A Life of Productivity is now ChrisBailey.com.

reMarkable 2 review: A great digital tablet that feels analog

by | Jun 28, 2022 | Technology

Takeaway: The reMarkable 2 is a beautiful digital tablet that feels like an analog one. If you have digital “paperwork” as part of your day—you deal with a lot of PDFs or often make handwritten notes—or want the best tablet writing experience on the market, this is the tablet for you. You’ll need to swallow the device’s hefty price tag—but the company has a generous 100 day return policy if you have regrets. I love mine and use it pretty much every day.

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes, 1s.

Recently, reMarkable sent me the latest version of their tablet to try out and review. After seeing the video for the second version of the device, I’d been thinking about picking one up—so it was a no-brainer to agree to the company’s offer to send one over to try. 

Let’s jump right in. Below you’ll find:

  • What the device is;
  • What I liked about it;
  • What I didn’t like about it;
  • A summary of whether I think you should buy one. 

Bottom line: the reMarkable 2 is a fantastic device, assuming you have a place for it in your workflow and your wallet. 

What it is

The reMarkable 2 ($299, plus marker ($79—129), plus case ($79—169), plus monthly subscription ($5—$8)) is a digital tablet with an e-ink display, similar to that of e-readers like the Kindle. It’s very thin, incredibly light, and comes with a “marker” (for an extra charge) that makes writing on the tablet feel like you’re writing on paper. The device lets you sync all your notes to the cloud, and you can use the desktop app to convert your handwritten scribbles into text. The battery lasts around two weeks, give or take, depending on your usage.

Odd as this might sound, the reMarkable 2 feels like more of an “analog” device than a digital one—it’s more of a paper or notebook replacement than an iPad replacement. The marker writes beautifully, which makes the device great for jotting down notes, brainstorming, dealing with and marking up PDFs, and reading research papers (a favorite use case of mine). If you have a role for this device in your workflow, and you can stomach the price tag, you’ll love this thing.

What I liked:

  • Writing on the tablet feels like writing on paper. The device truly is a joy to write on. It’s tactile like paper, with just the right amount of friction between the marker and the device’s surface. It even sounds like you’re writing on paper. The latency—how long it takes for your writing to show up—is also fantastic, especially for an e-ink screen. (Latency is much longer when you interact with the user interface elements using your finger.)
  • The eraser on the more expensive marker works exceptionally well. Not only does the device’s marker feel like you’re writing on paper, but its eraser feels like you’re actually erasing what you’ve written. This is likely because of the texture of the screen, pictured below this section of the article. Erased content becomes transparent as you erase it, and then disappears once you lift the marker off the page.
  • It’s connected just enough. Unlike the iPad or other tablets, you can’t install apps onto this thing, and you won’t get notifications as you use the reMarkable, either. The device connects to the internet, but mostly to sync notes to the company’s cloud service, download software updates, and enable the odd feature, like live screen sharing on Zoom calls. I love how disconnected the device feels—you couldn’t distract yourself with its internet connection if you tried. 
  • The device forces you to slow down. The reMarkable 2’s feature set is purposefully smaller than with other devices. If you’re like me, you’ll spend more of your time on the device flipping between pages of notebooks, handwriting notes, reading and marking up PDFs, and sketching illustrations and photos. There’s not much else you can do with the device—and in my opinion that’s a selling feature. 
  • The digital marker options are good and feel natural. The options for writing instruments (all of which use the same physical pen) are a: ballpoint pen, fineliner, marker, pencil, mechanical pencil, paintbrush, highlighter, and calligraphy pen. Most of these options have tilt and pressure sensitivity and adjust the stroke accordingly. (You can also adjust the stroke thickness and color separately.) The digital writing instruments offer a great writing experience—you can tell the reMarkable team put a lot of thought into them. 
  • Battery life isn’t an issue. When I buy a new device that needs to be charged every day, I notice it and it’s annoying. reMarkable states that the battery on this tablet lasts two weeks, and I tend to get around that much. So far, I’ve only charged the device whenever a USB-C cord is nearby and haven’t thought much about the battery otherwise. The marker doesn’t ever need to be charged or set up.
  • Screen sharing works well, even if it’s a bit hard to come up with a use case. If you’re sketching something on the device, and want to broadcast it to your colleagues on a video call, you can through the reMarkable desktop app. I haven’t found an opportunity to use this feature yet, but it’s there if this is something you want. 
  • The device is a great doodle pad! When I’m brainstorming ideas, I’ll sometimes grab the tablet to doodle while I keep my mind locked into the ideas I’m turning over. (And when an idea strikes, it’s dead-simple to capture it using the device.)
  • The optical character recognition (OCR) is very good. The reMarkable 2 can convert your handwritten notes into text that you can share. Its OCR capabilities are very good. Once converted, you’ll need to tidy up a few things to add punctuation, fix formatting, and correct the odd typo, as is the case with most OCR applications.
  • Marking up PDFs feels great, and it’s reasonably easy to load them onto and off the device. I used to read PDFs on an iPad, marking them up with an Apple pencil. I now exclusively use my reMarkable 2 for PDF files, even just to sign the odd contract. Because the device feels analog, I find it a nicer experience.

What I didn’t like:

The tip of the device’s marker, which wears pretty quickly.

  • The device is very expensive—and there’s a subscription service. The reMarkable 2 is expensive enough that I consider it a luxury product. The tablet itself costs $299, but you’ll need a marker to go with it, and the good one with the nice eraser costs $129. (The one that doesn’t erase costs $79. I recommend the one with the eraser, because it’s such a handy feature.) You should probably buy a “book folio” with it, too, which provides the device with more protection and costs at least another $129 (there’s a regular folio but it’s not as seamless to use). But wait, reader, there’s more! You should probably also subscribe to the company’s Connect service, which lets you store your notes in the cloud, upload them to cloud services like Dropbox, and share your reMarkable’s screen on video calls—another $5 or $8 a month, depending on which plan you choose (the pricier one has third-party cloud service integration, handwriting conversion, screen share, and extends your warranty). Without a subscription, you only have access to the device’s basic note-taking features—though any documents you have opened in the last 50 days will still sync to the cloud (all of the others are still accessible on the tablet). All in, the device will run you around $560 plus tax, plus subscription. This is probably a device for people who won’t feel the price too much, or for people who can expense the product. If you’re a knowledge worker who works with ideas for a living, this tablet could be worth it for you…assuming the price tag is one you can swallow.
  • The marker tips are not durable and need to be regularly replaced. Over time (the company estimates every 3-7 weeks), the tips of the markers need replacing. They start on the pointy side and dull with use—your writing becomes less precise as a result. As I mentioned, the tablet feels incredible to write on, but the tips do wear. The company includes nine spares in the box, and you can pick up another nine for $14, or 25 for $34. This is an annoyance, especially if you write with more pressure like I do. Over time, I’ve started to use less pressure and the tips last longer.
  • General durability is also an issue. My wife got a reMarkable 2 at the same time that I did, and the device slid off her suitcase and onto the floor—about a one-foot drop. It landed on the power button, which dented, and she now has trouble turning it on. The jammed power button is an issue that others have faced, and the device does seem a tad fragile, especially in the corners. If you buy one, be careful

Summary 

The reMarkable 2 is beautiful, feels analog, and forces you to slow down. And, ironically enough for a tablet connected to the internet, it also lets you disconnect. 

But it’s also quite expensive. 

So should you get one? 

In my mind, the company’s 100-day free trial makes this a relatively easy call. If you’re on the fence, consider giving the trial a shot, and during those 100 days be mindful of whether you make a habit out of using the thing. If you don’t, return it. If you do, it’ll probably be worth the cost of the monthly subscription (and the replacement marker tips) going forward.

The reMarkable 2 is a joy to write on and use. If you have a workflow full of digital files, interact with a lot of PDFs (and want to do so distraction-free), or are looking for the best digital writing experience available, I highly recommend this device. If you have a use case for it, you won’t regret the purchase. Even if you do, the company’s return policy has you covered.

The reMarkable 2 is a great device—especially if you’re tired of writing on glass.

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of two books: Hyperfocus and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in 27 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

The Recap Newsletter

After you sign up, I'll send you a brand new article every week or two that will help you become more productive. No spam—ever.

My Podcast

Pin It on Pinterest