They've cracked the nut.
After all this time, testing so many gadgets over the years, I finally found a device that seems to do exactly what the designers intended.
The Remarkable tablet is not perfect but it sure comes close. I started using one to take notes in a meeting and even went on a mindfulness retreat, and I used one during a mentoring session. I can't get over the fact that--unlike the Apple iPad 10.2 or the similar Sony Digital Paper tablet--the Remarkable has a more organic pen on paper feel.
Here's what that's like:
The stylus looks a bit like the Apple Pencil--it's all white and light enough to carry around. When you write notes, you feel like the pen is pushing slightly into the digital screen. I'm sure that isn't true, but the tip has a flexibility to it that feels like lead. While a real pencil grinds down over time and loses its sharpness, the Remarkable stylus never does.
Actually, that's not quite true. I wondered if the tip could possibly break or wear out, and there are a few extra tips included with the tablet. (You can store them in the stylus itself, which is a neat trick.) I liked writing notes and then clicking an icon to convert my notes to text. This worked during a series of initial tests, although when I did a diagram and wasn't as careful, the conversion didn't work as perfectly. I'm happy with the conversion results overall and wished I had tested this tablet a long time ago.
The Remarkable tablet weighs only 12 ounces and is about the size of a normal notepad. I experimented with battery life and took notes at various times during the day and it lasted just fine, although I did have to charge it once during a week of testing.
Another cool feature has to do with phone syncing. When I wrote out a few notes during a mentoring session, I drew out some ideas and then synced the notes to my phone. Later, I forwarded the notes as a PDF file. The person I'm mentoring suggested taking a picture of the tablet screen, and I thought--maybe Remarkable should add some social features so that another person can see what I'm drawing in real-time.
Since the tablet is so light, I tended to carry it with me in a laptop bag every day for a week, and hardly noticed it was there next to my laptop. I firmly believe a well-designed, useful gadget will become something to rely on and use even more, and that's what happened to me. I didn't reach for a legal pad once during my test, because I knew the tablet would turn on quickly (although not as fast as an iPad) and allow me to write notes clearly.
In a few cases, I brushed up against some of the icons with the stylus and clicked the wrong function, but after a little more practice that rarely happened. (If you get close to the icons, you have to hold the stylus more upright.) I started jotting down ideas for articles, meetings later that week, products I want to test--it became more like a digital assistant.
The tablet is easy to read, easy to use--I'm a convert. It's priced at $499, which is the same as the Sony model I mentioned previously. It's a perfect paper replacement.