I’d been eyeing the reMarkable Tablets since the first version came out years ago. Having a place to write things down by hand and never run out of “paper” seemed like a great invention. But it wasn’t until the reMarkable 2 Tablet came out, and now with even more accessory possibilities, that I got the chance to try it out.
Is it everything I’d hoped? Spoiler alert: yes, and more.
What Is the reMarkable 2 Tablet?
The reMarkable 2 Tablet is a digital paper device that is a cross between a tablet and a dedicated e-reader. It’s great for interacting with and creating content, but it also promotes focusing on one thing at a time: the task at hand. The Tablet allows for a paper-like feel for your handwriting (with its textured screen), and comfortable reading and typing options.
On the Tablet, you can organize all your notes, and you can even keep endless PDFs that you’ve been meaning to read or comment on. It’s like having a “digital version of analog tools,” according to Brandon Boswell, and I would agree with him.
Though it has some things in common with an iPad or other versatile tablet, it is unique. It’s a different animal altogether. People tend to do different tasks on the reMarkable 2 than on their iPads. I have an iPad Mini and love it to death, but I love the reMarkable 2 more for linear typing tasks or quick demonstrative sketches or brainstorms. It’s really nice because you never run out of ink or pencil lead. You never have that “oh, my pen is about to run out” feeling.
There is no backlighting on the Tablet, so you can’t use it in the dark, but that means the screen looks great on its own. It looks more like a physical object and less like a screen in that way.
It also has little rubber feet on the back which keep it secure on the table, or in your Folio (more on that later—magnets hold it in place at the spine and at the back too).
The Tablet has no speaker, microphone, web browser, camera, notifications, or email. Focus is the name of the game here. If you regularly need to create, but find yourself distracted by the lure of Facebook or the ping of a new email, this might be a good tool for you.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet comes with a quick start guide, a charging cable, and recyclable packaging. If you order a Marker stylus (more on that later), it also comes with a generous number of replacable Marker tips.
I’ll save most of my assessment for later in this post, but I’d like to state in this first section just how nice it is to write (and type!) on the reMarkable 2. It’s like night and day compared with my iPad Mini in that regard (especially the writing part).
Also, the company makes updates periodically, and posts about them in detail on their blog and over email. It’s obvious that they’re committed to continuing to improve the product and the operating system.
Note: I received samples of reMarkable products for review purposes.
Who Is the reMarkable 2 Tablet For?
There are many types of people who could benefit from using this Tablet. For example, someone who takes a lot of notes, someone who wants to write by hand or type (with the Type Folio) with no distractions, someone who wants a neverending supply of note paper, or someone who can afford a specialized device. It can be useful for students who (with the budget for one) want to take notes with a combination of typing and drawing, business people who have regular meetings, and creative types who want to capture ideas on the fly. The Tablet is also great for people who annotate or fill out PDFs regularly.
From an article on Forbes, the reviewer says, “The reMarkable is less a unitasker and more a focus-built device,” which I completely agree with. The quibbles I have are mostly erased when I use the Tablet as a means to focus on the work at hand rather than treating it like my iPad Mini or my computer. And it would be useful to anyone who likes to or needs to focus on their work, with fewer or no distractions.
Setting Up Your reMarkable 2 Tablet
Setup is a breeze. When you take the Tablet out of the box, there’s a message on the screen directing you to press and hold the power button (the only button on the device). Then it runs you through what writing on the screen is like, what a refresh looks like, and then it guides you to connect to your local wi-fi network. The Tablet then updates to the latest version and restarts.
Next, you pair it with your reMarkable account that you need to have already made. (This would be a good time to also download the mobile and desktop apps to synchronize your content.) Then you pick a language and handedness for your handwriting conversion. It then runs you through a tutorial. This couldn’t be easier. It’s obvious they thought through the setup process to make it easy for everyone.
In case you skipped or didn’t remember what you learned in the tutorials, you can easily revisit them by selecting the Help option in the Settings and selecting the option to restart the tutorial, which resets every piece of the built-in help.
What Can You Do With a reMarkable 2 Tablet?
At first glance, the reMarkable 2 Tablet just does some basic things—like write, sketch, and type—but the more you use it, the more options you realize it has, and the more tasks you realize it is suited for. In no particular order, here are some other notable things the Tablet can do.
Convert Handwritten Notes to Typed Text
If you have a page of handwritten notes but need to put them in a document, email, or slideshow, just choose the “Convert notes to text” option and it inserts a new page with the text, allowing you to still have access to your handwritten notes, for reference or in case the conversion didn’t go well. I tested it with my printed handwriting, both neat and messy, large and small, and it did a great job with the neat (both large and small) and a passable job with the messy. I even tested it with some messy cursive, and it was able to decipher it. The Tablet does need a wi-fi connection to do the conversion, so bear that in mind.
Several Writing and Sketching “Brushes”
You have several different “brush” options for writing, sketching, and highlighting: ballpoint, fineliner, marker, pencil, mechanical pencil, paintbrush, highlighter, and calligraphy pen. Within those, you can change the width of the line, the color of the line (black, gray, and white), and the exported color (blue or red). The Tablet/stylus knows how much you’re tilting the stylus, how hard you’re pressing, and what direction you’re moving the stylus. So you can do things like traditional calligraphy, or even do that side-of-the-pencil-lead thing to shade an area, and they did a good job replicating how that looks in the physical world.
The Tablet allows you to use several different types of templates that are all built in, such as: storyboards, music, checklists, Cornell notes, dots, lined pages, grids, calendars, etc. Unfortunately, you can’t create your own templates; it would be a game changer if you could.
One of my favorite things about writing or typing on the reMarkable 2 Tablet is the neverending pages. (Note: This doesn’t really work with templates.) When you’re typing, it happens automatically. But when you’re writing, just swipe up on the page to get more space. It will keep going forever (within memory limits, I suppose!).
Read and Mark Up PDFs
The Tablet is ideal for interacting with PDF files, as long as you don’t need color on the screen. It’s a lovely experience to read books or documents on this Tablet, but you can also take notes on your PDFs, sign or fill out forms, or mark up sketches.
Whether you’re drawing, typing, or marking up a document, the Tablet allows for multiple layers in each document. This makes it easy to show or hide your notes, or have extra creation options for your sketches. It allows for up to five layers, including a template layer. You can also delete layers, move layers forward or backward, combine layers, and make each layer visible or invisible.
Share Your Screen
You can use Screen Share to draw your ideas live in a video meeting or on a large screen. Just sketch or write on your Tablet, and they show up for your audience.
Quick Sheets are the fastest way to start capturing content. There is one document called Quick Sheets, and each time you tap the Quick Sheets button to start capturing, it appends the document with a new page. You can also add templates to Quick Sheets pages, but they start out as blank pages. You can change the orientation of the page from Portrait to Landscape, if desired.
If you want to put what you’re capturing in a different document when you’re done, you’ll need to take extra steps to do that. But if you just need to capture something fast, this is a good way, and then you can sort it out later.
You can also rename the Quick Sheets document to something else. Then, when you next select the Quick Sheets option, it creates a new Quick Sheets document.
Organizing your documents and folders is a bit archaic, but it’s also very straightforward. It’s important to organize effectively as you go, possibly making heavy use of tags and favorites options.
You can choose notebooks or documents to “favorite” to make them easier to find. And you can use tags to further organize your content. You can tag just a single page within a document, or a whole document, which is pretty neat.
There are a number of ways of accessing your content as well. You can view all your files, just your created notebooks, just your PDFs, just your ebooks, just your favorites, or just specific tags. When you view tags, you can also further view whole documents or just specific pages.
My preferred organizational method also includes keeping most things organized in folders (or folders of folders), but then keeping the documents I refer to the most or am currently working on on the main root page.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet uses familiar gestures for navigation, like swipe left/right to turn the page, swipe up/down for scrolling, and pinching to zoom. You can also use a two-finger tap to undo, and a number of other gestures. See their website for details.
With the ability to access documents on the cloud and sync work between the Tablet and apps on other devices, the Tablet allows you to be really flexible in how you create and use what you create. You can create on the reMarkable 2 Tablet, then process that content on your computer. Or create PDFs on your computer and edit them on your reMarkable 2. Or any number of other combinations. You can also use the Read on reMarkable Google Chrome extension to send Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents or web articles to the Tablet as PDFs.
You can also “export” (send by email) your documents as PDF, PNG, SVG, or text.
There aren’t a whole lot of accessibility options built in (yet?), but you can change the handedness setting, and also the size of the built-in text from default to large.
You can protect your notebooks and documents with a 4-digit code that you turn off or on. You can also add contact details to the sleep screen to identify your device (in case it’s lost or stolen).
If you close the Tablet and immediately open it again, it stays on your document. But if it goes to sleep, you will need to hit the power button to wake it up, and then you’ll have to renavigate to your document. You can set it to never go to sleep, but that will obviously run your battery down faster. But if you’re constantly using it throughout the day (but more than 20 minutes apart), turning off the auto-sleep function might be useful.
Some additional things you can do with the Tablet:
- There is a selection tool to move or copy content, including drawings.
- You can see how much of your 8gb memory is used (you really only get 6.57gb).
- You can connect your device to your computer via a USB cable.
- You can set your device to be sure to sync before it goes to sleep.
- You can double check your cloud connection to make sure it’s syncing properly.
- You can rearrange pages within a document.
- There’s a flight mode too.
The “using reMarkable” part of the reMarkable website gives you additional use ideas in the learning hub and helpful guides on how to use the reMarkable 2 Tablet.
What Accessories Are Available?
The Marker accessory is kind of required to make the most out of this device. Without it, you can tap the screen and page through a PDF, but without a Marker or a Type Folio (see below), there’s no real input device. Because of this, it’s not great that the Marker costs extra and isn’t included with the Tablet, when it’s so integral to its functionality.
They might have separated the Marker out because it comes in two styles: Marker and Marker Plus. They sent me a Marker Plus to review.
There are a few differences between the two models. The Marker appears to have a shiny finish and comes in white. The Marker Plus has a nice matte finish that makes it easy to grip and comes in black.
The only other difference that I can glean is that the Marker Plus has erasing built right into the stylus. Instead of choosing the erase function from an option on the screen, you can flip your Marker Plus over and “erase” with the other end, just like with a regular pencil.
Some more comments about either Marker style:
The Marker requires no charging, which is really nice. The shape is such that I can also hold it at a very natural angle. The Marker sticks to the side of the Tablet with magnets, sticking pretty securely if you get it in the right place. But you could still easily catch it on something and knock it off, so consider a separate pouch for the marker, which could also hold the included extra Marker tips and the charging cable.
Whether you use the other end of the Marker Plus or the erase option on the screen, erasing is pretty neat. When you make the motion to erase, it fades the line somewhat, and then when you lift the Marker, the lines you erased disappear the rest of the way. If you change your mind, though, a two-finger tap brings it right back! This erasing doesn’t work on typed text or text that was converted from handwriting.
The Book Folio
You’ll probably want to protect your reMarkable 2 Tablet, so a Folio is a good accessory to have. They offer a few different kinds. The Book Folio is a basic folio that protects your device and opens and closes like a book. The Tablet is securely held in place by magnets. It’s slim and nice, perfect for when you want to travel lighter and don’t need a keyboard. It has a smooth feel (the website says “Premium Leather”) and has “reMarkable” debossed on the front.
Remember, though, that the Tablet doesn’t go to sleep when you close the Folio. I’m used to the sleep/wake thing of my iPad Mini, so this was an adjustment. You can tap the power button to put the Tablet to sleep and again to wake it, but don’t worry if you forget—it has a ton of standby time, and it will automatically go to sleep if you forget, after 20 minutes (if you have the sleep function turned on).
The Type Folio
The Type Folio is a considerably-slimmer-than-you’d-expect cover for the Tablet that includes a keyboard hidden underneath. It’s an incredibly slick design, and I give kudos to whoever came up with it.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet connects to the Type Folio with magnets. No pairing or charging needed. It’s more like a Microsoft Surface in that way, but without the “ahh the keyboard is in the way, I have to reverse the cover” issue that the Surface has.
To use the keyboard, you open the cover of the Folio and lift up on the Tablet, revealing the keyboard underneath. You can have the screen at a couple of different angles, good for typing or drawing. There was no video on the website demonstrating how to access the keyboard within the Type Folio, which I think is a missed opportunity. I actually had to find a YouTube video to demonstrate.
The Type Folio has “reMarkable” embossed on the front instead of debossed, and the website says it’s made from “Artificial Leather.”
Now, allow me to gush a bit about this accessory. The company hyped it up quite a bit, but the hype is warranted, in my opinion.
When I first heard about the Type Folio, I was instantly excited, but then worried that the keyboard would get in the way in different configurations, like folding back the cover and the keyboard being on the table/your lap or whatever. But, no. The geniuses who created this cover made it 100% useful as a cover but also sneakily creative as a keyboard. You can fold the front flap underneath, or just leave it as somewhere to rest your hands, then pull up on the Tablet and, voila, there’s the keyboard underneath. There’s a little bit of a learning curve to exposing the keyboard, but it’s easy enough to get used to. It’s such a slim-heighted keyboard that you might forget it’s even there in the Folio. But typing on it is just fine once you get used to where all the keys are (a few of them are slightly off from where your fingers might expect to find them).
The Tablet’s orientation switches automatically to landscape when you open up the keyboard access. And the Marker stays nicely magnetized to the top for ease of access.
The keyboard even includes angle brackets, which makes it easy to type HTML as you compose a blog post, for example. Somewhat strangely, the keyboard has no delete key, just backspace. But shift-backspace will achieve the delete functionality. Since the keyboard is so small, it is missing a variety of keys, but you can still perform all the functions with key combinations. It’s so obvious that they’ve given these things a lot of thought. If you want some on-board help with key combinations, hold down a key (like CTRL) and it’ll give you the options you have with that button for things like editing and navigation. Here is a quick guide to all the keyboard shortcuts.
I’m the kind of person who thinks better through my typing fingers than my writing hand, so I really appreciate a good keyboard and capture device. Using the reMarkable 2 Tablet with the Type Folio allows me to benefit from the focus of the device without having to handwrite everything.
It’s great for writing without distractions. Inevitably, when I’m writing on my computer or laptop, I take a break and check Facebook or email periodically. But with the reMarkable 2, I’m totally in the moment, with nothing but the screen, the keyboard, and my ideas.
Typing on the keyboard really blew me away. I wasn’t sure what to expect, what with the keyboard missing some keys, being kind of small, and the keys not having a lot of travel. But I think I can type even faster on the reMarkable Type Folio than I can on my regular computer keyboard or even my laptop. It’s incredibly fast and even less tiring, so I can type faster and longer than usual. Because of this, it may become my go-to composing device for initial ideas. It feels really smooth, and a little clicky but not annoyingly so. I seem to be able to type faster than the words appear on the screen, but it eventually catches up.
You might wonder how well it integrates the typed word with the handwritten word or drawing. I don’t know exactly how it works, but the reMarkable 2 attaches drawings to any type it’s drawn near, so if you add text above that spot, it moves the text and drawing down together.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet itself is a little hefty, due to its metal construction, and combined with the Type Folio, it’s even heavier. It’s not large, per se, just.. heavy. Not as heavy as a large iPad Pro in a case, but it’s like a baby or cat: The longer you hold it, the heavier it seems. Even though the non-keyboard cover is a lot lighter, I’m sure I’ll be using the Type Folio mostly exclusively because of the keyboard element. It’s such a faster way for me to write. And, unlike a Microsoft Surface, it’s pretty easy to balance on your lap. It’s just really easy to take off with it and create, without having to bring a laptop, or an iPad and separate Bluetooth keyboard.
Note that there is also a regular Folio accessory, which is made of polymer weave, and is just a sleeve to protect your Tablet. I’d suggest this product as a bare minimum to protect your Tablet.
This one isn’t an accessory, but it definitely extends how you can use your reMarkable 2 Tablet. Connect is an optional subscription service which includes both mobile and desktop notetaking functionality, unlimited cloud sync and storage, some additional offers in their webshop, and up to three years of extra device protection. It allows the notetaking capabilities to work across your devices. Without the subscription, you can access your content on your desktop and mobile devices, but with Connect, you can also create and edit documents. Everyone gets a 1-year free trial of Connect with Tablet purchase, which is long enough for you to figure out if a paid subscription will add to your experience.
Note: When you’re working back and forth on multiple devices, know that it doesn’t seem to sync your content until you close the document on the device you’re working on. So make sure you only have it open on one device at a time, and then give it a moment to sync before opening it on another device.
Where the reMarkable 2 Shines
The reMarkable 2 Tablet shines in a lot of areas. Here are the ones I noticed, again, in no particular order:
- Writing on it is a dream, and it feels surprisingly natural, not quite but almost like writing on paper.
- It remembers your chosen thickness for each pen/pencil/brush separately. It also remembers the pen you last chose in each document. (Procreate doesn’t do this!)
- I like the different writing implement options, and how some are pressure/direction sensitive and some are not.
- Palm Rejection works really well.
- The screen is pretty sharp and clear.
- It’s very thin for all that it can do.
- Writing and drawing in layers, to easily turn on and off your notes or other elements.
- Syncs across devices.
- Easy to share documents with others in multiple ways.
- Great for PDFs you’re meant to write in, like workbooks or comic book lessons.
- Nice as an alternate PDF reader that’s larger than my iPad Mini but more manageable than my laptop. As long as I don’t need color.
- Handwritten text and doodles connect themselves to typed text, so they always stay connected to the right content.
- Messy highlighting converts to tidy highlights. The highlighter shows clearly where it’s marking and then becomes lighter after a second.
- Great for linear writing, just sitting down and composing. (Though it’s less good for jumping around your document.)
- Handwriting is quick, responsive, and feels natural, and looks like my handwriting.
- Swiping up to make more room on the page kindly gives you about 1/3 of the page devoted to earlier content, so you know where you were and can refer to your previous few lines.
- Great battery life. I used it quite a bit off and on for two days straight and the battery only went from 69% to 34%.
- It doesn’t do everything, but what it does well, it does better than other devices (annotating, highlighting, focused notetaking or typing, real feel of writing, basic low-barrier sketching).
- The Type Folio. It expands functionality considerably, and it also just works so, so well.
It’s so easy to sit down, open it up, and start typing, writing, or drawing. Just like how iPads have changed our expectations to an instant, always-on computing experience compared with booting up a laptop or desktop, the reMarkable 2 Tablet provides an instant creation environment that you don’t even think twice about pulling it out and getting your words or sketches down.
For me, the reMarkable 2 Tablet is an ideal place to do an initial capture of my content, whether that’s handwritten notes or sketches, or first draft typing. Then I can take what I capture, and edit or finalize it on my iPad or my regular computer. The ability to focus on just the thing I’m doing is really helpful. And it has just enough tools for doing that.
Where the reMarkable 2 Struggles
Though the reMarkable 2 Tablet does a lot, it does have some learning curves and some functionality that isn’t very slick. Here are some areas where the Tablet struggles.
- Tapping the on-screen keyboard or menu icons, along with gestures, has a noticeable delay.
- Every so often, it automatically refreshes the screen, which is normal for this kind of display. For example, when you select something and move it, there are artifacts left behind. It eventually refreshes itself, but there doesn’t seem to be a manual refresh option. You can exit the document and open it again to accomplish it, but that’s time consuming.
- You can pinch to zoom in/out, but it’s not very smooth and is disorienting. Sometimes when you zoom in, it looks weird until the screen refreshes. I hope they improve this, because being able to zoom in a PDF document is pretty important.
- If you want to see the whole page or template, you have to minimize the tools on the left, which I prefer to have always open and accessible. You can always zoom out, but I avoid that whenever I can (see above).
- It does feel like a step back in terms of interface, compared with tablets like the iPad, such as for moving notebooks around and the slow response speed when you tap on things, but the point here is to create, write, draw, or type (or even read), so it’s a small quibble.
- There is no good way to search the contents of your notes, so you need to use tags and folder organization to your advantage. You can search tags and file and folder names. I hope they add better search options in the future.
- Syncing isn’t as fast as I’d like. If you’re constantly needing to move back and forth between devices, it could be frustrating.
- There’s no side by side comparing or anything. Your experience is very linear and focused. Though I suppose that’s the point!
- Some of the templates assume you’ll be writing very small, but it’s hard to write small enough for some of the fields.
- There are limited file formats for export, including a lack of a TXT file (it will put text within the body of an email, though).
- You can’t make your own templates. That would be a game changer. One of the weekly calendar templates has very tall, narrow columns for each day, making it hard to write small enough to have an easy-to-read list for each day.
- You can type on the template pages, but you can’t sufficiently control where the typing goes.
- The lines on some of the templates (like the to-do list) are too faint.
- When you look at your Tablet-originating writing and drawing on the desktop app, the lines look a bit pixelated. Strangely, they look fine on my iPad Mini. Exporting from the desktop app keeps it pixelated. Exporting from iPad app only seems to do PDF but it does look just as good as on screen.
- Not ideal for most quality drawing but fine for rough sketches.
Summing Up the reMarkable 2 Tablet and Its Accessories
The reMarkable 2 Tablet isn’t a pad of paper. It isn’t an iPad. It isn’t an eReader. It’s basically digital paper, but, oh, is it powerful. Write on the reMarkable 2 with the Marker and it writes like a dream. It feels like you’re writing on paper. But better. Plus, you can draw, use templates, and convert all of your handwriting into type. You can read and mark up PDFs, read ebooks, and share your screen, making it an incredible tool for work. Keep all of your content synced across devices, and there is unlimited cloud storage available. This is the kind of device that you’ll keep finding new uses for. It’s a powerful tool, and has Marker and Folio accessories to make it complete, including the Type Folio with a built-in keyboard, which is a vital addition for anyone who prefers typing to writing by hand (raises hand).
Just like with my first-ever iPad many years ago, I knew I wanted the reMarkable 2 Tablet but wasn’t sure how it would fit into my life. But I use my iPad Mini many times every day, and the reMarkable 2 is similarly working its way into my daily routine. I just keep finding new ways to use it.
You do miss out on some of the advantages of actual paper, like being able to see what is on it at all times without electricity, being more easily able to page through a notebook or calendar, and putting two or more pages side by side. So, no, it probably won’t replace every slip of paper you use in your life. But it can replace a lot of them. And it will give you new ways to express yourself, communicate with others, and organize your work and personal life.
It probably also won’t replace any of your current devices, but it’s a fantastic addition to your workflow, especially for initial capturing of content, and for reviewing and marking up PDF files.
The base price is decently affordable, if you’re on a budget, or you can add in some fancy or less fancy accessories to complete your needed functionality. If you got the Tablet, the Type Folio, and the Marker Plus, it does add up to quite a bit, but if you prioritize gadgets in your life, or a focused capture device would make a significant difference in your work’s bottom line, it may be a justifiable expense.
The reMarkable 2 Tablet, for Me
Here is my assessment for how it best fits into my life: It’s great for focused typing, as long as I’m typing in a linear fashion and not going back and forth or doing much editing. It’s great for reading and marking up PDFs. It’s great for just pulling out and illustrating something for someone, without thought to needing more paper or anything, or testing out some visual ideas for myself, such as future house floorplans.
I don’t write much by hand and I don’t like referring to digital lists and calendars (except when grocery shopping from a list on my phone), so I may not use the reMarkable 2 like some others do, and I likely wouldn’t use it to create the final version of anything. But it definitely has a place in my life for initial capturing (especially typing), casual sketching, and as a PDF reader.
My best advice for figuring out if a reMarkable 2 Tablet has a place in your life is this: 1. Figure out if you have that much disposable income. 2. Think about whether the device will do anything significantly better than the processes/tools you already use. If the answer to both of those is yes, then the reMarkable 2 Tablet (and Type Folio and Marker or Marker Plus) might be very helpful additions to your life.