Since its release in August, the first product from reMarkable has been reviewed by several mainstream tech sites. Below you will find links to their reviews, key points, ratings, and my own, sparkling commentary.
"Giant e-Ink display is rad. Wacom pen feels more like writing on paper than any other tablet. Having notes, sketches, and books on one device keeps your bag light."
"...some issues hold it back from being worth purchasing. The most frustrating of these is getting files onto the device..."
"With its nearly pencil-on-paper writing experience and excellent battery life, the Remarkable tablet could be a godsend for those who truly miss writing and doodling on paper. I worry, though, that the price, not insubstantial weight (almost as much as a standard iPad), thickness, lack of apps and overall versatility, and various electronic ink quirks will remind most why they chose an iPad in the first place."
"The Pros: Natural writing and drawing; Lightweight design; Textures shift with utensil; Cloud-sync and LiveView; Drawing editing tools for power users
The Cons: Pricey; A little slow; Limited purposes
Verdict: The reMarkable tablet lives up to its name, with the best pen experience we've had, but it's expensive and doesn't serve as a regular tablet."
"The ReMarkable isn’t a traditional tablet. It borrows aspects of the iPad Pro and Kindle to forge a device that’s brilliant to write on. It’s responsive, easy to use and well-made – not words you’d always associate with first-generation products from a new company – and jotting down notes feels just like writing on paper.
But, it lacks certain features that would make it an ideal office companion. As a note-taking tool it could do with integrations with cloud storage platforms like Dropbox. As an artist’s tool it could do with more sketching options. As an ebook reader it could do with a backlight and being a tad smaller.
Despite these flaws, I can’t stop using the ReMarkable tablet. Since I started testing it the tablet has become the bit of tech I take to every meeting, something I stopped doing with the iPad Pro and Pencil after a week."
"...it's one of best digital drawing and note-taking devices out there..."
"...its software needs a lot of work to be considered feature-complete...."
"After spending a little more than two weeks with the ReMarkable tablet, we can confidently say that it’s the foundation for something great. But like any first-generation technology, not everything about the ReMarkable tablet is as well-executed — or remarkable — as it could be."
"The basic premise is so obvious that it's kind of incredible it didn't already exist. Here's the pitch: It's a big Kindle that you can write on. If an e-reader is limitless library, the reMarkable is a stack of infinite notebooks. Who can argue with the value of that?"
"...With those caveats in mind, I don't think the reMarkable is a bad buy, but I'm not nearly as excited about this tablet as I am about the tech inside. It's your typical early adopter scenario: the first version has all the (well-deserved) hype, but versions two and three will assuredly be much better gadgets. If I were you, I'd wait. Still, even if the reMarkable tablet isn't perfect yet, it sure works, and frankly that is pretty incredible."
"With no backlight or frontlight, a Kindle is still probably your best bet if you're mainly after an eBook reader. Digital artists that aren’t interested in working purely in greyscale will be better served by an iPad Pro or Microsoft Surface, even if their respective styli can’t match ReMarkable for convincing feel. Stuff’s resident artist Ross Presly liked it for quick freehand doodles, even if there were times where the way the stylus emulates a real pen left unfinished or messy lines. For people that just can’t say no to a notepad, though, there’s an awful lot to like. I'm no artist, and I had a blast just doodling, drawing and sketching nonsense during my time with the tab. Just keep in mind you’d have to be filling Moleskine notebooks up at a mighty rate before you’d spend the same amount as one of these."
"I was excited about the potential of the reMarkable tablet, but unfortunately, it didn't quite meet my expectations.
That said, I still think it's an incredible product. The instantaneous nature of the ink is truly impressive, and every person I showed it to was blown away. The prospect of being able to take handwritten notes but save them digitally — not to mention sync them to your computer — is thrilling for those who prefer notepads over notepad apps. "
"Remarkable – the latest device to follow the trend. It’s the ‘anti iPad’, a black and white tablet for taking notes and sketching, with absolutely no apps or distractions – and the closest you’ll ever get to ‘real’ paper on a screen."
"SUMMARY: Brilliant idea, eye-watering price."
Good E Reader
"The Remarkable 10.3 inch-writing tablet is appealing for consumers who want an extensive note taking experience and want to read e-books. This is the first product made by Remarkable and it is a very compelling first offering. They begun to take pre-orders last year, sold over 36,000 devices, and raised over $17 million. I believe that this is the best device of its kind currently on the market and trounces the competition."
"Compared to something like the Surface or an iPad Pro, the DPT and reMarkable may seem somewhat limited. But that’s kind of the point."
The reviews of the reMarkable have been a mixed bag. All of them focus on the lack of polish, missing features, and that this is clearly a first generation product. Some of the reviewers were able to look beyond this and focus primarily on the technological feat of creating a lag-free, paper-like surface for writing and sketching. Fewer still grasped what I personally see to be the selling point of the reMarkable (and certainly the reason I have purchased one): the ability to focus.
I've owned Kindles from the old 3rd Generation Kindle Keyboard to the Fire. Likewise, I've bought them for my wife, my children, and my parents. For reading, nothing beats an eInk display. I've tried reading on my laptop, my phone, Fire, iPad, and without fail I end up launching social media apps, games, or on a Netflix binge. If I want to sit and read I need a single purpose device. That has always meant breaking out my old Kindle Keyboard. (This still has its drawbacks, being too small to comfortably read textbooks and clunky to add notes.)
More recently, the same phenomenon has become obvious to me when trying to study and jot down important points in meetings. Evernote, Google Keep, and OneNote are all fine applications but they exist in an ecosystem build for distraction, not focus. More importantly, the act of typing is cognitively very different to the act of writing by hand. In order to get the focus I need while note taking and committing things to memory I have resorted to physical notebooks. I've gone through four in the last 6 months and refilled my TUL planner twice... but if I want to focus and be organized that's what I needed. God forbid I need to go back and re-read any of those notes today. Good luck finding them.
Where the eInk Kindle proves the best tool for reading, the reMarkable looks to be the best tool for note taking. The fact it's also an e-reader is just the caramel on the sundae. The selling point of the reMarkable isn't it's feature list, specs, or its novelty. The selling point is the ability it provides to work and study in an analogue way while also benefiting from redundancy and scale of having digital copies.
Of course, this device isn't for everyone in its current form. It's too expensive for many people to justify. The criticisms of it being an obvious first generation product - with all the rough edges that entails - are perfectly valid. But with time the feature set will fill out, the bugs will disappear, and the price will drop. At that point, the reMarkable is the device every student and knowledge worker should be using. Not an iPad or a Chromebook - a reMarkable.