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ReMarkable 2 e-ink tablet review

Is it just a large e-reader, or a notepad for creative expression?

Last updated: 20 January 2021


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CHOICE verdict

The ReMarkable 2 is both extremely interesting as a drawing and collaboration device, but it's not a great e-reader. The large thin tablet looks like a notepad and delivers an amazingly realistic pen on paper feel when using the stylus. However, while an e-reader is an attempt to digitise the paperback novel, the ReMarkable 2 and the stylus that acts just like a pencil is more an attempt to digitise the sketch pad or notebook, and for this the ReMarkable 2 is truly unique.

Price: $679

We recently tested the ReMarkable 2 as a large-screen e-reader and though it performed very well in direct sunlight, it wasn't so hot in other respects. But the ReMarkable 2 is so much more than an e-reader. As a digital notepad and creative collaborative device, it performs remarkably well.

A device designed for creatives

The ability to get ebooks onto the device, while fairly simple, is not as smooth as any of the Kindle or Kobo models – whether buying, sharing or borrowing. Its syncing technology is more suited to sharing documents that you or others have created for collaborative work.

The ReMarkable 2 supports Epub and PDF formats so you can enjoy titles on the extremely clear and large 10-inch display. 

However, there is no support for Epub or PDF ebook titles with digital rights management (DRM), which means you can't read many of the more popular and latest-release ebook titles available in online stores or from your local library. 

Mixed media ebooks with large illustrations and artwork display much better than on a traditional 6-inch display e-reader and truly show this device to be a tool for creativity and collaboration, rather than e-reading alone.

Mixed media ebooks with large illustrations and artwork display much better than on a traditional 6-inch display

Navigation within an ebook is not as intuitive compared to other e-readers in our test and, although you can choose to open up a document at the last point of a book, there are no bookmarks. You can move to specific pages, but everything takes that extra click or menu selection compared to a Kobo or Kindle e-reader.

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The large screen display is perfect for graphic novels and mixed media, although it will all be displayed in grayscale, not colour.

Web browsing

While there is no web browser on the ReMarkable 2, it can use linked apps and web extensions (Chrome only) to save pages in a readable format. This is a good solution as web browsers are virtually unusable on all e-ink devices regardless of the brand. So in this respect, the ReMarkable 2 actually has a leg up on the competition.

The other advantage is it doesn't try to be a browser. It simply delivers anything you have been looking at in a browser (in Chrome) to your ReMarkable 2 in an appropriate format. You can keep all your files or web pages saved to the cloud and read them either online or download them to the device for offline reading.

Getting around

Keyboard performance is impressive for an e-ink device, with fast response times, although not quite as quick as a smart device such as a tablet or laptop. The language options are good but there is no non-Latin alphabet so you won't find support for Asian script or characters. 

While there is no backlighting, it works perfectly well in office and home environments and is very easy to read in full sunlight, something you could never say about a normal tablet.

But what really makes the ReMarkable 2 so... well, remarkable, is the stylus, which allows you to scribble notes, mark up pages and make comments, with instant updates on shared documents.

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The ability to share a mixture of PDF and epub documents between the ReMarkable 2, a laptop and a colour tablet is great for marking up documents.

Designers will be familiar with the layered approach to marking up on the page, with the ability to build up multiple sketches and comments and turn various layers on or off. 

The stylus we used for the test was the basic option, but still very pleasant to use, with a true draught pencil feel – tilting the pen delivers broader lines and pressure can thicken the stroke, just like a real pencil. The nibs do actually wear down over time and you can buy replacement nibs.

The stylus is very pleasant to use ... tilting the pen delivers broader lines and pressure can thicken the stroke, just like a real pencil

One feature that is lacking is a comments tool within PDF documents, which would be very handy and ideal for collaborative design.

While it doesn't really cut it as an e-reader, it does so much more in other creative and collaborative areas and would be a great addition to the design or artistic workers toolkit.

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