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ReMarkable 2.0 – A digital notebook that feels like paper (remarkable.com)
1410 points by punnerud on Aug 27, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 685 comments

I have been very happy with my ReMarkable 1, and have ordered the ReMarkable 2.0.

Hacker News might be interested in the active development community around the device: https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable

The device is open. It's just an embedded linux device. You can ssh into it, and run arbitrary code. The SDK is based on Qt. You can also connect a keyboard to it over a USB-on-the-go port.

I have been imagining porting a lightweight Qt-based virtual terminal to the device and using it as an e-ink unix terminal. Alas, I have not yet had the cycles to complete this project.

It's funny how your comment immediately makes me want to buy it, because the description on the site with all these silly photos and such for some reason got me thinking like "looks kinda nice, but since it's obviously something very Apple-like, it will be as restrictive as it gets, I won't be able to use it without some obligatory shitty web-account and I probably even won't be able to read *.cbz comics on it, so... nah, no way I'm paying €400 for it, and it's not really worth to spend more time looking into it".

Now I'm not sure what effect this site has on the average customer, and if making it more selling for me would make it less selling for them, but they actually lost me, and after reading your comment I'm seriously likely to pre-order. And it's not about your positive evaluation, of course. So I've got a feeling all these marketing people do advertising wrong somehow.

Same here last time ReMarkable came up. Saw the marketing page and really liked the hardware and expected it to be locked down, so moved on to reading the comments. Bunch of comments describing how it's open, runs linux and you can basically just ssh into it and run stuff. Made a pre-order right there and then and now waiting for it.

I think we're simply such a small user-base that they don't think to include it on their landing pages. Most people probably don't care. But since we're on HN, we most likely care to some degree.

Same boat lol. Saw the open-source comments and decided to buy one so I could make a sheet-music reader that changes pages automatically using facial cues from an ESP32-CAM

I'm slightly astonished (have been for a while) at the fact that no-one (as far as I know) have developed a Guitar Hero style e-ink sheet-music reader. Imagine how much easier you'd make life for kids learning how to play music! Software and hardware wise, it's got to be well within the realm of feasibility.

ePaper does not refresh fast enough to do the falling notes thing you are thinking of. An ipad works infinitely better, costs less second hand (I got an ipad air 2 dirt cheap and its still getting updates) and it does more.

Also my experience with using those things is that you would be better off spending the time to learn sheet music because once you get past twinkle twinkle little star, the falling note style videos don't work. You can't keep up with them live and paused they only show you the very short term future.

Yep, you might as well just learn to read music the traditional way. It's very common for musicians to be reading the sheet music a long way ahead of the actual music being played, especially while playing fast and complex pieces.

Having said that, an e-ink reader that could read visual cues would be awesome, but I feel it could be very frustrating unless it was incredibly smart. Maybe some kind of blink gestures might be useful.

I think the best UI would just be a page change foot pedal. Not particularly difficult to implement and very reliable.

That's what many big-name classical pianists use, a pedal hooked to an iPad.

Why iPad though? I’ve seen a specialized electronic music sheet (seemingly based on e-ink) in some videos, I guess pages are flipped using a pedal since I didn’t notice any visible interaction with it to do so, e.g. https://youtu.be/oB-gF2Ncphg

I think the question quickly becomes why not an iPad. They're easy and pretty cheap to get hold of, have good screens, lots of people can easily write new software for them and they're also a tablet. Many people may already have one and so using hardware they already have is much cheaper than buying new special hardware.

Also, eink screens are nice to look at but so expensive for non-kindle sizes.

I've played so much live music with an IPad, but after the 4-5th time having it freeze up mid live performance I gave up on the dream. It's just not 100% reliable, and nothing like standing there like an idiot desperately trying to swipe to the next page to make your realize how great paper is

that really sounds like the software you were using not the ipad itself. most people essentially NEVER have their ipads freeze.

chucking the ipad because of that is like chucking the baby out with the bathwater because the bathwater got cold. The baby still has value. you just replace the water.

cool video. looks like the remarkable, actually two of them. now i need to buy TWO

Not sure about the Guitar Hero bit, but there’s a really nice, albeit very expensive, e-ink “sheet music” device. Product name is Gvido (not a typo). I’ve been using it professionally for about a year. Clunky UI, but hugely nicer than carting around books and sheet music. Form factor is more like traditional sheet music size than is an iPad, and it opens like a book—two side-by-side big, non-backlit pages. Turn pages with a Bluetooth pedal.

Thanks, link for convenience: https://www.gvidomusic.com/

You should check out Rocksmith. Its guitar hero with real guitar, pretty cool stuff. I don't see how a scrolling format like guitar hero would fit the slow refresh rate of an e-ink display, but perhaps you imagine something different.

Absolutely love that toy, unfortunately they stopped producing DLCs for it some time ago to do something else... I wonder what that is.

They are working on RockSmith 2, you don't know this from me.

I remember a couple years ago getting Rocksmith for my ps4 and absolutely loving it. The controller mappings were a little unnatural in places but I did reasonably well with reading their notation/tab. Fast forward to when I tried to pick it up again a few weeks ago ... I can't read their notation/tab for the life of me. It's so confusing. Need to rewire my brain somehow.

Custom DLC is still going strong

Or Yousician. I'm not a fan of the Rocksmith presentation which relies on small position differences and colours, but there are alternatives.

I ordered my remarkable2 yesterday. Wrt sheet music, Not exactly what you were talking about but there was a great app called jammit that did something similar --playing along with sheet music with existing songs, and either isolating the instrument or muting it. The app just disappeared one day and the community reverse engineered the app and you can still get it under the facetious name "crammit" on Mac and windows. I found it very helpful to learn drum set notation.

you mean like this? not animated but up the same street. nothttps://www.padformusician.com/en/products/18-18-padmu-3.htm...

Probably because you could just make an application like that on an iPad...

The Kala Ukulele app is a chords only version of this. It also includes videos showing how to play each section, and it plays accompaniment into your headphones as you play along.

I found it super helpful, and I believe it's based on technology originally developed for teaching guitar.

Not sure if it's open for programming your own songs in or not, and much of the library is behind a paywall.

What a great idea! How can I learn if/when you build that music reader app?

That's why I'm saying I'm not sure about the average customer, so I'm not feeling comfortable assuming people responsible for sales strategy (who are obviously professional marketers) are bad at their job. But I seriously don't want to dismiss this thought. After all, are we "such a small user-base" that it doesn't matter? Maybe, but I don't know. We likely would be if they actually had customer base Apple has, but they surely don't. And given they don't have such a remarkable brand-recognition, it actually makes it kinda more likely that they are selling it to us, whether they like it or not. I mean, this thread here is the first time I've ever heard about them, so I'll probably be the first guy in the office that gets the tablet, and then if I'll like it some people who don't read HN will hear an endorsement. In fact, it wouldn't even be the first product introduced this way to numerous non-technical people I know (who now own one).

And even if I'm mistaken and none of this matters, well, after all a sale is a sale.

> I mean, this thread here is the first time I've ever heard about them,

They have been on HN a lot[1][2], and one of the founders posted here on some of the threads. My understanding is that they couldn't reach all of the openness they were hoping for, and in recent times they've taken VC money and (I predict) that will affect version 2 negatively for hacker types.

I recommend the Youtube channel "My Deep Guide", he uses Remarkable long term as a normal person (not trying to hack it) and has done several video reviews over the years about firmware changes, what he likes and dislikes; it's not a "great device thanks for the freebie, like and subscribe" hype channel, it's thoughtful and detailed: e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1B04TSL2cY (Looks like he's just done reviews of Remarkable version 2, I'll have to watch)

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16321531

[2] https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...

It's not incompetence, it's most likely just resource prioritization. There's nothing in principle stopping companies (not just ReMarkable) from having a separate landing page / marketing copy targeted at the hacker audience. With a device like this, it would most likely have a positive ROI. Just not positive enough compared to other things the marketing team could be spending their time on.

I think including such details in marketing would even detract from the "it's easy and intuitive for everybody" point they try to make.

I really think they should push this, because if you are in the market for an e ink notebook like this, you are probably a niche customer to begin with. Everyone else and their mother draws on an iPad. This is nerd hardware, and they really should lean into it with the marketing.

There are various types of nerds, and an "I like paper" nerd seems mostly orthogonal to an "I like hackability" nerd. I mean, _I_ am the right type of nerd to appreciate the hackability, and yet I only use mine to scribble notes and read papers.

I think you hit on a good reflection there. I've half a foot in the consumer space and my intuition is that if consumer product marketing targeted their strategies at the HN crowd, they will likely have a small market share. Certain cognitive styles are over-represented in the HN comments section which, from my empirical observations, do not match that of the broader population. The glossy pictures are visually impactful and do matter to most people: it's not even the subject but the production values, which communicate either downmarket or premium.

I have a sense that "lack of restrictiveness" is not something most users prioritize, as witnessed by Apple's phenomenal success. My daily driver is Linux (I've used Kubuntu for over a decade) yet I own Apple devices and am rarely bothered by things being locked down because for the most part, the constraints are tastefully picked (well based on my aesthetic they are -- others may disagree).

I watch MKBHD reviews regularly and it's not lost on me that Android phones for instance are so much more cutting edge and unrestricted relative to Apple devices. (I've owned Android devices in the past and have to admit they're objectively better in many ways -- Google apps for instance are more responsive and have more features than their iOS counterparts).

But I still find myself preferring the iPhone experience because everything feels right.

p.s. I ordered a reMarkable 2 earlier this year, but canceled my order because I decided that an iPad Pro (for consumption) + fountain pen/paper (for scribbling) fit my habits better. No knock on the reMarkable -- from all the YouTube reviews I've seen, it seems like a solid device.

It's just that from a social perspective, it's unlikely I'd use a reMarkable in a meeting room. It's still a touch too tech-y and liable to make others feel I'm not paying attention/being present (a sentiment which somehow pen-and-paper don't convey -- folks are ok with me jotting down notes with pen and paper. Don't know why. It's weirdly psychological.)

p.p.s. it sounds like reMarkable might gain a few extra orders by including "dev-friendliness" as a benefit. Why not add it to the marketing material? (I remember when Apple laptops were marketed to creatives, but the dev crowd -- who weren't being marketed to -- jumped on board when OS X became the main OS).

> Certain cognitive styles are over-represented in the HN comments section which, from my empirical observations, do not match that of the broader population.

I'd call it groupthink but your assessment is probably fairer.

Groupthink isn't the right term to describe a fluid group of Internet commenters that post semi-anonymously, and only on the topics of their choosing. There's no pressure forcing a common belief system, other than self-selection.

No, but HN produces self-reinforcing discourse.

For meetings I use a Neo smartpen, which syncs back to Evernote. It's a regular pen and paper experience, so nobody is offended.

> folks are ok with me jotting down notes with pen and paper. Don't know why.

Maybe because everybody had the experience of taking notes at school, university, work meetings. And everybody spent time googling and chatting on their digital devices when they should not.


"All your work is instantly synced to the cloud"

Ugh. Nope nope nope.

But now maybe sounds like I could turn that off and just rsync the files to my Debian tower.

That is more win.

> But now maybe sounds like I could turn that off and just rsync the files to my Debian tower.

Yes, I can confirm this. I have never connected my device to wifi. I backup my notes to my home server using rsync.

You mean rsync via USB? Or can you rsync by WiFi without allowing it to send requests to their services?

> You mean rsync via USB?

I mean rsync via USB (but over ssh protocol - the USB mounts as a network device, rather than as a disk drive).

> Or can you rsync by WiFi without allowing it to send requests to their services?

I have never connected the device to wifi, so I don't know about this.

While I haven't used this device, because it's just a standard Linux system, certainly.

Their support page does imply if you want to avoid cloud sync you should keep it offline, but perhaps that is just because it is the most brief/user friendly way to describe the situation. There definitely isn't an explicit option to turn off the cloud sync in the device settings, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are workarounds to this once you ssh in. You could also maybe block internet access to the device via your router settings, so you could at least use rsync while at home?


The cloud sync requires an account, which the device works fine without. So just don't sign up.

I think I'm missing out on features I don't care about, like OCR and emailing docs to people, but it's well worth it.

But can you have it sync automatically in the same way with your own private cloud? That would be really awesome.

Sounds like you could maybe use git-annex on it for that? (I use rsync (via "FolderSync") on the android-based onyx boox max, so as soon as I turn on wifi it pushes to one of my personal boxes (internal format is a hideous sqlite-based thing, but after the third round of updates they generate competent PDFs so I just push those) - sounds like on this I'd also just use rsync from an ifup script or something...)

Sounds like the optimal approach would be to run some kind of server on your own hardware, and update the /etc/hosts on the device to point at it.

Shouldn't be too hard to figure out what it's communicating over the network, then put together a server to match that and do useful things with it.

I don't own one of them, but I would surely be able to instruct my router to put it in jail like I can every other device.


Fine until you're elsewhere.


When I'm elsewhere it can continue to not have the passwords to anyone else's wifi.

Wouldn't you still need to be careful about the device auto-joining to open public wifi? Basically, if you were going to be away from your house you'd have to always remember to disable the wifi before you left. Alternatively, just keeping wifi off and only using the USB cable means you don't have to worry about forgetting to disable wifi before you leave home. :)

Most devices don't auto connect to open wifi unless you tell them to. I'd assume this would have an option for that as well.

This requires being militant about never connecting under any conditions. If the device ever is even briefly connected to a particular network (especially any commonly-named public network), unless that entry is cleared, the device may reconnect later unintentionally and with no obvious indication of having done so..

For those with more expansive threat models, intentional dvice or network spoofing or cloning might bebrisks.

Since firewalling is performd off-device (on the home-LAN router), this will resut in an unsecured evice.

My preference would be for some on-device configured networking limits. Putting full reliance in fixed-site infrastructure migh be unpleasantly surprising.


People have mentioned you can ssh into it, so it might be possible to make changes to the /etc/hosts file.

That's assuming the device doesn't use straight IP addresses for whatever it's communicating with. That's possible, but pretty unlikely.

Or update/modify the networking, WiFi, routing, gateway, firewall, or other configurations on the device itself such that it connects to and communicates over only specified networks and/or hosts.

Again my point is that relying on off-device, local-netork hardware and configs is brittle.

...and now I, too, have reason to consider ordering one. Looking like it was dependent on the cloud was what turned me off before.

>"All your work is instantly synced to the cloud"

It's opt-in, FWIW, it doesn't work unless you log in to a ReMarkable account and you can just store everything locally. It has ~6GB of usable space (8GB but 1-2GB reserved by OS)

And if you mod it, it looks like you can fairly trivially handle the syncing yourself: https://github.com/verbavolant/reMarkable-autosync

My thoughts exactly

Ultimately the software matters little to the average consumer so long as it does what they want and looks nice.

Us 'hackers' have the dual detriment of being cheap people and demanding on company resources. It's just more profitable to focus on the larger client base.

That said, it may work well if they launch their own software sharing platform.

> So I've got a feeling all these marketing people do advertising wrong somehow.

I have a feeling the HN crowd is a rather unusual one :)

High-quality normal user experience and a good power-user experience luckily aren't mutually exclusive at all (just appear together much too rarely).

Yeah, I pre-ordered one because a friend has an rM1 and used a bunch of hacks and that was what made me interested. At the time (~18 months ago), I was uninterested in paying the money for one, but when the rM2 came out at pre-order for the lower price (the reMarkable 1 is now $100 less than the rM2) and with better battery/faster processor/USB-C, I pre-ordered.

I'm in the second batch and because of delays, I won't get it until early October (they claim) but it's the hackability that sold me on it, rather than anything else. I have an 11" iPad Pro and Apple Pencil and a 2018 Kindle Oasis (second-gen is I guess the parlance), so I don't actually need something like this, but I want it.

That said, I don't think they are marketing it wrong at all -- they might just not be marketing it to all potential audiences. This is definitely an enthusiast device with a niche audience -- people that want really a really good drawing/writing experience that is as similar to paper as possible. There are a number or e-Ink devices similar to this and most run Android, which has the advantage of opening it up to more consumer apps (Kindle, Kobo Reader, etc) but also tends to lead to a less ideal writing/drawing experience.

Some of the people who really want that pen on paper experience are like you and I and are really intrigued by the open nature/hackability of the device but the vast majority really want something simple and task focused. If you look at the Reddit for the reMarkable and the community around YouTube/Facebook/etc, although there are plenty of people who are hacking on it, that's not the core audience at all. In fact, the original reMarkable was criticized a bit for not being intuitive enough, even though the ink performance was always excellent. Even now, the biggest complaints are about the lack of features (primarily an e-reader), even though this is very much a uni-task device.

Small companies like this have limited marketing budgets so I don't think going after hacker enthusiast types at first is the right move -- especially when the people willing to spend $500 on an e-Ink notebook in the age of the iPad is fairly small. That said, I hope that the marketing can expand to the DIY/hacker crowd more after the rM2 is released because I do think that could attract some additional users and also help contribute to the ecosystem.

They're spending a ton of Facebook. I wanted to buy one until the 500th ad that was presented to me. I think 1/2 the price of the device is marketing spend.

I don’t think so. The first version was more expensive and it didn’t have much (any?) marketing at all. And it’s not much more expensive than the Chinese E Ink devices. They are selling this at a premium for sure but I don’t think it’s 50% or anything close to that. ReMarkable raised $15m USD last fall and I think that is where the Facebook/Instagram budget came from. I imagine preorders are funding the first wave of rM2 production and the additional funding is paying for the hardware development and Facebook ads.

> so I don't actually need something like this, but I want it.

I understand what you mean but it makes me uncomfortable.

> there are plenty of people who are hacking on it.

https://github.com/reHackable/awesome-reMarkable Has many great examples indeed.

I was remembering mostly as binary patches on the UI components and it seems that it developed further, with source project on GitHub... I feel a lot more comfortable with this kind of community than with Android mods, which always felt like colourful forum posts Over git, binary packages over source and leet speak over documentation.

In the mean time, no one has come with a way to export Apple iOS notes to markdown + images.

> primarily an e-reader

It has no capability to be used as an e-reader? eg ePub's, etc.

Ouch. That outright kills the idea of this for me. :(

That's, that's workable. :)

It does according to the website: https://remarkable.com/#Reading_on_reMarkable

Marketing in its current virulent incarnation is a scam, and front for wholesale population level surveillance. I've yet to see a convincing argument to the contrary.

All a business needs to be successful is a good product, and word of mouth. Advertising gets people to buy stuff they don't need. Instead companies scrimp on the product and spend more on advertising. The sooner society finds a way to clothe, house and feed everyone the better all of us and our planet will be.

That seems naive. Very few products succeed without marketing. Only tesla, for example, in autos succeeds without much marketing. I'd never have heard about remarkable2 without current marketing around the v2.

It's pretty obvious, however I'm gonna say it anyway - they probably don't target people that are active here.

They could add all of that, though thatd be disrupting their intended Apple-like presentation of the product.

Same here, but we are a super niche market, not even worth a couple of small letter on the landing page. I learned about that a lot as early adopter of products that inevitable had to switch to address a more mainsteam market and in the process completely alienate me. Examples are Pebble (I don't care about fitness, OI care about minimalism and battery life), bunq, a fintech "bank", went from nerdy minimalism, IT company with a banking license to a comapany that that integrated Instagram and Tree saving counter into the banking app. Another, less strong, example is OnePlus who lost me after the 3.

HAHA it is funny indeed. Last time when someone posted a similar comment about reMarkable (the original edition) here on HN, I was immediately hooked. I checked out the tablet and was impressed by it. I immediately placed the order for reMarkable 2. Just waiting to get my hands on this device. I take down a ton of notes and I think this would be perfect for me.

Same here. Looks like great hardware and I even had a pre-order, but I canceled it in part over concern there wouldn't be much of a third party application ecosystem and I'd mainly be restricted to notetaking and viewing/annotating PDF's. I recognize for lots of people note-taking alone is enough to justify it; I just realized I'd personally get more utility out of an iPad or similar.

If I'd seen the "open-source" pitch it might have enticed me to stay onboard.

I had the same thought. Knowing we can develop software on top is delightful

Same here - the website led me to assume the software was all locked down, and forever restricted to reading two file formats.

I contacted their support about the openness of their device. This is their response in case others are interested:

    Aug 28, 2020, 3:44 PM GMT+2
    Hello there.
    Users can gain root access to the device by using SSH, so the device is open for developing your own software.
    The GPL and LGPL version 3 requires us to give users access to their own devices. It's part of the anti-tivoization clauses in the licenses.
    A lot of our software is open-source. You'll find a lot of our open source code here: https://github.com/reMarkable/. If you're interested in developing for the reMarkable, a good place to start would be on here https://remarkable.engineering/deploy/.
    Note that we do not currently provide any support for SSH related issues. Accessing the device and making changes through SSH is at the customers own risk.

Thanks, this was the question I had before purchasing, if they might decide to pull a Tivo in a future software update and kill off everything on https://github.com/reHackable. I mean, with enough resources they could replace everything with non-GPL3 licenses then lock it down, but that doesn't look likely, so I think I will go ahead and buy this.

Some of the projects on https://github.com/reHackable talk about having to be re-installed after upgrades, and other unfriendly vendor behaviour (e.g. https://github.com/reHackable/scripts/wiki/webui_invincibili...), which is slightly worrying, it'd be more assuring if they had better support for 3rd party software, or at least just a webpage saying "yes you can install 3rd party software, but note that it's not preserved over upgrades". The company I work for also sells a linux box, allows 3PS, and does have such a web page. Such a webpage might also cater to all the other people here commenting that their marketing dept is ignoring us.

Yeah I'm still on the fence but decided i'd take them up on the 30 day free return and evaluate it directly

You can, with Parabola-rM. http://davisr.me/projects/parabola-rm

Oh wow, that is pretty cool. It is a different approach from what I was envisioning, which was taking an existing lightweight terminal codebase written in Qt[0], and porting it to the ReMarkable's Qt SDK. The Parabola approach is actually running X Windows, which is pretty amazing!

[0] https://github.com/lxqt/qterminal

Really curious whether anyone’s actually used Parabola-rM often? It lacks support for Wi-Fi and the sdma port. Not sure what that leaves you to rely on for file transfers or much of anything. I can at least imagine a lack of networking as a plus though for lack of distractions.

SDMA isn't related to networking. As I mentioned here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24294868

The device is exposed over USB as a composite device, consisting of a virtual Ethernet port and a virtual serial port. Network communications may happen over that link, as well as SSH/SCP'ing files.

It also supports USB OTG, so one could plug in a libre-compatible Wi-Fi card and use that.

Ah, I was wondering about OTG support, thanks for mentioning it!

I bought the ReMarkable 1 because I thought it was just a Linux device. It turned out to be not exactly true. Their whole interface is closed source and they use a (IIRC) closed but reverse-engineered format to store PDF metadata. I installed Syncthing to synchronize papers and sheet music but because of their metadata format it didn't work for me at all, I got annoyed, eventually stopped bothering and sent it back.

Also, their GUI/DE is closed so there's no (easy) way to extend it with nice functionality. In my opinion the software was the bad part about that device that lead to a really bad experience with that device.

The hardware was great though. Wasn't super fast but it was light, felt good. I was very excited when I first took it out of the box.

They did a lot of great stuff with the ReMarkable but unfortunately it felt a lot closer to the semi-open Android than the Linux on my desktop.

Boox devices are also very accessible as the run Android and you can install anything on them either from the Play store (requires manual setup at first) or F-droid, along with the usual adb access. I have the Nova Pro which I absolutely love. It has configurable screen refresh rates so it's possible to use a web browser with scrolling. You can install your favourite file sync app. Lately I've been using KDE connect to send/receive files. Writing on it is good and the notes app supports OCR that I found can make reasonable sense of my chicken scratches.

Boox are GPL violators though.

Yeah, that's one of my main concerns with the Boox. A good friend of mine loves hers [1], but the unclear point of origin, the GPL violations (and I don't even like the GPL that much as a license -- but if you're going to build off of a GPL base, you better follow the damn license!), and the fact that Android -- while flexible -- is not ideal for note taking stuff (my friend said all the Android note taking apps are unusable so you're stuck with the built-in app -- and I'm less confident about the upkeep of that app when the company won't respect the GPL for the base OS/firmware of the device) is why I went with a reMarkable instead.

But Onyx definitely has a much wider variety of E Ink devices that's for sure.

[1]: https://gizmodo.com/i-unabashedly-love-this-android-e-ink-ta...

> Boox are GPL violators though.

Hadn't heard of this. Can you provide some references? A quick DDG search didn't turn up anything.

Been using Onyx/Boox since ever. Own a Max2 and Note2 for instance. Happy with them... Use the Wacom One pen for input. Android apps a plenty

Case in point, this thread about running Parabola as OS on the reMarkable was also on the front page today: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24294176

I'm not sure they realize what a big selling point this is.

Feel free to tell them here: https://support.remarkable.com/hc/en-us/requests/new

Continually impressed with this company.

I'm impressed as well - but I do think many of us here are overestimating the size of the audience that sort of technical messaging would apply to. It being open is a big deciding factor for us on HN - but there's a much larger audience for whom it would simply dilute the messaging. (I'm guessing their product marketing team did a substantial bit of research on this before going live).

I could, however, see them building out a 'developer community'-focused microsite. But I wouldn't expect them to put anything related to that on their homepage, as it would likely be confusing and irrelevant to their target audience.

On the other hand, their marketing copy isn't going to win them a thousand-device order from a large company, the way satisfying a hacker who leads corporate IT can.

It's been verified that the ReMarkable 2 is just as open as the 1?

- What is the latest word (as of 2020) on reading Kindle books on the ReMarkable? Is there a tool that makes it easy to buy Kindle books and strip them of their DRM?

- Is the ReMarkable capable of running an open source OS behind the hood? Is it a hacker-friendly piece of hardware in case ReMarkable runs out of business in the future?

I was thinking about getting the ReMarkable 2 if only because my Kindle's display is too small. For ebooks it's okay but I do would like to be able to use an eink reader for sheet music as well.

> What is the latest word (as of 2020) on reading Kindle books on the ReMarkable? Is there a tool that makes it easy to buy Kindle books and strip them of their DRM?

You go to amazon.com/myk, switch to the Content tab, three dots next to the book, Download & transfer via USB. You then drag-and-drop them into Calibre with this add-on set up: https://github.com/apprenticeharper/DeDRM_tools

There's some initial setup required to get your decryption key (easy if you have their e-reader — just enter the key you'll find in device info, slightly complicated if you don't), but once that's done, the friction for decrypting ebooks is pretty negligible.

You'll have to convert them to epub or PDF to be able to read them on ReMarkable, but that's as easy as right-clicking a book within Calibre and choosing "convert".

Most of the other ebook decrypters are basically slapping some interface on top of this Calibre plugin and hiding it behind a paywall.

> You'll have to convert them to epub or PDF to be able to read them on ReMarkable, but that's as easy as right-clicking a book within Calibre and choosing "convert".

There is a significant omission here. Converting Epub to PDF doesn't necessarily yield a good quality.

As a matter of fact, at some point I was so annoyed by the relatively nondeterministially poor quality (I stress "relatively"), that now, every time I purchase something from the Kindle store, I download and use the pirated PDF version, which is never worse than the Calibre output (I guess pirates actually use Calibre and tweak the process per-book).

It's very annoying to highlight a converted ebook, and find 80 pages into it, that the conversion cut text lines/diagrams in half.

>Converting Epub to PDF doesn't necessarily yield a good quality.... at some point I was so annoyed by the relatively nondeterministially poor quality...

Is this ever true! I use three different workflows for converting ePub to PDF, and then look through each one and pick the one that converted best for that particular book. Generally speaking, the default Calibre conversion is almost always the weakest.

Just as a tip - everything on Remarkable is PDF. Yes, it reads epub files but it then converts them to a PDF for viewing. On RM1 this could be a bit annoying if you are the type to change the font style or size as it then must recreate the pdf - that can take more than a few seconds on a large file.

I've taken to using calibre or similar programs to output the epub as a pdf (with my preferred sytle at RM screen dimensions). I've also bulk cropped pdf's to the RM screen size instead of using the built in crop feature.

Yeah, I don't think I've ever been happy with an epub conversion. I've always assumed the pirated pdfs are sold in some countries, so they are incentivized to clean up the conversions. I've just gone back to dead-tree library books, but selection and availability isn't always the best.

Does the ReMarkable have an ePub reader? My existing ebook collection is mostly DRM-free ePubs.

Yes - this is primarily how I use mine. It doesn't have close to the polish of something like iBooks unfortunately, but it works.

See, this is the main problem about buying new technology. The device is marketed as a graceful solution for all your "paper needs."

My principle need for a tablet has always been ebook consumption. The ebook readers on Linux I've seen all look like hot garbage. Sure, Calibre allows you to manage massive ebook collections. Now let me have a book experience that doesn't look like 1999.

On the rm1 you can install KOreader which works very well.

It has an integrated reader as well I think but I never tried, I heard it's not great.

Removing DRM from kindle books and converting to PDF, and shipping them as PDFs to the remarkable cloud to sync to the device, are independently solved problems, available as OSS.

To my knowledge there is no tool that does both. Nor, better, that also includes the purchase and download steps at Amazon.

I personally have automation for all 3 individually but have not wired them together. I think there is a nice little business awaiting someone who does that.

Epub would be better than PDF for the use case. AFAIK, you can't reflow text in PDF, so if the page size isn't exactly matched to the device size, all you can do is pan&zoom. Yuck.

Not necessarily, as a significant part of a reading experience is the reader.

For example, I'm bound to a specific PDF reader that has a very powerful annotations system. The last time I checked Epub readers, there was nothing that satisfied my requirements.

A couple of additional notes:

- the downside of reflowing is that you may not be able to take annotations that require absolute positioning

- for almost all the PDF books I've read (books; magazines are a different story, but that won't work with Epub anyway), a 3:2 10" tablet is enough; if the text is not large enough, good PDF readers can mass-crop the pages. Of course, there are ugly exceptions - books that have a different text positioning on odd and even pages (I hate them).

Which reader is that?

It's Xodo. It has a good range of annotations, they work well, and they're very immediate to use/switch. It also has good enough scroll/zoom capabilities (its locking functionality is a bit lacking, but it's still good enough).

I don't imply it's best suited for everybody, that's the reason why I didn't specify the name.

> Is there a tool that makes it easy to buy Kindle books and strip them of their DRM

Yes, the most common one is Calibre, which is also great for converting formats and bulk operations. There is a "DeDRM Plugin" for it on GitHub that does what you're asking.

> Is the ReMarkable capable of running an open source OS behind the hood?

Yes, and there has been some success with this including Parabola-rM. However, there seems to be no open driver for the radio chipset (so no WiFi!).

The ReMarkable is already running an open source OS behind the hood. It's a bit complicated, the UI isn't open, but it's just running on linux, you can write and run your own programs.

Is it an ARM Debian-based distro or Android or something else?

It's definitely an ARM linux distro, I'm not entirely sure which one to be honest.

It is a customised yocto Linux iirc.

The device is open -- does that extend to the notes and filesystem itself? I'm very interested in the ReMarkable 2, but I want to be able to write scripts to handle stuff like syncing.

If this is something where I know I can get good integration with Emacs/Org-mode on my desktop (letting me insert diagrams on the fly into org-mode files, making one searchable interface between handwritten notes and typed notes, etc), I'd be very tempted to preorder right now. Especially if the handwriting recognition stuff they have is something I could hook around.

> The device is open -- does that extend to the notes and filesystem itself? I'm very interested in the ReMarkable 2, but I want to be able to write scripts to handle stuff like syncing.

Yes, the notes just live on the filesystem. You can fetch them using scp or rsync. They are in a proprietary file format, but they are not encrypted, and I think there are some open source projects on github that let you view them on your desktop.

> Especially if the handwriting recognition stuff they have is something I could hook around.

I think the handwriting stuff lives on their cloud and is proprietary, so I have never tried it.

The notes file format itself, I believe is proprietary, but it's been reverse engineered. The general storage I don't believe is actually folder based, but have a look at the unofficial wiki, it should answer most of your questions.

"reverse engineered" means you can't trust them not to break things at any time

In version 1 the converted text couldn't be saved on the device, it could only be sent by e-mail, and so because the text didn't exist on the filesystem it couldn't be accessed via ssh obviously.

I'd love an eInk terminal actually!! Or even an eInk laptop. Would be great to work on some code in the sun.

I've been chasing that dragon for years. Just look at the video hosted http://davisr.me/projects/parabola-rm and imagine a terminal app that was actually optimized around eInk (and using an external keyboard). I remain convinced that it could be completely usable for non GUI work.

Take a look here: https://old.reddit.com/r/RemarkableTablet/comments/iis4fo/em...

Emacs in '-nw' mode uses mostly black/white, with external keyboard via USB OTG.

This reminds me that what I'd really like in an ebook reader is something that will sync a local library down from 'the cloud' in some automated way over wifi, without having to manually go in and update or import or whatever with books like everything else I've seen. ReMarkable seems like it wouldn't be practical for that for lack of enough storage for my Calibre library, though.

Kobo readers have overdrive so you can do this. Even better has Pocket reader so you can store web pages to read later.

I mean 'library' as in 'my collection of ePub and PDF files', not a lending library.

Remarkable's onboard storage paucity is incomprehensible.

Not just that, but that combined with the lack of a microSD card slot.

If it had an SD/microSD reader, the openness would make me what to pre-order one. I can just imagine the 8GB internal storage quickly running out with all the extra stuff I'd want to do to it.

It might be possible to add a usb-c flashdrive. I'll let you know in a few weeks when I get mine. In any event, document storage of 8GB is quite a lot - I have many pdf textbooks on mine.

My collection of ebooks is about 50 GB. Once you get into art-heavy PDFs like those for tabletop games you can be looking at 5-25 MB per file, and that adds up fast.

Your comment just made me buy it. I didn't realize it was an open device running linux. That sold me. There are probably some marketing lessons to be learned from these comments.

I get their ads all the time on IG, but they should have advertised it to me as open, Qt powered, and ssh friendly.

> The device is open. It's just an embedded linux > device. You can ssh into it, and run arbitrary code. > The SDK is based on Qt.

I use a Barnes & Noble e-ink Nook (Kindle competitor) to run AnkiDroid [1][2]. I have tried to use some note-taking Android apps on the device, but they all had horrible feedback due to the very slow CPU and very limited memory of the device.

Is it possible to run either an Android app (AnkiDroid) or a Qt/Python Linux application (Anki) on the ReMarkable 2? If so, I would happily buy such a device.

[1] https://apps.ankiweb.net/ [2] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ichi2.anki

You are say that the ReMarkable is open, but where is the GPLv2 code for the underlying Linux OS? As far as I can see there is nothing on the site that makes mention to it. That includes the Legal section which makes no mention of the GPL licensing.

Thanking you.

The (L)GPL license only requires you to offer source code to the customers (the people that get a copy of the binaries).

The (L)GPLv2 requires offering physical copies of the source, so the required information is in a printed notice in the box (on the first tablet).

(L)GPLv3, which e. g. Qt is under, allows for only distributing the source digitally.

The full list of licenses for all pieces of software are on the device as well, and the SSH information is available as a part of the license page (explaining how the (L)GPLv3 requires companies to give access to the devices/anti-tivoization).

The (L)GPL requirement seems to be also fulfilled with https://remarkable.engineering/deploy/copyleft_sources/ apparently (the github repos are probably just more convenient for them).

Reminds me of this digital typewriter project using a e-ink display: https://alternativebit.fr/posts/ultimate-writer

The problem with this project was the lack of a affordable e-ink display with a decent refresh rate.

Would love to see a real terminal on the ReMarkable. A terminal + vim + usb keyboard would be the perfect distaction-free writing tool.

I would buy the RM2 in a heartbeat if it supported a keyboard over usb or Bluetooth.

Having an outdoor-friendly typewriter where text is saved seamlessly would be awesome for focused writing. I did my best to make it easy on a phone+keyboard+kindle (with SolarWriter https://msolomon.github.io/solarwriter-website/ ), but the Remarkable is so so close to the ideal experience—it just needs keyboard support.

Same! There's https://github.com/dps/remarkable-keywriter but its author is, ah, busy, so may need another person to adapt it to work with bluetooth and the rM2 (if possible)

> Reminds me of this digital typewriter project using a e-ink display: https://alternativebit.fr/posts/ultimate-writer

Related: https://github.com/dps/remarkable-keywriter

> Would love to see a real terminal on the ReMarkable. A terminal + vim + usb keyboard would be the perfect distaction-free writing tool.

I agree: e-ink display + terminal + vim + mechanical keyboard would make me very happy.

> Would love to see a real terminal on the ReMarkable. A terminal + vim + usb keyboard would be the perfect distaction-free writing tool.

someone seems to have ported a terminal already https://github.com/dixonary/fingerterm-reMarkable

What's it like for drawing?

Look at u/rmhack on reddit. They managed to get a normal arm Linux image to boot on it.

My main complaints are that it's not encrypted at rest, and the only way to use cloud features are to go through reMarkable's cloud (and you can't host a private instance). Makes it really hard to get approved in an enterprise environment.

I sent them an email asking about encryption at rest; the lack of reply was what made me decline to approve the purchase at our company. It's a shame because it does look like an incredible device apart from that.

For anyone interested in this type of setup, I highly recommend considering the onyx book note 2, (or max 3, or nova 2) it runs android 9.1 with a relatively fast 8-core processor, have bluetooth and wifi, and I have found that the experience in termux is very good.

I currently use one with a brydge ipad keyboard which fits quite well.

Do we know the ReMarkable 2.0 will be just as open as well?

I mailed them back in March about SSH access when they announced the 2.0 and this is what they responded:

“Appreciate the kind words and support. We are working to improve our products based on the feedback from our customers. If you are still wondering about SSH support for reMarkable 2, the answer is yes, the reMarkable 2 will have SSH access, just like reMarkable 1.”

Not same as guaranteeing the same level of openness, but it is indicative and promising at the very least.

Is there any open source (DIY) hardware that goes with these APIs? Since $400 seems a little steep for a white screen I suspect it is possible to DIY similar hardware too. Any ideas?

Historically the "current generation" of e-ink displays are notoriously annoying to hack on with devkits being expensive and waveforms being available only under NDA. This was true 5 years ago, not sure if it's still true.

I've done a fair bit of tinkering with ePaper displays attached to little Linux and MCU boards, and it is not trivial. Few if any have touch overlays, the graphics APIs are usually at the level of: magic initialization happens in this opaque chunk of bit-bashing, then you get a raw framebuffer; have fun!

You absolutely could homebrew a touchscreen ePaper "slate" with a similar broad set of features, but much like the Libre laptops (Purism, Novena, etc.) it's going to be slow, power-hungry, and chunky compared to a complete consumer device like the reMarkable.

This may interest you; might not be what you were asking for. I haven't built one, but keep an eye on it and dream of free time to surface mount solder and poke around with it. The repo used to have a cost estimate and think it came out to around $100 but my memory may be fuzzy.


It is not just a "white screen." The display is designed specifically for use as a paper substitute for writing/drawing. It actually feels like paper when using the stylus.

Thanks for the link.

> I have been imagining porting a lightweight Qt-based virtual terminal to the device and using it as an e-ink unix terminal. Alas, I have not yet had the cycles to complete this project.

That would be really cool! I pre-ordered a RM2 (my 1st such device) and am in the November cohort... if you make time for said terminal, I'd love to know about it.

Fantastic. I didn’t see anything about this on their site (admittedly a small percent of users would know/care what this means.)

Do you know of any RSS or saved articles sync? I use Feedly right now. Would love to save Reader Mode versions of long form to read/annotate. Right now I print them but…a lot of paper.

I use Mozilla Pocket for saved articles, and I have been meaning to try this:


I thought I would like using an ereader to read PDFs but the touch screen (on this kobo) actually really bothered me; I always felt like I had to be very careful where I put my fingers and was always accidentally turning pages.

Do you find that bothers you, or can you just hold it like a notebook?

I haven't experienced such issues and I've had mine for years. On the first remarkable model you either use the physical buttons to turn page or use the somewhat recent swiping feature. Touching the surface while reading doesn't do anything, you have to explicitly swipe left or right to turn a page. Moving your finger or hand doesn't turn a page either, so I'd say you're pretty safe in that regard.

The reading experience on the remarkable is however not as feature rich as eink tablets that label themselves as 'ebook readers' but otherwise I think it's fine. I primarily use mine to draw and write notes, which it does very well but I also read.

> The device is open. It's just an embedded linux device.

That's all I needed to hear. Preordered.

Can I bug you when you get the remarkable 2.0 to find out if it still does all that?

That would be awesome. I have ordered the Remarkable and would like to use it as a dashboard connected to my computer. Just to display time, the calendar and other information which needs to be updated only very infrequently.

There are alternatives that are cheaper:


Thanks for the link, that looks interesting. I have to see, where I could buy it (Amazon doesn't ship it to Germany). I will certainly check this out for tinkering with my Pie. Of course, I wouldn't buy the ReMarkable just for using it as a second display, but that would be an added value, if it could be done with some more software I can install on it. My main usage would be as a reader/note tool.

Waveshare have lots of such screens, big, small, some colour: https://www.waveshare.com/product/displays/e-paper/epaper-1....


Doesn't mean, I wouldn't use it for its advertised purposes too. But I really would like an eInk display as an add-on to my computer - unfortunately, the Kindle is not so open.

Would also be great as an extra screen for e.g. man pages while you are working on your main screen.

There is also a smaller, cheaper, and less slick device at Crowd Supply made from recycled Kindles.


15cm, 800x600, 8M RAM, 4M flash, wifi/btle, usb/sdio/i2c, 3 capacitive-touch buttons, battery charger, microSD slot, GPIO pins, and is programmable in microPython. Three-bit greyscale pixels.

(I don't have one.)

I don't know if the remarkable does this, but the onyx boox max 2 has an hdmi input (on some tiny connector.) I've used it from my laptop as a second screen, and displayed emacs and xterm on it. Really need to craft up some kind of bracket to use it as an outdoor primary laptop screen...

I sent mine back when I first got it (for a number of reasons) but this makes me want to re-buy one, I figured it would become hackable as I seem to remember the team saying they wanted to encourage it!

Have you used it as an e-reader (using KOReader I would assume)? How is the experience? It sounds like the prefect e-ink device if the hardware lends itself to other purposes.

Man, they should really advertise the openness more. I'm considering this as a general re-reader and notebook replacement, now.

Any way to sync it with Linux? It strikes me as odd that it’s that open, Linux based...but doesn’t have a Linux app.

You can ssh in either over wifi or via usb (it exposes a network device in usb).

Everything is just files in there. The notes formats are proprietary, but there's tools out there for them.

Really nice to see high end hardware that is completely open.

they really should also use this ability to be able to ssh and develop etc in their marketing material. It might get even more users.

Is the screen more paper-like than the olpc?

Ok, this comment convinced me to get it.

Do you use the text OCR feature?

Is that component opensource?

Note they mean open as in "it runs a random old Linux kernel and you can have the root password", not as in "open source". Nothing whasoever from their software is actually open source, and nothing indicates they may not decide to simply close down the platform in the future (e.g. for "security" reasons)

The CTO is a KDE developer and they use and contribue some KDE libraries (like the KArchirve). They have a github with some projects: https://github.com/reMarkable/ but sadly the software is not open.

This is the thing I'm wary of. That when it does get to mass-market appeal, it'll be targetted by bad people, and then locked down, and this is why we can't have nice things.

I don't want to buy an expensive hackable pad of paper that I then have to fight the manufacturer to keep hackable.

I'm fed up of tech that stops me owning it properly so that idiots can be saved from their ignorance.

I'm waiting for v3. Let's see what happens then.

Sure, but that's miles ahead of almost any other consumer device you can buy today. I'll take it.

I think it's not as good as you think. There is a difference between "it happens to be open" and "manufacturer cares", and here it's more like the former. The experience here is in fact identical to e.g. using any device whose bootloader has been cracked. You are locked to very old kernel versions, or attempts to run a mainline kernel in various degrees of stability (or lack of). You cannot really modify the existing user interface to your liking, as it is even more closed than Android; it's either take it or replace it entirely. And if you stay on the official firmware then there is a non-negligible risk that they will lock it down. I've been through that route...

It's in no way comparable to a some other devices (mentioned on HN too) where e.g. manufacturer actually cares about it. I agree it's technically better than "locked down bootloader with few chances of ever being unlocked" like some newer devices are, just not "miles better".

Plus the fact that it does run GNU/Linux rather than Android makes it more hacker-friendly out of box, at least for some types of hackers.

Well, unlike nearly all consumer devices, they did intentionally leave it open and hackable, and promote this on their homepage. I think that makes it likely that they'll leave it open in the future as well. So sure, yes, I'd love it if it was a 100% FOSS project. But I'll take what I can get.

Do they actually promote this in their webpage? I didn't see it anywhere.

> It's in no way comparable to a some other devices (mentioned on HN too)

what sort of devices?

Yes, I meant "open" in the sense that you do not need to jailbreak it to run software that has not been approved by the manufacturer, not "open" in the sense that the operating system is open source.

Although, I think a lot of their operating system is open source and on their github page (linux kernel and uboot configuration): https://github.com/reMarkable

Their Qt-based shell software, xochitl, is not open source.

In other words, they open sourced just what they're legally obliged to. The fact that this is surprising nowadays is heavily depressing.

It seems not, unless the server code is hiding somewhere publically.


> Wi-Fi connection and log-in is required

> You need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network and logged in to a reMarkable account (my.remarkable.com) in order to use the handwriting conversion feature.

I would be very surprised if a commercial-grade handwriting conversion tool could run on that device. It sounds to me like they're sending off the data somewhere else to get converted into text.

Running Emacs on it would be cool. - Can‘t do it on my expensive iPad Pro.

You can! Check out the demo video at 13m30s. It demos the X version of Emacs, but Emacs runs faster in '-nw' mode from the console.


It's not emacs, but I've been enjoying iVim (1) on my iPad Pro. With `:idocuments` I can edit files in Working Copy (it opens the Files picker).

I also copied my plugins (Goyo for focus, etc) and config from my linux box.

1: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/ivim/id1266544660

I'm planning on trying to do that as soon as I get mine. Being able to use org mode and org roam would be a huge plus.

Can we imagine this device to be something like a mix between the Kindle reader combined with a tablet running Linux?

That's what I hope! And looking at the rehackable GitHub repo I think it's not far fetched

I almost impulse per-ordered the RM2 when I first read about the SD card mod here on HN. I decided to wait after hearing about the limitations as a reader and the slow software development. If you're considering the RM2 for anything other than a sketch/note pad, I highly encourage you to watch this fantastic review from My Deep Guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iIAYMsugzM

Full review: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsSI9-gaSSmiXwb7Vjk5V...

I ultimately passed on the device for a few reasons:

1. The RM1 and 2 both don't allow file transfers as a mass storage device. If you want local, non cloud based transfer, you need to use a flaky local web UI that hasn't been improved in years

2. The internal storage still hasn't been updated from 8 (6 usable) GB. This is an obvious attempt to sell cloud storage in the future

3. While the hardware is amazing the software moves at a snail's pace. This is either management holding development back by trying to simplify the device out of existence or the team simply lacks the resources or ability to improve it

4. There has been almost no attempt to improve reader functionality in years. Things as simple as font resizing are 30x slower than on a Kindle

5. It seems obvious to me that management doesn't understand the target audience for the device

> 1. The RM1 and 2 both don't allow file transfers as a mass storage device.

In the FAQ at https://remarkable.com/store/remarkable-2:

> reMarkable 2 features USB-C for faster charging and data transfer.

Even if this does not mean that mass storage is or will be supported officially, maybe unofficial support could be added using the Linux Kernel's USB Gadget API g_mass_storage as a module. More info:

  https://remarkable.engineering/ -- toolchain here
> 3. While the hardware is amazing the software moves at a snail's pace. This is either management holding development back by trying to simplify the device out of existence or the team simply lacks the resources or ability to improve it

To be fair it looks like a pretty small team (7 people listed with 2-3 actively developing) so I doubt it is management. More likely not a priority right now, limited resources, or in the too hard basket.

There is this repo in their Github org: https://github.com/reMarkable/vfatbuse

Looks like the CTO had a crack at implementing mass storage in v1

Based on the review posted, there is still no way to natively transfer files other than the web interface. The reviewer is a developer so he should know what he is talking about.

This is the only other method I've found: https://github.com/nick8325/remarkable-fs

You'd think scp would work also but I haven't found info on the subject and I don't own the RM1 to try.

edit: found someone's scp script: https://github.com/reHackable/scripts/blob/master/host/repus...

The changelog is public so you can see the rate of development if you're interested: https://support.remarkable.com/hc/en-us/articles/11500546010...

Other comments here have said that both rsync and scp work.

Thanks for the changelog... you're totally right about the software moving slow. Lots of UX changes, lots of battery improvements, but the only major feature added that I saw was handwriting recognition.

I get it isn't possible from an end user point of view to connect as mass storage. But I wonder if it might be possible with the hardware after modifications to the kernel configuration.

> It seems obvious to me that management doesn't understand the target audience for the device

> If you're considering the RM2 for anything other than a sketch/note pad

It is marketed as a sketch/note pad and that's about it. The e-reader feature is like the youtube functionality on a Switch. It's there because "lolwhynot" and little more.

I have one and I really love mine. But all I wanted was a digital notebook. If I wanted more than that I would have gotten a Surface tablet or an Ipad Pro. It's definitely expensive for what it is, but it's not really marketed as a mass market device either.

> It is marketed as a sketch/note pad and that's about it. The e-reader feature is like the youtube functionality on a Switch. It's there because "lolwhynot" and little more.

I personally disagree with this. I almost bought one because I wanted a good notebook and a lot of notes I write these days is specifically related to ebooks and pdf documentation that I work against. I almost ordered one after seeing this post.

However, from the review it appears like this will be impossible to annotate documents with. I want to be able to highlight text on an epub (like I can on my kindle) and write notes to reference later about that section. I want to draw some diagrams as I'm reading the book to make sure I'm understanding code/workflows properly, etc...

I'm not sure why that's so out of the realm for a notebook style device.

Drawing and marking up PDFs works really well, I do this with math textbooks frequently, but you're correct that the highlighting is nothing more than a "drawing" You can't go to the pages you've highlighted, or even extract text you've highlighted.

It's almost equivalent to being able to write directly on a textbook, however you can export your marked up document as a PDF.

Take a look at Onyx Boox gen. "2" devices, Nova 2 and esp. Max 2, may be interesting to you. (Not affiliated.)

I had never heard of this brand before, interesting. The Note 2 looks almost exactly like what I want.

epub gets converted to pdf internally on the device which can be annotated. I have found it is easier in the long run to do this myself with Calibre on my desktop or laptop.

Whatever the Remarkable is marketed as, it's an e-reader.

Pretty much by definition people buying e-readers are buying them to read with.

Clearly the Surface/iPad are not comparable to e-screens for that specific purpose and the obvious UX (usability) fail in the Remarkable in that regard means there is still a significant market gap for people who want an e-reader which bridges those two worlds, particularly (for me and many others) reading technical manuals.

> it's an e-reader

It isn't though. It's a note taking device and marketed as such. Heck, when it was released, the e-reader functionality was even more deficient than it is today and barely mentioned. It's a note taking device and marketed as such. They improved the e-reader aspect a lot since then, so now it's kind of usuable as one, sortoff, but it's very much not an e-reader first.

To be fair to you, they are pretty keen on stressing that, while marketing within the e-reader segment.

Conceding the point to you though means that there is still clearly a gap for those of us who want to read technical manuals (unless there is a device that somebody can recommend) between the brilliant linear-reading experience of e-readers and the smooth larger screen random-access UX experience of tablets like those you cite.

Absolutely, though the gap is somewhat niche. Even for e-readers, the amount of people who still care about e-ink is getting smaller. In my peer group everyone moved to ipads or whatever (I don't know how they can stand it, but...).

> Things as simple as font resizing are 30x slower than on a Kindle

It's not a constant factor. This is best understood as a bug. Here's what the reviewer demonstrated: If you change the font size, then the interface locks up and you can't do anything, until the backend has generated new page images for the entire PDF—no matter how many pages there are. He showed that, while it was fast for a small document, it locked up for about 50 seconds when resizing the font on The Count of Monte Cristo (a large novel, perhaps 1200 pages). Furthermore, he said that if, during that time, you changed any of the other settings (resizing again, changing line spacing, etc.), it would take another 50 seconds, and another if you pressed two of the buttons, and so on. It is very clear that no QA person (whose reports are heeded) tested out those operations on a decent-sized novel or technical manual. (If they tried Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—not the largest book in the series—then, going by word count, it would have locked up for 20.5 seconds.)

A sane viewer app—one of which the reviewer demonstrated—would redraw the current page, then give control back to the user, while continuing to redraw other pages in the background. It's a bit tricky, because until you render the previous pages at some level, it might not be clear where the page break for the current page would be; but you could choose an arbitrary point, use that temporarily, and eventually correct it when rendering catches up.

The reviewer did show convincingly that the viewer app is very lacking in features or basic polish. (Another example: You can zoom into a page, selecting a smaller section of it to view. However, you cannot drag this view around the page; if you want to see elsewhere on the page at the same magnification, you must undo the zoom, then select a new region to zoom into.) This is odd for an e-ink device, whose homepage has a section titled "An eye-friendly reading experience: Comfortably read PDFs or ebooks for hours on end without backlight, glare, or eye strain."

> Things as simple as font resizing are 30x slower than on a Kindle

Wow, thanks, I was very interested in this for marking up documents + notes. I guess I could still use my kindle for most of my reading anyway, but the video gave me the impression the RM2 was very fluid and fast.

If I'm understanding correctly, the screen's responsiveness to input is great, but the UI's responsiveness is not?

I've been using the RM1 for a few months. The screen and UI responsiveness are both fine. What is astonishingly slow is their ereader implementation. Basically, the model is something like this:

• The ReMarkable is primarily like a sheet of paper you can write on (or a paper notepad).

• This "sheet of paper" can also have a background template (like dots, a grid, or an arbitrary image), different for every page. (You can add your own images/templates onto the device with scp and editing a JSON config file.)

• When you read PDFs on it, each page (at your specified zoom level / crop region) is rasterized (reasonably quickly) into such a background image, with the result that you can write on the PDF page if you want. (These won't be "PDF annotations" in the PDF-standard's sense AFAIK, which some people complain about: it's just like writing/drawing on some image. But you can export your annotated PDF as PDF/PNG/SVG.)

• When you read EPUBs on it, the whole epub gets converted by some incredibly slow process into the equivalent of what it does for PDF (my understanding is that it's basically rasterizing each page). This means that if you're reading an EPUB (that you downloaded from the internet or transferred from your Kindle or whatever), and you do something as simple as changing the font size, you can expect it to take tens of seconds(!) even for a small 200-page book, as it's "regenerating" an image for each (resulting) page of the book. Once that is done, though (i.e. you don't change/resize font again), it's reasonably quick and straightforward to use.

So, now, I don't bother with trying to read EPUBs on the device; I convert to PDF first on my computer (where I can more quickly and interactively tweak font size, page size, etc), then read the PDF on the device. That works very well.

Ah, ok, that is slow, but makes more sense if it is processing the entire book vs just the page you are on. Thank you for explaining further how it works. Still piques my interest - and would be nice to be able to templatize some scaffolded notes (i.e. daily planner, without having to re-buy physical notebooks)

I'm not quite sure what you mean by the PDFs and EPUBs being rasterized - that's always happening with anything that is displayed on a screen. Do you mean that it is converted to a raster format and stored like that? (outside of a frame buffer that is)

Yes, there seems to be a cache somewhere. They have a nice trick: when you flip pages, a lower-resolution cached image renders and you can immediately start reading/writing, before being (almost immediately) replaced by the actual-resolution one. (See about 15:15 to 20:00 in this video: https://youtu.be/YWLJPyTrHnM?t=915)

For PDFs, any chance you’ve tried reading science journal articles on it? I’m thinking this could be a great way to finally get a greener way to read on paper without printing, but I’m worried its still annoying to do.

Yes, I've read quite a few maths and CS journal articles and conference papers on it, including some two-column ones. Things I'd have previously printed on paper. It's a good substitute (I'm happy, and I'm reading more, as this device can help me stay away from laptop/phone), with a couple of caveats:

- The screen size is slightly smaller than a regular A4 or Letter sized sheet of paper. You can go to "Adjust View" on the reMarkable and choose a smaller region of each page to fill the available screen (i.e., get rid of the margins and header/footer), which increases the size a bit.

- Academic papers often have footnotes / references on the last page or two, and if you care about them you'll want to flip back and forth (or in some cases you may also want to flip between two separate documents), which is quite a bit more annoying on this device than it would be on paper. Using https://github.com/ddvk/remarkable-hacks adds some features that make it better.

On the plus side, on this device I feel more free to write on it and mark up etc (can always undo / erase cleanly), while on paper (even printouts, let alone books) I somehow hesitate a bit more.

You can mod it to accept sd-cards. I think it was feautured on HN a while ago http://www.davisr.me/projects/remarkable-microsd/

Unsure if this works for the RM2

Breaks the warranty for sure.

2 - If they were that interested in selling cloud storage I suspect this would have happened by now. I have numerous large physics, math and comp sci text books on my RM1 and have no storage issus.

3 - They have issued numerous updates to the software. 4 - They have made improvements to reader functionality. As I and others have noted - font resizing and first use of epubs is slow because those files are converted to a pdf which is what is actually displayed on the device. 5 - The company would not be on a 2nd generation device if they did not understand their target audience. What is clear (to me) is that they don't see everyone as their audience ala Apple or Amazon.

The reviewer mentions a Norwegian source for future monetization plans involving cloud storage.

I would have bought this if it had a microSD card slot. I will stick with my Surface Go. So close, so easy, yet so far.

You just now saved me $530.

Thank you.

When I thought about it I just compared it to the price of a notebook and pen which costs virtually nothing. The RM isn't 500x more useful than a real pen. It also hardly stacks up against an ipad with the pen accessory.

As someone who has been a paper notebook writer for decades, who went through boxes of paper ergonomic for writing a year, low dozens of pens, including fountain pens and ink, and who stored square meters of old notebooks for those decades, paying for every inch- for some users, the R reaches 1x ROI in less than a year.


Yeah for someone who writes that much it could make sense. But for me, I don't write notes on paper, I use it to draw diagrams and visualize things for myself as well as communicating. I use paper a bit like a whiteboard and a single notebook can last me years. The RM looks like a very cool tool but I would never justify the price.

I recently bought the ReMarkable 1 (wasn't willing to wait for preorder on the 2, and the differences don't look that significant). I kinda love it: I'm a professor, and 99% of my use is in reading article PDFs---it's a vastly better experience than reading on an eyestrain-inducing glossy screens or printing off.

One major annoyance, though, is that it's clunky to switch between documents---I like to take notes in a separate document from the articles (mainly so I don't have to deal with the hassle of trying to export marked-up PDFs, which is a very suboptimal experience---the ios/mac apps are, uh, not good.). There's a pretty big lag there.

But the reading experience qua reading is so much nicer that I keep it anyway.

For a better PDF experience, you might want to try 'koreader'. The native PDF support on my Kobo Forma was so bad I was ready to return it, before finding this. It's an open source PDF/epub reader that you can install on Remarkable and other eInk readers. It's just an app - it doesn't replace or degrade any existing functionality.


The Onyx Boox 3 max is great for that. the main function I use (articles and books) is the split screen with notes in one side and book/article in the other. The main downside is the price (~$800). It is also bulkier than other options.

This is a relief to hear! The only downside with the RM1/2 for me is the lackluster epub/PDF functionality, but if it is possible to put koreader on it without interference with existing functionality, I might just sell my Kobo e-reader and use the RM2 for all my reading and writing needs!

I pre-ordered the RM2 a couple a months ago and just got an email notifying me about a slight COVID-related delay. I don't really mind, I am confident that the company can deliver without to much fuzz.

how’s the Forma compared to the Oasis?

I've always partially wanted something like this, but can't get away from paper. I recently completed a PhD and tried an iPad and my computer, but ended up always printing off articles. It's annoying having a lot of physical paper around, but I'm constantly flipping back and forth in papers and it's so inconvenient to do that digitally. I also find it's so much easier for me to recall information based on where it was, and I completely lose that in a digital device.

Curious if those have been issues for you or not. I wonder if it's just how my mind works, or if I'm not "doing it right"?

I'm in the middle of my PhD and switched from printing papers to reading them on my iPad roughly two years ago.

There are some things I miss from paper but overall I found the pros to overweight the cons.

I haven't found that flipping back and forth on iPad is that horrible, to be honest.

Not sure how helpful this will be but I'll share what I've been doing for now. I use the following apps:

* Mendeley (to organize papers)

* PDF Expert (to annotate PDFs)

* GoodNotes (mostly when working out the maths)

My usual workflow is:

* Read through the paper

* Annotate in the paper using Apple pencil as I read through

* Figure out the maths on the iPad when needed

* When I get back to a computer, upload the annotated file to Mendeley and type summary notes in Mendeley

A few things that I like/dislike about iPad when compared to paper.

+ Search for information on the web while reading paper more easily

+ Check notes/annotations quickly from my computer

+ Share notes easily

+ Search notes easily

+ Clean desk =D

- More context switching needed when I need to scramble something

- Mendeley misses some basic features on iOS (e.g. attach PDF to existing paper) so need to context switch with computer at some point after reading the paper

I would say that for 90% of the papers I go through, where I don't dive that deep in the paper, the experience is just as good on iPad. For the 10% of the papers I read where I go in-depth, redo proofs, etc, it's a little more tedious. While it's for sure not perfect, given the above pros, I can live with the cons.

I would avoid Mendeley. Firstly, they are trying to create a researchgate-style social media spam network layer. Secondly they are owned by the maximally vile Elsevier. Thirdly, their software quality is poor eg. they couldn’t get sync working properly for maybe 5 years (until I gave up).

On the other hand, I love https://paperpile.com/app

As much as I agree with you on all the points, in my case I kind of have to stick with what my research group is using for now.

Let me know what you think about Polar:


We launched about a year ago and are REALLY close to a 2.0 release.

It would be nice if you did not initiate a download on my behalf when I merely visit the "download" page via the main navigation. I would expect at least prompt for confirmation before you push a 180 MB binary to me.

I'm a huge Polar fan! I'm considering buying an iPad just for using Polar, but I was wondering about the ReMarkable as well, since I like e-ink better for reading.

Do you have any recommendations for a tablet to use with Polar?

What app do you use for Polar? I used Polar for a bit on my Mac but gave up because I do most of my reading on an iPad. Would give it another shot if I could get Polar running on iPad.

I just use it on my laptop and desktop (Mac/Linux). I think I'd prefer to use a tablet though as I'm not a huge fan of reading on computers. Currently looking around and I've seen your sentiment about Polar and iPads before. Hopefully better support is coming in the 2.0 release though.

Looks great - will check it out.

Noticed you have a typo on the homepage under the uni logos.

"Discovery why Polar [...]" should read "Discover why Polar [...]"

Oh this looks really cool and your free tier is awesome. I'm going back to school in the fall and will be giving this a shot.

Do you any plans to support math symbols in annotations?

I think it's not only you.

I have the same problem with e-readers and books, I miss the ease of moving backward and forward in a paper book.

Also, I have observed that I remember better what I read in physical books. Maybe it's because the content is associated to something real out there in the world with a cover, a weight, and a position of the content in the book and a position of the book in my bookshelves.

It's kind of weird because the first intuition is that the support where you read something shouldn't matter.

i have the same experience. there is less retention when the object isn't permanent. that's another reason why i think it's important to keep notes as handwritten visually and not convert/OCR into typed text.

Then check the Rocketbook:


It feels like paper because you actually write over it with a real pen.

Not just you. I tried hard to adapt to ebooks; spent the better part of a year trying to find an arrangement for reading on the train that worked as well as a paperback, and failed.

If I'm reading more than maybe 10 pages, or if it is material that I'm flipping back and forth in a lot, I print.

Is note taking good? How good is OCR? Do you know if it works with other languages/alphabets (cyrillics)? Can it handle usual stuff used in formulas, subscripts/superscripts, fractions, integrals, f : S³ → G, H⊲G ≡ ∀g∈G gHg⁻¹ = H and other weird symbols we use? How about stuff that comes with several columns/rows, like matrices? How about tables?

OCR is pretty bad IME, but I also have terrible handwriting...

I was on the fence about this but the clunky zooming when reading PDFs made me decide not to get it. I think a tablet is better for browsing PDFs.

That's the deal-breaker for me as well. I'm always resizing PDF's so that the text is a legible size (neither too small or big), and therefore scrolling across larger pages, and the smoothness of a tablet is necessary.

I've tried reading PDF's on my Kindle, but it's just so frustrating to navigate around the page. But the iPad is perfect.

There are apps for windows that allow cropping pdfs and/or reflowing. I generally avoid the latter and have found that cropping pdf's almost always works well enough.

Most documents have more than enough margin that the final cropped document is then readable on the RM1. (Eventhough I wear readers I don't like to see microtype). Those same programs can also be used to split two column papers.

RM1 has a built in crop tool but I find it slows things down a bit and it won't work to split a two column layout.

I just bought an Ipad Pro for this purpose and I love it. I have tons of PDFs open for research and I can annotate super easily.

Plus, I can draw, animate, and watch youtube on the same device. It's been quite nice.

I was going to get the ReMarkable, but am very happy with my Ipad

Which size did you find appropriate for your needs?

It must be heaven for Math teachers and professors. No more mounds of discarded paper. I'm sure they use tablets already, but the look and feel of writing figures on an iPad isn't as nice as epaper.

An iPad with a paper-like screen protector is very close.

This is true, but the paper-like screen protector market is a mess. I spent $40 on the official Paperlike 2, waited a month (preordered), applied it, and it was pretty bad. Not really like paper at all. Then I bought the knockoff-sounding "XIRON Paperfeel" for $15 and it was a vast improvement. Unfortunately they don't make one for the 12.9" iPad Pros with home button.

I've found they chew up the nib on the Apple Pencil as well.

I think that's unavoidable, even on ReMarkable. That's why they sell replacement tips: https://remarkable.com/store/marker-tips

Same with grafic tablets. You can't get around that. Which is okay – normal pencils wear down as well.

Have there been any that solve this problem?

+1. Plus an open access to the web with a choice of browsers is super important too! You can't do all of that with proprietary trash from e-ink––there's nothing good about physical paper (dead-trees) anyway to be promoting your product with.

I'm not sure the mounds of discarded paper are that bad..

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