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The ReMarkable Tablet: A Review (liw.fi)
251 points by edward 27 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments

I'm a fairly early adopter of the RM, and bought it for keeping handwritten notes. I don't produce a great amount of notes as a student might, but I find that the experience of writing really helps me think. Some thoughts on the device:

* The writing experience is top notch. It feels like pen and paper. I recently had the chance to try Onyx Boox Max 2 (very briefly), and it's nowhere close to the RM as far as the tactile feeling goes. This is the main selling point of the RM, and it's very good.

* It's an open-source Linux-based device but not entirely. The actual UI application isn't open source. But as others have said here, it has pretty good hacking potential, and it's definitely more open than most commercial devices. The company's support of open-source was another reason for me to buy it.

* The on-tablet software started out really bad but has improved. The first version had a bug that dramatically reduced battery life. It took a few more updates to get essential features like inserting a blank page in the middle of a notebook.

* The off-tablet software is bad. There's a file manager webapp with remarkably poor UX, the cloud sync API isn't particularly convenient for automation, and so on.

* As a reader, it's mediocre at best. PDFs formatted for large screens look good, but rendering is slow, navigation is poor, etc. I would absolutely not replace my Kindle with the RM.

To summarize, I think the RM is a very good device if you treat it as a digital paper replacement. That's what it is for me, and I'm happy. But if you want a good e-book reader, or any advanced software at all, this isn't the right device.

> * It's an open-source Linux-based device but not entirely. The actual UI application isn't open source. But as others have said here, it has pretty good hacking potential, and it's definitely more open than most commercial devices. The company's support of open-source was another reason for me to buy it.

Can you tell us a bit more about this? Took a look at their website and searched around a bit, but don't find anything about it. What makes ReMarkable more open than most other commercial devices? Seems any device running Android and alike would be more open to hacking.

Also can't find anything about the company's support of open source.

For one, unlike most Android devices, you don't have to root the RM. It comes with SSH running and you have the root password. The company's Github [1] has most of the source code, from their Linux kernel to the software update daemon.

Their CTO, Martin Sandsmark, is a long-time KDE developer.

Unfortunately, xochitl (the device's main UI) isn't open. It's a major miss in their open approach, and frankly I don't get why they would keep it closed - the RM's competitive advantage is in the hardware design, the xochitl software is merely okay and could only benefit from user patches.

[1] https://github.com/reMarkable

In case anyone is curious about the name of the main UI, "xochitl", it is a fairly common female name (for people, not UIs) in Mexico. It means flower in Náhuatl, the language of spoken by the Aztecs and still spoken by between 1 and 2 million people in Mexico. The Spanish word for flower, "Flor", is also a fairly common female name in Mexico.

The name "Xóchitl" is pronounced with the "x" sounding like "s" and the "t" silent by Spanish-speaking Mexicans. I'm pretty sure that's not how it is pronounced in Náhuatl; there I think the "x" sounds more like English's "sh", and the "t" is not silent.

Picture of one of the first prototypes (from 2015 or thereabouts) from remarkable.com/careers, guess the naming scheme: https://images.ctfassets.net/og7ujiyra5gx/15KAaMUsNXP8cQu3lP...


Thanks Martin - good origin story.

> It comes with SSH running and you have the root password

Is the password different for every device? Is the ssh daemon updated regularly? Seems like a massive security vulnerability otherwise.

The password is randomly generated for each device, yes. And of course the network only becomes available once you connect the device to your WiFi, or via cable to a PC. Once you're connected, you can also change to key-only authentication if you want.

The SSH daemon is Dropbear, and it doesn't seem to be updated though:

> reMarkable: ~/ dropbear -V

> Dropbear v2016.72

Hmm, I thought we were at 2017.75, are you sure your device is up to date?

We shipped the first software with an old dropbear, though it had backported patches for the known CVEs: http://cgit.openembedded.org/openembedded-core/tree/meta/rec...

I'm on, so only missing the latest update.

And most importantly: their full toolchain is available.


Did you try downloading it by chance? I get 404 on that toolchain link...

Strange, getting alternative responses of 404 and 200 when doing a request, with the 200 page showing

> It's sunday, we'll try to get it up during next week.

> In the meantime a normal cross-compiling ARM toolchain should work (e. g. the one packaged in Ubuntu).

Edit: now a added "Sorry, forgot to update this..." so seems someone updated the link right now

Unless the date stamp of that .sh file isn't recent. ;)

Was thinking more because if I made three requests, I got three different responses, so it seemed I was making requests while things were still being propagated

Can you use the device locally (no cloud or "activation" or account, etc)

You can - if you don't do the cloud setup, the RM won't try to sync anything. Then your file management options are the device's built-in software (which is viable prototype quality, not shipping quality) or some custom scripting. Given that this is HN, you're probably better off writing some small scripts to manage the device via SSH or curl.

I think you can using the new USB network interface based web-UI. Which is not great and quite an interesting choice of ways to go about things IMO.

Thanks a lot, makes the device a lot more interesting (and hopefully long-lived), somehow those things never came up when I searched.

An Android device would be able to use Ebookdroid, the best ebook reader (at least for pdf/djvu; its epub support is just okay) I've seen on any platform -- it just has so many features other programs are lacking -- like autocrop (gets rid of margins making the text part of book take up the full page), autosplit (automatically splits pages when people have scanned facing pages rather than each page separately), and autostraighten (when people have scanned some pages at an angle).

If you could configure how to render PDF links (mainly so tables of contents didn't look so aggresively yellow), Ebookdroid would be perfect for reading! (I added the "for reading", because I wish you could create and edit standard PDF annotations ---I believe instead of using native PDF annotations it uses a homegrown system that stores the annotations in a separate file.)

What android tablet with a pen would you recommend?

The software, on and off tablet, feels like it was an MVP and now they are improving it gradually. The quality of the existing software is actually pretty good, everything is smooth and polished. It is just not very packed with features.

It is incredibly easy to come up with must-have and would-be-nice features for this device. The hardware is a dream and there is clearly a huge potential. I saw they are hiring software developers, hopefully that will speed up development.

> The quality of the existing software is actually pretty good, everything is smooth and polished. It is just not very packed with features.

I would say it's very far from polished, but it's finally okay now. It took a long time to get there though. I don't even want any particular features for the device, it should be just like a paper notebook, with minimalistic software. It was only in this spring's update, a few months ago, that they finally shipped features to manage notebook pages, such as moving a page or inserting a blank page. It's one of the very basic features the device should have, but I had owned the RM for over a year before finally getting that.

I understand they're a small company with a small software team, but I think it's still important to point out the software weaknesses while saying that the hardware is indeed amazing.

Is the writing feel due hardware or software?

I remember reading that remarkable spent quite a bit of work on getting the latency of the pen input very low (which I guess is important for the feel).

However, for the tactile feel I would guess that the screen coating and the pen nib material are even more important (e.g. felt nibs or matte screen protectors)?

Hardware primarily. They've done a great job with the latency as well, but if you close your eyes and write on the RM, it's almost like writing in a paper notebook. It's the combination of the screen and the marker tips. As the marker tip gets worn out, the paper feeling gradually gets worse.

Would it be feasible to put alternative PDF reader software on it instead?

Since it seems like their proprietary software stack is crap, but the hardware is good, then getting decent software on it may be the better route. :)

I've stopped using mine. It's gathering dust in a corner somewhere. The hardware is pretty decent, and the writing experience is good. The software, on the other hand, is not good. There have been a couple of updates since I bought it, but they've been few and far between. Everything about it is mediocre. The file manager, meh. The note taking app, meh. The sync, meh. Getting stuff on it automatically is all but impossible. And I haven't been able to read some DRM books on it.

It's too expensive to use as just a notepad, but it's not good enough to use for anything else.

Additionally: the writing experience on the ipad pro is at least as good, and with just a bit less lag.

My experience has been quite different. I've found the software updates to be great and fix a lot of the issues I had with the device. As far as getting things on the device, my primary use case is reading academic papers, so I wrote a script that uploads documents from a Zotero folder.


I love mine, even though I can't use it at work due to having a very secretive employer.

It's essentially an electronic notebook with zero distractions, which IMO is the whole point. The iPad pro has a browser, Facebook, Twitter, email, messenger, hacker news, Instagram, and a million other ways to get distracted. Even if I don't use them, you still get the temptation to use those, and it's pretty distracting.

When I take the reMarkable to write on it, my brain seems to switch gears to thinking mode. It's similar to the way that having a home office puts you in working mode when you enter it, even though you could technically work from the couch with your laptop.

The software could definitely be improved, especially the cloud stuff (can't even revoke anything connected to the rM cloud from the web UI), but as a thinking device it works great for me.

You could get quite a few notebooks and pens for the price of the device, but they don't have an undo button. Whether you prefer the finality of ink on paper (with colors!) or the ability to erase and redo strokes is up to you. I carry both in my bag, ymmv.

When I need to use mine with confidential work documents, I just put it into airplane mode and upload documents to it over USB. I confirmed (a few software versions back) that deleting while in offline mode resulted in a full delete, and that nothing was synced after coming back online.

I’d really really like a means to maintain a direct-sync-only folder, or some sort of robust encryption story, but to date, the team has said that corporate compliance use cases aren’t a priority for them. I see that some of the team is participating here; perhaps we can all convince them to prioritize some sort of solution?

If they had done this I would have already bought one. I won't until they do. I regard my reading and note taking as private and I don't want them processed off device.

You can simply not connect it to a Wi-Fi network. It supports transferring files over USB according to the documentation [0], though I haven't really tried that.

Their FAQ also mentions that you can use the device without their cloud service [1]. I believe the handwriting recognition (which isn't really that useful IMO) requires to be online.

[0] https://support.remarkable.com/hc/en-us/articles/11500570038... [1] https://support.remarkable.com/hc/en-us/articles/11500373686...

If you don't want the company to access any of your notes, just don't enable the cloud features, don't even create a cloud account. Then you can sync between your other devices and the RM with some scripts making use of SSH for instance - it's not a very convenient solution but definitely works.

The terrible USB file transfer mode is one of the reasons why I stopped using it. Last time I tried I had to use a web browser to drag files to some web page. No idea why they didn't implement a mass storage API the way any other device does. Has that changed in recent versions?

Doesn't look like it, but you could use curl to upload files to it, if you wanted to to it from the command line: https://remarkablewiki.com/tech/webinterface#accessing_files...

It might also be possible to copy files with scp/ssh.

Both are possible.

> I’d really really like a means to maintain a direct-sync-only folder, or some sort of robust encryption story, but to date, the team has said that corporate compliance use cases aren’t a priority for them. I see that some of the team is participating here; perhaps we can all convince them to prioritize some sort of solution?

That would be really awesome. The development team is pretty small, and I'm pretty sure it's low on their list of priorities, but if they had encryption at rest and LDAP/Okta authentication, I'd definitely get another one for work.

> deleting while in offline mode resulted in a full delete

Overwritten with random data and unlinked, or just unlinked? I would assume the latter...?

I’d guess just unlinked, but that’s a pretty uneducated guess. My concerns were regarding the data escaping the device to their cloud, not remaining on-device in case of physical attack.

I second that and hope somebody from remarkable reads it. They could make this device great from being meh with a software update. I want to make notes on remarkable and easily edit them on android. Export SVGs not just low quality jpegs. Make integration with evernote and other note apps. Implement todoist API or let developers make their own simple apps. Provide written text OCR, it's usable at this point. There is much potential. I really enjoy writing and drawing on it, even though the plastic things that you write with need to be replace quite often when it's used for drawing. I can pay for the experience just make it worthwhile.

Also, why do you have to "turn the screen off" when I'm not using it. Just let the current note be displayed.

Any interest in selling it? I’ve been curious about trying one, and I’ve also been trying to get better at reusing things, rather than buying new ones outright, so one with a sufficient layer of dust seems perfect.

I had the same experience, unfortunately - although I recognized early and returned it a few weeks after getting it. At the time the software was bad across the board: on device and off. But the clincher for me was the price of the device was as much as you'd spend on an iPad and it had no backlight. I'd go back to considering ReMarkable on next generation if they've learned from gen 1. My use case was 50% book reading and 50% note/idea pad. I didn't feel it excelled at either of those. And while I don't enjoy reading on a tablet the writing experience on the iPad with a tactile screen cover is actually very good. I realize many would disagree there and I'd agree with that without the screen cover. I hope ReMarkable keeps going though. In the end it seems like they've left the platform open enough compared to the locked down ecosystems. I refuse to buy any Amazon branded eReader because of how limited in use they are without the Bezos ecosystem.

Lack of backlight was a disappointing surprise for me. Seems like such an obvious feature, I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to turn it on. Then found on their website there's no backlight b/c they want to maintain a true paper-like experience. :unamused:

To each their own, I've found with my ereader that backlight (or are they frontlights?) are pointless. During the day, I always use no backlight and I find it easier on the eyes just to turn a lamp on at night.

Turning on a lamp at night is great when your SO goes to bed later, or doesn't mind light when going to sleep.

Oh I love the iPad Pro. I'm betting my dollars on books coming on to web straight up—like websites—and there are startups working on this already with an "iPad first" approach to experience of reading books online. I am loving this churn! :-)

That sounds absolutely horrible. The whole point of a book is it's finality. I don't want to have to pull a book as a site down every time I want to read a book. It sounds like this model is focused on some sort of DRM approach that has little to no usefulness for people who want to read a book.

Do you mean you don’t want to scroll to consume content or do you mean that you don’t like to download content on demand? Or both? And, no I don’t like "rights management" of the user, so fuck DRM fwiw.

Have you seen Bubblin (https://bubblin.io) on the iPad? (Disc. I am one of the developers behind it.)

Sadly, books are already DRM'ed either by being on dead-tree or by being behind proprietary tech like that of Kindle.

Both are bad for books. Web is a ray of hope, IMO.

I don't like the idea all around. I looked at the site you referenced and it brings me no advantage over how I read books today. I honestly don't think an HTML variant of books are what people are after. What I want, as a consumer, is an identical workflow to how I buy paper books and I want as close to a paper reading experience when I choose to buy an electronic book. It looks like you've positioned yourself to be a walled garden publishing platform. I want to be able to download my books. The formats that exist today do a good enough job to read on devices. My Sony eReader from 2011 works still. I got a great ROI out of that device as I've read hundreds of books on it. I don't want books as a service.

And no, not all outlets are DRM'ed. I'll say it again: how you're doing books brings no advantages and, some additional disadvantages. No thanks.

> What I want, as a consumer, is an identical workflow to how I buy paper books

You mean like video cassettes? No. That's not how web works—and there's no need for longform to hang-on to workflows of the past.

I cannot believe that you just defended Sony as someone for 'not building a walled garden' in your response above. Their eReader died for exactly for same reasons you're using against the web. Either you have no idea about what you're talking here or don't understand how web works generally.

Whoa there grasshopper.

No, I didn't say anything about video cassettes. You did. Video cassettes died because of technology improvements. Last I checked the traditional paperback still exists and sells well.

I did defend Sony. For building a product that I still use and can load up with books and PDFs from today. You should also be aware Sony still sells the same line they did when they started in the space. Their readers are designed for a slightly different market now, but they still sell - and at a premium. Being someone in the "disrupt the ebook market" I would have thought you'd be in the know for your competition.

Regardless I know what I want. And that's part of your problem in your response:

> Either you have no idea about what you're talking here or don't understand how web works generally.

With that brazen arrogance your company will likely struggle. I've been in the technology industry for over 20 years and have seen plenty of your types come and go. Best of luck!

And what about those who can’t/do not have the privilege to buy that premium Sony eReader? It’s never in your interest for any upstart to die.

As to my project, it’s built on 100% democratic open source tech. Pretty lame that I have to tell you this despite having linked to the website earlier.

Good luck to you too, adios!

> As to my project, it’s built on 100% democratic open source tech. Pretty lame that I have to tell you this despite having linked to the website earlier.

What does that even mean - "100% democratic open source tech"? Does that mean you built your business on other people and organization's contributions to OSS and that's somehow democratic? Because the open source bits you have out there (Bookiza) seem to be generally geared towards tooling for your for-profit publishing company (Bubblin). To me it seems kind of like what Sony does, for lack of a better analogy.

I am glad you asked.

1. Which open source project do you think isn’t geared (willingly or unwillingly) towards the benefit of a for-profit company?

Or wait.

2. Do you think being registered as a non-profit makes an entity benign?

These questions are (have been) to me as much as they are to you—and it’s also time to sleep. GN.

It's too expensive to use as just a notepad, but it's not good enough to use for anything else.

But you've already paid for it? It's more expensive as a dust holder, right? So why not use it as a notepad?

I'll take it off your hands if you want. Email me at gmail.

I am actually wondering to see I buy one. Here is some links that I find interesting to consider before buying (some of those do answer some previous comments) :

* Here is a [previous occurrence on HN](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16321531).

* Here is a ["curated list of (code) projects related to the reMarkable tablet"](https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable).

* Here is a [framework](https://github.com/canselcik/libremarkable) for "developing applications with native refresh support for Remarkable Tablet " (with a growing Rust APi if you fancy that).

Some notes :

* As you will see by exploring some the links, the tablet is Linux-based so it is definitely possible to piggy-back on some API (see https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable#apis for examples)

* A bunch of alternative synchronization tools have already been implemented (see https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable#cloud-tools)

* The company seems really attached to software updates to improve the device (see https://blog.remarkable.com/).

* From all above, I think that the device could reach a critical mass of adoption and blossom in uses and third-party development but only if enough people engage with the device. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There's a pretty active developer community!

Main community resources are on Reddit and Discord:

- https://www.reddit.com/r/RemarkableTablet

- https://discord.gg/n89uDN

You can use the tablet without the proprietary cloud platform by using the built-in web interface to transfer data.

I perused these before and didn’t feel like they are much for developer resources.. do you have some favorite posts to link to as opposed to the sub reddit entirely? (Which seems to consist of people wondering which update they got)

Any idea if it's possible to generate new firmware yourself, and flash that?

YMMV, but I was an early adopter and have never regretted it. It's one of my favorite devices. There are some valid criticisms -- it's slow to navigate documents, so if you're used to flipping through a book, it'll be mildly infuriating.

It's indispensable for me because it can carry so much of my written life around in one little package. In one day, I might have a couple of work meetings (free-form scrawl a few notes, maybe diagram something), try to work out some coding problem, then go to a SAR training in the evening and as long as I've got the tablet with me I've also got all my notes and procedures for that too.

To replace the ReMarkable with good old paper, I'd have to put another hundred-plus books back on my shelf, carry another half-dozen or so textbooks in my car, and at least three thick binders and assorted other notepads and nonsense.

I recently went to Glacier National Park for a few days, and before leaving I compiled a bunch of possible destinations, visitor info, maps and so on into a PDF and loaded that into my ReMarkable. Instant customized visitor guide.

I'm a happy user of this tablet.

I also created a [Go app](https://github.com/juruen/rmapi) to interact with the cloud API.

I mainly use the tablet as a "virtual printer". Using the app I just mentioned above, I print directly to the device from my Mac. Yeah, this just saves me a couple of clicks and one drag and drop :)

Here's a [tutorial](https://github.com/juruen/rmapi/blob/master/docs/tutorial-pr...) on how to set it up and an actual [demo](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOGTYI15VxY&feature=youtu.be).

When I was studying, it was also great to use it to solve math problems on it when I was traveling without having to carry too much paper with me.

I hope the idea of a virtual printer catches on for these type of devices. It would make the switch to a paperless environment in the corporate world so simple.

OneNote uses the virtual printer on Windows. It is actually really helpful.

Looks like a cool program - but a little sad that there's a need for an Api... Couldn't the device present as an ipp/cups printer via wlan/bonjour ?

[ed: I suppose there's a case to be made for "cloud" Printing too, though]

That is super cool! I have been printing web pages to pdf to read later and then copy of them over, but this way more seamless.

I was thinking about buying it, because the stylus seemed to be much better than the one from the Sony DPT-RP1. However, I decided to buy the DPT-RP1 mainly for its size (13" is just perfect to read papers and taking notes!).

The writing experience of the DPT-RP1 is not great, but I have been using it for almost a year now and would never go back. The amount of paper that I have laying around at work now is minimal. I have created a virtual printer to just sent whatever file I am reading to the DPT-RP1.

Although there is no official support for Linux there is a very good python API developed by some guy, which works perfectly. Color e-ink would be nice to have for the next version, but I'm ok if only the stylus gets an upgrade.

I've been debating buying remarkable but wonder how reMarkable reading experience compares to Sony 13 inchers?

My favorite e-ink e-reader(I own several from 5inches to 13inches) by far is the original Sony DPT-S1.

It is so light for 13 inches (about 350g) and the software experience for PDFs is fantastic.

Sure it would rock to have ePub support, but Calibre can take care of that.

Sony made some questionable design choices with DPT-RP1 foregoing regular USB tethering for one and disabling of the anemic web browser which was no big loss but still was an option for emergencies.

Problem with Sony for that amount of cash is the lack of ePub support. This is why I bought iReader Smart. The biggest nuisance with iReader is the Chinese only interface.

I understand that this might be a problem for some people. But I actually prefer to use my Kindle to read e-books. I actually like the rather minimalistic approach the DPT-RP1 has. It does one thing, and it does it great (for me at least).

Callibre has a decent EPUB->PDF converter

i hadn't heard of this one before. do you have a link with more info? where did you purchase from?

I bought the tablet for two reasons:

- I write research papers. I suffer from writer's block when using a computer for a prolonged period of time. I thought that writing by hand would be different enough so that when I get a block on the computer, I could write by hand. This was true. And with the OCR engine built-in, I can easily convert my notes to a format ready to be pasted to Overleaf.

- SVG support lets me draw illustrations for my academic papers. This turned out not to work as well as I imagined, but still good enough to get the point across and recreate the SVGs by hand on a separate software.

I still read books on a Kindle, and I still read papers on the computer. This has more to do with how much easier it is to take and export notes on the devices.

The reMarkable is expensive, but if your job is writing or illustrating, I think it makes sense to invest in your capability to do it more.

I agree with the assessment that opening up the remarkable software stack would be a huge selling point.

I bought one for my girlfriend and she's super happy with it, but having a mosh console on there would allow her to ditch her macbook.

Being able to code on it would also cause me to get one and ditch my iPad Pro.

> [...] but having a mosh console on there would allow here to ditch her macbook. [..] Being able to code on it would also cause me to get one and ditch my iPad Pro.

Not officially supported or endorsed in any way, shape or form, and I don't even know if it even still builds, but I did a quick proof of concept porting fingerterm; https://iskrembilen.com/fingerterm+vim.jpg


I don't think it's very usable in practice, though, but it was cool for about five minutes to muck about in a terminal emulator on an e ink display.

I didn’t realize it until visiting your HN profile but I see you are one of the people behind reMarkable!

And you guys are based in Norway too!

A few questions if you don’t mind.

How many people are in your company?

What are the current and future plans of the company in terms of product? Keep improving the software for the current hardware? Make new models with different hardware?

Where in Norway are you located?

Are you looking to increase the number of people working in your company? Planning to hire more software developers?

And in terms of the open source parts of it, I don’t have this product, nor have I really heard about it before, so I haven’t had a chance to try it but, is everything that the community would need available in order to create a fully open source alternative “firmware” (or really, a “distro” might be a better name for it since it’s running a Linux kernel and all) that can run on your hardware?

We generally have a policy of not communicating externally by default (way too many startups have failed because of loose lips and over-promising), but I'll answer with what's already known publicly. :-)

> How many people are in your company?

Around 70¹.

> Where in Norway are you located?

Oslo¹ (or you can search for reMarkable on google maps).

> Are you looking to increase the number of people working in your company? Planning to hire more software developers?

Yes, yes and yes. :-)


> [...] is everything that the community would need available in order to create a fully open source alternative “firmware” (or really, a “distro” might be a better name for it since it’s running a Linux kernel and all) that can run on your hardware?

It's just a completely standard Linux system, and as required we publish the source code for u-boot and Linux and whatnot, so yes.

I originally wanted to just run plain Debian on it (or ALARM), but it was easier to just start with a minimal system and put on as little as possible, especially when you're a single person trying to keep track of everything.

Now we've expanded the team a bit, and ideally we could upstream at least the kernel patches so we don't have to forward-port everything ourselves, but it's not a high priority unfortunately.

And we're still a relatively small team, it's a bit hard to find a lot of good kernel developers who want to switch jobs in Norway.

¹: https://www.dn.no/teknologi/teknologi/nettbrett/remarkable/r...

Have you considered hiring remotely? (I read your recruitment pages and while it does not say that you don’t explicitly your hiring process looks as if you are recruiting only for on-site positions).

Did you try running Emacs? Apparently the console version of Emacs has code to merge edits together so as be usable on slow high-latency connections (like in the 80's and early 90's I guess). In terms of refresh rate E-ink displays have similar characteristics so should be interesting to try!

I've been using reMarkable for more than a year now. It's a very mediocre product with major software problems, BUT, I still will not trade mine with anyone for one simple reason: it allows me to disconnect and think. iPad, surface are all better in terms of features, but I get easily distracted. When I have to write something I am having real difficulty with, reMarkable works much better. Can't precisely explain why, but my guess is that it allows me to focus more deeply, like a blackboard or notebook.

Does it do a good job of recognizing your handwriting?

A good alternative seems to be Onyx Boox Max2 which seems to be more open (android based and can use all the normal apps including sync etc), have similar functionality and can also work as an external hdmi screen.


I wouldn't recommend any of the Onyx Boox products. Sure they may run android, but:

* They run an ancient version of android (Android 6 or Android 5, I don't remember)

* This ancient version of android runs a kernel that is susceptible to multiple vulnerabilities (like DirtyCOW)[0], and the developers have disabled selinux

* Kernel sources are not released, in violation of the GPL and the last time I checked, it seemed like there was evidence of ripped off applications/IP theft in bundled but hidden applications.

* The bootloader is locked

* Access to the wacom digitizer is only possible through a proprietary blob, which has to be incorporated into an application that wishes to use it. Therefore, the stylus support has a tremendous lag for any application that is not an onyx-made application.

* Handwriting recognition requires connection to their cloud services

Their forums are down right now, but people have been begging them to at least comply with the GPL and release kernel sources for years now [1,2]. The last time I checked, there were 3 separate threads about this on their front page.

It's a really tragic situation for such nice hardware. I can't think of any reasons why the company wouldn't want to open the source unless they were hiding something or were afraid of getting ripped off by other OEMs. The only thing that the onyx devices had over the ReMarkable is storage, but seeing as how the RM can be modded to accept an SD card[3] and has first-class linux support, it's the better choice IMO.

[0]: https://www.mobileread.com/forums/showpost.php?s=42e53ed5d56...

[1]: https://web.archive.org/web/20190122063838/http://bbs.onyx-i...

[2]: http://bbs.onyx-international.com/t/install-linux-or-alterna...

[3]: http://www.davisr.me/projects/remarkable-microsd/

All of what you say is true, but I'd still recommend the devices. The nova pro has been the best ereader device I've had. The software has gotten quite good as well. They said they will release android 9 for other devices than the Max3 but I believe it when I see it.

I know that they actually submitted requests to incorporate changes into third party apps like evernote to support better rendering for their devices, which was denied. I think this is a limitation of android which they work around with their "SDK", but I could be wrong.

The GPL thing, judging from the forum discussion to me seems like whoever is responding is a middle man. And the Leadership quite literally doesn't understand it. IP theft doesn't really matter for China in the way it does for the US anyway. And it doesn't really matter for the kernel anyway. Actually it doesn't matter in most places unless you're big enough to have big license issues and even then even when strings match historically it was hard to make a case in court. What I'm trying to say is that I don't think they're hiding it because of IP theft but rather because they don't understand the GPL or the value of open source. The flip side is that you can easily root the device because of the exploits.

I've used the Max 2 both with termux and vim to ssh outdoor and as a monitor for a one mix 2s laptop I had at the time. 2GB Ram(the original max 2) wasn't really enough for my emacs setup so it would crash emacs when I was using org mode. I think the Max 3 is probably nice, but at the same time it's not really that big an upgrade that I would pay for it.

> Access to the wacom digitizer is only possible through a proprietary blob, which has to be incorporated into an application that wishes to use it. Therefore, the stylus support has a tremendous lag for any application that is not an onyx-made application.

Don't know what the technical details are, but I have an Onyx device and this is not true. I use other apps with a stylus and there is no lag. If there is some technical lag, perceptually it is not there.

Regarding the old version of the kernel, I would obviously not use such a device as an internet-facing server, but for reading ebooks and sketching and syncing files? What attack surface are we afraid of here?

The Onyx Boox Max3 will release at Android 9 at least, and they're saying they'll upgrade previous versions but no ETA.

This really sad. I was about to get an onyx 2 (or 3) - but gpl violations, locked boot loader and no asop support...

On the other hand reMarkable seems to have open boot/kernel - but proprietary gui. Maybe it's possible to port a android to it?

Really feels odd to invest in a computing device without a good developer experience - at least for the onyx i could just write an android app to scratch an itch.. :-/

The max3 is probably the better bet at this point. Just saw one yesterday, and it was just gorgeous.

I use this for reading and annotating papers. It's great for that use case thanks to the large screen and auto-crop feature of the PDF reader, but the writing experience, while very good, isn't good enough to replace a real notebook.

Also it's a bit too heavy to hold one-handed while reading on a couch.

It is also double the price

Here's my use case: as a scientist, I'm often in the position of needing to review multiple 20+ page grants or manuscripts, resulting in hundreds of pages at a time. I find it far easier to read closely and retain info when I can write directly on the documents, then circle back to collect my comments, vs typing directly. At a certain point, looking at reams of paper coming out of the printer made me feel slightly sick to my stomach. Plus, I appreciate that I'm not left with those stacks of paper sitting on my desk.

(Before someone does the inevitable HN calculation about why the materials used to make the Remarkable are far worse for the planet than all the trees killed to print grants - yes, you're probably right. YMMV.)

I had tried the various ipad and equivalents, and the RM's big advantage is that it feels like reading/writing on paper, mostly - something about the matte screen and stylus, though the stylus is sort of craptastic.

As others note, the software is clunky with annotations moving around on the page, and there's a bit of lag. But, I have yet to find anything better. I do wish there were an easy way to collect all the annotations in one place, but my handwriting as an MD is appallingly bad so that may be an impossible task.

> I had tried the various ipad and equivalents, and the RM's big advantage is that it feels like reading/writing on paper, mostly - something about the matte screen and stylus, though the stylus is sort of craptastic.

I have a few artist friends who said the same thing about the iPad and Apple Pencil, but then they started buying paper-like non-glossy protective sheets and said it improved the experience immeasurably. I don't know how appropriate that would be for you, but they're apparently relatively cheap, so maybe you could give that a shot if you still have an iPad sitting around?

I bought and returned one a year ago.

I found that the two use cases I wanted most...:

* quick note taking

* syncing and reading long books

didn't work out that well.

As the author says, APIs for syncing are no fun. I also found that the tablet didn't keep up with my writing quickly enough at all.

It also didn't really allow for "let me just jot this down and then check it out later on my PC". Like, all I wanted was a "notes-<timestamp>.png" automatically in a folder on my PC to look at later, and that seemed completely impossible.

The writing experience improved a lot with an update this autumn. Doesn't seem slow at all for me, makes me wonder if you had a flawed or early version.


I bought mine in May, so that sounds like I just missed it.


Unfortunately, retailers in Switzerland don't stock it, otherwise I would like to check out the improvements to confirm that my experience was just blemished by being an early adopter.

Mine is a couple of years old. It was a software update.

Agreed that syncing APIs aren't great, although there's been a lot of third party software developed now that makes the use case you describe at least possible.

I bought one almost two years ago and sold it about a year later. I wanted to use it for doing math but the inability to see more than one page at a time while I was working made it painful. Ability to copy across pages would have also solved the problem, but that still doesn't appear to be possible. There is simply no way to keep developing an expression, line by line, beyond the bottom of the page.

yeah, infinite scroll is much asked-for

The old (ran on XP) SMART Board software just had a "hyperlink" that said "expand page" that just added a bit onto the end of the page.

Seems like a rather easy (I think) way of doing it.

As someone who use pens with 0.38mm tips, most touch screens and graphics tablets I've come across simply don't have enough resolution to write comfortably. Reading this review made me go down a rabbit hole of various E-Ink tablets but it's becoming increasingly frustrating to find that literally none of them list the LPI of the touch screen. I can't even find any measurements on how big the nibs on the styluses are. Can anyone else who uses fine-tipped pens comment on the writing experience for this tablet?

I put a paper feel screen protector on an iPad Pro. Using GoodNotes feels just like writing on paper with a pen now.

> While the tablet keeps up with writing just fine, it's a little slow when jumping around a long document.

I haven't found a good tablet analog for a sense of "place" within a document and fast indexing. With a book, I can flip through the pages by bending the pages and sliding my thumb over the edges (like a deck of cards). On a laptop, ctrl+F is approximately the same speed as thumbing through physical pages (sometimes better, sometimes worse, depending on how unique the search term is). My iPad is intentionally set up for handwriting, [1] but I still find searching through documents on a tablet pretty tedious.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20271316

Does anyone have a way of setting up the ReMarkable to run Emacs with an external keyboard? If so, the device might be able to satisfy 2 disparate needs in my life for a more portable and readable outdoors coding environment as well as for note-taking as a paper replacement.

Bought mine a year ago, and love it. It’s fundamentally changed how I read and write —no more papers, easy to get PDFs and textbooks onto it through my Mac or phone. If you’re an academic and read a lot, it’s an invaluable way to do your eyes a favor and also eliminate distractions. Had an Ipad and disliked the backlight. Also, not sure what people are saying on here, but the writing fidelity is some of the best I’ve ever seen (used to work in pen-based interfaces). It’s not a glossy screen like ipad, it’s matte, there’s friction. The size of it too makes it perfect for reading academic PDFs and textbooks galore. Yes it can be slow, but I’m not on it to play games or whatever. I’m on it to read.

> Yes it can be slow, but I’m not on it to play games or whatever. I’m on it to read.

Ok, but what about zooming and panning, or flipping pages?

I bought one from the early campaign. As a thinking/planning device I write tens to hundreds of pages per month on paper and was intrigued by the focus on the writing experience of this product. And it is a good product- between the surface, the plastic pen tips, and the device software, provides a good enough writing experience. However, I found that my recall when using the device became zero. The loss of the physical process of reviewing and paging through written pages was unexpectedly significant, and "paging" through the digital pages did not help. So it sits unused. I should sell it.

Bought one, returned it within their 30 day window.

It wrote well, but the software supporting it is terrible. The only way to get your scribbles off the thing is by having it do some attempt at OCR and then it EMAILS you the text.

I have a reMarkable and I'm really happy with it. I can't recommend it for everyone yet but if you like to tinker it's really really nice.

I wrote a small script that downloads the articles from news websites and puts them on the device using 'wkhtmltopdf -a5' and it has become my morning newspaper.

The software isn't perfect but it works well enough (and getting better all the time) and the fact that you can write your own makes it perfect for me.

Does the script run on the the device or externally?

Is there shell access on the device? If so, what packages / distribution does it run / use?

For now the script runs on a computer and transmits the files to the device using wifi or a cable but there isn't really a reason why it can't run on the device. I do plan on making something like that work on the device eventually.

I'm pretty sure it's a Yocto based Linux image based on the toolchain they distribute.


What's the WiFi transfer mechanism? Push or pull?

For now the computer pushes to the tablet but it would be simple to write a program to pull.

Theoretically it’s good but I wonder how much market there is for it at that price.

Tablets themselves are used a subset of population, compared to the phones. On top of that for people wanting to read ebooks only amazon already sells a reader for far less than this one. The iPad for example offers all these features on top of the 100s more. What is special about this and Where is the market for this?

Business, research, and government markets might have an appeal.

There's a balance between general-purpose devices (Android, iPad), and something that's really geared at managing and creating content. Existing tablets and smartphones are still very much consumption devices, to an extent that's massively off-putting.

(I've used Android devices for a decade, have hated them the entire time, find Apple generally less appealing, though I'm somewhat tempted presently.)

A good, focus-preserving, e-ink, long-battery-life, capable, well-supported device might well find a niche.

Science, engineering, medicine. There are tens of millions of folks who would use this over an iPad.

Is willingness to pay part of the definition of a "market"? (Honest question; I didn't go to business school.) I don't doubt there are "tens of millions of folks who would use this over an iPad" if it were free -- I'm one of those people -- but to buy this in addition to, or instead of, an iPad? No way.

Sometimes lack of features is a feature.

did anyone ever try the sony's digital paper ? It is super pricey but I am yet to find someone reliable to get an honest opinion of the device

link - https://www.sony.com/electronics/digital-paper-notepads/dpt-...

I have one (DPT-S1) for years after a kindle DX screen felt too small, and still use it for reading technical papers and books. Papers are a pleasure to read. The weight is light-feather. The price was extravaganza-level but haven't repented, I love this gadget. It synchronizes via web-dav with (for me) a box.com account, perhaps slowly. Is a superb reading device, battery lasts more than a week. Is not a tablet, web browising is enough for landing in a specific blog post or wikipedia article, but anything cpu consuming will be slow. After the years the stylus cilindrical holder came apart. The writing experience is functional, but lags to a point compared with pen and pencil (but is workable). Mine has SD-card with 32 gigs. Page flip on scanned books makes you wait. The software is minimalist but not buggy. No sound.

Earlier comments from this thread:



TL;DR: Better size for reading paper-oriented PDFs than reMarkable. Nice hardware. PDF software works well. The app for getting PDFs onto the device and its telemetry terms are bad (or at least were when I bought the device). Does nothing other than PDFs. Annotations are saved in the PDF itsel and move with the PDF to a PC.

I've had one of these since 12/18 and like it quite a bit. I use it as a sketchbook and to take notes. When I first got it the stylus felt a bit too slippery however after some use it feels more like a normal writing instrument. My only suggestion is that they should sort templates so that recently used ones appear first.

I bought one for myself for Christmas a few years ago. I disliked it so much I ended up returning it. My use case was to use it for notes (bullet journal) and as an eReader. It was ok for taking notes, but for the money it needed to be amazing. I personally wouldn't recommend it. Also their customer support was terrible.

What I need in my work life is an e ink tablet and the software to draw diagrams.

I have terrible legibility. Using mouse based draw apps feel so tedious for rough iterative sketches that it's hard to ever justify.

The app would ideally be like the Newton in the way it autocompletes the shapes. The tablet would likely be something like this one.

I also have one of these and price aside it's amazing. It's not android which I think is a positive as it aids the "get out of my way and let me read/write" ethos. It's expensive and it has had some really basic bugs, but if they make a version 2 I'll buy it in a heartbeat.

The hard work of syncing kill me.

I have to switch from these kind of paper device as it is hard to manage info across them. Pad like devices are paper to me and kindle. It is more like in Star Trek you see captain use a few pad devices as if there were separate books/doc. It would be better if the two New iPad Air can manage the files in their app. As it can’t, I bought new old stock of macbook 12”. It is all portable and all work together.

as background I own kindle, boss the pad size and the huge one (max 2). Once the ipad has the paper like screen protector i did the switch. The newly bought 15” i9! Is not portable. Hence the macbook 12

I wish someone did a light A4-sized eInk device with these software features:

* PDF reader

* epub reader

* well-maintained paged-media mode Web browser (well-maintained meaning timely security patches for the browser and the base system)

* no app, just standard MTP over USB and whatever the Bluetooth file transfer protocol is called

* reasonable privacy stance (not collecting what documents are read)

When looking for the above, which doesn't exist, I settled on Sony Digital Paper (DPT-RP1) instead of ReMarkable. (My recollection is that the Sony device had a larger display and didn't assume a cloud component, which could shut down.)

Sony has the hardware side solved albeit in U.S. Letter size instead of A4. However, of the other points, it only does PDF.

Sadly, despite being based on Android 5, which meant they could have gotten the standard file transfers for free, Sony disabled that stuff and forces the use of their Windows and Mac app to load the PDFs onto the device. At least back when I bought the device (which was before the GDPR came into effect), the terms of service for the app were unreasonable: The terms claimed the content of the PC running the app as fair game for telemetry. Nope, nope. I've never connected the device to the network and I run the app in a manner that blocks it from accessing the network. One shouldn't have to take steps like this. The app and the terms for the app make even less sense considering that the marketing target of the device is doctors and lawyers, who even in the U.S. have specific document confidentiality obligations.

Sadly, I have no idea what kind of business model would enable a well-maintained paged-media mode Web browser. Taking an existing Web engine and making its print-oriented paged-media capabilities work well in the interactive case would be a major project in itself. And top of that, actually keeping up with security patches would be hard work. (I have used a continuous-media Web browser on eInk, and it's not a good experience.)

Anyway, I wouldn't go back to not having a Digital Paper device, but I feel dirty about Sony having gotten my money despite me having to deal with their PC-side app and its terms.

My wishlist is comparable, though I'd also very much like to see document management tools scalable to 1,000s to 10,000s of items (yes, really, and yes, I've well over 5,000 docs on my current tablet, and no, I can't organise them anywhere near as I'd like).

The Web browser is a danger (distraction) but also useful utility.

Someone's web clippings / bookmarks / downloads manager (Pinboard, Pocket, etc.) or equivalent or export manager would be another hugely useful addition.

The option to source content from third-party sites, including Gutenberg, Wikisource, Sci-Hub, and LibGen.

Adding email and messaging is another distraction risk, but with appropriate disturbance controls, possibly within spec.

And, because I find shells hugely useful, some sort of extensive Linux shell (like Termux for Android, or better). A minority want, but a powerful one.

I too am waiting for such a device. Does this remarkable tablet have a browser? I can't seem to tell from the product description and faq

Like the review says this device is most useful for reading PDFs. Tablets aren't an option because 1) too heavy and 2) not enough battery life, whereas most e-book readers do a poor job displaying PDFs because they're too small. There's only a handful of large screen e-ink devices and this tablet is one of them.

It is a perfect device for those of us who spend a lot of our days reading and annotating scientific papers. The refresh rate on the screen is not relevant at (at least my) paper reading speed, and I can email marked up documents to collaborators and students.

How does this compare to a kobo libra? I have one Kobo Libra, use it for PDFs, as the screen has enough DPI and is big enough, but it's not the best experience.

Absolutely love the Pocket integration and KOReader, though. Also, the lights.

I'm still waiting for the ability to quickly share my drawings/writings with others over the internet. Really wanted to use it in architecture/design meetings instead of wonky jamboard.

ReMarkable does allow emailing content. That's not directly Webable, but you might set up something to collect/publish, if you wanted.

IMHO, $500 is a stiff price for such device.


Agreed. As I scrolled through the Web page, I was thinking to myself that it looks cool and that I'd buy it on a whim if it came in around $200. But when I saw the about $500 price point, I was more like, hmmm, let me read the HN comments. The comments look to be fair but meh. So, it gets put on the someday wishlist.

Given that this provides access to at least 100s of books (at 5MB/book, about a thousand with 8 GB storage), and compared with similar tablet devices (Android or Apple), especially of comparable screen size, it's quite competitive.

The Apple iPad Air runs $500, the base-model iPad is slightly less expensive (and a 10" screen). Larger-format Android devices tend to run around $400-$600.

Given my experience with Android and limitations of iPad options, I'd be willing to pay considerably more for a suitable device, though the ReMarkable may not yet be that.

I have bought both the Remarkable and all the Onyx Boox Max devices.

I ended up selling the Remarkable since I stopped using it after University.

For most textbooks a 13 inch e-reader is much better.

Do any of these tablets sync with Endnote? I am an academic and organize research using Endnote, and I would need the tablet to pull and sync with my endnote.

Any support for Microsoft office apps (even if via third party)? docx, pptx and xlsx?

As a musician I am really interested in this to stop wasting paper on lead sheets.

After reading this article I was all set to look into the ReMarkable as a big e-reader. Then I read this thread and I'm glad that I don't!

I have no use for writing in a tablet. Can anyone recommend a big e-reader suitable for textbooks? I'd like a 13" Kindle or something...

One of the larger iPads might work for you.

I've been using a 9" Android tablet, which has a pretty good form factor, but is abysmal in virtually all other regards. Extensive notes:


Having an integrable folio-style keyboard is a hard requirement, and Apple seem to be filling this niche, though their manufacturer (Logitech) is the same company I've had an horrible experience with myself.

at 9", almost all PDF-format texts are readable, though good bookreading software is hard to come by. I've mostly settled on PocketBook, which is reasonably inobtrusive for reading, but which makes large-scale document management (10k+ items) impossible. The metadata fields, as an example, lack an author field, and updating content metadata is cumbersome to the point of being all but impossible.

I've been hunting for alternatives, but to date, no joy. Apple's devices look superior based on hardware, though I have concerns for the actual usage experience.


I can't wait until I can browse the web on a device like this

How close is the "e-paper" screen to real e-ink?

there are a bunch of video reviews that cover this. The consensus seemed to be "close enough" for your average person but "not even remotely" like paper for people who pay attention to different paper types, and care about the tools they use for drawing / writing and how they interact with paper.

That is to say, you'll be happy if you don't pay any attention to the paper or writing implements you use normally. If you _do_ it's nowhere close but much better than writing / drawing on glass.

I've seen a lot of reviews comparing the writing experience to paper, but I'm more interested in the reading experience, and particularly how much contrast the screen has vs an e-ink Kindle.

I've seen a few reviews actually refer to the screen as "e-ink"—but that must be a mistake, or the official website wouldn't use the more nebulous term "e-paper"... right? If it is e-ink, why is the refresh rate for drawing so good?

It is e-ink.

The refresh rate is good because they have come up with a clever method of only refreshing regions of the screen at once. Eg if you draw a line, it will only refresh the axis-aligned rectangle enclosing that line.

OP and ReMarkable users, what ebook stores do you use?

I signed up to ReMarkable during the beta/pilot announcement having gone through decades of testing Palms, iPads, eReaders, pen scanners in search for that analog experience.

I didn't pull the trigger after the early adopter review having seen so many of these devices rushed to market with half-baked file i/o or UI issues with crippled hardware/software slowing that "pen/pencil and paper" experience down. This marketing desire generation is usually coupled with amazing incredible first impression reviews https://youtu.be/RGsWLeHZT8Y that only scratches the surface of total ownership experience.

So far the iPad with Pencil has come closest but who wants to lug that heavy thing around?! From my experience, customers really have to buy the company/platform not the device in hopes that they have staying power. Remember Livescribe? https://www.youtube.com/user/nevermissaword/featured Well they're baaack ... again.

I can only hope the best for ReMarkable and that they sustain the ecosystem to continue on with "your" notes. +1 for the open source we direly need it and that may be enough to support them and buy their 3rd gen model.

Currently I'm really enjoying analog fountain pens and paper, although more expensive! (14K nibs with custom grinds) they're pros on interface pleasure, offset power consumption, privacy and well ingrained UI. Search is waay slower but it helps brain power.

My later tech bet is on paper journal digitalization like Google Books with data capsules: https://wiki.htrc.illinois.edu/display/COM/HTRC+Data+Capsule and doesn't everyone use MyScript API for handrec anyways? https://developer.myscript.com/ or more openly I'm hoping on improvements to the tessaract pipeline: https://github.com/tesseract-ocr/tesseract/wiki/ImproveQuali...

As for current digital solutions, sadly it's going to the big gorillas via market share like MS with Onenote, or Google with chromebook tablet https://chromeunboxed.com/chrome-os-78-tablet-mode-ui-overvi... (termux Evil Org-mode with your fav Android pdf reader for papers!?) and Apple iPad pencil. Does it have to be this way? It would be ReMarkable if they can pull this off!

these devices are just lovely for weiting and sketching.

does this device have nextcloud integration?

For the price it has, you could as well buy an iPad Pro, which will do literally anything the ReMarkable will do, but better.

Except display text on an e-ink reflective screen. They're fundamentally different for most people.

I agree it is overpriced just like every large form factor e-ink reader has been (likely unavoidable due to it being a niche product), but there are at least a few things that it does better than an iPad pro.

Note that I'm not saying its better in general than an iPad Pro, because overall its not. The iPad does way more, but that's besides the point because this is a device with a very specific purpose.

The most obvious advantage is the paperlike screen that reduces eye strain. Not everyone wants an e-ink screen, but for those to whom it is important, the iPad's screen isn't an acceptable alternative.

The next advantage is battery life. It isn't as good as a kindle, but its better than an iPad Pro by a long shot.

The other advantage is weight.

It doesn't have an eink display which I find necessary. It also does a much worse job of helping me avoid distractions.

Better as in "distract you" and for sure not better when it comes to writing and preventing taking care of your eyes

Other than, y'know, lasting weeks on one charge. Or actively disconnecting from the internet, which was the stated goal of the project.

no e-ink though

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