For whatever reason, some of us just can’t escape the pleasant, tactile feel of writing with a pencil or pen. Whether you’re scribbling a to-do list or letting your artistic streak shine while sketching and doodling, there’s just something about it that feels natural, comfortable, and more memorable than jotting down a note on an iPad or smartphone. It’s smart to be skeptical of any device that claims to offer a paper-like experience on a digital screen, but the reMarkable 2 pulls it off beautifully.
The reMarkable 2 tablet is like a digital notebook. It features an e-ink display and soft touch writing surface that makes it surprisingly versatile as an e-book platform, note-taking device, and artistic canvas. Oh, and did I mention the battery lasts basically forever? Will it replace your iPad? No. Will it replace your coffee-stained legal pad, to-do list app, and e-book reader, all at once? Yeah, actually, it will.
A New Class of Device
Laptops, desktops, and high-end color tablets like the iPad are great for certain kinds of productivity — things like replying to emails, graphic design, and even video editing — but for those of us that prefer the feel of paper, our options are a lot more limited. Even the best e-readers on the market today fall short when it comes to digital note-taking and drawing. The reMarkable tablet is different. It’s designed from the ground up as a paper replacement, and it does a remarkable job (no pun intended) of approximating the experience of writing on real paper.
Unlike the needle-on-glass feeling you get when writing on an iPad — even with the softest Apple Pencil tips available — writing on the reMarkable 2 feels like you’re actually putting a pencil to paper. There’s a slight resistance to it, almost a grittiness, that you never ever feel when you’re writing or drawing on a shiny glass tablet.
One side of the device features a silver bezel of sorts, and this acts as your grip point when reading and also houses the power button and charging port. It mimics a notebook, with spiral binding on one side, and it instantly feels familiar and comfortable in the hand. The device is lighter than you might think but feels very rigid and sturdy. You don’t feel like you’re to break it when you’re in the middle of a spirited drawing session or if it falls off the edge of your couch cushion. It’s really top-notch hardware.
The guts of the tablet are pretty modest, with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB of SDRAM, and 8GB of internal storage. Still, that’s more than enough to keep things feeling snappy, even if there is the short screen-wiping delay between certain screens that we’re used to from e-ink technology.
The single drawback with the hardware package is that, while the tablet is readable in direct sunlight, ambient light, and even low light thanks to its sharp display, there is no backlight here, which means reading in the dark is a no-go.
Okay, so it’s a big e-ink tablet that you can use to read ebooks or jot down notes, but what else is there? Well, that’s a loaded question, because reMarkable really packed this thing for productivity.
You can create on-pagers for notes, start new notebooks with multiple pages for longer projects, and switch between multiple drawing instruments with just a tap or two on the convenient sidebar menu. If you want a sharp mechanical pencil tip for writing a long document or a thick marker for big notes, they’re here, along with everything in between.
But what makes this tablet really shine for power users is the deep connectivity with Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive. I basically live my life in Google Drive, and it’s where I keep my to-do lists, various in-progress projects, contracts, important work documents, and a million other things.
When you want to work on a document you already have in progress elsewhere, you simply connect to the service (more on reMarkable Connect in a second), make a copy of the document to save to your device locally, and you’re off to the races. You can make changes, add notes, highlights, and blend your handwriting with the digital text at will.
Even better, if you’re jotting down notes in a new document on your tablet, reMarkable will convert that handwriting to digital text with just a tap. I’ve tested this out on multiple different styles of documents, from to-do lists to paragraphs of text, and it does an impressive job, with probably 95% accuracy, and I don’t have particularly good handwriting to begin with.
The handwriting conversion and third-party integrations are available through the subscription-based reMarkable Connect service. Along with the features just mentioned, you get unlimited cloud storage, email sending, screen sharing, and an extended warranty. A full year of Connect is included with the purchase of a tablet, and it’s $7.99/month to continue after that.
One of the best parts about the whole reMarkable 2 experience is that the markers never need charging — they just work. You’ll get a standard marker with the device, but you can choose to upgrade to the Marker Plus for $129. This does feel like a bit of a steep price, but the Marker Plus adds a built-in eraser (you just flip the marker over and erase as you would with a pencil), and it really makes writing and editing so much more enjoyable and natural.
There are a number of folio options, too, including a standard folio in multiple color options for $79. The higher-end covers include premium leather ($169) and a smooth polymer weave ($129). I love the feel of the leather, and both folio options add that extra layer of protection if you’re going to be tossing your tablet in a bag or backpack on a regular basis. Around the house I actually prefer to just use it “naked,” and that works just fine.
The reMarkable 2 tablet really is impressive. It’s a simple, focused device that helps you get things done without all the distractions that come with working on a traditional computer or phone. If you’re looking for an e-ink tablet to read books or take notes, there are plenty of options out there these days, but if you want something that will help you be more productive, and actually get work done, the reMarkable 2 tablet is head and shoulders above anything else on the market right now.