. The PDFs that I have generated to be as platform neutral as possible work very well on the Paperwhite. PDFs that were created so that the author could control what the page looks like have some issues, but those issues exist on multiple platforms.
.) Using the "small-medium-large" setting scales the font, but not the formatting. Characters and words become larger, but the "breaks" at the original margins are still there, meaning that the lines break at odd places and waste much of the display area.
I've never experienced what you are describing, except with some PDF files that are causing hard line breaks. I just tested on 5 different PDFs that were on my device and they all worked just fine. I have 8 different font sizes and 6 different fonts to choose from.
.) Finding a specific place in a book is time consuming and inefficient. The first 30 physical pages of a book are usually things I want to skip (contents, publisher, title page, foreward, &c) and going forward to find the transition from meta to actual content is tedious. You can't just say "go to the start of text". In a real book you flib forward/back at high speed until the character of the pages change.
It's simple to jump around in an ebook. Just bring up the "Go To" menu and you can skip to the beginning, the table of contents, a specific chapter, or a specific page. You can bring up bookmarks, also.
.) Finding a referenced diagram, equation, or image is nigh impossible. Flipping forward (or back) 3 pages to see a chart of graph is easy in a physical book - you just put your finger in that place and you can go back-and-forth whenever you need.
Very easy with the Paperwhite. Just place a bookmark and you can jump back easily. "Flipping" back and forth might admittedly be suboptimal, since there is some screen redraw, and I admit that excessive use of flipping is not an ideal use case.
.) Reading scientific papers where the charts/diagrams are at the end of the document is highly inconvenient.
I'm not sure I understand this point. It's easy to jump to the end to see the charts. I would greatly prefer for the charts and diagrams to be inline, though.
.) Finding a specific place *mentioned* in a book is nigh impossible. If the contents say "Chapter 5 is on page 120", then you have to go to *physical* page 120 and then flip forward or back until you find what you're looking for. If the contents say "figure 120" and you're looking at "figure 4", it's too time consuming to find it. (I'm currently reading a book in PDF format that does this.)
Then that is a very poorly formatted and generated PDF. If the contents say "Chapter 5" you should just touch "Chapter 5" and be taken there. Can't get much easier than that.
All in all, I haven't used my eReader much.
It might be OK for narrative stories, light paperback reading that you can do in a dentist's office, and if it's a modern eBook written with proper formatting, but for anything remotely sophisticated it's insufficient.
I use my Paperwhite for many different kinds of reading; novels, poetry, technical manuals, biographies, text books, and others. There might be some very specific cases where I would prefer a different format, but virtually all of my reading can be done quite pleasurably on the Paperwhite.
You do bring up several issues that I think are directly related to the book format. PDF is a pretty terrible format most of the time, because it's not generally used to be a multi-platform dynamic format. It's usually used to try to make sure a page looks the same wherever it's viewed. Many features that could make PDF more portable and useful are often ignored.