We are constantly on the lookout for technology that will enhance the note-taking process, especially when doing it by hand. We finally have found what we believe to be the holy grail of electronic note-taking, and the result is quite remarkable — literally. The name of the device that we purchased is called the reMarkable 2 tablet.
This second-generation tablet is really the best platform we have tried to date for taking notes by hand on an electronic device. The reMarkable tablet features what is known as e-ink technology, which is akin to the monochrome display made popular by the Amazon Kindle. The display measures 10.3 inches and feels similar in size to an iPad. But reMarkable is no iPad. For starters, it doesn’t have apps, can’t play games or movies and doesn’t display in color. It strictly is an electronic writing or sketching pad. So, if you are looking for an iPad replacement device, move along. But if you, like us, want a discreet tablet that simulates very closely the paper and pen writing experience, reMarkable is for you.
We have used the Apple Pencil and other pens and styli on various phones and tablets in the past, but we can honestly say that nothing feels as authentic as the reMarkable tablet and pen in replicating the feel of writing on a pad of paper. The reMarkable’s pen (sold separately) has replaceable tips that wear out over time. But it really does create a type of friction that you would feel when writing with a real pencil or pen on physical paper. The reMarkable tablet lets you choose which type of writing device you want to simulate: ballpoint pen, marker, fineliner, pencil or even calligraphy.
“If you, like us, want a discreet tablet that simulates very closely the paper and pen writing experience, reMarkable is for you.”
You can set up any number of folders on your reMarkable tablet to organize your notes and other documents. These folders will then sync with a cloud account that you create when you first log in to the tablet. With the corresponding app that you can install on your PC or phone, you can sync documents to and from the reMarkable cloud folders, which, in turn, get synced with the physical tablet. You can upload documents via the app, which are then available on your reMarkable tablet after syncing. This feature will essentially let you upload a file folder of documents (PDF only) to the tablet so you can review and mark them up on the reMarkable tablet (in court, for example). Any changes or markups, of course, will be synced back to your cloud account when the tablet is connected to Wi-Fi.
The reMarkable interface allows you to choose a blank canvas or any of a number of predefined templates to write on, such as lined paper, grids, checklists, a day planner, music charts, dots, etc. You can also send a document — for example, a page of handwritten notes — on the fly via email as a PDF document directly from the reMarkable tablet. The tablet will even convert your handwriting to text and send it as a formatted PDF document via email. We tested this using our very sloppy handwriting — the reMarkable lived up to its name by correctly converting our notes into text. We were quite pleased.
The other thing we enjoy is its extended battery life. The specs say that you can expect about two weeks of use in between charges. Of course, unlike an iPad or other computer-based tablet, the reMarkable is only being used to take notes or review PDF documents, so there is no opportunity to run the battery down playing games or watching videos.
Slightly on the negative side is the price for this tablet: Including the pen, the reMarkable will set you back nearly $500. We feel that’s a little high. While that’s a hefty price tag for an electronic notepad, we’ve yet to find anything we enjoy better.
Another negative is that the pen. It magnetically connects to the side of the tablet, which makes it too easy to knock loose when transporting the tablet or taking in and out of your briefcase. We recommend keeping its pen somewhere safer.
But the positives on the reMarkable 2 tablet far outweigh the negatives. We truly have found the perfect compromise between keeping our habit of taking notes by hand and having our notes captured electronically in the cloud: The answer is reMarkable, and we love it.