Some thoughts on the Remarkable 2


I am writing this longhand on the Remarkable 2, which is a device I have known for a long time I didn't want...

I spend an awful lot of time with pen and paper; journaling, planning, musing, making notes and taking notes. When I'm editing a script, I ALWAYS print it out on real paper and attack it with a real red pen.

I love my iPad, and I have tried hard to enjoy using Good Notes and Notability and various others to make handwritten notes. But, even with the best screen protector, the writing experience on an iPad is bullshit.

And so, I have always reasoned, if I hate writing longhand on my iPad, why on Earth would I be interested in a Remarkable 2? Why would I want an underpowered, black and white, laggy version of an iPad that can't even fetch my email?

And then Sarah Pinborough got one, and started raving about it. I knew Sarah liked physical notes, marked up scripts on paper and disliked writing on her iPad just as much as I do. And yet here she was going nuts for the Remarkable.

So I took another look and noted that the company offer a trial period - if you don't get along with the thing then you can return it for a full refund. This made it seem worth the plunge, and so plunge I did...

And now I think I'm hooked. Comparing the Remarkable to an iPad, it turns out, is not helpful; this is not an underpowered iPad, it's an overpowered notebook. Picking this thing up and writing on it is as easy as paper and pen. It's smooth, it feels as close to paper as it's possible to imagine and, once you've been using it for a few minutes, it's as frictionless as a notebook. The Remarkable just disappears out of the way; there's no barrier between the thought and the word.

But, of course, it also does things a notebook can't. You can organise notes into notebooks, and notebooks into folders. With the subscription service, you can convert handwriting into printed text with a good degree of accuracy, and then email it to yourself to use in whatever software you need it for.

There is also a sync service that works with desktop and mobile apps so that all of your notes are available everywhere. Likewise, you can drop PDFs and EPUB files into those apps and they sync instantly to the device.

Even though the screen is only mono, notes, annotations and highlights can be set to export in different colours.

There are some things I wish the Remarkable did; I wish I could make handwritten links to other pages, I wish I could compile different PDFs into one notebook (although you can merge PDFs BEFORE sending them to Remarkable), I wish zooming in and out was a little smoother, but that is eInk for you.

But those gripes seem like a small price to pay for what is, essentially, the notebook equivalent of a Kindle - all my notes across all my projects available on one incredibly lightweight device. And a device with an alleged 2 week battery life to boot (it doesn't last as long as advertised, but the it lasts a hell of a lot longer than a regular tablet).

Not everyone will have a use for this, but if you take a lot of handwritten notes, I highly recommend checking it out.