A quick review of the reMarkable tablet

January 03, 2021

The reMarkable tablet is a great device and I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

What is it

If you’re not familiar, the reMarkable tablet is an e-ink tablet that you can read and write on. It doesn’t have a web browser, or apps, or any modern tablet functionality. You can’t make purchases on device, or watch a video. Only thing you can do is either upload PDF or EPUB files to read & write, or make blank notebooks to write on.

It’s thin and light- very easy to carry around, and in my opinion quite beautiful.

How I landed on it

I have had my eyes on the reMarkable tablet (RM1) for awhile now, but have always found the price tag to be too high at $600 when it first launched in 2017. Around May 2020, the reMarkable team announced the reMarkable 2 (RM2) and dropped the price of RM1 to only $279 refurbished. It came with the tablet, a pen and a case. So, I bought it.

There were some other alternatives I could’ve gone for, like Kindle, iPad, Onyx products, etc, but the reMarkable tablet was really the only thing that met my requirements:

1. I wanted a device that I could read on.

I had been using my phone as my digital reader, but it just wasn’t comfortable to read for long periods of time due to the backlit screen. I had also experimented with carrying physical books that I borrowed from my university library but it was big and heavy, so I just ended up reading less.

2. I also wanted a device I could write notes on.

I could get a paper notebook, but I’m quite obsessive about data collecion. I like the idea of having an archive of what I’ve written down so it’s easy to look back. Before, I had mostly been typing down my notes, but there were obvious drawbacks such as the inability to draw.

3. And I didn’t want another distraction device

The complaint I see the most about the reMarkable tablet is that it lacks a lot of functionality compared to the alternatives. This donesn’t really bother me, as I already have a laptop and a phone, so I was looking for something that didn’t have access to Reddit or Hackernews.

Experience using it

Before, I had an elaborate Emacs + org + roam system set up. That’s great and all but there’s just something about writing that makes me produce better content & write better notes. I love my emacs setup, and I still use it for other things, but I just enjoy being able to draw a diagram on the side whenever I want, something my emacs system can’t do.

I have a notebook each for my classes, projects, and a day book where I make my todo list and journal. It’s ridiculously simple to use and it never fails- which is why I think it’s such an amazing product.

There are solutions built by the open source community for backup and supercharging the device but I prefer to keep it vanilla for the time being. So far I’ve been backing up notebooks and annotated pdfs manually to a folder on my laptop.

Getting PDFs into the device is similarly easy via the desktop app. There are also community based apps or chrome extensions to speed this process up but I find the vanilla experience good enough and I usually use that more.

Is it all good?

The battery life is good, but honestly not as good as expected. I have to charge maybe once every 2 days on normal use. I believe this is due the fact that it has always on WiFi.

It doesn’t do everything, but it does what its supposed to very well, and I prefer that over feature bloat.