By Mike Ferrians
The Times 

Tech Chat with Mike: the ReMarkable tablet

The digital notepad that altered my lifestyle

 

February 18, 2021

Lane Gwinn

The ReMarkable pad is great for note taking and drawing in a digital format that feels like paper, almost. Close enough to have fun.

Let me tell you about my most recent tech acquisition: the ReMarkable pad. I ordered it in April 2020 and received it seven months later. Due to Covid-related restrictions, the Norway-based company has been taking orders and shipping in batches. Once the product got to Hong Kong, it reached my front door in five days.

The ReMarkable pad is an elegant digital writing and sketching instrument designed for people who love pen and paper but live in the digital world. Other digital pads and apps have some of the same functions, but ReMarkable is focused on the feel, touch, and simplicity of thinking and writing on paper, without distraction, but with the advantages of digital conversion and WiFi connectivity.

I have been a journal-keeper since 1986 and always loved to write. The calm, focused process of thinking and writing is essential to me. ReMarkable promised this experience in digital form. I'm familiar with this concept as many digital pianos and performance keyboards are engineered to have the tactile touch sensitivity and tones of acoustic instruments


Except for a few minor issues which I think could be improved or added to future upgrades, the ReMarkable is precisely what I expected it to be. It's a tad expensive for its particular purpose, but what it does, it does exceptionally well. I have it with me almost constantly as a daily journal or for note taking at meetings and interviews. The handwritten notes can be converted into digital text. The converted text can be saved on my computer or immediately sent to others.

ReMarkable does a great job turning script into a text document, however, I have to do some post-conversion editing. I am getting faster at it. Fairly neat handwriting also helps as ReMarkable uses a character recognition program to make the conversion to text possible.


Organizing my writings on the device is easy, I keep multiple document folders and organize them as I please. The ReMarkable comes pre-loaded with 47 templates for drawing, notating music, illustrating, storyboarding, planning, and organizing.

Writing on ReMarkable is pleasant. It's the thinnest tablet on the market - at 0.19 inches. The specialized pen (sold separately, for some odd reason) functions much like other digital pens for scripting or digital art-the other end of the pen functions as an eraser. I can select sections of the script and move them around on the page or delete them easily. The digital inking process is quick, with an immediate response at the touch of pen to pad. The pen comes with eight different functions, from pen and pencil to highlighter and calligraphy and the touch sensitivity functions, you would expect to experience with those various tools. Although ReMarkable is a greyscale device, the various writing and drawing tools feature a spectrum of unique textures. Yes, it has a paintbrush.


One of the coolest features of ReMarkable is the page function menu, which can be turned on and off from the page at any time. Select your writing tool, your stroke thickness, your tone (black, gray, or white), your erase functions, etc. Manage pages and files with handy overview, conversion, and layering icons.

Finally, with the companion desktop and smartphone proprietary cloud service syncing apps, ReMarkable can function as a web page or PDF reader, and you can mark-up documents to your heart's content. But it cannot serve as a web browser - again, simplicity without distraction.

I can also download e-books on the device. However, the developers chose to avoid copyright issues by limiting the device to EPUB files, which are public domain and open licensed content. I like going to http://www.gutenberg.org for a whole host of public domain books and classic literature, which can be downloaded to ReMarkable as EPUB files. And I love the freedom to digest news stories for reading at my leisure, without a hundred other things barking for my attention.

ReMarkable isn't for everyone. It was a perfect fit for me. I can take it to work, to school, to the library, and the coffee shop - reading, doodling, composing, and reflecting to my heart's content. Go to remarkable.com for more information. Or, give me a shout; I'd be glad to let you try it out!

 

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