If you are a student or someone who takes a lot of notes, Apple’s iPad is not the best device for work, but reMarkable 2 is an excellent note-taking experience without other tablet functions.
Note-taking is a legitimate problem for many, from high school to college, office life, interviews, and everything in between. There are a few common problems that rear their heads, from managing notes to figuring out what on earth we had written.
As users of technology, we have always been inclined to take our notes digitally. We remember when we used to use iPads and a general stylus with a rubber tip to write down chicken scratches for later use. It never seemed to go well. Palm rejection was not great in the early days, and the squishy tips were not up to the task. Plus, the iPad’s screen always felt too small.
We tried all sorts of options, including notebooks you can scan, other “smart” tablets for note-taking that fell short, and high-quality styluses for our iPad, but as far as note-taking goes, it was never ideal. Not even when Apple got serious about note-taking and drawing with the introduction of the Apple Pencil.
At present, we still take a lot of notes, which prompted us to choose the reMarkable 2 tablets.
After using it for a few months, we were amazed at how much we have come to love it. That’s what sums up our review of the reMarkable 2 tablets overall. In a world where everything is expected to be able to do ten things at once, reMarkable has resisted the pressure to go down that road and released a second-generation device that focuses on nailing that one note-taking experience.
The reMarkable 2 tablet is a second-generation device that has eliminated many – but not all – of the original’s shortcomings.
If we had to choose a word to describe the quality of the reMarkable tablet, it would be “premium.” The tablet feels like a well-made, high-status device that is difficult to put into words. Between the various accessories (more on that in a moment) and the device itself, it feels like you have something in your hands that was designed with a purpose.
If you look closely at the tablet, you’ll see the little details. Take the power button, for example. It is located on top of the tablet’s spine and sits perfectly in place, with the tiniest of beveled edges giving it just enough differentiation from the edge of the tablet.
The tablet’s body is metal, giving it a sturdy weight, although it’s not too heavy at all. It just feels like it has some substance and doesn’t feel cheap. By itself, the reMarkable 2 weighs only 0.88 pounds.
On the back of the tablet are four small rubber feet. Without these feet, the tablet would definitely slide across your desktop. For the note taker, this is another small detail that has been carefully considered and clearly completed.
The screen is a beautiful 10.3-inch screen with 226 dots per inch (DPI) at a resolution of 1872 by 1404. This is the second-generation CANVAS partially powered electronic ink display using Carta technology, and its appearance is better than the original display. With the reMarkable Marker, the screen can display 4096 levels of pressure.
Since this is all about the writing experience, it makes sense that the E-ink display looks and feels like paper. It has a matte effect, looks good in the sun, has almost no glare, and can even make the same sound as paper when writing.
The display works with your fingers, but to write and get the full experience, you need one of the reMarkable’s stylus options.
As an entry-level option, there is a mark, and it has a soft gray. It fits comfortably in the hand, has a lightly textured exterior, and writes very nicely. Still, we think the Marker Plus is the better option.
This one has a bit more weight than the simple Marker and is black instead. What sets it apart the most, however, is the ability to use the other end as an eraser. Flip the Marker Plus over, erase what you just wrote by rubbing it against the screen, and your text is gone.
Another nod to the reMarkable 2 tablet’s ability to reproduce real writing is that when you erase, you still see a blurred outline of your text for a moment before the screen refreshes. It’s like erasing a pencil line on a sheet of paper.
Whether you choose the Marker or the Marker Plus, some things are the same, such as the interchangeable tips. The nibs are consumables and must be replaced every so often. This is also similar to a real pencil. As you write and take notes with the tablet, the nib wears down by dragging, giving you the experience of pencil and paper. There is a handful in the box, and more are available through reMarkable. They’re very cheap, so it’s not a concern and a worthy trade-off for the feel.
Something we often see with lesser tablets is the distance between the writing instrument and the screen. This feels somewhat unnatural because you see the tip of the stylus and then the “ink” a millimeter or so away. Here, the distance is very small, and it is about the closest we have come to replicating the paper experience.
Each of these styles does not need to be charged and can be magnetically attached to the side of your tablet for safety. It’s very similar to the iPad Pro and the second-generation Apple Pencil.
With something as beautiful as the reMarkable 2, you’ll probably want to protect it when you take it out of the office or home. You can choose between two options from the first batch: the Folio or the Folio Book.
The Folio looks more like a sleeve that the reMarkable 2 can be slid into. It is a fine, dark grey fabric that is sturdy and durable but also remains very thin. On one side, there is a slot for the Marker or Marker Plus. The magnetic effect is cool and handy to keep it from rolling away, but if you throw it in a bag, it can still come loose. Sliding it into the cover means it’s always safe.
Above that is the Folio Book. This looks like the leather cover of a traditional notebook. It locks magnetically, allowing you to keep it in place while using your paper tablet. It covers both the front and back and can be folded around the back while writing.
We have chosen brown leather, but black leather is also available. These fine leathers are minimally treated so that they get a beautiful patina over the years. If you don’t like leather, there is also a grey fabric version available.
The user interface
This tablet makes it easy to do what it does best: take notes. Turn it on with the little button in the top left corner and you’ll see the note you were last working on or the main menu.
The main menu shows all your notebooks and files that you have created. Three buttons at the top allow you to create a new folder, create a new notebook or add a new quick tab.
The battery level and Wi-Fi status are in the bottom left, a search button is in the top right, and the menu button is in the top left. The menu gives you access to just your notebooks, any PDFs you have loaded, any e-books you have saved, your favorites, Recycle Bin, and settings.
Navigate to existing notes or notebooks that you have started, but we often choose the “quick sheets”, which are just spontaneous unorganized notes that we needed to write down.
When you create a notebook, there are dozens of different templates for both portrait and landscape use. Storyboards, a planner, dots, grids, lines, and more are all possibilities. We appreciate the options here and the thoughtfulness of the layouts. It’s an important reason to choose a digital notepad over a paper one.
Each note has a menu that you can hide, with a number of buttons, mostly the ones you would expect. With reMarkable, you can change which writing utensil you use, such as a biro, a fineliner, a marker, a pencil, a mechanical pencil, a brush, a highlighter, or a calligraphy pen. Each writes differently and with a different style.
These tools can be black, white, or black and thin, medium or thick in weight. Other tools include a marquee tool for selecting, an eraser, a magnifying glass tool, and arrows for undoing/restoring.
At the bottom of the menu is a partial icon that allows you to send it by e-mail or “convert to text and send”. It ends with the layer button and the Notepad button.
If it is not necessary, the menu can be hidden so that you can concentrate on the content.
The UI is generally easy to follow and understand and has a minimal learning curve to master.
Where reMarkable 2 falls short
We see reMarkable 2’s shortcomings in two categories – those that are relevant to note-taking and those that are not.
When it comes to taking notes, our biggest problem is the translation function, which converts your handwritten notes into text and allows you to send them. It’s a great feature. Take notes during a meeting and send typed notes to everyone who was present. But for us, it is not so accurate.
Maybe it was our handwriting – which is far from great – but we ended up with a lot of mistakes. There were stray commas, newlines, and other things that required quite a bit of editing. It’s solid enough, but not something we could fully rely on upon without putting in extra work.
Another problem with taking notes was searching. There is no good way to search your notes, which actually kept us more organized as it was the only way to find what we needed in our notes.
Besides taking notes, reMarkable 2 tries a number of other things, some good and some not so good. For example, you can use the tablet as an eReader. Technically it works for this, and the screen is perfect, but the interface is poor, and it only supports ePub without DRM. Few people have DRM-free ePub files.
There are also no hardware navigation buttons, so you have to tap the screen every time to go to the next page.
If you need an e-book reader, please use Nook or Kindle. PDFs do work well on the tablet, however, and you can even make notes in them.
An interesting feature that works from time to time is the Chrome plugin. It allows you to save websites and news articles that you want to read later, and they are automatically loaded on your reMarkable tablet. If you want text is great. But images or videos can get lost in the conversion, requiring you to jump back to a browser for additional context.
Don’t replace your iPad, add to it
Some may see reMarkable 2 as a replacement for an iPad. That might be the case if you were only using your iPad to take notes, but it’s not very likely. Apple has given the iPad more and more features over the years, and third-party apps have given the device even more capabilities.
The iPad line used to be very bad at taking notes, but it got much better when Apple introduced the Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil 2. But even then, the device doesn’t hold up to reMarkable in this one category. To come close, you need a good third-party app, a matte screen protector like Paperlike, and of course an Apple Pencil.
In that respect, it still falls short. An iPad is heavier, thicker, slides across a desk, and you’re constantly interrupted by notifications. Without notifications, you have the lure of a web browser or social apps that can seduce you and distract your attention from taking notes.
You can’t beat reMarkable for physically taking notes, and you can’t beat iPad as a capable tablet with all the features. As nice as it would be to have one device that does both, serious note-takers will inevitably have to rely on two devices.
One way the two can work together is the reMarkable application. This app, available for iPhone and iPad, synchronizes all your notes. You can see all your notes and sketches from your reMarkable 2 tablets on your iPhone and iPad for further sharing and viewing. So you can easily take notes and access them on any other device when you need them. There is even Mac support for viewing your documents there too.
Should you invest in the reMarkable 2 tablets?
We’ll say it again – we love this device. But while we love it, we can’t recommend it to everyone. You need to jot down a lot of notes or sketches to make it worthwhile. The whole point of the device is to improve note-taking, so if you don’t do that regularly, the price is too high.
The accessories are as good as it gets, with a solid feel, high-quality materials, and excellent features. The Folio Book is one of the best sleeves we’ve ever seen for a tablet.
We already liked the original reMarkable tablet, but this second generation takes it to a whole new level with more software support, twice the speed, USB-C, a better display, a thinner design, magnetic accessories, and longer battery life.
If you take a lot of notes and want the indisputably best device for it, grab the reMarkable 2. But not everyone will be. If the third-generation device can do a little more, maybe the audience will be wider.
- Fantastic high-quality accessories
- Top-notch build quality and materials
- 100 percent designed with notes in mind
- Marker and Marker Plus do not need to be charged and the Plus model has a built-in eraser
- Mobile and Mac applications for synchronizing notes
- Easy to manage and organize notes
- Chrome plugin to save items for offline viewing
- Many “paper” types for notes and notebooks
- Feels and sounds like writing on paper
- Long battery life
- Very thin and fast
- Much improved over the original version
- Can annotate PDFs
- Poor functionality for e-books
- Convert to text feature is not great
- No support for cloud storage