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I returned my Remarkable2 (offbyone.us)
183 points by zekenie 61 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 227 comments

> Remarkable is advertised as an E-Ink reader as well as a writing device. In reality, this only works if you have e-pub books on your hard drive. Where can you get e-pub books? Basically nowhere

What? I'll give you that the two largest distributors, Amazon and Barnes and Nobles don't sell epub but pretty much everyone else who sells ebooks does including Google Books. Also, you can use Calibre to turn any other ebook format into an epub.


Does Remarkable support Adobe DRM? If not, then the vast majority of places you can get ePubs either (a) won't be compatible, or (b) won't have the ebooks you care about (because publishers only sell them with DRM).

So no, unless you're going out of your way to use a workflow that's unsupported and of questionable legality (DRM stripping), you probably can't read ebooks you care about on this device.

To be frank I don't know if there's any serious 'workflow' involving ebooks that doesn't involve using calibre or equivalent software to ensure they're DRM free and in the format you want.

On Kindle it's just clicking "buy now" and waiting 30 seconds for it to load on the device.

I know that's not "drm free" or anything but I doubt 99% of ebook users actually care as long as their device can load it.

If readers didn't care about anything besides comfort then they'd just download the DRM free epubs from z-library for free, which is even less hassle then dealing with amazon kindle.

I still own a Kindle and buy books through it, but it's just false that this is the least hassle option.

I'm not sure I get your argument here. On the one hand:

1. shop for a book right on your Kindle device

2. click "buy"

Whereas on the other:

1. go to your computer and search for a book on z-library

2. download the epub

3. convert the epub to a Kindle-compatible format

4. copy the book to your Kindle

Isn't the first workflow clearly "less hassle" than the second?

Z library has a button to email/send the ebook to your kindle, so it's done after the first step. You can do that on your phone or kindle itself depending on the model.

I think you have entirely missed an entirely different comparison. The median hourly wage is about $15 an hour and virtually everyone already has a smartphone.

Option 1: Work 14 hours for money to buy kindle paper paperwhite and 10 9.99 ebooks. Proceed to click and buy as you desire.

Option 2: Work zero hours and click and download epubs and other formats on your phone which can accommodate multiple formats including the incredibly common on pirated sites epub format.

Also honestly it doesn't help much to list the steps out when both options take less than 90 seconds and you have already decided to invest 2-10 hours in reading the book. I will happily spend more than an hour reading descriptions and reviews of different books to decide what I would prefer to read next.

I think you have entirely missed the topic of this thread: the comfort of obtaining the book. The list of steps addresses exactly that, whereas reading the book has nothing to do with it.

Time and money are fungible resources what costs one costs the other. The 4 steps so described are only as described if one insists both on using a separate device which you happen to already own vs your perfectly capable smartphone and in ignoring possible optimizations. They are also oddly thought out wherein the entire process of shopping for a book to read which may take tens of minutes and involve reading reviews or snippets of a book and which will certainly be completely unusable on your kindle is considered 1 step but so is the act of actuating a single button.

It's also probably wrong to list converting to a kindle compatible format and copying to your kindle as 2 separate operations when one in fact can perform them both by clicking one button or indeed avoid conversion altogether by downloading the appropriate format.

For your consideration.

1. Spend time on your computer/smartphone/in person discovering interesting things to read.

2. Open up your store app/website/device, navigate to the desired book, buy, and download it.


1. Spend time on your computer/smartphone/in person discovering interesting things to read.

2. Open up zlibrary/libgen navigate to the desired book and download it.


1. Spend time on your computer/smartphone/in person discovering interesting things to read.

2. Open up zlibrary/libgen navigate to the desired book and download it.

3. Import into calibre and either automatically convert on import or have it automatically converted when you click send to device


1. Spend time on your computer/smartphone/in person discovering interesting things to read.

2. Open up zlibrary/libgen navigate to the desired book and download it to a folder which is watched by calibre whereupon it will automatically import, convert, and email it to your kindle in the correct format.

This isn't twice as hard and it buys you a copy of your ebook on your computer and device which can be backed up with the rest of your files and which will never stop working because someone else says so. It's also trivial to share with anyone you like just as easily as you can add to your own device. You also get a great search experience on your computer and on your phone if you use calibre companion which incidentally you can use to wirelessly send to your non kindle device.

Ease of use is a separate topic from money no matter how much you want to try and mix the two.

Yes one is often at the cost of the other...but they are different topics.

Thanks for contributing to the discussion!

I’m guessing if you took a poll of 1000 random people and asked them if they know what z-library is you’d be lucky to find more than 1 person. I’d never heard of it until a year ago and nobody in my friends group had either.

Does “comfort” not include ease of use and discovery?

I’m on Kobo and I’m a nerd and I have “workflows” for content I already paid for but isn’t Pocket compatible (lookin at you, NYRB!) and I’ve never even heard of z-library.

Maybe the average Kindle user, ditto?

There's also library genesis that is very good for the more technical content.

Especially because a lot of technical books are really hard too find in Europe in digital format. Very often I get the "not available in your region" message.

What's the legal side of this?

Don't ask, don't tell

Not relevant if the only metric is 'comfort'.

I'd say prison is pretty low on the 'comfort' scale, certainly lower than '1 click buy'.

Surely not having to pay is wven more comfortable

Often it's not. I remember cleaning up MP3 headers from all the stupid 'downloaded from TUNEZ4U.blah - <real title>', weeding out tracks that were clipping or with their volume way too low. Or bad quality or weird codecs etc.. It was a lot of work!

Something like Spotify really makes it worth it then. Totally better than downloading and the convenience is easily worth the price.

I buy most of my ebooks as well as I like the sync between the Kindle app and the real Kindle. And most of them are well priced anyway.

For video the convenience argument worked well too with Netflix for a while but now that the landscape had fragmented so much the whole "paid content is more convenient" thing is under a lot of pressure. It's not even the price that's an issue as you can subscribe to most services by the month to see one thing. It's the hassle of signing up, cancelling and downloading all their separate apps. So there the downloaded content is becoming more convenient again.

Couldn't agree more. For me certainly not worth the hassle to save $3 on a reduced book that will magically appear on my kindle after I clicked 1-click-buy, compared to pirating it.

I remember how upon Radiohead's release of 'In Rainbows' people would argue that the fact that people would still download an album from Kazaa that you can legally download for free from the artists website proves how rotten everyone is. No - it's just that the UX of doing it legally sucked so much more.

This. I have a Boox Note 2 that I love. I sync DRM free books to it via my NextCloud and I can draw/type notes in them and sync back to my computer. I've also got the Kindle and Adobe reader apps installed so I get instant when I want it too. (I'm an academic so a lot of my reading comes via library downloads DRM'd with Adobe). It can take hand written notes in a separate app, but I don't bother because my handwriting is as bad as the authors so I just type my notes up and sync them with NextCloud too.

My wife isn't a tech nerd, she has a Kindle, she wants a book, she presses a couple of times on the screen and she has the book. Sure she might pay more than I would, but the time/convenience factor clearly outweighs that.

You can configure an email address in you Amazon account <youralias>@kindle.com. Sending any DRM free .mobi or .pdf to that address makes it magically appear on your Kindle.

I think that is a great feature as most people know how to create an email with an attachment. And as a side effect you can send friends ebooks directly to their devices if they shared their @kindle aliases with you.

The downside is that you're very limited in what file works. Mobi is ancient and lacks a lot of the improvements that Amazon made with AZW3 and KFX in regards to what it supports and how it's rendered. So no improved typography, no features like full screen images in digital manga or comics, etc. Sometimes you can do a hacky workaround and send an ePub as .png and it will give you an AZW3 but sometimes it just doesn't work. With my Boox reader I can just shove the file in my OneDrive and have it appear there.

Does Kindle allow you to scribble in the ebook?

No. Highlights with typed notes are supported, though.

I've never found calibre to work except on novels. Books with diagrams, tech books, it totally fails, at least for me

Were you trying to convert a PDF or something? Tech books that are in an HTML-based format (epub or mobi) work just fine in Calibre because the diagrams and equations actually have a machine-readable format and can be converted from format to format losslessly. PDFs are pretty much only designed to be printed (they are really just modified Postscript documents, where Postscript is the language used by many printers)

See https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2021-23311.pdf

Under III.A.3, it appears presently legal to use tools such as this:


as long as you are using it for a purpose listed in the exemption.

This carve out is for "persons who are blind, visually impaired, or have print disabilities," for the record.

Wired did a nice write up on this: https://www.wired.com/story/ebooks-drm-blind-accessibility-d...

I don’t think there’s questionable legality of stripping DRM to read books you have a license to on your own device.

AFAIK, It's not questionable, there is no gray area. On the US it's a crime, almost everywhere else it's perfectly legal.

The only two places I know that haven’t criminalised the circumvention of technical protection measures are Israel and Afghanistan. I’d love to be told different.

(I feel there’s still an opportunity to challenge DMCA 1201 in the US, and then there’s also the triennial review. It’s harder in places where the exemptions are hard-coded — but maybe you know of one that includes an exemption for this kind of DRM removal?).

It’s not quite as bad as that: according to the IIPA, “Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as smaller markets, such as Bolivia, Brunei, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda” haven’t implemented it.

Its explicitly legal to do this in New Zealand, for the purpose of shifting formats.

At least in terms of law as it's applied it's definitely not true. Either your sources are not correct, or "circumvention" is described very differently in other places.

Wasn't DeCSS held legal in the US for purposes of playing back DVDs you've purchased? Shouldn't consuming e-books fall under the same ruling?

No, it wasn't held legal. You can't play commercial dvds, blurays, etc. on vanilla fedora.

If I remember it correctly, CSS was deemed too weak for being considered copy protection. But I'm far from an expert. I'm not even from the US.

Actually, from skimming the linked white paper: https://www.eff.org/wp/unintended-consequences-16-years-unde...

It looks like there's no way to watch DVDs legally with FOSS (still) in the US?

On the other hand the precedent for ebooks seem a bit better?


You’re right. It’s in the realm of not paying sales tax on stuff you buy out of state. No one keeps track of that shit but also it’s illegal to not do that.

I actually did do that until e-tailers started collecting state taxes.

It was very frustrating, from a civics perspective, to have to choose between obeying democratically enacted laws or being a chump.

As of a couple years ago, my state (Maine) added an option to calculate out-of-state taxes as a percentage of your income instead of tracking.

There may not be, but it's a pain in the ass. To strip Kindle books, you need to use an outdated Kindle PC client that uses an old encryption and may or may not break at any point in time, stop it from updating, track down some shifty plugin for Calibre that handles like a house of cards, etc.

Years ago, yeah. It took some time to figure out the new .kfx format. Now? If you're on a macOS/Windows no setup is necessary, provided you have the Kindle app installed. If you have a physical Kindle and you use Linux, the setup is as easy as looking up a serial number in settings and entering it into the plugin's settings. If you don't have a physical one and no access to a Windows machine, then it is a bit tricky, yeah. That said, I assume this doesn't apply to at least 70% of its users.

As for the plugin's stability, I have yet to experience a problem after like 7-8 years of usage. I've upgraded from Calibre v4 to v5 before the plugin supported v5, but that's about it.

Appropriate any pointers, as I want to copy and paste from an book on the Kindle ended up camera photo to ocr. I am on Linux (Debian) and struggle to complete this task. Either I am not good a google or need to re-try.

You don't think that; publishers however think differently. If you think it's user-hostile, they think it's right way.

Well, the publishers aren't entitled to enter my house and check.

If bits and bytes enter my home I can do anything I want with them within that private property.

I think its unfortunately accepted as standard that you have to use these kind of tools if you want to use these devices seriously.

I think things are beginning to change. My impression is more publishers sell watermarked but DRM free PDFs.

BTW I personally find it odd the OP wants to reads epubs on the remarkable. The remarkable is good for reading PDFs. The epub experience is rather meh.

Me too, I only read technical PDFs. I've tried Remarkable 1 for this and it was pretty decent. How is version 2?

>Remarkable is advertised as an E-Ink reader as well as a writing device. In reality, this only works if you have e-pub books on your hard drive. Where can you get e-pub books? Basically nowhere

Has this guy ever heard of zlib?

Not to mention MyAnonymouse...

Is this really worth the hassle given the prevalence of resources that don't require membership? I've only ever joined one private tracker and it wasn't materially better than what could be found for free and it was run by raging assholes. Kind of colored my view of that scene.

Hard Drive? The world has moved to solid state, no wonder he is struggling!

I own a Remarkable 2 and really love it, but I agree that the lack of some kind of integrated ebook marketplace is a missed opportunity. I would love to be able to just buy a bestselling book through the device (or it's accompanying app) and read it immediately. Is there anyone the company could partner with to enable such a feature? I don't want to pirate books or hassle with Calibre, I just want to read books on this very well-designed device and I'm willing to pay $$ to do that.

That's not a missed opportunity. Not every company has to be some megacorp doing everything and siphoning off all data from every pore of the planet. Why can't you just make hardware and call it a day ?

Personally I use a Boox e-Ink tablet, which just runs Android. That means I can just install the Kindle app and read Kindle books without any fuss. I do hate DRM with a passion but sometimes I just want to get on with my day and this solution works for me.

I really like the look of the Remarkable though, I just wish it ran Android.

I've considered Boox devices, but I'm put off by not wanting to reward the GPL abuse that seems to be occurring in that product range.

I'm doing exactly the same, I'm using almost exclusively the Kindle app and it works fine on my Boox tablet.

What disappointed me is the slowness of the refreshing. I guess it's because I hadn't used any e-reader before. I bought my Boox with the idea that I could also run other apps on it, since after all it ran on Android. Running other apps is possible but it's just really a pain, even web browsing is just too slow.

- Doctor, it hurts when I do this.

- Then don't do this.

Web browsing on e-ink is widely known to be barely usable, and not what e-readers are made to do. So usage of "even" word is hard to explain here really.

I admitted I didn't have any experience using e-readers before, so please forgive my ignorance. But in defence of me and all the other ignorant buyers, when a device is sold with the argument that it is a fully functional Android device, one might suspect that you'd be able to run some apps on it without too many problems. This is from the Boox site itself:

> The book is based on the Android 10.0 operating system, which allows third-party applications to be installed on the device and significantly expands the scope of its application

Marketing texts happen to be misleading more often than not. But this exact excerpt you cited looks innocent to me. "Significantly" is subjective, of course, but other than that it's correct.

> Running other apps is possible

For me I don't spend much time in those other apps, but it's really nice to have the ability to install Google Drive, GMail, Slack, Notion, Dropbox, and stuff like that so I can easily open up documents that are sent to me through the normal channels I use and never have to worry about actually "transferring" anything to my tablet.

I also keep all my sheet music and academic papers to-read on Google Drive.

How is it? Does it feel fast like iPad? Or at least responsive even if not that that fast? I have Paperwhite and while I still love it to death after 8 years, I just can’t live with the lag with traditional e-ink tablets like Paperwhite.

No, it's super laggy just like all e-Ink devices, except for the natively-optimized note taking app which feels fine for writing and taking notes.

Don't expect an iPad experience at all.

The reasons I use it are

- To get eye strain relief when reading ebooks, academic papers, or long PDF documents

- To be able to read those things in bright sunlight while outdoors

- Insanely good battery life compared to a traditional tablet, I only charge mine about once a week

- Screen continues to display while consuming zero power, after device goes to sleep, which is useful for practicing music, and for placing reference documents on the table while I work on e.g. electronics, or recipes while working in the kitchen. I don't have to keep smacking it every 2 minutes to wake it up, and it won't run out of battery displaying a single PDF page for several days

Boox tablets seem to refresh faster than Kindle Paperwhites, but the appearance can be janky looking because Android isn't optimized for running on eInk. It takes some time to adjust to.

This isn't a big problem for reading, but navigating through the general system UI and Android apps can be offputting.

You can tweak some of the refresh rate settings. My experience is it's a lot faster than a paperwhite (to the point that now when I use the kindle I wonder why it's so slow), but nowhere close to an ipad.

Well, even if you do that, the e-reader on the Remarkable is really, really poor. It’s a note taking device that can be hacked into doing some other stuff with varying degrees of success.

Liberture maintains a list of sites that sell DRM-free eBooks [1]

[1] https://www.libreture.com/bookshops/

or https://z-lib.org/ if you're not too squeamish about copyright

or Library Genesis: https://libgen.is/

I'm not sure how they get there. I have a Kobo and ~100% of my hundreds of books are epub.

* Says he has horrible handwriting and complains about the OCR

* Never looks up how to do the basic gestures

* Complains about the size, when it's comically obvious what the size is from the constant advertising.

Look, the device isn't for most, but HN really deserves a less half-assed critique than this.

I thought it was a good review, because I find devices like this are always tempting, but never live up to the imagined utility compared to simple pencil and paper or simple "editor and text files" (or real books, in that case). I was glad to find out this is another one of those, before I spent $$$ on one.

Quick warning: I bought my device before they started offering a subscription service and got grandfathered in for free.

It profoundly changed how I organise my desk and work day.

I used to have a stack of papers which contained mostly random noted and work related diagrams. It was a mess to find anything and most notes were of "questionable" quality (strikethroughs and corrections galore)

Over the years I tried several methods to get better at organising myself (hi-tech and lo-tech aka pen and paper).

For some reason I can't explain, the remarkable stuck and helped me to get my shit together.

I suspect that it was mostly by chance that this specific model came to my attention at the right time with the right design. Most likely any one of several similar products(e-ink, "paperlike writing feeling", no app store or browser) would've done the trick.

It was quite expensive though and had they had their subscription service at the time, I probably wouldn't have bought it.

> stack of papers

The trick is to get a spiral paper notebook. When full, run it through a sheet-fed scanner, and throw the notebook away.

You'll need a scanner anyway, for all those other random papers.

Also, a sheet-fed scanner is infinitely faster than a flatbed, and it'll do both sides at once.

Don't forget to back up your disk drive. If you drop it on the floor (like I did) it's gone.

I found that between "I already have it digital", and "I will have it digital once I get to a scanner with a paper-feeder" the distance is too big to my liking. Also it's easier to name/annotate my handwriting (to make it searcheable) right after I finished scribing, then to sort out a whole notebook later. That said, I can imagine a paper-fed scanner to be well enough solution for many people, who already have an easy access to it.

You can also use your phone camera for the occasional paper document. I wouldn't change my note taking strategy as a result of sometimes being given paper documents.

I preordered my device so I got the subscription for free.

I used to have stacks of notebooks which I had to dispose of regularly (shred or put into security paper bins). For me the most convenient and quickest way to make personal notes is by hand. Remarkable2 has a proper pen&paper-feel and it works for me. It is the killer feature for me and I'm happy.

But yes, OCR is bad and having accumulated 100+ pages of notes on certain subjects makes me really want to have a better search.

Does it require a subscription? If it does, this would be much bigger issue for me than DRM ebooks.

It doesn't "require" a subscription per se, however the OCR and Google drive integration are part of it.

Presumably other features in the future because VC love subscription.

>* Never looks up how to do the basic gestures

To me, it read like it just didn't work, not that he didn't try or look it up.

>* Complains about the size, when it's comically obvious what the size is from the constant advertising.

It's still a valid criticism, no? The digital pen/e-ink combo gives you way less feedback, hence precision, hence density of writing in a given area. I'm not just speculating, I've tried out a Remarkable 2 my friend got, and that was my impression - nearly like paper, but I still had to focus more and write slightly bigger letters for it to be legible.

If you want to write denser you can just zoom in. I don't feel the need, because the fineliner pen does great, but sometimes I do it to fit notes into pdf margins.

Whether or not it makes sense for a HN post notwithstanding, these kinds of reviews are good because if you are similar to the author then you’ll likely have the same feelings.

It’s the same with movie critics, knowing a movie with 84% on Rotten Tomatoes or something isn’t half as useful as the opinion of your twin flame critic.

The parent commenter cherrypicked a few of the weaker arguments and threw out the extensive criticism of other aspects of the device, such as the atrocious UI.

The reMarkable was panned pretty hard by every major tech outlet as being useful for only one thing, and worse, not very good at that one thing.

> The reMarkable was panned pretty hard by every major tech outlet as being useful for only one thing, and worse, not very good at that one thing.

yet my colleagues who loved the first one love this one to and keep recruiting new users so there is obviously a market for it.

Personally I returned mine because I couldn't justify both the iPad and the reMarkable at that time but the writing experience was fantastic.

Yeah, I got recruited that way too, only the trouble is that having had the device a few days now my takeaway is I should really have done more research first and ideally spent that money elsewhere. Presented by an excited aficionado, the thing looks amazing, but when you go to actually use it the way you use a notebook, the software just isn't there to help you do that.

Oh, well. I guess if nothing else it's a valuable refresher on the correct weighting to apply when evaluating early adopter opinions.

I sent mine back.

Is it too late to return your?

No, I've only had it a few days. I haven't yet really decided to return it, either; the tech is legitimately amazing, even if the software lacks a lot, and I've yet to more than scratch the surface of what the community has to offer.

I'll find some worthwhile use for the thing, even if it takes a while. I'm just disappointed that that looks so much like not being the use for which I actually bought it.

When you criticize you have to concentrate on what you see as wrong (i.e. weakest points) unless you plan to write a full review of review, so "cherrypicking" sounds rather unwarranted here.

I had to relearn writing on a remarkable tablet by basically tracing letters repeatedly.

The writing surface has less friction which makes writing different. And easily to be very sloppy. So like learning to write with a marker or a different stencil you have to relearn how to write again.

* Making OCR work with perfect handwriting was happening in the 90s, it's not unreasonable to expect modern hardware to work with messy handwriting

* Gestures should be intuitive, and if they're not they should be prompted

* Size on paper != size in reality. The weight distribution alone can make two devices with seemingly identical dimensions feel very different in hand

This is a fair critique of device, your comment just feels like a kneejerk defense of something you like.

For the record I returned mine, I get it's meant to be a focused device but the value proposition is just not there, and it felt like a complete waste.

It sits in the awkward position of doing too much to be smaller and cheaper and doing too little to take advantage of its size and computing power.

No matter how much you value minimalism and paperfeel I'd easily recommend an iPad Mini over this. If you're a tinkerer making a distraction-free iPad is an evening's work. And if you're not a tinkerer the Remarkable is not that interesting

I've had my Remarkable 2 for 2-3 months.

I agree with some of the critiscims here (missing tags, bad typing experience, little integrability), but overall I am super happy with the tablet. I think it's just down to the usecase. It does what I most need it do to! (replace physical notebooks)

It also does some things that I didn't know I needed. It's just so amazing to have an undo for stuff you write on paper. The ability to select and move stuff around is also something I now do constantly.

I think it just comes down to what problem you're trying to solve. For me, replacing physical notebooks = solved problem.

> It's just so amazing to have an undo for stuff you write on paper.

Sometimes. When drawing, absolutely. When writing, absolutely not. Nothing else in my entire life has improved my handwriting so much as using a pen to do it, because without an eraser there are no options left but to get better or give up, and it's also amazing how much an eraser slows you down.

I can't remember the last time I wrote something by hand for someone else to read. As long as I can read what I wrote, I don't care how shitty my handwriting is, and I'd wager it's the same for most people.

I see taking notes like writing code. I write code as if it’s to be read and understood by “me, 6 months from now”. And let me tell you, “me from 6 months ago” can be an idiot at times. But ever since I started with that mindset, my code quality has gotten better, and it is vastly easier to understand.

Notes are the same way, but even more explicit. You largely aren’t writing notes to be consumed while the topic is still fresh in your head and you can remember what your cryptic scratches were meant to convey. You are writing for you in the future when you can remember what a particular acronym was or why you wrote “important!!! - check kobernets out”.

This is an excellent point, and basically all of why I worked out the indexing scheme I've mentioned elsewhere today. An aide-memoire is only as good as the aid it can provide, and the index largely unbinds it in time - if I need something from a year ago, it's no harder to find than when it was from yesterday.

It takes a few minutes a day to maintain the index and keep it current, but only a few minutes, and that time is amply repaid by the benefits in utility.

Likewise, I'll sometimes spend the few minutes after a meeting expanding on my notes with context, thoughts for further action or research, etc. This stuff can be hugely useful both in the short term and especially in the long, when I'm revisiting or reconsidering a project and rebuilding the threads of context I had when it was last at the center of my focus.

On the whole, I think the general rule here is that taking notes is a good start, but what really makes them count is putting some thought and effort into taking that raw material and turning it into an accessible and useful mnemonic tool.

And that brings us back to the reMarkable's shortcomings, not least of which is that it offers no way to actually do that. It's all the more frustrating for how the platform clearly could support this capability, maybe in ways genuinely not seen in human history before now - but, as it currently is, it can't even provide the same utility you could get with a quill and hand-laid pages in the 1600s.

Yah, this is majorly true. I discovered at exam time my freshman year that I couldn't read my class notes. I then did a major upgrade to my lettering technique :-)

(I had never taken notes before.)

The "undo" functionality, in my experience, is not amazing because it provides an enhanced eraser. It's amazing because it allows you step backwards through your free-hand thoughts.

As an example, I routinely use my tablet like a whiteboard for working out bits of math. The ability to bring back a value I'd previously erased to see exactly where I miscalculated is extremely useful. Similarly, I find this sort of thing to be really helpful when whiteboarding my way through a particularly thorny programming problem at work.

I used to say the same, and then found myself surprised by how difficult it is to go back and read even my own old handwriting compared to how it is now, enough so that I feel I've done myself a favor by putting in the effort to improve it.

Like good headphones, it seems to be one of those things where you don't know what you're missing until you know what you're missing.

That's interesting. Maybe I should work on improving my handwriting. For now I just really love the undo feature, and I specifically use when I look at something I wrote and think "I wont be able to read that in the future" :-)

That's entirely fair! And I don't mean to sound as if, using a pen, I never find the need to just scratch something out and try again. But these days it's maybe once a page, where looking back to the first volume of my diary from back in 2018, it was more like once a line.

And in general, I find a real benefit in facility of writing to facility of thought - not falsely is it said that we think a little differently when writing vs. typing, and each kind of thinking is both valuable and not precisely replicable in the other medium. Being able to write neatly, at a speed approximating that at which I think, has made it a lot easier to fix thoughts in a form that allows me to work with them.

Were you brought up writing, and did you do most of your schoolwork writing? I think that might have an impact.

As kids today begin typing more than writing, I think the perspective of writing facilitating thought might change.

The implications for this are interesting long-term, as humanity's methods of thought entry change. In the future we likely will one day revert to machine-assisted oral entry.

Quite the contrary, really. I actually started typing at age six, much earlier than most of my cohort, and used pen and paper mostly under protest as a child and especially a teenager. Years on MU*s in my teens and 20s, and probably on the order of a million words of prose expended in roleplaying, left me with no interest in paper save for the most evanescent of purposes.

So when I picked up that first Metropolitan and Amazon Basics notebook in 2018, it was more for the sake of it than anything, and with no real expectation of persevering - indeed, having surprised myself with the discovery that the medium really does make a difference has no small amount to do with why I've kept up the practice to the tune of around 1500 diary pages and several A5 books filled with work notes.

(While I'm singing the praises of the old ways, I suppose I should mention that a good hand, with a good pen, also doesn't hurt to use. When it doesn't take any force to clearly mark the paper, you can write pages at a time with barely a pause and never feel it in your wrist. Granted I do also have a writer's bump now, but I'm not a hand model, so that's not really a drawback!)

That was me, until the various recent lockdowns, when I've started writing letters to people.

Concentration is hard when I want to write quickly "just for myself", but force myself to slow down to make sure what I mail is readable.

It's a fun process, far harder than typing, but very worthwhile.

May I ask how you used physical notebooks before?

I’m really tempted by the ReMarkable — decent PDF reader with good annotations, and replacing pen and paper in meetings, would be enough.

But I’m a pretty hardcore pen and paper user. I find iPad and Pencil great for art but laughably deficient for writing and brainstorming.

Is the Re that far ahead of Apple?

No. See my comments elsewhere in this thread, but the takeaway for me is that, even just to replace pen and paper in meetings, it's not up to the task - I need to be able to refer back to those notes later, and the reMarkable does nothing to facilitate that and, by inaction, a good deal to frustrate it.

How is it for reading PDF books and research papers?

This was my primary use case for this and I love it - I need to be taking notes in the margins for me to stay engaged with the material. My rare pain points have been: * sometimes the resolution is not enough and if you really want to zoom into a figure, the UX to do that is a little clunky * colors can be critical for some figures and the papers/books don't take care to pick colors that are easily distinguishable in greyscale.

I place a lot of value on paperfeel for writing though (I tried writing on pdfs with an ipad and...ugh). I've also really come to appreciate the distraction-free setting (I thought I could just be disciplined and not need a device specifically for this - I was wrong). I also use it for note taking in meetings where I want to be present and pay attention the whole time - game changer there as well.

> I place a lot of value on paperfeel for writing though (I tried writing on pdfs with an ipad and...ugh)

I use a product called “paperlike” for my iPad and it has amazing paperfeel. I can write and it feels like I’m writing on a paper notebook. Okay, a very hard, flat, glass-backed notebook, but the pencil moving over the surface is great.

For me, the downside is that I’m writing on a mini computer that can do anything. So, it’s easy to get distracted from the primary job of taking notes.

I purchased the remarkable 1 where there was nothing else that had the same latency for pens/styluses. The apple stylus is down to 9ms now, which is way faster than even the remarkable 2 (and that is amazing). I would be annoyed with a paperlike protector on an ipad, if I were trying to use it as an ipad, but for use solely as a notetaking device, it might be great.

The Paperlike screen protector isn't terrible for the iPad screen quality. It mutes the detail slightly, but it isn't very noticeable. I think it turns the screen from a glossy surface to a more matte surface, if that helps to describe the effect.

I keep my Paperlike cover on all the time and it doesn't really bother me when watching videos/movies on my iPad at all.

On the note of paper feel, you might consider trying a fountain pen and smooth coated paper. The ink forms a liquid bearing and causes the nib to glide over the page, and there can be almost no friction - by comparison, the reMarkable feels extremely rough, like using a hard pencil on toothy sketchbook paper. It's not unpleasant, but an iPad would actually be a lot more like using a medium nib on a sheet from Clairefontaine or Tomoe River.

(While we're making this sort of comparison, it's also interesting to note that, as with a graphite or Apple pencil, the reMarkable stylus tip is a wearing item, while fountain pen nibs are not.)

iPad feels too slippery to me as is. I get one of those screen protectors that give a paper-like feel to make it more like what I am used to from Remarkable.

Higher friction at the interface between tool and surface makes for easier control at the cost of requiring more force to produce a given result. That's why your hand and wrist get sore so quickly.

With a fountain pen or (presumably) an iPad with no screen protector, you have no choice but to learn to control the tool without that excess force - force which will eventually destroy a pen nib, and in both cases will ruin your lines because there's no friction to damp it. Learning not to overcontrol does take a little while, but pays off both in work that's neater and more skillful, and in being able to work much longer before aches force a pause.

(With the reMarkable, too, there's a benefit in that your stylus tips will last longer, and you'll get more nuance out of the pressure sensitivity with tools that make use of it.)

For reading books, I'd rather go for an Android based device that features a more potent reader app that allows you to set bookmarks and to more easily jump around in big books. It works very well for reading papers and well structured books that don't ask you to look back x pages all the time.

I agree. I’m waiting on a Boox Lumi at the moment. I read PDFs on my reMarkable primarily because other formats, specifically e-pub, aren’t that great on it. As strictly a PDF reader the reMarkable is good (albeit overpriced for just reading PDFs.)

The nice thing about android is that you can also get a kindle app. I know the parent is looking specifically for PDF support, but it’s nice to have solid kindle, PDF, and e-pub support on a single device.

Fair enough - the page change UX is a little clunky (and anything requiring changing screens many times on e-ink will be clunky). I read papers a lot more than I do textbooks. For fiction, the successive page turns are fine.

I think this is the perfect tool for PDFs and research notes.

My Remarkable is filled with research papers and books.

As I read them I scrawl notes all over the margins just like I did with paper printouts during my undergrad.

It's OK. You can use a highlighter and scribble on the margins. Taking notes on a separate notebook is a little awkward because you have to switch back and forth.

My biggest annoyance is that the reader did not give margin on the left side where the writing menu appears. The writing menu has to be collapsed and then made for writing. Other annoyances like links don't work. And color does not appear Either.

> I should note that in theory there is a gesture I saw referenced in the onboarding materials to go to the "next" page, but I never could figure out how to make it happen

This makes the whole article seem un-serious to me. It seems like there was either a defect with the author's device, or they couldn't take the time to Google "turn page remarkable" and find this help page showing the (very intuitive) gestures listed, with videos: https://support.remarkable.com/hc/en-us/articles/36000958211.... This is absolutely not something I had trouble with on my device.

I stopped reading this review after hitting this point. The next page gesture is so simple and gestures overall are a key thing to nail down if you're trying to use a remarkable. It sounds like it just wasn't for the author but it also seems like they didn't try to learn the device or look up guides for it.

I have a remarkable 2 and have a similar problem with the page turning experience. Swiping for a new page works very infrequently. It used to work when I first bought it, so I have to use the page navigation UI similar to what the author describes.

It takes a lot for me to comment on HN, but this review is frustrating. I couldn't be happier with my Remarkable 2, but I also researched what it could and couldn't do beforehand, then learned how to use it after it arrived. Something the reviewer didn't seem to do.

It works like a charm, navigation/gestures are absolutely simple. It's a note-taking device, it never claimed to make crappy handwriting legible; that's not a fault of the device. After a handful of "I thought" and "I figured" the Remarkable should to this or that, with the comical part about "next page" being too hard......seriously? Please. It couldn't be easier.

I find it a joy to use for the things it was designed to do. Quit expecting it to solve all your edge cases you can think of, or fringe scenarios you developed and inherited from a different system.

Just to second your comments, I love my Remarkable 2 _because_ it doesn’t try to do everything. It’s a great note taking and sketch device, and a pretty good e-reader. That’s it. If you want an iPad, buy an iPad.

Basically only good feedback from this review is to improve the eraser.

For books get a Kindle. Everything else get a Tablet.

> Where can you get e-pub books? Basically nowhere.

Not trying to defend the Remarkable (I have no interest in it) but this isn't true. You can purchase epub files in lots of places (usually on the publisher's website). You can download epubs for public domain books on Gutemberg. And you can remove drm from most Kindle files on Calibre, and then transform them to epubs.

This person likely spent more time writing the review than using the product. I have a remarkable2 and saying you have to give "the sidebar menu a colonoscopy to find the UI to list all pages, then create a new one, then navigate to it" is patently false and just stupid to say. Also, in the comparison between remarkable and pen/paper/scanner, the reviewer leaves out several important features.

- How about an infinite number of pages?

- Or the ability to undo/redo?

- Or the ability to resize?

- Or the ability to quickly send a document to a coworker?

- Or the ability to just be drastically more organized?

- Or the ability to not have to carry around 5 different notebooks everywhere you go?

- Or the ability password protect your documents?

There are lots of reasons a reMarkable is drastically better than pen/paper.

Reading the review, i cant help but feel that the author was always planning to return the unit. They did not seem to spend much time actually using the tablet and invest in learning how to use it, they just took advantage of the return window, and from tge sounds of it, was always planning to.

I bought a first gen remarkable used at the beginning of the year, with the expectations that

- I would read more

- I could use it for organizing work notes

For reading, almost none of my reading actually happens on remarkable. It's usually easier to just use my ultralight laptop (macbook air) instead of setting up a buggy sync to the remarkable, and having backlit screens is better than e-ink unless you have the perfect reading chair/nightstand light setup, which I don't.

For writing, I do get a lot of use out of it. I used to write a lot of paper notes and draw on scrap / computer paper, and then would gradually lose them and not be able to find things when I need them. Part of this is my own disorganization, but I also travel a lot so it sucks to have the notes in another place, and scanning requires intentional effort that seems like overkill for notes, that is until you remember them and want to look them up later.

The most useful remarkable feature, by far, though, is where you can stream your screen to a computer. Then i can write drawings and diagrams like on a whiteboard, but over Zoom for a remote team.

The problem is this feature is super duper buggy. It's currently broken for me. They "improved it" in the software but it's broken without a subscription, except I seem to have the subscription??? If anyone from remarkable is reading this, please fix that one feature, (used to be called LiveView), and then I will keep your product and write a good review.

Yes, a laptop with a pen or tablet would also serve the same purpose, I know. If I had an iPad, I would probably use it instead.

> having backlit screens is better than e-ink

I enjoy "frontlit" e-ink screens like the Paperwhite and Kobo Glo/Aura quite a lot to be honest.

Yeah it's a big miss they left that out on the remarkable IMO

would probably increase the cost for an already expensive product. But yes, I was surprised to hear the Remarkable lineup has no lights at all.

The new “connect” subscription for $11.99/month is required for dropbox/drive integration. That was enough reason for me to pass on remarkable. I get the subscriptionification of everything but the pricing is out of whack. I mean if you capitalize $144 at 3x you’re paying $432 for a simple integration.

I'd been on the fence about buying one for a while too, but once the cloud subscription became required, that was it for me deciding against it.

I’ll third that. The idea of subscribing to basic features on a device that expensive makes it a non-starter.

The author has a few silly points, as pointed out by others - but plenty of valid criticism.

The basic problem with the Remarkable is that it's useless without the $8/month "cloud" plan because that's the only plan that enables its primary feature: handwriting recognition. That means that very rapidly it has a TCO approaching or exceeding, say, a used iPad and Pencil. A device that exceeds the capabilities of the reMarkable in every regard (even on the most basic level: an iPad doesn't require a network connection and cloud service to do handwriting recognition and drawing simplification), even before you get to the massive ecosystem of accessories and apps. This device is a one-trick pony that is expensive and requires its own special food.

They're also more than a little shady about their refund/return policies. If you don't buy the cloud "trial", you don't get the "free" trial/return policy. The cloud trial is a nonrefundable 3 month $24 fee.

They have no defined return/warranty policy if you don't buy the cloud service; it's literally "go look up what your rights are, we'll do that." This is buried several pages into their site away from the product page.

I've never seen a consumer electronic device company say that nor make it so hard to tell what the warranty and return policies are.

I've never seen a consumer electronic device company tie a return policy to a cloud service purchase.

In the last discussion about reMarkable I believe several HNers had return/warranty issues with them, too.

That doesn't even begin to get into the privacy concerns with them being what appears to be a principally Hong Kong based company. They may have some offices in the Netherlands, but everything on their homepage points to HK operations for some reason. Where are the cloud servers based?

> The basic problem with the Remarkable is that it's useless without the $8/month "cloud" plan because that's the only plan that enables its primary feature: handwriting recognition.

Are you saying the key feature for the remarkable is handwriting recognition?

I have a remarkable 2 and I love it, but the whole appeal is to replace the endless paper notebooks and loose sheets that I use. It is great for that. Since I've bought it they've added a bunch of new stuff and the subscription stuff as well. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but then again I have no need for those features. It sounds like most people want a general purpose e-ink tablet whereas the remarkable is basically e-ink paper.

Even as paper, it's subpar, because I can index paper and perform index lookups in sublinear time. On the reMarkable, not so much, and it has not yet stopped being wild to me that for all its evidently brilliant hardware integration, its software falls short on functionality that was an established standard centuries before computing machines were even imagined.

That's a fair criticism. I always rewrite & revise the important notes as I go forward, so I never end up looking back. I can imagine that it is super frustrating to find things that aren't near the end or on a known page number -- their page scrolling functionality is clunky to say the least.

I thought they were Norwegian.

Interesting rant. I'm wondering if I'm weird because I didn't hit any of this.

In defense of the RemarkAble2

Page flipping by swiping my thumb left or right seemed both intuitive and pretty flawless.

Granted, my handwriting is okay, I print rather than use cursive, but perhaps that makes it easier to recognize what I write?

As for e-pub's, everything from O'Reilly and NoStarch (a couple of places where I get reference books) work fine, I also had a number of text books scanned and their PDFs work well as do the 1000+ page PDFs that count as reference manuals for microprocessors these days.

Things I hope improve;

I do wish the PDF navigation was a bit better. In the ideal world an upswipe would bring up the 'bookmarks' for the PDF and allow one to select one, but using the menu to go to page view then picking the page you want hasn't proven to be too much of an issue.

Drawing notes is the best for me. Feels very good and works well. The one thing I would improve would be a zoom in/zoom out feature for adding detail.

And I'd love a screen that is both larger and higher resolution.

I’ve got a reMarkable2 and have been using it on and off for a few months now. I was looking for a larger e-reader to replace my broken kindle DX. I use mine exclusively for reading, mostly technical, and not for note taking. I don’t use the pen and I don’t annotate PDFs.

Reading e-pubs tends to be more miss than hit. Often e-pubs will fail to render things like code snippets, diagrams, occasionally whole pages, on the reMarkable. The same epubs work fine everywhere else.

The device works great for PDFs though. Fortunately the publishers I usually buy books from offer multiple formats, and a PDF is always an option. I gave up on wrestling with e-pubs on the device.

I agree that the page turning can be janky. The UI is mediocre, and navigation could be improved quite a bit. Syncing is also not great, but eventually works.

The battery life is excellent though, and the physical design is better than anything else I’ve encountered. It’s the software that sucks.

Overall, I wouldn’t consider purchasing it again. There are alternatives that offer similar capabilities, larger screen sizes, and more. I’d look at those first.

I had many of the same complaints with my remarkable 2... returned it and got an onyx boox note air 2 instead. Still not perfect, but I find the experience much better for my needs.

The writer complains about not being able to find/do the "next page" gesture. That seems hard to believe when it's just a swipe. Did you also experience this?

I got a Remarkable2 last year and an Onyx Boox Air. The Boox Air (and there is now an Air 2) is on the whole, a lot better. The Android support makes it usable as an e-reader and the writing experience isn’t different enough, in my mind, to justify the other limitations of the Remarkable.

Having spent $1000 on e-Ink tablets, I have a lot of opinions on them, but the primary one is to not mistake what you are buying. I think 95% of the time, people would be better off with an iPad and Apple Pencil. That isn’t to dissuade people from getting a Remarkable, but it definitely isn’t what the marketing/zealous fans make it out to be. It’s primarily about capturing hand-written text. If you want something with more capabilities, Onyx is where it’s at.

That is the thing though most remarkable fans say it is for replacing paper notebooks. I dont know of many that talk widely about "other features"

I got the remarkable specifically because it did not have "other features", I have enough distractions and alerts from my phone, I do not need a tablet that get my email, twitter, etc etc. I specifically did not want an iPAD or a full featured Andriod Tablet with Slack, Teams, Email, etc etc etc

I needed something to replace the paper notebooks I carried with me everywhere, it does that job exactly as I wanted

Why would you prefer an e-ink over a regular tablet with colored screen as a replacement for paper notebooks? Isn't having colors available an advantage?

My primary incentive for buying an Air 2 (I'm still on the fence) would be to use it as an e-book reader that I can use in the evening without having to worry about blue light interfering with my bio rythm. And from what I read - most e book readers are crap. (Kindle is out of the question for me as I hate Amazon and avoid it where I can - except for AWS which is 50% of my job).

>>Isn't having colors available an advantage?

I only ever used black pen. I am not talking about art or drawing. I used my paper notebooks to organize my thoughts, meetings, todo lists, etc. Some people use apps, and laptops, I used paper note books

Remarkable is good for this

>>My primary incentive for buying an Air 2 (I'm still on the fence) would be to use it as an e-book reader

I have no problems with the Remarkable 2 as a ebook reader either, but I do not buy or use DRM ebooks, I am mainly using it for Technical books I get off Humble Bundle, or stripped the drm from, or offical documentation. PDF works just fine for me, but I can see how some people hate it

For me the Subscription, and the inablity of the company to communicate with the community has soured me on the device, I likely would not buy one today for those reasons, but for the function I bought it for (note taking, and lite ebook reading) is works great for me

If I had to buy a device today to replace it I would look at the Supernote A5X

legibility in bright lights of e-ink seems better than on glossy glass tablets?

I used a reMarkable 2 regularly for a little over six months. It replaced pencil and graph paper for me.

The eInk display and writing feel is top notch. Everything else has plenty of room for improvement. In particular, organizing and reorganizing notes is a real chore. This could be solved by either a brilliant UI on the tablet, or (much more achievably) by a good desktop app that complements the device. Instead the desktop app was just as useless as the native UI, and did not improve during the time I used it.

Eventually, my toddler ran off with the $100 stylus, and I never found it. I went back to pencil and paper, and that is when it hit me: the reMarkable offered me basically nothing. I do not intend to use it again.

You didn’t check what it could do before buying it? Especially when these are the lacking features you are now returning it over?

I dunno, this whole article screams ‘user error’ to me.

The PineNote ( https://www.pine64.org/2021/08/15/introducing-the-pinenote/ ) looks like it could really be a good competitor to the remarkable, if software support is as excellent as it has been for the PineTime watch. Really looking forward to things heating up in this space!

Per the author in the link you posted, the PineNote appears to still be a prototype in development and does not sound like it's really anywhere close to be competing against the consumer-ready remarkable:

"If you’re looking to buy a PineNote in the first batch, you must expect to write software for it, not to write notes on it. The software shipping from the factory for the first batch will not be suitable for taking notes, reading e-books, or writing your dissertation. It may not even boot to a graphical environment."

This is how the pinewatch started too though and it did eventually get to a production version.

That looks very cool. It says preorders are open to “developers”, but the preorder button goes to an empty preorder store. Has anyone been able to preorder?


I registered for the pre-order and was accepted into the developer batch. AFAIK we're all waiting on the devices. Kernel development is actively occurring on the Quartz64 board (same CPU), and some people with pre-release devices are working on the display driver.

I mean most of these are software problems. It is built on a Cortex A7, released in 2011, the same SoC being used in "original" Raspberry Pi 2. Even if the remarkable team had the time to develop or adopt open source solution they will still need their hardware to keep up.

And they had to lower the price to $299 already because of the volume they were selling at $399 simply wont make it.

This just shows the bar of today's consumers. If they had sold at least a million unit a year they could easily have further lower the price by another $100 while working on a much improved R3 with better processor ( not that I am aware of there is one... all the NXP SoC Solution are quite under powered ).

Last time I checked they were at least profitable. So I hope they keep working on it.

Consumer Electronics are hard. Very Hard.

Author seems to be expecting Big Corp level quality of software & integration. He says something about not being able to read books on the ReMarkable because he can't find e-pub files for them, lol.

It does high-light the fact that the best users for RM don't have a need for a Microsoft Onenote level experience and/or are more technically astute and can figure out their own workarounds.

I've never once had a problem turning the page (it's just swipe left from the right edge, feels extremely natural).

You can write a lot smaller than you think you can when you first start. My first few pages were comically full of huge writing. Now I use the "small lined" template and fit my writing to that, and it's fine. Roughly equivalent to A4 (rather than the OP's A5).

I read technical books on it, and it works. It's not the same experience as my e-reader that I read novels at night on, but I find the Remarkable experience better for technical and workshop books (and recipes).

The pen eraser is a little rough, but the eraser option from the menu is more precise. Depends on what I'm erasing as to what I use.

Advantages over paper:

- I can move whole chunks of text around the page (or copy-paste between documents). I use this a lot

- I have ~500 pages of notes on my Remarkable. I cannot carry that much paper easily.

- I create lots of notebooks, with meaningful titles (a lot of those notebooks are 1-2 pages long, which is fine), so finding stuff is a breeze. I don't use the OCR because I don't need it. I can't find stuff in paper notebooks nearly as easily.

I have a (homemade) paper journal that I enjoy writing in for journaling - there's something about making marks on paper, and about making journals, that I enjoy. For everything else, I use my Remarkable, and it's been great.

I’ve made a few things for my Remarkable which mean it’s now almost indispensable for me:

- an iOS share sheet shortcut to save a webpage as PDF to the tablet

- a script that bundles my long form RSS feeds into a daily newspaper

- a yearly/weekly/daily planner PDF (with clickable links)

- a short manual process for de-drm’ing kindle books

Any chance you can link to or provide info or the iOS share sheet shortcut? That sounds nifty to have. Thanks!

No problem! https://www.icloud.com/shortcuts/5b5945a3f1a345f9aebe5c34f0c...

I got the idea from someone else but unfortunately forgotten who so can’t credit it.

I have been quite tempted by the reMarkable2, but reviews like this are the ones that make me think twice.

When I got an iPad Pro in early 2018, I was of course taking all of my notes with it - from meetings, to ideas, to task lists. At some point I went back to paper and the iPad was relegated to ideation. Exporting is not great, in an ideal world there'd be a fast export of PDFs, but I found myself emailing them or Slacking them to myself to share ideas.

The iPad's screen is glossy and gets finger grease onto it, the 1st gen pencil isn't the most natural in the hand. I know you can get matt screen protectors, but I like to use the iPad as a tablet. There's no substitute for paper, but I do find indexing and going back to ideas more challenging.

Where can you get e-pub books? Basically nowhere.

Legally. If you're willing to break the law you can essentially get every book ever written in a few minutes via torrent. Truly vast archives are available at surprisingly small file sizes.

I love my Remarkable2, but don't buy one without a clear idea of how you'd use it.

I use mine primarily as a reading device. I enjoy writing on it, but don't find myself taking notes or doing other hand written or drawn things on it very often.

But I love reading on it. I have a few daily articles and newsletters set to forward to my remarkable. I have some scripts that convert those docs to epub (epub is just a subset of html), and then use the remarkable sync API to push them to my device.

Everyday I get a little bit of joy from turning on my remarkable and having the new daily articles pop up ready to read. I imagine its similar to the (lost) pleasure of reading the morning paper with a cup of coffee. A big plus for me is the lack of distractions when using the device compared to a general purpose computing device.

I also have an email address setup where I can forward emails or urls to and it auto converts the email/page to epub and pushes it to my remarkable. For long form articles it really hard to beat the remarkable reading experience.

I thought I would use it quite a bit for reading academic papers (pdfs). In practice, I find reading pdfs to be a bit annoying on the device. For papers in standard latex 2 column format, I find I have to zoom to get to a comfortable reading size, and then scrolling on a single page is quite annoying. I would much rather read epub files on the remarkable rather than pdfs.

On the plus side, when I do read papers having the ability to annotate the doc with my own notes is really nice.

I notice in the comparison the author has the cost of scanning the digital pages.

If you have an issue with organization, OCR, and interface, it seems these issues would be 10x worse if you’re digitizing your hand written notes.

Just the process of digitizing them with a camera is cumbersome. The quality of the image isn’t really great. Tearing up your notebook and feeding it into a scanner is worse.

So the author compares the cost of the writing on a notebook and phone to the remarkable but not the convenience.

Phone cameras have gotten good enough to reliably capture notes, and there’s software that’ll give you better results and are tailored to scanning documents. It’s a pain to have to scan everything by hand, but I find pen & paper to be an overall better experience, plus you get a built-in physical backup.

Strongly agree. I am seriously impressed with the ocr engine in iOS 15, and it’s ability to successfully ocr any images or photos in my photo roll, even my poor handwriting.

My only complaint is that the Apple Notes app doesn’t seem to OCR content added to notes; hopefully in the future it might, I submitted a feature request.

It works, but probably not in the way you want. It'll OCR the content within the image, but you'd need to copy+paste the text out of the scanned image if you want plaintext.


Office Lens (and CamScanner and similar applications) are incredible, the output without much effort is absolutely serviceable for me.

Is there any state-of-the-art OCR system on linux, which works reliably without too much fiddling?

I've had pretty good outcomes with Tesseract, but it's command line only and it's not even a small fraction as simple and straightforward and plain useful as the built in tools on Mac OS X.


Interesting. I was on the verge of returning my Onyx Boox Max Lumi (v1) myself, which, as far as I know is the only other contender in that space.

The whole experience is sluggish, the UX terribly bad, the hardware feels cheap and subpar and the software is really not well adapted to e-ink.

It's a cool A4 sized PDF e-ink reader without many equivalents and okay to decent digital notebook with digital syncing. Everything else still sucks badly.

I was hoping we'd get more competition in this space.

> I should note that in theory there is a gesture I saw referenced in the onboarding materials to go to the "next" page, but I never could figure out how to make it happen

Either the author or their device has a big problem, because it's the ubiquitous “swipe to the side” gesture.

Now I understand that the R2 is not necessarily the best thing since sliced bread and that it does not fit well in all workflows, but the author criticism is rather low quality.

I had investigated a couple weeks ago getting a Remarkable2, but concluded that what I really seek doesn't yet exists - a "smart pen" that will just record what I write on regular paper. I understand the challenges, but I figured that with sensitive gyros and ML and the support of the supercomputer in my pocket that this would by now be a thing.

I think the Wacom Bamboo folio does that with any paper? https://www.wacom.com/en-us/products/smartpads/bamboo-slate-...

Never used them myself but Livescribe pens do exactly this.

They need special livescribe dot pattern paper - any ol' paper won't work.

> When I turned it on, I had one of my first disappointments. It was really hard to to type my wifi password.

Not only that, but there is no supported way at all of getting the MAC address of the device, which makes it incredibly irritating when users want to use one in an enterprise/academic network.

Reading all the reviews I remembered researching reMarkable about a year ago. Seems like the new model still has the same problems for my use case. Hope a manufacturer out there will eventually upgrade to the level I need.

I want two things: (1) take notes (including sketches), never lose them, and be able to search for them (2) read downloaded scientific paper PDFs, read them and highlight them, and make marginal notes.

At 10.3 in diagonal screen size, the reMarkable wont let me page flip through scientific articles in their natural size, you need 13.9 in for that. Scientific articles have graphs and diagrams in color, and the color is key to making sense of them. None of the 13.9 in paper substitutes had color.

So still waiting for the basic specs to be available.

Guys, I really like the iPad Pros with the pencil but the thing is I want just a simple notebook app. I want to draw on a page and then add a new page easily and draw on that one and so on. If I could screen share that would be great but if I can’t, so be it.

Who knows what app I should get?

Procreate and Fresco are what I’ve tried.

I was thinking about the Remarkable 2 but now I don’t know. Seems like a bad idea if all I want is a sketching tool that I can quickly take notes on.

This sync issue is just a nightmare. I don’t want to pay big bucks just to post to my own Google Drive. It isn’t the money, it’s that I won’t get it because I know it costs money and then I won’t use it and then I’ll use the device less as a result. At least on an iPad I can just airdrop it.

Nebo is great if you want absolutely first-class handwriting recognition. It also does equation and shape recognition and is basically black magic as far as I’m concerned.

Paper by WeTransfer is probably the best pure notebook app - really refined and easy to use. I have years of work notes in this.

Vectornator is good for vector work along with the Affinity apps. My favourite vector app is still Graphic, but it was sadly bought by Autodesk and basically abandoned.

"Undo" killed the typewriter, the rest is a bonus.

Algorithmic support will kill journals. How do you rank these apps, if one wants some degree of algorithmic sophistication?

Oh gosh, the notebook apps on iPad are best in class.

Goodnotes is insanely great. I loved Notability but they started doing some nonsense and moving to a subscription plan so I hesitate to recommend that anymore (though it is like $12/yr).

Just tried Goodnotes and it’s pretty good but the iCloud sync just fails with a 503. I like the recommendation, though. It’s got exactly the flow I want so I am grateful.

It’s just a pity that the sync is rubbish. It’s unfortunate that this happens so frequently. Like between Miro, Procreate, and Goodnotes I have the functionality but no one does everything neatly.

It's a known problem that apparently just resolves on its own. iCloud sucks.


I am using Supernote A5x. It has solutions for almost all issues the author addressed. Syncing is exceptionally good. It can sync to its own cloud or dropbox.

User can install Kindle app, so I can read all e book. The annotation feature while reading the book is good.

Yeah, also an A5X user here (I actually have both, A6x and A5x but have not used A6X much yet).

I have pretty much zero complaints about my A5X (only "nice to have" ideas I'd appreciate). I never used RM2 (or RM1) but the mandatory subscription alone is enough for me to never touch it.

Supposedly RM2 has better writing latency than Supernote, but the current Supernote beta firmware improved that latency significantly (I signed up for beta). It may have been a bit slow on the firmware 1.0 but on the current one (2.0.4) it's pretty much as good as it gets for me. Sure actual pen on paper is faster, but for me the latency is low enough that I sometimes reach to turn the page when reading / annotating some PDF. That's probably the best attestation I can give to a device that tries to simulate the paper

I've been considering one of these for Christmas; how is it for reading PDFs? Do you read any tech ebooks or textbooks? I'm a little concerned about page cropping and rednering latency.

The latency has improved with the beta a great deal.

For pure reading you can prob get a regular ebook for 1/3 the price.

However if you want to annotate PDFs or even epubs, I can’t really complain about anything. There are small glitches here and there (nothing persistent enough), but overall it’s been one of my personal slam-dunks in terms of consumer device experiences.

Also you can sync it via Dropbox, and it’s quite seamless for me.

Can also connect BT keyboard or wired keyboard and use it as typewriter. The one issue now is they don’t have some feature like shift+arrows to select but that’s going to come with future updates

It has kindle app and can read epubs natively.


I went through a few weeks of debating with myself the benefits of getting an e-ink tablet for note taking, reading, etc.

I need color for the majority of stuff that I read/study/work on, which was certainly one point against remarkable. Additionally, I couldn't really justify getting a tablet to replace paper. Paper is ubiquitous. It is thin. It goes everywhere. I can fold it. And there's something fun about writing with a good pen (I mainly use fountain pens nowadays).

Eventually, my workplace just gave us all iPads, so I use that for annotating PDFs, otherwise I'm still just using trusty pen and paper for jotting things down. Can always scan them if needed.

> In reality, this only works if you have e-pub books

There is soooooooooooo much content available in PDF

Those may display too small on that Remarkable2, since it must zoom out to show a standard-sized PDF.

I haven't had any problems viewing things formatted for 8.5"x11"

Yeah, there are a few core features that can really make or break a notetaking workflow. I'm on an iPad (I need full color pan/zoom for my core workflow) and I want to love ZoomNotes so badly, but the OCR search is slow. It's a silly problem -- it goes one document at a time every time, so probably OCR caching is janked out or something -- but it's core enough that I am willing to cut out all of its considerable feature library from my workflow and use a much simpler app, GoodNotes, instead. It barely meets the core subset of features that I absolutely need, but none of those features are broken, and that makes it a winner.

I bought a reMarkable 2 and used it for about a week and then stopped using it. It's not really because it was bad in any way, it's more that it's not sufficiently better than actual paper notebooks. I suppose I had grandiose thoughts of how great it would be to have my written notes turned into digital text files, but in fact, I mostly write notes for my own thinking, not because they will be of any use to me to refer to in the future. I initially blamed myself for not adapting to the new better method and kept it, thinking I'd eventually see the light. Now, I wish I had returned it while I had the chance.

> Pen, paper & scanner

Yeah, tough to beat. I keep on looking at iPad/Remarkable/etc. and keep coming back to fountain pens and paper.

More often than not I’m just working through a problem and the distilled version ends up in code; for documentation I dictate with text-to-speech. When I need to, I’ve got a scanner with ADF.

The real estate is as big as whatever surface I’m working on. No lag. No distractions. Minimal cost. I can color code with different inks. Slightly annoying to travel with but as long as I fill up my pens (100% with no air bubbles before flying), it works fine.

Wait a minute — a hardware note taking device requires a subscription for basic things like OCR and getting your notes off the device? How is that not the highlight reason never to buy one?

I was considering an reMarkable instead of an iPad Pro with a pencil back in 2015. But with the cheap iPad having Pencil support, I would never consider it today.

> Where can you get e-pub books?

Most tech publishers that sell directly, IME, sell multi format bundles, and one of the formats is usually ePub (and usually DRM-free).

Wait until you _have_ to return a RMB2 via a RMA. I had to write 23 mails to them until they sent the replacement device - to another address...

Not sure what the author is talking about. I've been purchasing epub books exclusively since 2014. It's the format that unlocked me to start reading books on devices. Prior to using epub format, I've tried on numerous occasions to read on devices but I couldn't make the jump. I use my 2018 ipad exclusively for reading. The only apps installed are apple books and safari.

My biggest question about the Remarkable 2 is whether it is big enough to read computer programming or other large books comfortably.

The writing aspect of it would be more of a bonus to me. I do like the idea of potentially writing/doodling in the margins, highlighting with a pen, etc - but it sounds like it just ends up saving that out as as a modified PDF, which isn't as convenient perhaps.

Here it is on top of a piece of printer paper 8.5x11" https://i.imgur.com/Hg5nl3O.jpg

I use iPad with Notability and it seems to be perfect. I keep my notes in Apple Notes and hand writing in Notability. Endless scrolling makes it so it doesn’t feel size limiting and features like circle a piece of text to move/zoom it makes usual paper feel outdated. I’m trying to migrate to Apple Notes for hand writing as well but they are way less than perfect for it for now.

Having recently picked up a Remarkable, I can empathize with some of these frustrations, but only some.

Good things first: The writing and drawing experience is excellent. It's enough like paper and pencil that I've occasionally found myself trying to shade with my fingertip, as I would when drawing with graphite. The medium fineliner tool is perfect for notetaking, and the calligraphy pen tool does a solid enough job of feeling like a flex-nibbed pen that it's taught me some things about how to use one of those which I previously hadn't grasped. Battery life is ample, and palm rejection is if imperfect then at least tolerably okay.

The OCR is surprisingly good, if your handwriting doesn't suck. Mine doesn't, by dint of having spent a few years using fountain pens - we missed a trick dropping those in childhood instruction here in the US; they're a tool you just can't use long-term and not improve your hand. For fun yesterday I hand-wrote a trivial shell script, without really trying to write more neatly than usual, and fed it to the reMarkable's OCR to find it fell only two characters short of perfect accuracy. Especially given that, I can't really accept the claim that the OCR is bad - if you can't write clearly enough for humans to read, is it fair to expect a machine to do better?

Now the bad, of which there is regrettably quite a lot: The first-party software ecosystem is basically nonexistent, and the on-device capabilities are weirdly rudimentary. In paper notes I index by topic and page number, which is probably the simplest possible system of organization to maintain over such a corpus, and I expected thoughtfully built software on the reMarkable to do at least as well. But there isn't anything, so I'm faced with the need not only to come up with a new system that withstands freely rearrangeable pages whose numbers no longer can be relied upon, but also in so doing to work around the slowness and lack of tactility of the reMarkable as compared to paper. The page turning gestures are indeed not that reliable, and slow when they do work. Worse, the absence of even a basic bookmarking system forecloses any kind of rapid access to a specific page anywhere.

Even the few features that exist tend not to be completely implemented. For example, layers exist but aren't opaque; if you draw in white on a layer below lines in gray or black, the white appears on top. It's hard to even come up with a mental model for how this is implemented, and it violates the expectation created by every other graphical program that provides layers. They're still useful for protecting some content on a page from accidental erasure, but they're only useful for that. The lack of a "save as template" feature means that, to use eg the custom layout I've drawn up for a sleep diary, I have to either keep it as a blank page which I laboriously duplicate and move for each new page I need, or go through a convoluted flow of exporting, saving as PNG, and reuploading via the onboard SSH server. Too, if I want straight lines for that layout, I need a physical ruler to create them - which is fun for a little while, but would be preferably replaced by a straight line tool in the actual UI.

The hackability of the device is clearly excellent, and the community ecosystem quite rich. I can see where the folks at reMarkable could imagine this was enough, but it isn't. The device sells as being "like paper but better" right out of the box, but that's only true for people who have no idea how to get the most out of paper. But I do know how, and the device has at every turn frustrated my efforts to apply that knowledge to its use.

I have to say that I've found the reMarkable on balance mostly disappointing. I don't know whether they got so excited about the tech for itself that they forgot to put thought into making it pleasant to use, or if the tech cost so much to productize that they can't afford to build the software it deserves, but either way it comes to the same in my view.

I haven't yet decided to return it, but I also haven't decided not to. Maybe I can hack it into being the tool it really should have been out of the box, or turn it into a "newspaper" annotable RSS reader, or something.

In any case I expect before long I'll be back to taking regular notes with pen and paper, because the reMarkable has a very long way to go before it can provide a comparable level of utility.

Thank you.

I have a career of scanned math research notes, in felt-tip color on 32 lb laser printer paper. Teaching through the pandemic forced me on to an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I quickly tired of the primitive Notability interface, and moved to Concepts. One rejects many art apps by testing whether handwriting is rendered naturally (or better), then most of the rest if one wants scalable vector art rather than bit maps. Concepts has the most advanced algorithmic support of those left, as far as I can tell. I certainly have complaints, but in some ways their layers are smarter than Adobe Illustrator layers. For instance one can group art without moving it all to one layer. This is as big a deal as lexical scope in programming languages.

I yearn for the calm of a separate device just for pencil notes, but I fear this is like buying a wind surfing board. A week after learning to balance on this board, I'll want a trickier board.

Algorithmic drawing is still at the Dartmouth BASIC stage, and the future is exciting. One imagines future drawing platforms with the self-referential power of Lisp. One doesn't imagine moving backwards.

Im a bit surprised that it is a5. I was thinking to purchase one, expecting it to be closer to a4 from the pictures on the website. Either they are composites, or those models must have tiny hands! (or maybe i dont look at other peoples hands enough to know what is "normal" :))

Yeah, I have no idea where the author found that. I have one on my desk right now (but no ruler unfortunately), and it stands somewhere between A4 and A5.

Edit: according to A4/5 standards and Remarkable promotional content, it should be very close to A4.5.

A4ish sized eInk is expensive. There is a few 13.3" eInk devices out there like the Boox Max Lumi and Fujitsu Quaderno A4 but they are pretty much all around $700-800. The 10.3" devices are IMO a good compromise in size and price. It's basically normal iPad size.

It has a 10” screen. The long side of an A4 piece of paper is 11+.

i've wanted an e-ink tablet for reading (full size for stem docs as well as casual reading) for quite some time. as the remarkable doesn't support kindle, it was sort of out for me... moreover, i have similar handwriting issues as the op and can only write legibly under very specific conditions that the tablet is likely not to work out for. (lots of space, no lines, no distractions, large desk. it's complicated)

i've been eyeing the onyx boox series, but they weren't gpl compliant at the time i was looking into them and perhaps more seriously, i didn't want to introduce any android devices into my life that didn't clearly have a rigorous security update program behind them.

> The OCR quality is comically bad

Why is handwriting recognition so bad? One would think that if we can build a machine to recognize cat pictures, recognizing a handwritten "A" ought to be trivial.

My handwriting was described by a professor at college as "dog's dribble" and has only degraded as I spent most of my writing time typing (or painting script!) for the last many years. I've been super surprised to find that doing a search in OneNote will find some of my marginal notes, in part because I knew it was OCR-ing but just imagined it would only address formal fonts/body text, and in part because that writing is really poor.

OneNote is the best software I've used from MS I think, VS Code made me wonder if I needed to reassess MS, but OneNote is super-effective. I moved 2 years ago to a paper-free work process (by choice when I started a new job) and OneNote has been central to that. It has flaws a-plenty (not too many bugs that affect me), but it just really fits for me.

Short version, MS's OCR is getting there. However, it's not 'recognise "A"' that's the issue, I'm a word-based handwriter, it's the general shape of the word I record in my writing when it's at its worst; that A might be more like a capital lambda with a floating platform in the general vicinity.

> Recognizing a handwritten "A" ought to be trivial

You clearly haven't seen my handwriting :)

Perhaps I have. I've seen the prescriptions you write!

Apparently, unless you subscribe to their completely unnecessary 'connect' service, you don't get a hardware warranty AT ALL?! That's insane...

Supernote A5X however has been amazing for me for the last 3 months and a joy to use.

The eraser function alone makes it an upgrade (!) to pen and paper workflow

Just update the latest software.

Has anybody used onenote on the boox note air 2?

Check-out MyDeepGuide on YouTube; he tried OneNote on the Note Air 2.

Thanks for that, there was an update only 2 days ago that has pushed me to a hard no for now.

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