I've been using a reMarkable Tablet for 3 months. The reMarkable is a kindle like device that simulates the experience of writing on paper.
First, let's start with why I got this device.
I have always enjoyed taking notes. My job entails going to many meetings, and having many 1 on 1 discussions where it's beneficial to write things down. In addition to being able to reference these notes, I find that the exercise of taking notes is a focusing tool - meaning it's like a pacifier from distractions (phone, laptop, tablet).
It's really difficult to simulate the experience of writing on paper. I do not find the taking notes with a stylus on an iPad, Surface or other device comes anywhere close to the experience. In addition to this, these devices tend to be full of distractions that are difficult to suppress. What I mean by this is that it's likely in a meeting you will get bored. Your mind will drift. It's in these moments we turn to e-mail, Twitter, Amazon, Text Messaging to keep ourselves active. But these activities are exactly what makes meetings fail.
In addition to this, we just don't have the battery life and dedicated use scenarios of our devices to allow them to be true replacements for pen and paper.
My goal since January has been to attend and encourage inclusive meetings where I don't use my phone or bring a laptop / tablet unless I am presenting or taking notes digitally. That is pretty rare. As such my notebook device (in this case the reMarkable) serves me well.
What's the experience like?
Well the hardware is pretty great. The device is light as a feather. The screen is great, like a Kindle Oasis. The size is perfect. The pen has a friction feel to it and in fact the tips wear down like a real pencil. The device comes with 10 replacement tips - in 3 months I have worn 1 down and I use the device every day for about 4 hours.
The software is both frustrating and great
If you evaluate it through the lens of paper pads, well it's pretty close. You cannot easily "move" and "re-arrange" pages. You make decisions up front about how to store notes (folders, notebooks, pages). There are a variety of templates for pages - I have settled on US College Ruled. There are a variety of pen styles and thicknesses.
What I have settled on is the following organizational structure.
- Folders - Personal and Work
- Then I have a Notebook per meeting that I attend (for recurring meetings) and also Notebooks for all my 1 on 1 meetings etc
The challenges if you don't get this right - it's hard to find stuff later as there is no real chronological view of all pages, no page titles, no search, no handwriting recognition, no date and time stamps. Things that you always have / get for free in iPad / PC environments.
They have companion apps for Mac, PC, iOS, Android that give you a view of all your notes. I use this extensively to refer to notes. You can also manage and move notebooks as well as export and share.
The reMarkable makes me a more effective leader cause it keeps me focused and engaged.
So, it suffers from some limitations - but honestly I could care less.
When I get bored I doodle. Just like I did in high school and college.
The reMarkable is an expensive device ($599). It's not for everyone. But I do get asked about it at least once a day. People are very curious about it and generally long for the ability to also take notes like this - perhaps the price will come down over time but right now that seems to be it's #1 issue.
- USB-C connector instead of micro USB
- Wireless charging
- Move any notebook
- Better battery life
- Handwriting recognition and search