The ReMarkable 2 is 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 a unique, realistic pen-on-paper feel when using the stylus. Recent updates have even improved its versatility, particularly for Google Drive and MS Office file sharing and support. But it feels like more of a digital sketch pad and less of an e-reader.
We first tested the ReMarkable 2 in 2020 as a large-screen e-reader. Though the extremely clear 10-inch display performed very well in direct sunlight, it wasn't so hot in other aspects like file sharing and support for Microsoft Office documents. But the ReMarkable 2 has always been so much more than an e-reader – as a digital notepad and collaborative creative device, it performed very well.
Recent updates deliver additional and valuable functionality, particularly with the ability to save and open different file formats. They also overcome some of the initial issues with collaboration and sharing, as you can now access documents in popular cloud storage apps directly from your tablet, including Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive. But these updates don't fix the device's shortcomings as an e-reader.
Though the ReMarkable 2 does support ebooks, we found that buying, sharing or borrowing isn't as smooth as some other Kindle or Kobo models we've tested. For example, while it supports Epub and PDF format, it doesn't allow ebooks with digital rights management (DRM), a form of copyright protection.
This means you can't read many of the more popular and latest release ebook titles available in online stores or from your local library. It's a frustrating situation, one that hasn't changed with the latest update so the performance of the ReMarkable 2 as a standard e-reader remains the same.
However, 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.
Its syncing technology is still best suited to sharing documents that you or others have created for collaborative work. Adding the ability to access documents stored in the cloud on Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive with the latest update has significantly improved the collaborative performance of the ReMarkable 2. It's now a more useful tool in the office environment, not just the creative studio.
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.
Collaborative work has never been more relevant with the hybrid working model now the standard model for many offices and studios. The ability to screen share any subbing, comments or changes to your document live on screen is a new feature that existing ReMarkable 2 users may find extremely useful. By casting the document to another screen and then sharing the session, you can create a digital remote whiteboard.
The large screen display is perfect for graphic novels and mixed media, although it will all be displayed in grayscale, not colour.
While there's 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 web browser. It simply delivers anything you've been looking at in Google 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.
Keyboard performance is impressive for an e-ink device, with fast response times, although not quite as quick as a smart device like 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's 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 regular tablet.
But what really makes the ReMarkable 2 so... well, remarkable, is the stylus. It allows you to scribble notes, mark up pages and make comments, with instant updates on shared documents.
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.
The stylus we used for our test was the basic option, but still very pleasant to use, with a true draft 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 but you can buy replacements.
Designers will be familiar with the layered approach to marking up a page, with the ability to build up multiple sketches and comments and turn various layers on or off. But one feature that is lacking is a comments tool within PDF documents, which would be very handy and ideal for collaborative design.
So while the ReMarkable 2 still doesn't really cut it as a stand alone e-reader, it does so much more in other creative and collaborative areas and would be a great addition to the design or artistic worker's toolkit.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.