A few months ago I saw an ad on Facebook for something called the “Remarkable Tablet".


Looked impressive. I’ve tried various iPad note taking apps over the years, most successfully Notes Plus. Unfortunately, all of the capacitive styluses I tried had lackluster accuracy. It seems like a really obvious thing, to take notes on a digital tablet, but the iPad never quite fit the bill. App developers had some clever tricks, like how NotesPlus does it’s zoomed-in text entry bar, that works pretty well.

However, for me at least, the real “power" of physical note-taking is in the freedom of it all. I can draw stars and lightbulbs in the margins, I can put boxes around text for emphasis, I can draw a big line and arrow connecting two separate paragraphs of text when the conversations pulls a “getting back to the original topic". Sure I can usually do that on iPad apps, but it’s a weird combination of switching tools and modes each time, breaking the flow.

After 2 months of using my Remarkable tablet, all I can say is WOW. They got it right. You create a notebook, select your type of pen (gel, pencil, or fountain) and off you go. It’s as simple as that. The texture feels like real paper, it’s an e-ink display so it looks like real paper, and the response of the pen against the tablet acts like real paper.

I’ve replaced carrying my laptop to meetings and using Evernote for notes-taking, and now I just use this. It’s a fraction of the size and weight, and it’s actually faster to use. I can email the resulting notes to my Evernote Email address as PNG’s, and then Evernote takes care of the rest.

Pros:
  • Feels and acts like real-paper
  • E-ink display gives amazing battery life (although you need the latest firmware to really get this) and makes it look like paper
  • Easy to connect to wifi and email your notes off-device

Cons:
  • A bit pricey, $500-$600 brand new.
  • E-ink display means it can be a bit slow sometimes navigating menus.
  • Single color - But let’s be honest, how many people really carry around a collection of pens to take notes in multiple colors.

The software is still under active development, as evidenced by this great new firmware update this week that rearranged the Template system solving one of my biggest complaints with the device. And to be fair, there are still some bugs in the system:
  • Exporting as PNG works pretty well, but a multi-page document I’ve seen many times arrive out-of-order in Evernote. Easy to fix tho.
  • Exporting as PDF I’ve found doesn’t work well at all. The resulting files are MASSIVE (multiple megs per page), and lots of artifacts. Typically erased content “reappears" in the PDF.
  • Documents with many pages (5+) I’ve seen start to exhibit artifacts on the tablet itself. Content from previous pages copying over, odd behavior. I’ve simply worked around this by creating multiple small documents, which works best for Evernote anyway.

Still, it’s quickly become one of my favorite tools and part of my standard workflow in the office.

I give this one a 4.5/5 Stars! I look forward to seeing what Remarkable does next!