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ReMarkable's e-ink tablet is ready to take over your sketchpad

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My Kindle can display books just fine, but it can't be used to jot down notes. E-ink refresh rates are generally terrible. The Norwegian startup ReMarkable has made its own tablet that aims to make sketching on e-ink feel smooth and lag-free. And, hey, it really works.

Big e-ink tablets remain a pretty niche market. Sony's Digital Paper is ReMarkable's biggest competition (we haven't tried Sony's latest tablet yet for comparison). According to CEO Magnus Wanberg and Chief Design Officer Mats Holberg, their tablet is about finding a way to write without feeling overconnected. Or, capturing digital sketches without having all the other apps and gear.

The ReMarkable tablet was announced last year, but is supposed to finally ship this August.

The ReMarkable tablet is a bit chunkier than the recently-announced newest version of Sony's Digital Paper, but it also costs less. And ReMarkable promises to have the most lag-free sketching available (about 50 milliseconds).

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For basic writing and drawing, it feels pretty natural.

Scott Stein/CNET

Do you sketch?

The tablet is designed mainly for artists. The various built-in tools focus on sketching and drawing, and work gets seamlessly synced over Wi-Fi to a cloud account across iOS, Android, Mac or PC. Another mode I saw demoed involved collaborative live-sketching with remote parties.

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Weirdly, the pen doesn't come included.

Scott Stein/CNET

The ReMarkable stylus is passive, not active, which means it doesn't need charging. It's a basic-feeling white pen with replaceable felt tips, 10 of which come with the stylus. The tips wear out over time as the pen presses against the tablet's display. It creates the feel of real writing, though. The tablet allows 2,000 pressure levels as well as tilt support.

The ReMarkable tablet also handles ePub and PDF files. There are some physical buttons for page-turning, too. But I wouldn't think of that as this tablet's key feature. Really, this is a tablet for sketching. Work is saved as scalable vectors, but can exported as a PDF.

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A sample sketch (I didn't do this).

Scott Stein/CNET

A few drawbacks

And yes, the fast, lag-free sketching was impressive. But the nuances still needed work. Sometimes, light touches resulted in light sketches. Sometimes, the sketch didn't register.

Does a digital sketch tool that feels more like paper have the nuance to match what I expect out of a regular pencil and paper? (Answer for now: no.)

The tablet's own built-in tools do allow for layers and cut-and-paste, and files can be loaded from Dropbox. The company is working on cloud-supporting other accounts, and is looking into supporting Office files down the road, but who knows?

The tablet also lacks any handwriting recognition, so don't expect transcribed manuscripts.

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Cool perspective tools included.

Scott Stein/CNET

I want this... on a tiny Kindle-size moleskine

Why not use an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 ($899.00 at Adorama) and a pressure-sensitive stylus instead? That's a question that the ReMarkable tablet still needs to answer. But it looks like it nails making e-ink sketching feel real. Or, nearly real.

I'd love a Kindle that had a note-taking feature like this. But I don't know if I'd pay up for what ReMarkable's offering yet.

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Physical buttons on the bottom.

Scott Stein/CNET
  • 10.3-inch e-ink display
  • 1,872x1,404-pixel resolution (226 DPI)
  • 55ms touchscreen response latency
  • 8GB of internal storage (no expandable memory)
  • 512MB of RAM
  • Wi-Fi
  • 3,000mAh battery

Discuss ReMarkable tablet

Where to Buy

ReMarkable tablet

Part Number: CNETreMarkable tablet

MSRP: $529.00

Pre-order from reMarkable.

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