Note taking moves into the digital age with the latest device to offer truly distraction-free writing. Can this device replace the notebook and pen?
Apple re-defined the tablet computer with the iPad. However, this device’s array of capabilities can distract many users. For anyone working in the creative industry, for example, focusing on what they are drawing or writing without the interruption of alerts on their screen is highly attractive.
In a business context, digitising paper-based notebooks has seen several iterations over the years, with varying degrees of success. However, as e-Ink technology has improved, writing on paper could become a thing of the past with the reMarkable 2.
The device is thin, measuring 4.7mm thick – just large enough to accommodate the USB-C charging socket, which, apart from the on/off button, is the only protrusion on the device’s edge, making the aesthetics of reMarkable 2 on par with anything other leading tech developers are producing.
And weighing in at 403g, the device is lightweight but still has a reassuring mass when held in the hand. The writing space is 26cm in diameter and can easily be held in one hand to ensure you can take notes with the other. A 1.2GHz dual-core ARM processor powers eight gigabytes of onboard storage RAM.
The setup is fast and straightforward. Just connect the device to your Wi-Fi network and then download the desktop and mobile apps, and you can instantly begin creating content. Saving and sharing this is intuitive and can be across your wider digital footprint with integrations for Dropbox, MS OneDrive and Google Drive.
The interface is also intuitive. You can write with the included stylus or open an on-screen keyboard that you can type onto or use the pen. On-screen icons offer features such as erase, which is also available by reversing the pen. Again, the digital duplication of the pencil with an eraser. Undo and redo icons are also on the page, as it is a selection tool which enables you to select anything on the screen, make a copy or erase the content. And you can send anything on your screen to an email address. The pen is also pressure-sensitive to draw thicker or thinner lines.
Using the now familiar pages and folders approach to organising your work, the interface is minimal, to say the least. The designers have thought about what they can remove yet maintain the ease of use. And the pen itself feels well-made and magnetically attaches to the edge of the device. The tip of the pen can also be changed as it wears out. You get nine new tips to get you started. However, this functionality will mean buying the additional Marker Plus pen.
Also, you can use the device as a whiteboard in online meetings to aid understanding and collaboration. And if you don’t always want a totally blank screen when you start, there are 35 templates to choose from, including lined pages, planners, and perspective grids. Lastly, 33 languages are supported, making this device ideal for converting handwritten notes into typed text in all major languages.
Writing or typing on a screen is sometimes acceptable, but a physical keyboard is needed when large quantities of text need to be entered. The Type Folio offers a low-profile keyboard in a case form factor. The low-profile keyboard still offers a pleasant typing experience but adds significant weight to the overall package. And the last essential addition is the Connect subscription, which allows you to share your documents. The monthly low cost (£2.99) won’t break the bank. And any sensitive documents can be password protected.
The reMarkable 2 sports 1872 x 1404 resolution, which delivers 226 dpi. This may not be the highest pixel density available on an e-Ink tablet, but the lines you can draw and written text are sharp enough. Some have pointed to the lack of a backlight. This does mean you can struggle to see the screen in low-light conditions. But this design trade-off firmly focuses on the company’s goal to remake the pen and paper for the digital age. On a full charge, the remarkable 2 is quoted to give two-weeks battery life, but your use will, of course, influence this.
Next-generation paper and pen?
Comparing, for example, Apple’s Pencil and the writing experience on an iPad with reMarkable 2, the latter certainly feels more paper-like as the surface of the e-Ink screen against the pen has a level of friction we all know when using paper and pen. Using a stylus on a tablet feels like you are writing on glass, which of course you are, which isn’t very paper-like.
Looking at the current crop of e-Ink tablets, the latest is the Kindle Scribe. Although, a more accurate comparison with reMarkable 2 is the Kindle Paperwhite. Both readers offer similar experiences, with the former focusing on writing, with the latter on reading. If you have owned a Kindle in the past, these devices improve on their predecessors but need to offer the user experience of reMarkable 2.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a way to take notes that removes the distractions of a tablet PC, reMarkable 2 is the best iteration of this class of devices. The attention to detail and the build quality are astonishing. In use, the pen against the screen is a unique experience. To take quick notes or build this device into your working life as a go-to when you need to record your thoughts and ideas, reMarkable 2 could be a revelation.
So, is reMarkable 2 going to transform how you take notes, read eBooks and PDFs? The critical element is whether the writing experience is akin to writing on paper. Clearly, having the ability to digitise anything you have written or drawn is a massive bonus, but one you can achieve with most tablet PCs.
However, it’s the level of tactile experience you can gain using this device. With no backlight to give you eye strain or potentially interfere with your sleep, reMarkable 2 will find a myriad of users who want to remove distractions. Will this device pry the Moleskine notebook from the hands of millions of dedicated users? Indeed, if you are looking to digitise each screen of content easily, this device is the best restatement of an e-Ink notebook yet devised.
Silicon Reviews Verdict
If you are looking to remove distractions when notetaking, and are looking to duplicate the tactile advantages of paper and pen, the reMarkable 2 could transform how you view the digitisation of the handwritten word.