Review

Remarkable: This Anti-iPad won’t replace paper – yet

By Alex Wood 19 September 2017
Summary

Brilliant idea, eye-watering price.

Feel like you’re going backwards not forwards? You’re not alone – if there’s one trend that defines 2017, it has to be tech nostalgia.

Vinyl’s gone from hipster niche to mainstream, the ‘new’ Nokia 3310 is one of this year’s hottest phones and even Blackberry’s making a comeback.

Remarkable – the latest device to follow the trend. It’s the ‘anti iPad’, a black and white tablet for taking notes and sketching, with absolutely no apps or distractions – and the closest you’ll ever get to ‘real’ paper on a screen.

Distraction free writing in a digital world

If like me, you’re drowning in a never-ending sea of all-consuming notifications, this tablet is a godsend.

It forces you to focus on one thing at a time. With it’s Kindle-like E Ink display, it’s reassuringly slow, with every button you press forcing the screen to refresh.

But Remarkable’s real party trick is the screen’s surface itself. It feels like ‘real’ paper. It responds like ‘real’ paper, to your every brushstroke or flick of its digital stylus.

This is a huge technical achievement, one that can’t be underestimated. If you’ve stuck steadfast to good old-fashioned paper, this could be the device that turns you digital.

Meeting notes for the digital age

The Remarkable is marketed at creatives, but I found it useful for everyday meeting notes.

For me, nothing beats paper when it comes to ‘being in the room’ and actually connecting with the people you meet in person.

But like so many people, I juggle between multiple notepads. And never seem to have the one I need to hand when it comes to reviewing my notes.

Being a digital device – Remarkable solves this problem as everything you create is automatically backed up and stored in Remarkable’s own cloud service, which you can access on your smartphone, iPad or computer.

It’s packed with plenty of built-in templates, including squared paper for calculations, architectural paper for floorplans and tick lists keeping on top of work.

The downsides

But as with any new device, there are downsides.

My first week with the device reminded me of the time when I bought my first iPad in 2010. As useful as it is, most people have never seen a device like it, so I felt awkward each time I got out this distinctive bright white tablet in a meeting, especially with people I hadn’t met before.

 

Just like the early days of the iPad, I’m sure that in time people will get used to it. But unlike paper or today’s iPad, Remarkable takes a good 15 seconds to start up, followed by another 10 seconds to load up a clean sheet of paper.

I found this anything but mindful. And in many meetings, I simply reverted back to my paper notebook as it was there and didn’t need time to warm up.

Worse still, I expected the Kindle’s excellent month-long battery life. Unfortunately, Remarkable only lasted a 2 -3 days of regular use without needing charging, and infuriatingly, my device died in the middle of a critical meeting.

Remarkable’s cloud-based software also slowed me down. I already ‘live’ in Google’s Cloud with all my documents in Google Drive, so for me, adding another device that stores its files somewhere else was frustrating.

The Remarkable tablet is an excellent device for proofing copy and marking up changes. But getting a document onto it involves exporting it into a PDF, downloading it and then re-uploading it back into Remarkable’s cloud using a special app. This hassle outweighs the convenience, and I had to repeat the process backwards to get the file back in Google Drive.

Should you buy one?

Thankfully, these problems could be easily fixed with future software updates, so if you are willing to take the plunge with a first generation device, it could pay off.

The price, however, may still put you off. Today the Remarkable will set you back an eye-watering $599 (£579).

For context, a brand-new iPad starts at $379 – for a vastly more capable device, minus the mindfulness.

If you’ve always dreamed of a digital device that can replace your notepad, Remarkable could be the premium device for you.

But we recommend holding on for the kinks to be ironed out and the price to drop.

The Remarkable Tablet is now on sale for £579.