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First Impressions - The reMarkable Tablet

reMarkable Tablet

I recently purchased a reMarkable tablet, the eInk writing pad. There was a great deal on refurbished models so I decided it was time to try one. I have a long history of using notebooks, for work, writing and just about anything I feel the need to jot down. For more than a decade I have used a large, ruled Moleskine softcover as my notebook of choice. And while I love them, there are a few drawbacks. In particular, going back to find something I’ve written or drawn in an older notebook. I go through one of them every three to four months, so it can get tedious looking through old notebooks. The truth is, I usually only rarely go back to the previous notebook and anything before that is no longer relevant. Still, that means for a while I have to drag around with me a couple notebooks when I switch to a new one.

Why do I still write notes in an old-school manner? It’s simple. I learned in college that if I write something down I remember it better and retain it longer. Subsequent studies have shown that to be true for most of us. Plus, the act of writing stirs the creative juices.

The reMarkable tablet is advertised as a "paper tablet", meaning it feels like writing on paper. I thought it might be a great way to replace my old notebook while still retaining the feel. Also, by switching I can have access to all of my files and organize my notebooks by clients and projects, something I find very appealing.

What's Nice

Packaging

The packaging and the manner in which the tablet is presented is nice, on a par with Apple or Samsung. Everything was packed nicely and well laid out.

In The Box

The instructions that come with the device are minimal. That might seem a bit odd, but basically they prefer everyone to go online to review the documentation and look at the videos if there are any questions. This makes some sense as things can change some as the operating system is updated. Most of the videos are well done, short and easy to follow.

The USB charge cord was a bit disappointing. It would have been nice to have a wall converter to plug in. Instead, the device has to be plugged into a computer or a pre-owned adapter. That's not too big of an issue. I have a bunch of them lying around from other devices, but at the price I would have expected a wall adapter. I'm guessing that most people will plug the device into their computer more often than I will. After all the years of living with a notebook, I don’t feel the need to convert everything to digital, other than to backup the files. But my experience probably isn’t the same as everyone else's.

The Device

reMarkable Tablet coverTime will tell if the device holds up to expectations. It feels solid, though quite thin. Personally, I would have preferred an aluminum framework instead of plastic, but that's a personal preference. It is well-built and the weight is spot-on.

Screen Size

I was worried about screen size. Unlike most, I’m sure, I wanted a smaller screen. A large Moleskine notebook is about 8 inches by 5 inches. The reMarkable is larger, more like an iPad. So far, that hasn't been an issue, but time will tell. If I had to guess, I'd say I will adapt.

Screen

Yeah, the screen is awesome and it does feel like I'm writing in something close to a notebook—on paper. It's a completely different experience from writing on a glass screen, and far better in my opinion. reMarkable got this right. There is minimal lag-time when writing. I have noticed a drop in performance when WiFi connected. This isn't an issue for me because I have WiFi turned off for the most part. Part of what makes the reMarkable feel like a notebook, and that I'm writing on paper, is the fact that it's still my handwriting. Everything looks familiar. I can even set the pencil weight to match what I used when writing in my Moleskine. That's a much different—and better—experience than writing with a stylus on glass.

The screen is really responsive when writing, usually real-time. Occasionally, there is a slight lag, but it's only minor. I also like the ability to set the device to left or right-handed mode. I write left-handed so it's an option I appreciate. When using the device I tend to hide all of the menus from view anyway, but it's still good to have the option.

The Pen

The pen is nice. The weight is just right though the size feels a little off to me, but I've been writing with a .5mm Pentel mechanical pencil for decades. This is something else I assume I will adjust to.

Organizing

This was a big deal for me before I made the purchase, and as it turns out, it is a REALLY big deal. I love setting up folders for nearly everything, including nested folders. I am a graphic and web designer / developer during the day. I have a client folder and then sub-folders for each client. I also have a folder for my daily to-do lists (I'm big on making lists). Once you get the hang of customizing the documents and folders the experience is nice. It's not completely intuitive but doesn't take long to learn.

Templates

The templates are a great feature and there are plenty of them. The only thing I wish I could do is organize them so that I could place the most frequently used at the top of the list. That would be much handier than searching for them each time.

Drawbacks

Battery Life

This may not be a big issue. It's difficult to say at the moment. My first impression was that the battery ran down quickly, too quickly for something that doesn’t have a lighted screen. I realized I may have left WiFi on most of the time. That's something I've since changed and battery life seems to be better. Time will tell on this one. It would be nice to see a percentage remaining on the battery and a report of active screen time, but that feature isn't yet part of the operating system. (Note: updating to OS 1.8 now shows the percentage of battery remaining - yea!)

Quirk of Me

This is something I hadn't considered, but is definitely meaningful for me. I used to keep old receipts or ticket stubs in my Moleskine, either in the notebook pages or in the pocket in the back. Sometimes, if the event was important to me, I would write about it. Can't do that any longer. That may not matter to most, but it is a long-established habit for me, and something I'm going to miss.

Additional Note

I purchased a cover on Ebay. I'm glad I did. Now I can carry the reMarkable without having to lug along my briefcase, something I couldn’t do before. It feels more secure and substantial this way and I don't feel like I'm going to lose the pen, which, given they cost $50 is a concern.

Overall Impression
I like it! Mostly, I like it for all of the reasons I thought I might: all of my notes in one place, same pencil on paper feel. I'm looking forward to using the reMarkable daily and I believe it will be a great alternative to my old notebooks.

in category Life

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