19/12/2017

It's a tablet with re-markable electronic ink display that almost feels like paper

The reMarkable tablet is an e-ink device (and pressure sensitive stylus) that is meant to be a replacement for pen and paper. While it's not quite there, it actually does a pretty remarkable job. The stylus is pressure sensitive (with 2048 levels) and tilt is also detected, allowing the pencil tool to emulate a real pencil (and other tools thinner or thicker lines dependant on pressure).

The unit is well made with a aluminium back and the e-ink display (monochrome) has a special coating so the stylus does feel somewhat like pen on paper. The black and white contrast is very clear with a 1872x1404 resolution (226 DPI) on a 10.3 inch screen. The whole unit is 6.9 x 10.1 x .26 inches and weighs 350g. It also comes with a wallet that holds both the device and stylus and spare nibs for the stylus (and a tool to extract the old nib).

Battery life is pretty good and it will last a few days, though if not using it turn it off rather than putting in standby) having a capacity of 3000 mAh. It has a standard micro-USB for charging (which can also be used to connect to a computer and then access through a web browser to access the files). Internal storage is 8GB (claimed 100,000 pages) and 512MB of RAM coupled with a 1GHz ARM A9 CPU which makes the system pretty responsive. It runs a mobile version of Linux (Codex) which has been optimised to drive the e-eink display.

Though the tablet can be run by itself, it can also be used with the reMarkable web service, so documents will be automatically sync'ed and then can be made available to the desktop (macOS/Windows) or mobile (iOS/Android) clients. It's also possible to import documents into the clients, then they'll be upload to the tablet when it next goes on-line.

Currently the software understands ePub and PDF documents. A nice feature is that PDF documents can be imported, then a new layer created and then use the new layer to annotate etc. Then the document can be exported again with the annotations.

There are several ways to list documents, but in the start-up mode the tablet will have a rM (access to settings etc), then below that and My Files, then Notebooks, Documents, Ebooks and Bookmarks.

Notebooks are where you create documents., which can also be organised into folders. Each page can support multiple layers and there are several templates available (plain pages, isometric, ruled, dots, etc).

It's possible to delete Notebooks/EBooks etc from the device.

A slight oddity is with Quick sheets which is a single notebook that's always there. Multiple pages can be created and functionality is identical to a Notebook, though there doesn't seem to be anyway of deleting them, so once a page is created, though it's possible to erase the data of it, there's no way to delete the actual pages themselves.

The 3 keys at the bottom of the tablet are for navigation, left button goes back a page, middle is home and right goes forward a page.

At some point in the future there will be a system to convert hand written text to text, but that's not there yet and there's no timescales for when it will be implemented (there's been no software updates for the device since it arrived).

Should you get one? It's a really good idea and it's transportable i.e. you'd use this instead of a pad of paper. However there are quirks and the software could do with improving. It's nice to be able to annotate existing documents or use it to draw (if your writing is illegible with a pen, it will be just as illegible on the reMarkable). It is nice to be able to export straight to a PDF of JPG.

Pre-orders were heavily discounted but it's now shipping for £579

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