Is reMarkable 2 Worth It? Yes, but it’s a polarizing device.

Is reMarkable 2 worth it? Absolutely. In fact, it might be the best e-ink tablet ever made. The most surprising aspect however is how polarizing the device is. My colleagues were amazed at the paper-like writing experience and e-ink display, but diverged wildly on the price point. While some were amazed at the reasonable price point (me), others were horrified at its expense. The difference was what they valued in their work style.

The bottom line is this: if you have a love for paper and dislike screens, you will probably like the reMarkable 2. If you love screens and backlit devices and don’t care about handwriting your notes, you probably will not.

It’s worth noting, I don’t write reviews. But in this case, I know the value of handwriting and using less screen time. I encourage my emerging tech PR and comms clients, some of the most incredible tech companies on earth, to hand write notes.

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Why handwriting and e-ink tablets matter

reMarkable 2 sitting on a desk with marker pictured alongside the device.
reMarkable 2 pictured with optional folio and marker.

I read a lot for my job and take mountains of notes, especially for my podcast preparation for the world’s most well-known business leaders. In that preparation, I read every guest’s book, blogs, LinkedIn posts, and hand-write notes and form questions for the interview. While many guests will send a physical book, for tighter timelines, I also receive PDF versions as well. Because I detest reading on a laptop or iPad, especially at night the reMarkable 2 was appealing.

I have discovered handwritten notes and reading on paper is a necessity for my performance. The research is clear, using this fine motor skill boosts memory. Consider notetaking isn’t strictly the written word. Many people sketch shapes, or doodles to help illustrate or remember ideas.

The research also indicates reading on paper is a boost to memory. People remember and recall information based on page geography. Nicholas Carr breaks this effect down quite well in The Shallows.

Paper is best. In this digital world, however, paper introduces challenges. It’s not easily shareable, notebooks take space, too much printing can be costly, and organizing all your paper stuff is irritating. When I asked myself, is the reMarkable 2 worth it, these are the challenges I considered.

I’ll explain each one and back up my earlier claim about this device being the best e-ink tablet ever made.

Problems with notetaking on the laptop

Although I can capture many words as I type (I type over 95 wpm), I didn’t retain as much data. Handwriting may be a tad slower for some, but according to Dr. W.R. (Bill) Klemm, Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, handwriting is superior for memory and brain function.

Because of handwriting’s superior performance, I bought Kahir Moleskine notebooks, dated the covers, and kept them organized in order. If I needed to refer to my notes, I checked the meeting date for a particular client or meeting in my calendar, and pulled the notebook for that date range. It was a great system.

Notetaking becomes more complicated when you apply it to more areas of your life. I was taking notes for podcast guests, my theological studies, my meetings, and my personal ideas and a few other things. Because it wasn’t convenient to carry 5 notebooks at all times, I scaled back. A tragedy for a notetaker like me.

Using an eReader for web articles

Because of my desire to use paper, I’ve relied on printing longer web articles. (Yes, I recycle!) Paper articles are easy to mark up and easy to read without interruption. The paper experience is also better for my eyes. I have far less eye fatigue when I’m not staring at a screen for hours on end. I also don’t appreciate how a bright iPad screen interrupts the perfect mood of a dimly lit room. It’s a focus suck!

I have used “Send to Kindle” feature on my old kindle. This is a great solution, BUT as a single-use device, it was still another thing to put in my bag. I needed less stuff, not more.

Paper notetaking on the iPad Pro?

I considered (and tried) one of the cheaper iPads, and the experience is terrible for notetaking. The more expensive iPad Pro, with Apple Pencil and a paper-like screen protector, is an absolutely incredible solution. A friend of mine uses his iPad Pro for professional illustration, however, it’s also not ideal.

The price point of the iPad Pro is insanely high, especially when you include the Apple Pencil and paper-like screen protector. Plus, as discussed above, I despise the glowing screen of an iPad. The other problem is that the iPad is a distraction machine. (More on that later)

My irritation led me to the reMarkable 2. But would it work? Is reMarkable 2 worth it? I wrote it off as clever marketing and forgot about it as you probably have. Until I held one…


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My first experience with reMarkable 2

My first experience with the reMarkable 2 was when my business coach, Jeff Garrison produced one from his bag. “Woa, you got one of those?” I asked. Of course, he let me try it, and I fell in love immediately. The writing experience really did feel paper-like. The responsiveness of the e-ink writing took me less than 1 minute to get hooked. That’s when I thought this very well may be the best e-ink tablet on the market.

After doing my research, I realized it was an eReader for all the web articles I read (I read a lot for my client work), a “paper” notebook, and had a “send to reMarkable” Chrome extension, more effective than my “send to kindle” extension I had used years ago. It had everything I wanted in what the company claims is the thinnest tablet on the market.

I finally decided to buy one as a treat for closing a new client, adding the upgraded “marker” with the eraser feature (highly recommended) and the leather folio. Is the reMarkable 2 worth it? YES!

Is reMarkable 2 worth it?

Is the reMarkable 2 worth it? Yes. The reMarkable 2 is a great eReader and notebook replacement for creatives who value a paper-like experience. After aggressively using the device for over 60 days, I’d buy it again—hands down. I haven’t used other more expensive devices, but I believe the reMarkable 2 is the best e-ink tablet on the market. If you do not value the paper-like experience, however, it might not be for you.

Using the reMarkable 2 as an eReader

As an eReader, reMarkable 2 is near-perfect. The display is larger than most Kindle devices but not large like an iPad. Plus, it’s extremely light and thin, so it’s not irritating to hold for hours on end.

The device doesn’t take Kindle files, obviously, but it does accept .epub files. As disclosed above, because podcast guests send me PDF versions of their books, I have read a considerable amount on it. The ability to highlight and annotate on the book itself is fantastic. It even exports as a yellow highlighter and a ballpoint pen. Genius!

Although I can’t say I prefer to read books on the reMarkable 2 over their paper counterparts, it is incredible. Obviously, the ability to highlight and take notes right on top of the page is a huge value-add.

Using the reMarkable 2 as a “paper” notebook

Is reMarkable 2 worth it as a “paper” notebook replacement? Heck yes. This is where the device truly shines. The paper-like writing feel is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The responsiveness, while not instant like a pen and paper, is very fast—quick enough to fool your brain into thinking it’s real. It’s not often a company will accurately represent their product in a video, but the reMarkable 2 videos demonstrating its responsiveness are a very accurate representation. I took my own video below to show the mechanics of how it works. (Fair warning: I’m a lefty!)

My demo of the reMarkable 2 e-ink delay in slow motion.

reMarkable 2 Features

The reMarkable 2 is packed with features. It has several different writing options, including pencil, ballpoint pen (my go-to), marker, highlighter, and more. Plus, you can pick from dozens of notebook styles, including grids, lines, small lines, dot grids, boxes, and even sheet music. I’m not going to go over the full scope of features, those are available at reMarkable’s website, but here’s a quick breakdown of my favorite:

  • Unlimited notebooks, with various grid/template styles organized by folder
  • DropBox and Google Drive support
  • Two stylus options. I strongly recommend the upgraded “marker” which features an integrated eraser
  • Highlight PDFs, and annotate
  • Convert to text when emailing people
  • Extremely lightweight and thin
  • Simple gesture controls
  • Because it’s e-ink, it has incredible battery life
  • Send web pages on Chrome to reMarkable 2 with one click
  • Screen sharing on Zoom calls: it’s far easier to sketch and draw on the reMarkable than trying to use a mouse or trackpad!

There are obviously drawbacks, which I’ll get into below, but the biggest feature in my mind, is the device’s lack of features. It sounds funny, but this is why I bought it. It’s interruption free.

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The best e-ink tablet for one specific reason: no interruptions

A lot of work and thought went into making this device truly interruption-free. Every aspect of user experience was considered. For example, popups simply don’t exist, not even to join a wifi network. As I demonstrated in the video above, when using the reMarkable 2, you have the option to completely remove the sidebar.

The reMarkable 2 has no sound, no email, no apps, and not even a web browser. Any uploading/sending of documents happens exclusively with their suite of apps that work on Mac, PC, iPhone, Android and the Chrome web browser.

Read webpages on a e-ink tablet

My preparation for my PR clients and entrepreneur podcast requires me to thousands of web articles. The web is full of incredible research, and the reMarkable 2 makes consumption and retention of all that information easy with the Chrome “Send to reMarkable” plugin. The plugin allows you to send web pages to the reMarkable 2 for reading.

Navigation

Navigating is just as interruption-free. A double swipe from the top allows you to quickly switch to another doc or notebook, a single swipe goes home, left and right swipes change/add pages and a swipe from the bottom allows you to leaf through pages. Easy.

The quick switch option is extremely helpful when reading through and annotating a long PDF and taking notes in a separate notebook. It’s very helpful.

The only interface cue when inside a document or notebook is a tiny circle in the top right. It’s a drawer toggle for added functionality.

Interruption-free technology

If you’re looking for a true distraction-free e-ink tablet you can write with, is reMarkable 2 worth it? Yes, and the distraction-proof design is the big draw. I have noticed, however, that some people view this obvious design feature as a drawback. They want an all-in-one device, which I personally believe negates the purpose reMarkable 2 is going for. Focus and deep work.

reMarkable 2 Drawbacks

The reMarkable 2 is a fantastic e-ink tablet, and its name is fitting. I would buy this tablet all over again, but it’s not perfect. Like every device I’ve ever purchased, it has bugs and issues that could be improved. I’m being highly critical in this list because some of these minor issues for me, may be a deal breaker for you.

Here are the reMarkable 2 drawbacks I have experienced.

  • Speed: reMarkable 2 navigation is slow at times, especially when uploading new docs. At times, the thumbnail will show a document is available, but when tapped, nothing happens. The solution is simply to wait a bit longer. At the very least, there should be some UX prompt. But there’s nothing.
  • Ignored gestures: At times, the reMarkable 2 simply ignores your navigational gestures. After a few tries, it will finally react.
  • Web reader: Converting websites to be read on the reMarkable 2 is only available on desktop Chrome as a plugin. The only way to read webpages without chrome is to print as a PDF and manually upload it via the reMarkable app, and this is often problematic. Print to PDF via the mobile browser and manually uploading does work as well, but often fails. (This could be an Android issue, so if you have an iPhone experience, please message by hitting “contact” in the yellow menu button below.)
  • Documents aren’t searchable: While it’s true, that you can send a document that will convert your handwriting to text, which is surprisingly accurate, this action must be initiated per document as an email. Because all these documents are on reMarkable’s servers, I imagine searching all your notebooks via the Cloud will be added in the future. I hope.
  • Tracking: Sometimes, the tracking is just a bit off by no more than 1 mm. Often this error happens near the edges of the tablet. It’s not a deal-breaker, but at times it’s just a tad annoying.
  • Kindle: Kindle books from Amazon don’t work on reMarkable 2. This makes sense because Amazon owns Kindle. You might be surprised how much Kindle controls the market. It can be difficult to find popular book titles for reMarkable 2.
  • Marker delay: At times, the “ink” seems to noticeably delay. This doesn’t happen often, so I assume it’s happening when the device is “working” harder.
  • Syncing: Documents apparently do not sync in the background, so when you wake the device you have to give it a bit of time to catch up, 30 seconds at most.

reMarkable 2 Alternatives

The most popular alternative to the reMarkable 2 is the suite of tablets made by Boox. Boox has several products, including the Boox Note Air, Boox Poke4 Light, and Boox Leaf. I’ve heard from readers these are highly customizable and have added features. This isn’t my cup of tea, but it might be for you.

Is the reMarkable 2 worth it?

For those who appreciate handwritten paper notebooks and desire focused, distraction-free work, the reMarkable 2 is worth it. If you read a large volume of articles on the web, PDFs, and need to fully integrate the digital world into your analog workflow, look no further than the reMarkable 2. It’s the best e-ink tablet on the market.

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