Monday, 21 September 2020

An E-Ink tablet optimised for both reading and writing

The problem with note-taking E-Ink devices is that they are optimised either for note-taking or e-reading. Remarkable 2 comes closest to reproducing digitally the pen on paper feel. The screen is slightly recessed, so you get the feeling of directly writing on the surface of the screen. It also uses a CANVAS display that Remarkable developed with E-Ink - the display adds extra surface friction and has a 21ms latency when writing. 

Remarkable claim their device is a 'paper tablet' rather than an e-reader. Nevertheless, Remarkable also highlights that the 'paper tablet' is equally made for reading too:

In our endeavour of creating a tablet for reading, writing and sketching, we have tried almost all types of tablets and display technologies. 

It is here - the reading side - that Remarkable falls short as the e-reader software misses basic features that significantly cripples its use. 

On the other hand, Onyx Boox has the best e-reading software. What is lacking with Onyx Boox e-readers is its note-taking capabilities. The screen of Boox's e-readers, like other e-readers, has a smooth finish that feels unnatural when writing and feels closer to writing on a tablet screen. Added to the slick glass surface, in the case of both the Note 2 and Nova 2, there is a slight gap between the glass layer and E-Ink display. 

Despite being inferior to Remarkable, Onyx Boox's e-readers are still usable for note-taking. It just doesn't have the paper feel and latency that you get with the Remarkable 2. Still, the software for note-taking is capable, and you don't get significant trade-offs between reading and writing (Remarkable 1 and 2 are optimised for note-taking but have significant reading drawbacks).

What is needed is a device that is optimised for both note-taking and reading. I think Remarkable is closest to getting it done as the Remarkable 2's limitations are software related.

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