This week I read details on a new tablet notebook about to hit the market. It’s called the reMarkable. Think of it as an expensive Amazon Kindle with a pencil that can draw and annotate on a black and white screen.
If you’re turned off by an iPad and all the digital trappings and a gazillion or two applications that do absolutely anything you can think of, and you yearn for good old fashioned paper notebooks and a pencil, reMarkable might fulfill your wish.
Use a reMarkable to read PDFs, view documents, rummage through textbooks, and even managed e-books. The device uses Eink which means the screen is black and white– no color Retina display that washes out in direct sunlight. Eink on reMarkable should work much like the latest Kindle models. Not only can you use it to read, it also doubles up as a notebook– a handwriting notebook complete with a digital pencil.
Truly, reMarkable is aimed at those who are throwbacks to tools of yesteryear, people more comfortable with a pencil and pad of paper than with the complexities of an iPad and the limitations of a Kindle.
It’s as much a note taking system as a notebook. Multiple notebooks are easily organized and because files are black and white, storage space should not be much of an issue. I can see where artists would love the device, perhaps as much as an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, despite the obvious limitations (iPads have thousands of drawing applications).
reMarkable claims the experience of digital ink on an Eink screen is closer to real ink-on-paper than an iPad Pro. Indeed, the built-in drawing and sketching app comes with various tools and brushes. That makes reMarkable attractive and useful for reading, writing, and sketching.
Even better, the battery should last days to a week, depending upon usage. As it is now, my MacBook Pro can get 8-10 hours, an iPad Pro about the same, but a Kindle can go for many days of reading. reMarkable also uses cloud technology to backup and sync files to other devices which helps it to integrate into Apple’s ecosystem (and Windows and Android; thanks to apps for each device).
The problem I see is obvious. reMarkable is a niche product; attractive, usable, and useful for some people, but it won’t be a replacement for an iPad which has many apps that can do much the same thing on a similar sized device with more features and capabilities at a similar price tag. While the pre-order discount looks attractive, the basic reMarkable and pencil is $608 vs. an iPad Pro and Pencil is merely $90 more.