I have recently discovered that I love writing on paper. It gives me a chance to escape the digital world, and writing on paper allows me to think without distractions.
But paper can be messy. You deal with flipping through pages, smudging, mistakes that are difficult to fix, inability to move things, etc. While some may argue this adds to the experience, there could be a better solution for some.
The reMarkable 2 is an e-ink device, similar to a Kindle, but built for writing. The reMarkable tries to feel like paper and provide a distraction-free writing environment while getting digital advantages.
You may love using the reMarkable 2 if:
- You enjoy writing on paper.
- You want a distraction-free place to write.
- You want to keep your notes backed up automatically.
- You want to share your notes easily.
- You don't want to keep buying paper planners or notebooks.
- You like the idea of unlimited pages.
- You want to be able to search for notes quickly.
- You want to be able to fix mistakes, move things around, and easily make updates.
- You also want to read and annotate.
The rest of this article is my in-depth review of the device, including the hardware and software. It includes what I like and what I don't like. I hope it will help you if you're trying to decide if to purchase a reMarkable 2 for yourself.
First Impressions of the Hardware
The hardware is stunning. It is thin and light, and the all-aluminum body gives it a nice solid feel. It is like holding a slate, and a solid strip on the left side gives it a nice look.
The material is the same on both sides. The back has four rubber nubs to keep the device from sliding around on a solid surface. The right side of the device has a magnet so you can attach the Marker.
The battery life seems excellent. I have not had the device long enough to say exactly how long it will last. So far, I've had the tablet for six days and only charged it once, and it was at about 70% charge when I received it. reMarkable says "weeks of battery," but I suppose that depends on how much you use the device. I probably have it turned on for several hours per day.
It's hard to complain about anything on the hardware itself. If anything, the screen margins are pretty thick, especially at the bottom. It's hard to notice until you are writing and start to run out of space on the page.
Tip: You’ll need an external light source to see the screen. Don’t expect to read in the dark!
The other thing to note is that this device has no backlight. No backlight means you need an external light source to be able to see the screen.
You can get either the regular Marker or the Marker plus. The Marker is white and has no buttons or eraser, and I have not used one, so people say it feels nice and has a nice texture based on my research.
The Marker Plus is what I have, and the primary differences are that 1) It's black, and 2) it comes with an eraser. The texture is excellent, and it has a nice weight to it. One side is flat, which serves two purposes, 1) to keep it from rolling off your desk, and 2. to magnetically attach to the device. I have had no problems writing with it. I also don't feel like it will easily detach from the device unless you're tossing it in a bag.
Is it worth the extra $50 for the Marker Plus if all it includes is an eraser? I feel like it is. If you are like me and always messing up, it is simple to flip the Marker over and quickly erase it. It seems to save a lot of time.
Neither of the Markers needs to be charged.
The biggest downside of the Marker is the tips. The tips are replaceable because they wear down. I have not had mine long enough to know how long they last for me. Based on my research, it could be every week to every six weeks. The reMarkable comes with nine extra tips and a way to replace them. The Marker Tips currently cost $14 for a replacement pack.
Tip (pun intended): Don’t forget about the tips. It can be easy to miss them in the packaging. You’ll want to set them aside where you can find them again.
The Book Folio
I opted for the Gray Book Folio (Polymer Weave). It is very thin and covers the device nicely. Removing the reMarkable from the cover is effortless, yet it stays in place firmly.
The material is acceptable — nothing to get excited over. It doesn't feel like it is worth $99. But it's cheaper than the $149 leather Book Folio (which I hear doesn't feel like natural leather). It's probably worth getting just because it helps protect your investment.
First Impressions of the Software
I was running version 22.214.171.124 when I wrote this. Since there have been drastic software improvements!
I had no problems figuring out how to use the software. It is very straightforward. Your main screen consists of your folders and files. Across the top are options to open the menu, create a folder, create a notebook, access Quick Sheets, or search. You can see the battery life, Wi-Fi connection, and sync status across the bottom of the main screen.
Tip: Talking about distraction-free, it doesn’t even have a clock!
I'm not going to go into details about the software interface; I think it works well and is pretty smooth. It would be best to remember that this is an e-ink device, and the pages refresh differs from a typical tablet. I feel like the refresh is faster than my Kindle Paperwhite, and I have not had any issues with the performance.
Sometimes the swipe event does not register, and I have to swipe multiple times to get it to swap between pages or close a notebook. It is not an issue if you swipe in the right place and with enough motion.
Tip: You can close any notebook or PDF you are on by swiping down from the top of the screen. Much faster than trying to use the menu.
You can create Layers on your page, allowing you to manipulate one layer without affecting the other layers. You can make more elaborate sketches and diagrams or add text over a custom background.
Another cool feature is the ability to convert your handwriting to text. This feature works as well as can be expected. Your writing must be clear enough for it to recognize the words. It appears you can only convert one or more pages to text. Once the conversion is complete, you have no choice but to email it somewhere. You can't save the converted text to the device.
Tip: You need to be connected to Wi-Fi to do any text conversion.
The device comes with many built-in templates that you can use. The built-in templates include everything from dots to your standard notebook lines with margins.
I immediately found myself not finding the templates that I wanted to use. Fortunately, you can add your custom templates with a bit of know-how. You can look at some of the additional resources I have at the bottom of this article for more information.
Fortunately, you can also use a PDF for your Daily Planner type of notebook. You can find them all over the place, and Etsy is an excellent place to start. I added some more resources to the bottom of this article.
You can share pages or entire notebooks or PDFs from the device. You'll be prompted to enter an email address or select an email you already used. You can add a message, change the filename, and select an export format (PDF, PNG, or SVG). The feature works well enough.
Tip: Of course, you can always download the PDF on your desktop and do what you want with it from there.
You can easily search for any notebook, PDF, or Epub on your device from the search icon. You will also see all of the most recently updated files on your device, making it easy to switch back and forth.
Unfortunately, your notes and files’ content is not searched — only the file names and folders.
While using the reMarkable Cloud Sync is not required, it is hard to avoid. The advantage to using Cloud Sync is that your content is automatically backed up to the cloud and available on your other devices.
The Cloud Sync works okay and is not instantaneous (most of the time), but it seems to get the job done.
The "Read on reMarkable" Browser Extension
There is a new Browser extension from the Remarkable team called Read on reMarkable." This extension allows you to send nearly any webpage to your device with a single click. You have two options. The default is to send the page to the device in Epub format. This method looks excellent but does not include the source or any images! So I switched my default to PDF. The page is converted to PDF with this setting and sent directly to your device. The PDF option includes images and more information about the article.
How the content looks on the device is hit or miss. It depends on the source content. If the page is full of ads and poorly formatted, it will be of low quality on the device. I've found that sites with a clean format look great on the device.
Tip: Use the PDF format if you want to include images and the source for your articles.
Desktop and Mobile
Speaking of Cloud Sync, you can access your content from your desktop or mobile devices. The desktop and mobile software is nothing spectacular; it merely shows you your content, just as you would see on your device. You can then read, rearrange, or export your content as needed.
Jagged Line Issue
Tip: This could be a deal-breaker for some. I don’t feel like it is an issue, as I don’t notice it unless I’m looking for it.
Updated March 27, 2021: The reMarkable team released version 2.6, which addresses this issue.
The "Jagged Line Issue" is one of the annoying things I found about Remarkable 2. If you look very closely at the writing (zoom in if it helps), you can see the lines are not smooth and jagged, depending on how you write. You can see a very (extremely detailed) video that explains the issue here.
The Writing Experience
Okay, I suppose you want to know how this table feels when writing.
It feels remarkable, like writing on paper!
One of the things I enjoy when writing on paper is how distraction-free it is, and the "feeling" of writing helps me slow down and think. I get the same feeling while writing on the Remarkable. In addition to that, I can easily erase, move things around, convert to text, and search.
My writing is better when using the reMarkable. I tend to write very small on paper, while on the reMarkable, I have more space and write larger and, therefore, more legibly.
The latency is about 21ms, which is maybe the best in the market. There is very little noticeable lag when writing.
The Reading Experience
I have limited experience with the reading functionality on the device. But here is what I have discovered so far.
In general, PDFs look great on the reMarkable 2. My only complaint is that the device is slightly too small to read most PDFs comfortably. Articles converted to PDF seem to work well.
Adjust the view
I have heard that the reMarkable doesn't work well with EPUB, and I don't have enough experience with them yet to know for sure. I have one EPUB I added to the device, Doing Content Right, by Steph Smith. It looks great! I've had no problems, and it has been much easier to read than the PDF version.
Tip: You will not be able to read your Kindle books on this device.
- The reMarkable itself is $399.
- The Marker is $49. The Marker Plus is $99.
- The Folios start at $69 and go up to $149.
My setup, the reMarkable with the Marker Plus and Book Folio, came to $597 before tax. Ouch!
Tip: Yes, you see that correctly. The reMarkable writing device does not include a Marker, which is ridiculous!
What would make the reMarkable 2 better?
- Fix the Jagged lines issue. (reMarkable fixed the Jagged Lines issue in version 2.6)
- Include the content, even your handwritten notes, in search results.
- Faster sync.
- More Text Conversion options.
- Provide better formatting for both PDF and EPUB.
- Better support. I have not needed to contact the reMarkable support team, but I have not heard great things regarding response times.
- Provide more support for accessing your content without using Cloud Sync.
I think it is worth purchasing a reMarkable 2 if you like to write and if you like to use paper for organizing your day. It is excellent to take meeting notes, write out thoughts, draft articles, make sketches and diagrams, disconnect from the world, and get lost in your thoughts.
While I love the reMarkable 2 and use it daily as part of my workflow, it is not a perfect device. The good news is that, in theory, software updates could resolve some of the existing problems.
If you're looking for a distraction-free digital writing device, I highly recommend it.
✴️ Also on Micro.blog