The pen, because the saying goes, is mightier than the sword. And fashionable computer systems, apparently: regardless of the leaps and bounds of expertise, with pill styluses and Wacom digitizers, atypical pen and paper has survived to at the present time. However the $399 reMarkable 2 — the corporate’s new second-generation E Ink pill — appears to problem that assumption, providing an up to date design, improved specs, and a greater pen to try to give the centuries-old expertise of paper some new digital aptitude.

The unique reMarkable was a singular system: a large E Ink panel with a singular pen and the bold purpose of killing conventional paper. It fell quick in a number of key respects, with the first-generation E Ink show unable to match the velocity and reliability of paper.

The corporate has made some admirable progress in refining the design for the second-generation mannequin. Nearly each aspect of the system has been improved on. The reMarkable 2 is 30 % thinner than the unique, with slimmer bezels — at 0.19 inches thick, it’s truly the thinnest pill in the marketplace.

It prices over a modernized for sooner charging and file transfers USB-C port. There’s twice the RAM, a sooner processor, and a battery that lasts practically thrice as lengthy. And the design itself is simply plain nicer, with the plastic body changed by aluminium and frosted glass — it’s far more befitting of the reMarkable’s premium worth.

The brand new mannequin is barely heavier at 0.89 kilos (about twice as a lot as commonplace yellow authorized pad), however it’s the great type of weight, one which makes the brand new mannequin really feel sturdier in your hand and in your lap while you’re utilizing it.

The reMarkable 2 additionally provides massive enhancements to the precise writing expertise for the E Ink panel. Whereas the second-generation 10.3-inch Canvas show is similar measurement and 226 DPI decision as the unique mannequin, the panel itself is now layered with precise glass (as an alternative of plexiglass), making it a stiffer writing floor that doesn’t flex as a lot beneath your pen.

Latency has additionally been lowered by practically half: the reMarkable 2 provides a 21ms latency for writing — fixing the most important situation on the unique mannequin. It’s an enormous enchancment, one which makes writing on the reMarkable really feel practically as quick as utilizing an everyday pen and paper. It’s not fairly as little as Apple or Samsung attain with their stylus’ and tablets, however except you examine them aspect by aspect, you received’t have a difficulty with the reMarkable’s latency.

The second-gen pill additionally reduces the hole between the show and the E Ink layer beneath, which additional helps help the phantasm that you just’re truly writing with actual ink. There’s nonetheless no backlight, although, which appears like an odd miss.

The reMarkable 2 nonetheless maintains one of the best trick from its predecessor, although: a textured writing floor that works together with the custom-designed pens to duplicate the tactile sensation of writing with an precise pen and paper. You may truly hear the pen scratching away as you write — a kind of dry, rasping sound that mimics utilizing a Sharpie or fountain pen. (“Scratching away” is supposed actually — as with the first-generation mannequin, the pen suggestions will finally put on down over time and have to get replaced.) The brand new pens are additionally twice as stress delicate as the unique mannequin, with 4096 ranges of stress sensitivity.

The software program on the reMarkable 2 is nearly unchanged from the two.Zero software program that the corporate launched for the unique pill final 12 months, though the improved specs assist right here, making loading ePubs and paperwork or sharing notes sooner than on the unique mannequin. I nonetheless encountered several-second wait occasions when attempting to load bigger ebooks or convert handwriting heavy paperwork, although.

Along with drawing and note-taking, reMarkable additionally helps studying and annotating each PDFs and ePub ebooks, which may be synced by a companion desktop or cellular software. Drawings (or annotated recordsdata) can then be shared from the pill as a PDF, PNG, or SVG file by electronic mail. There’s additionally a Pocket-like Google Chrome extension that may ship articles (both as purely textual content paperwork or “printed” PDFs) on to your reMarkable for studying. Lastly, there’s a handwriting recognition service that may analyze your written notes and convert them to editable textual content, which managed to serviceably convert even my chicken-scratch handwriting.

However that quick listing of options encompasses the whole thing of what the reMarkable can do: draw, write, learn, and share.

In line with reMarkable, that fairly restricted listing of options is an intentional design selection. The corporate argues that the purpose of the pill is to supply a extra superior model of conventional paper — one which’s unbound by limits of bodily area and extra simply shared in a digital age — however with out weighing down the expertise with the distractions and temptations of a full-fledged pill.

The reMarkable 2 desires to be for writing what a Kindle is for studying: a bespoke system that’s the grasp of its digitized area, as an alternative of a jack-of-all-trade system like an iPad or Android pill.

Sadly, whereas the brand new mannequin is $200 cheaper than the unique, at $399 — plus $49 for the fundamental, eraser-less pen and $69 for a case — it’s nonetheless a hefty worth to pay for a nicer writing floor and fewer distractions.

The explanation that the Kindle works as a unitasking system is that it begins at about $80 (earlier than factoring in Amazon’s frequent gross sales). It’s low-cost sufficient to justify its extra restricted and targeted featureset. The $399 reMarkable, alternatively, is definitely extra costly than a much more purposeful $329 iPad, which leaves it as a luxurious system for the few who can justify spending extra on a touch nicer writing expertise, fairly than a real paper alternative for the digital age.

As a bit of {hardware}, the reMarkable 2 is a improbable enchancment over the unique. The enhancements to the pen and total writing expertise mixed with the already glorious E Ink panel make writing with the reMarkable 2 one of the best digital alternative for paper but. And followers of the primary one — be it for the tactile writing, the distraction-free possibility, or the crisp E Ink show — will discover quite a bit to love right here.

However the excessive price ticket and restricted options nonetheless don’t make a case for why a digital model of paper ought to exist in a world the place tablets have already lengthy since surpassed their analogue counterparts. The reMarkable 2 is a convincing digital evolution of paper. However why be paper when you possibly can be an entire laptop as an alternative?

Images by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge


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