I came across the reMark­able a few months ago, after see­ing a video of it used –mag­nif­i­cent­ly– by Pinot Ich­wan­dar­di on either his Twit­ter or Insta­gram stream (you real­ly should fol­low both). 

Remarkable tablet shown with Noris Digital pencil & Field Notes notepad.

For those of you not nerdy enough or who actu­al­ly had a social life for the last cou­ple of years, the reMark­able is an 11-ish inch tablet run­ning on Lin­ux with an epa­per dis­play and sty­lus. Its only func­tion is note tak­ing and sketch­ing. It does­n’t do (inten­tion­al­ly) much more.

The con­tent of the tablet is backed up to reMark­able’s own cloud ser­vice via wifi, so all your notes and sketch­es are imme­di­ate­ly avail­able on your main com­put­er or mobile phone through their app.
The screen’s tex­ture and the sty­lus’ nib cre­ate enough fric­tion to mim­ic close­ly the feel­ing of writ­ing on actu­al paper.

Like a Kin­dle, it is a no-frills device, spe­cialised for one sin­gle func­tion and, like the Kin­dle, it does it very well.

It took me some time to final­ly decide to order one to give it a go.
I do a decent amount of wire­fram­ing these days. I love sketch­ing direct­ly on paper (and find it faster for low fideli­ty wire­fram­ing than any soft­ware I came across so far) but then I either have to rebuild the wire­frames lat­er on the com­put­er or take pic­tures of my sketch­pad’s pages with the phone to share them.
Being able to quick­ly sketch on the reMark­able and hav­ing every­thing synced up with my Mac, and being able to export it as PDF doc­u­ments, was the “killer fea­ture” for me.
Also, I have a thing for epa­per displays…

To be real­ly hon­est, I bought it with a view to just test and return it.
But it is going to stay with me.

First: this thing exports vec­tor for­mat files!
None of the reviews I’ve read before buy­ing it men­tioned this, and it is an extreme­ly appre­ci­at­ed fea­ture.
I can­not draw and gen­er­al­ly I use a Wacom tablet on my Mac pure­ly for edit­ing masks in Pho­to­shop (way faster and pre­cise than mouse/keyboard) so I did­n’t buy the reMark­able in order to cre­ate any type of illus­tra­tion, but still being able to sketch some­thing quick­ly and then import it into Illus­tra­tor as a vec­tor shape or path to then edit lat­er on it is quite handy.

Regard­ing this: keep in mind that non pres­sure sen­si­tive tools (the fine­lin­er and the high­lighter) will gen­er­ate a sin­gle path with a stroke, while oth­er tools will gen­er­ate shapes, see the exam­ple below as it appears when edit­ed in Adobe Illustrator:

In real­i­ty the quickest/easiest way to export a note­book is in PDF for­mat, and this is what I do most times.
I can quick­ly sketch wire­frames and dia­grams, along with notes, on the reMark­able and then share them with the team as PDF files.
It all takes a few taps as you can either share them via email direct­ly from the tablet itself or extract them from the com­pan­ion app on your com­put­er or mobile.

I’ve been using the reMark­able almost dai­ly for about a month now. As I wrote above, I’m very hap­py with it. Still there are a few issues here and there and a few things I’d like to see improved. I know the reMark­able team keeps adding func­tion­al­i­ty with each soft­ware update.
I’m also aware that it’s far more com­plex not to add extra unnec­es­sary func­tion­al­i­ty to prod­ucts, and one of the strong points of the ReMark­able is being a pret­ty much focused device: do one thing, do it well.
No dis­trac­tions.

I came up with a few “wish­es” for the device that, on a sec­ond thought, are pret­ty much off its scope, I’ll include them below any­way. Maybe they might be of inter­est for the many devel­op­ers who are play­ing and “hack­ing” the device (you have full SSH access con­nect­ing via USB).

First things first: I love the UI. Clean, sim­ple. Matched with the epa­per dis­play, some­times it reminds me of work­ing on the old black and white pas­sive matrix dis­play Power­Books…
Cou­ple of minor things: the fill colour icon and the tip size icon in the tool­bar don’t actu­al­ly indi­cate what colour (black, grey, white) or what tip size (small, medi­um, large) you are using.
Some­times, espe­cial­ly when chang­ing tools, you have to tap them to dou­ble check which options you selected:

Speak­ing of tools: the tool palette does­n’t move/rotate when you cre­ate a land­scape notebook.

Some­times you might want to man­u­al­ly trig­ger a full screen refresh.
Epa­per dis­plays are prone to ghost­ing. That is due to the way they work: not a big deal. The reMark­able tends to do a full screen refresh every x num­ber of actions, but some­times, espe­cial­ly after mov­ing or delet­ing items on the screen, it would be nice to have an extra but­ton in the tool­bar to trig­ger the refresh man­u­al­ly. It might have an adverse effect on the bat­tery, but still…

When you cre­ate a new note­book, the pen­cil is always select­ed as the default tool. I’d like to be able to spec­i­fy what your default tool should be.
I sel­dom use the pen­cil pre­fer­ring the mark­er 99% of the times.

Despite the abil­i­ty of the dis­play to show mul­ti­ple shades of grey, you can only use black, grey, and white.
Also while you are eras­ing some­thing with the eras­er tool, it gen­er­al­ly turns it from black to grey (to show you what you are eras­ing) and then it dis­ap­pears when you lift the pen from the screen.
If you are eras­ing some­thing you drew in grey, this feed­back is com­plete­ly lost, as the reMark­able uses the same shade.

Hand­writ­ing recog­ni­tion is pret­ty good (I have to admit, embar­rass­ing­ly, as a for­mer New­ton user I adapt­ed my hand­writ­ing for it ages ago). Would be nice to be able to switch lan­guage on the fly. I write most of my notes in Eng­lish, but I have some note­books con­tain­ing stuff writ­ten in Ital­ian (my moth­er tongue).
To change the lan­guage you have to go back to the main reMark­able set­up from the home screen.

Lay­ers and tem­plates.
Anoth­er very nice fea­ture is the abil­i­ty to cre­ate lay­ers.
Sad­ly, lay­ers are ignored when export­ing to SVG/PDF (I’m not even sure SVG sup­ports lay­ers?) and any extra lay­er you cre­ate is tied to the page you are work­ing on, not the entire notebook.

It would be nice to be able to cre­ate tem­plates that com­pre­hend mul­ti­ple pre-set lay­ers.
For wire­frames I tend to sketch every­thing on the “base” lay­er, then cre­ate an extra one for notes and yet an extra one for any overlays/screen changes (you can use white to mask objects in the lay­ers below).
In this case you have to recre­ate (and name!) the lay­ers for each page.
A note­book-wide set­ting would be quite useful.

I’m not a big fan of the three square but­tons, the hard to press pow­er but­ton, and the over­all feel of the device seems a bit cheap (con­sid­ered the price). But it is stur­dy enough, and it’s the first device they pro­duced since the crowd­fund­ing. I’d expect the pro­duc­tion qual­i­ty to increase in the future.

Same feel­ing about the pen, even though what they say about the “paper feel” is true. This is the clos­est I’ve expe­ri­enced to draw­ing on paper. Even though it comes at a cost: the pen tips don’t last as long as I expect­ed. And the replace­ment nibs are, you guessed it, expensive.

I bought a Staedtler Noris Dig­i­tal pen/pencil replace­ment, as it looks way nicer than the orig­i­nal one.
The pen’s nib is small­er and a bit hard­er. It has less fric­tion than the orig­i­nal pen, but works pret­ty well. I’m just annoyed that the nib is very small (0.5 I think) and some­times there is a (very) slight mis­align­ment between where it touch­es the screen and where the stroke appears because the nib bends a lit­tle.
Still, at about 15/18GBP it is a pret­ty good pen replacement/spare.

Cloud Sync
The reMark­able app is still pret­ty basic, but does what it needs too. Recre­ates the ReMark­able’s UI/filesystem on your com­put­er so you can access and export all the synced data.

Sync­ing does­n’t always work as expect­ed. Some­times you have to push the device to re-sync and it might take a while for the doc­u­ments to appear on your com­put­er. But I’ll expect this to improve over time.

I’m an hap­py Kin­dle user. I was­n’t plan­ning to use the reMark­able as an e‑reader and I still don’t.
I find it eas­i­er to read (and anno­tate) short PDFs on the reMark­able rather than on the kin­dle, for the screen size of course. But that’s it.

I wish…
As I wrote ear­li­er, I deeply appre­ci­ate a lot the “focus” this prod­uct has.
Hav­ing less fea­tures is a choice, and one I like.
I have to admit though that I’d love to have the option to be able to use the reMark­able as an input device (when teth­ered via USB) act­ing pure­ly as a graph­ics tablet. Like a Wacom Intu­os S.
At the end of the day, they use some hard­ware from Wacom.
But, yes, this would be too much out of scope.

Also, I’d love a larg­er mod­el.
For the use I make of it, a larg­er can­vas will great­ly help.
I still use a nor­mal (small­er) paper note­book for most note tak­ing and gen­er­al­ly use the reMark­able pure­ly for most­ly wire­fram­ing and some relat­ed note-tak­ing at work. I lug it around with my 15″ Mac­Book Pro, and hav­ing some­thing in a sim­i­lar size would be ideal.

The guys at reMark­able just recent­ly raised $15 mil­lion USD in fund­ing from Spark Cap­i­tal. I’m curi­ous to see what they release next.
But for the time being, I’ll be enjoy­ing my cur­rent reMark­able very much.