Why I love the reMarkable tablet

Several of my friends recently asked me about why I liked the reMarkable tablet. At over US$600 it’s worth taking a step back and checking if you really want to put your money into that kinda device. Especially since any ol’ Chromebook costs a third of that.

So let’s do a quick breakdown of tablet prices before we get into the nitty gritty.

Remember that the very popular Kindle Paperwhite costs $120, the much better (imho) Kindle Voyage costs almost $200, and the funny looking Kindle Oasis costs $350. The plus is the obvious connection to the bookstore that is Amazon.

For iPads, the cost goes from $399 for an iPad Mini (I own one and I love it) to a Wifi and Cellular 12.9 inch iPad Pro for $1,279. And there are plenty of arguments that the app ecosystem and operating system are best in class. I tend to agree. iOS is superior in my book, especially as concerns tablets.

So that’s the range of pricing from $120 to $1,279. Obviously, the range of features is incomparable. iPad has exponentially more features, apps, and abilities than Kindle. But reMarkable sits in between the two of the ranges in terms of price and features. Let’s get into the features then.

The ultimate reason why I got the Kindle and now the reMarkable is because I spend all day looking at my phone and my laptop. And as you should know, the blue light emitted from those screens isn’t good for your sleep or your eyes in general.After awhile, staring at a normal Apple-made screen just strains my eyes. With the phone, it’s worse, since it’s so much closer to my face. No matter how many f.lux-like apps I download to prevent that, the strain still happens. Normal screens just have no “true black”, there’s always light being emitted directly into my face. So when I don’t have to, I’d rather look at real paper or e-ink, reMarkable is the kind of device I’ve been waiting years for: essentially, a larger e-ink device where I can read PDF’s and articles on.

For the above need, it’s perfect. I load my PDF’s, found ebooks, and slides into the reMarkable app, and I peruse them like I’d read paper documents. It saves on the paper. And since it’s e-ink, the battery life can last for weeks with minimal usage. Of course, it’s black and white, but I don’t mind that since the gradients are very clear.

In terms of size, the reMarkable is also ideal. It’s very light (much lighter than the iPad Mini even) so it holds very easily in one hand. The screen is perfect for reading PDF’s and larger ebooks. I’ve even read comic books on it. So even without the feature of writing, I already prefer it to the Kindle, which is too small to read PDF’s and articles, and sometimes straining to read a book.

The big bonus on all of this is that reMarkable’s writing utility is excellent. I’d even argue that it’s the best of any tablet on earth. The main reason is that it’s extremely fast (almost instant) and the feeling of writing is very natural, like a pencil or pen on actual paper. You can take notes on blank sheets, templates, and your PDF’s and ebooks. The result is I no longer use a normal paper notebook. I carry my laptop and my reMarkable tablet around for work and meetings. Most of the time, no laptop.

Now, we have to note that the device is a first generation. It’s therefore not an all-rounder. It doesn’t have text recognition like Evernote, so it can’t transcribe your handwriting to text a computer can read. And it can’t view a host of other file formats. But my sense is that they’ll eventually get there in the next generations and software updates. That is, assuming more people by the tablet to support them. I have an obvious bias to want more people to buy it so that support continues.

Overall, I think the price tag makes it worth it if you have the kinds of needs I have like reading PDF’s, reading slides, taking notes, drawing diagrams, and reading ebooks. That’s why I think Amazon should really consider acquiring reMarkable’s team and technology to revamp and expand their Kindle user base. It makes so much sense. The technology is great and aligned with what they already have.

If you’re worried about the lack of certain features, you can wait for the next generation, but since they shipped out all their pre-order tablets in December 2017, I bet the next one won’t come until 2019. So until then, happy writing on normal old paper and reading on your tiny Kindle.