After going through countless notepads, pages filled with random content and genuinely good ideas that somehow I lost track of, I decided to do the unthinkable. Spend £600 on reMarkable 2. I went back and forth in my head toying with the purchase idea. It’s an expensive price to pay to have your work, thoughts and ideas organised. Now that the slate is here, I’m happy to share my thoughts on it.
There are cheaper ways of organising your work. Trello, Asana, Google Keep and Google Calendars – all are valid and less expensive options for keeping tabs on your notes. I tried all of these and none of them stuck with me. Focused on collaborative efforts, online tools are great, but as a one-man team, I need something at my side that I can grab, scroll through projects and note few ideas promptly. Notepads always worked for me, I just never could keep track of what’s inside.
Before you suggest the obvious, I tried tablets too. Perhaps I never spent enough (the most expensive ones were Asus Prime and Lenovo Yoga) to have a notepad-like writing feel. Pen and pencil felt quicker and superior each time. This is where reMarkable2 comes in. For me, it’s a way to sync up all my notes and keep them organised. I clearly value that ability a lot!
reMarkable2 completely changed that. It doesn’t feel like paper, it is like paper. This glowing recommendation comes from someone who has a Fine Arts degree and went through more types of papers than you can imagine. The e-ink display it’s a class of its own. I fell in love with it at first sight.
You could see my genuine excitement in my Livestream. I opened it live so you can experience the same thrill of having new tech in my hands. Now that the dust had settled a bit, I’m still excited over the craftmanship. reMarkable2 is almost perfect. Thinner than you would expect, but remains rigid thanks to the metal body. I/O is limited to a single button and USB-C charging port.
I’m happy to see WiFi connectivity in both bands: 2.4GHz and 5GHz, but I was a little disappointed to see only 6GB of available storage. Time will tell how quickly this fills up. After all, these are just notes. Battery claims up to 14 days, but with WiFi connected and heavy use, I’m down to 50% after 3 days leaving me with an estimate of just under a week.
Stylus, or virtual pencil works without batteries. You will be asked to replenish tips now and then (10 tips included), but that’s a small price to pay for paper alike feel. If you really want to experience how remarkable feels, take a 2B pencil and write your name on 100-120g paper. It feels just like that.
Unfortunately, whether you use a ball pen, marker, highlighter or mechanical pencil option from the menu, all of them will have the same tactile sense. It’s a small price to pay for having 8 tools in a single pen. I opted out for a more expensive pen with an eraser function. It speeds things out, but I expect the writing experience to be on par with the less expensive stylus.
Furthermore, the stylus can be customised with 3 line options per virtual pen type and is pressure-sensitive. I love it. ReMarkable2 comes with options for left and right-handed. Don’t worry, despite thin bezels, your hands will never mark the paper. That job is reserved for the pen. You can however use touch input to interact with menus or a virtual keyboard.
reMarkable2 comes with a super-responsive e-ink display. I played with e-inks before, even ESP32 based M5Paper (review) had an acceptable refresh rate, but reMarkable2 takes it to the next level. It blurred the lines between e-ink and other screens. There is nothing more pleasant than whipping the tablet out in the full sunshine to read the article that you downloaded earlier while drinking a glass of wine. Good luck trying the same with a tablet or a mobile. Of course, that will bite you in the butt in low light conditions, but I more often face the former than the latter scenarios.
I should note, that screen doesn’t always refresh fully. I suspect that this is a power-saving feature. Erasing lines will result in temporary burn-in marks, which go away instantly when the page is turned.
It’s a tad smaller than A4 paper, and it displays the text beautifully. As PDFs can be imported, you can also display more advanced graphics and pictures thanks to grey scale display. Despite the grey-scale pictures looks pretty good and load quickly.
reMarkable knows how to tempt you into a bigger bill. Slate alone is almost £400 Better pencil (with an eraser end) will set you back £99. I tried to save some money and didn’t buy the cover for the device (£49 – £150), but after holding the device in my hands, I felt bad for not giving it a proper cover – a “book cover” priced £100 is on the way. That’s £600 in total to take notes on the most expensive notebook.
I love the zen approach to reMarkable software. There are clients for Windows, Chromium extension and mobile client. Registration is simple, log in with your credentials, generate the code for your device, and the account is all set. The simplicity of this is refreshing. For the most part, clients mirror how reMarkable2 works, displaying the same layouts for folder structure and your notes.
Notetaking is divided into 2 options -Quick Notes & Notebooks. Quick Notes are as the name suggests – blank canvases that you can use to note something down in haste. New pages can be added with a swipe of the finger.
Notebooks have more structure. They come with pre-defined layouts that you can use to aid your note-taking. These vary from grid lines, to complete layouts for checklists, week planners or perspective lines. Files are organised in folders, there is a quick search option to search through file names or text in PDFs – very handy.
Taking notes on reMarkable2 is done on individual layers. Handwritten notes can be selected and moved across/resized or moved across the files. It’s nice and intuitive. Notebooks have a cool beta feature where the notes can be “cast” on computers running reMarkable software (on the same network). If you ever wanted to draw something and show it to the audience – it’s a great tool. Unfortunately, you can do a single document at a time, as each new note has to be authorised.
Chromium extension, PDFs e-PUBs and websites
Thanks to the reMarkable extension, you can send the text of the website to read with a single click. This will remove all pictures from the article, but it will also skip ads. If you want to retain the web look, you can save the page as a PDF and send it to your reMarkable2 instead. It works great and I love it.
There is no web store, so all PDFs, e-PUBs books you want to read, must be manually transferred to the device. Personally, I don’t care that much about it, as I won’t do this often enough to find the process annoying.
PDFs can be drawn on, annotated and highlighted. It’s a great mark up tool. I really miss the ability to select and copy a section of the PDF to another document. You can trace over things, but you cannot select and copy the parts of the original document.
Where things go bad
reMarkable software is very inconsistent. You can duplicate/move a note across directories in reMarkable2, but you can only “move” multiple files. The duplicate option is available on Windows software.
Each reMarkable account allows one reMarkable device. If you wanted to have 2 devices or take advantage of a collaborative effort – it’s not possible. As it stands now, reMarkable cannot resolve changes made on the tablet while the file is opened in another client in the preview mode. I’m not even asking at this point at live edit across all devices, simply locking the file and enabling multiple tablets would be nice.
There are 64 templates to pick from. 40 of them will be most likely useless to you. As reMarkable already supports layers, I see no reason why they wouldn’t add custom templates. The ability to drop and sync a custom SVG as your template would be a massive boost to your productivity. Community would jump on that in no time sharing 100s of great templates for every occasion.
90% of the time, you will be working offline. Auto-sleep options are nice, but why not go a step further and add “Connect & Sync” to turn on WiFi sync up and put WiFi back to sleep? It would extend the battery a lot.
Other than importing ePubs & PDFs, mobile/desktop clients are to read-only. I have a graphic pen, it would be nice to edit notes on a PC as well.
I tried to sync up 400MB PDF once, it never appeared on my device. Granted, that’s a large file, if the file doesn’t sync up – a notification would be nice.
Mobile client lacks the ability to simply take a picture and convert it to PDF. Probably the only feature you would ever use the mobile phone for. You have to use a 3rd party app to do it. I settled for this free app.
No hashtags. You can rename a note to make it searchable, but you cannot add a custom hashtag to make it searchable in case you don’t want to run OCR.
reMarkable2 comes with a keyboard to rename files, perform searches, but there is no option to bring it up in notebooks to add typed labels to your notes. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t write essays this way, but annotate a drawing with typed font can be useful for anyone with a doctor’s handwriting.
Basically, someone should take the reMarkable2 and hack it, so it would work with Google Drive. That and the ability to sync up a calendar, and I would consider every penny spent absolutely worth it.
The positive side is, that reMarkable2 can change for the better. They already nailed the hardware (with exception of storage). Software issues mentioned are annoying, but not game-breaking. Given how much the device cost, I’d expect a more polished experience in this area. It’s a brilliant note-taking device, great e-reader otherwise. reMarkable, please make your software remarkable, you are very close to making a perfect product. I know, that the price may put you off, but if you are as serious about your note-taking as I am, you won’t regret it. reMarkable2 leaves itself open to competition, while the hardware will be hard to beat, I can’t say the same about the software. Feel free to let me know your thoughts in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈💵 – See the transparency note for details.