Am I a Paper Person? A Review of the reMarkable Paper Tablet
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In an age when artists and authors are constantly tempted to surrender their focus (I’m looking at you, social media!), the reMarkable e-ink tablet promises a creative experience free of distraction. That’s a lofty goal, but the reMarkable crew of Oslo, Norway has made it their philosophy since the tablet’s crowdfunding campaign of 2016. Now, after years on the market and several big firmware updates, consumers are finally able to gauge how well the company delivers in their commitment to Paper People.
Full disclosure: my writing process has always begun with putting pen to paper. Given this, I was intrigued by the idea of an e-ink tablet replacing the many stacks of notebooks lining my desk. But is the reMarkable tablet really an organized and distraction-free creative experience?
My biggest gripe with the reMarkable came before I even purchased it -– the price. At $599.99, the “Paper Tablet” would be a hefty investment, but the potential of focus and productivity was worth the risk, so I went for it. Unfortunately, a few days after purchasing the tablet, it went on sale for $499.99, leaving me feeling a little defeated. Fortunately, after a quick correspondence with the excellent reMarkable customer service, they refunded me the difference, effectively softening the blow of the price-point.
I received the reMarkable in under ten days. The package included the 10.3” e-ink tablet, a reMarkable pen, ten additional pen tips, and a charging cable. I was immediately impressed by how sleek and lightweight the tablet is. And when they say the CANVAS display has the texture of paper, the company isn’t kidding.
After charging the device, I booted up Codex, the custom Linux operating system, and tried my hand at syncing the tablet to the reMarkable app on my phone. This was a pain-free experience, though many users have had problems in this area. With the tablet and the app in sync, anything I created would automatically be sent to a dedicated cloud and downloaded onto connected devices via the onboard Wi-Fi.
In my estimation there are four primary uses for the reMarkable tablet: writing, sketching, reading, and annotation. Writing and drawing on the e-ink device is surprisingly smooth with the battery-free stylus offering virtually no lag. The interface offers a variety of options, from pencils to markers to pens, some of which are even pressure-sensitive. Though the device is entirely in grayscale, there are enough style choices to offer a diverse writing or sketching experience. Most impressively, though, the system now offers a writing-to-text option that converts handwritten words to editable text that can be e-mailed and further formatted in a traditional word processor.
The reMarkable tablet also doubles as an e-reader for PDF and ePUB files. Text is stark and readable even in direct sunlight, though it lacks a backlight to read in the dark. Even so, for a simple device on the go, the reMarkable serves its purpose well, especially for annotating text. With such tools as a highlighter and its wide array of writing implements, the tablet presents a great way for notetakers to edit uploaded papers in real time. In fact, a large part of reMarkable’s customer base are students using the tablet to stay organized in class or notetakers in office settings.
Still, though the reMarkable adds a simple approach to the creative process, the device can be slow at times, especially when loading or navigating particularly large files. Uploading and downloading also requires some patience as the cloud synchronizes everything. And that writing-to-text option? Though it’s definitely a game-changer when writing longhand, the software isn’t exactly 100% accurate in its translation from handwriting to text.
Overall the reMarkable is a neat little device that boosts the creative process by stripping away the distractions plaguing artists and authors alike. The feel of writing on the system is satisfying and has, indeed, replaced the many notebooks that occupy my office. The battery life isn’t too shabby either as I’ve only had to charge the device once a week after moderate use. Though the price is steep for such a niche technology (the reMarkable is currently $499.99 on remarkable.com), it is a dream come true for a writer such as myself who drafts in longhand. There are negatives, to be sure, and many opportunities to further optimize the device, but the reMarkable offers a unique e-ink experience that delivers on its promise of distraction-free writing.
If you are interested in picking up a reMarkable, be sure to head over to Amazon today!