The price (and reward) of focus

Remarkable 2 is not like any other tablet you usually use. Unlike an iPad or Android tablet, it doesn’t have an app store, you can’t play games or watch videos, and it doesn’t have a browser. Its sole purpose is to help you write in a digital notebook without digital distractions, and it delivers on that promise fantastically. I love writing on it. But should you pay attention to a feature-focused device that costs more than $400 / INR 40,000?

Outstanding construction

Remarkable 2 is light and fits firmly in the hand. It has a frosted glass finish on the back, which is non-slippery thanks to the four rubber grips on the back corners. With a thickness of 4.7 mm and a weight of 403.5 grams, the tablet is thin and light enough not to feel discomfort on the wrist. It doesn’t do anything fancy and has no extra sensors, which helps keep it so slim.

I like the leaf-like feel – like I’m writing in a thin notebook. The feeling of «writing on paper» is thanks to the screen and the Marker 2 (Remarkable 2 pen). The e-ink screen is faster than usual, as I found it to be better than the Kindle and Boox tablets in terms of responsiveness. I have never had such a smooth writing experience on any e-ink tablet.

However, it is still plagued by e-ink screen features such as slower scrolling speeds, which is frustrating when coming from a smartphone or laptop screen. But you get used to it. In addition, there is no backlight, which bothers me if I want to use it at night. Adding a backlight and ambient light sensor would improve the user experience. The latter would also help keep the screen from turning off when I close the lid, which currently doesn’t happen.

But I don’t think I’d trade it for a slim design because it’s important to me that my digital planner is slim enough to fit in a travel backpack next to my laptop without feeling bulky.

The Marker 2 has a textured finish that helps with grip during long writing sessions. A regular pen might get sweaty and slippery in summer, but the Marker 2 doesn’t (tested in 50 degree Celsius heat in Delhi).

It attaches to the side of the device and does not need to be charged, which means you always have a pen with your digital diary. Palm rejection is also top notch. In the last three months, I have not had a single case where I have faced wrong entry detection.

Marker 2 is pressure sensitive, so you can use it to shade in your drawings. The software allows you to use it as a pen, highlighter, highlighter, ballpoint pen, calligraphy pen and more. You can also use the back of the Marker 2 as an eraser.

I loved writing about him

Using the Remarkable 2 is different from using any other device because it does exactly one thing – write, and write brilliantly, without any distractions. I can take notes on my iPad with Focus mode on, but I have a habit of regularly checking email and communication apps, which doesn’t help when I’m brainstorming ideas. Eliminating these distractions improved my focus on thinking and writing. I don’t feel the need to switch to another app (because there aren’t any), the writing experience is like paper, and the software is well suited for writing.

It’s better than carrying a journal because I can choose the format of my notebook from different templates (checklists, lined pages, grid, etc.), pen type, write on web pages transferred from my Mac, and more. I no longer have to carry my thick diary when I travel. Remarkable 2 is enough. Plus, it lasts for weeks on a single charge, so I always have a screen to write on.

The user interface is quite easy to learn. You press the power button located in the upper left corner and enter your PIN (if you’ve set one), and you’ll be greeted with a home screen made up of your documents, quick sheets, and folders. You can change the sorting and display (grid or list) as you like. At the top are icons for creating a notebook, folder and quick sheets with one touch.

On the left you get a menu for various options, and the toolbar remains when you enter the sheet/notebook so you can choose brush shape and size, layers, select text, convert scribble to text and more. The gestures are also easy to understand – swipe up to continue a page, swipe left to add another page, and so on. The company also offers integrations with Google Drive and Microsoft add-ons, so you can access documents stored on those services.

This feature is available without Connect, Remarkable’s $2.99 ​​/ INR 299 monthly subscription. You can use the tablet without Connect, but subscribing to it will give you access to unlimited cloud storage (which you’ll need if you use the tablet every day), note-taking with the mobile and desktop app, a protection plan and access to some exclusive offers. I find it expensive and wish Remarkable would introduce a cheaper tier that only offers unlimited cloud storage for syncing.

The Remarkable 2 is a digital laptop, but with the physical limitations of a laptop

I loved my experience with the Remarkable 2. But a gadget shouldn’t have the limitations of its non-tech counterpart. The Remarkable 2 carries some laptop limitations.

For example, I’m bad at remembering file names and have a standing list of a few things: a journal and quick sheets for one-line sentences that I randomly think of throughout the day for review titles. I’d like the Remarkable 2 to have a universal search feature, where if I type in a word, it brings up sheets of highlighted words—much like Kindle does with its books, or like Apple Photos. Otherwise, it remains like flipping through the pages of a physical notebook while searching for something. You need to have organizational skills to get the most out of your Remarkable 2.

I would also like better customization of the home screen. For example, let me choose exactly what I want to see after entering a PIN and add widget support. Maybe I need a quick list widget or a to-do list widget at the bottom so I have access to information at a glance instead of having to search for it.

The Remarkable 2 is not a good e-reader. You can transfer files through the app or website, but the experience isn’t ideal. You can also add a Chrome plug-in to your laptop and get websites on your tablet with one click. However, this has its limitations.

First, it doesn’t import images, which is both good and bad. It’s good because you don’t get ads, and bad because the formatting is unstable. Additionally, more often than not, images are important to the storytelling in certain articles. Second, like the journal, it doesn’t support opening backlinks because it doesn’t have browser capabilities. As a result, I can’t tap a link within an article to read a separate article, which bothers me.

Remarkable 2 Tablet Review: The Verdict

I’ve noticed that I’m becoming more productive with the Remarkable 2. From taking notes in airports and coffee shops to brainstorming presentation ideas, it’s helped my brain work more efficiently without distraction. However, it is too expensive for a single-task device.

You have to decide if $450 / INR 44,000 is a comfortable price for a distraction-free typing experience. If that price is worth the focus reward to you, I see no reason not to buy it. It really depends on how much you value maintaining focus while writing. That said, the Remarkable 2 offers the best note-taking experience I’ve had on an e-ink display.

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