Amazon announced a brand-new Kindle last week at its latest. The is more than just an extra-large . Its 10.2-inch screen is built for handwriting notes. Amazon includes a pen that doesn't ever need to be charged so you can immediately start scribbling in your books or in its built-in notebook app. It has 300-pixel-per-inch resolution, comes with 35 LED front lights that can be adjusted from cool to warm and starts at $340 for a model with 16GB of storage. The Kindle Scribe will be released on Nov. 30.
The Scribe is Amazon's first, but it's not the only one. These devices, including the Kobo Elipsa and , also feature large screens, an included smart pen and gray-scale E Ink displays. Unlike traditional like the or Amazon's own , E Ink tablets aren't capable of browsing the web or playing videos or games (at least, not very well). Instead, their main focus is to bring distraction-free writing and reading to students, professionals and anyone else who loves to write by hand, but wants to ditch the clutter and waste of paper notebooks.
Kindle Scribe: Notes on the Kindle, but with a catch
Amazon says that you'll be able to write handwritten notes in your books on the Scribe, but unfortunately you won't be able to write them directly on the page. Instead, you'll need to write on "sticky notes."
Not only does this prevent you from scribbling in the margins of books, it also means you'll need to take a separate action to start writing at all. First you'll have to tap an on-screen button, which will launch the note. Once you finish writing and close the note, the sticky will be saved but will not leave any markings on the screen. You'll be able to access your notes by tapping into your "Notes and Highlights" section.
Sticky notes works with all of your Kindle content and will also be available on Microsoft Word documents. The Scribe will let you directly mark up PDFs, but writing in books requires using sticky notes. That could be a tough pill to swallow for those who prefer to see their notes directly next to the text on the screen. All other E Ink tablets I've tested let users write directly onto the documents (including some books) on their device, rather than using sticky notes.
ReMarkable 2: Great for writing, but no backlight
Currently, the ReMarkable 2 is one of the most popular E Ink tablets available and one of the best for handwritten notes. This tablet's 10.3-inch 226 PPI display is not quite as sharp as the Scribe's, but the screen is ever-so-slightly larger. Like the Scribe, the ReMarkable 2 also comes with a pen that pairs automatically and does not need to be charged. Users can write directly on the screen to mark up PDFs or unprotected, DRM-free ePubs. It has 8GB of internal storage and now includes handwriting conversion and Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive integration. Those services used to be part of ReMarkable's Connect subscription, but are now included for free with every device. The Connect subscription itself still exists, but now costs $3 a month instead of $8. It offers a ReMarkable 2 protection plan, along with unlimited cloud storage and the ability to add notes in your notebooks when you're on mobile and desktop devices.
Unlike the Scribe, the ReMarkable 2 does not have access to the Kindle library, and you won't be able to take notes on any Kindle books that you own. It also lacks any kind of built-in lighting, which means that you'll need to use a lamp to read and write in the dark. That said, it's now one of the cheapest E Ink tablets available at $279.
Kobo Elipsa: Write directly on Kobo and library books
Of course, Amazon isn't the only company that has made a name for itself on e-readers. Kobo, which is owned by Rakuten, has long been nipping at Amazon's heels when it comes to its e-reader lineup. In fact, the Kobo Elipsa may well be the Kindle Scribe's most direct rival. The Elipsa is a 10.3-inch E Ink tablet and it works seamlessly with Kobo's own extensive library, allowing users to markup PDFs, and other Kobo books and ePubs. It even lets you mark up library books borrowed from OverDrive and will remember your markings if you later buy the book or take it out again from the library. The included pen requires AAA batteries to work, but the Elipsa comes with 32GB of storage, handwriting conversion, and DropBox support. Its resolution of 227 PPI is a little less than the Scribe's and though it does come with front LED lights, it lacks the warm light of the Scribe. The Kobo Elipsa costs $400 and comes with a sleep cover.
Kindle Scribe vs. Remarkable 2 vs. Kobo Elipsa
||Kindle Scribe||ReMarkable 2||Kobo Elipsa|
|Display size||10.2 inches||10.3 inches||10.3 inches|
|Display resolution (pixels-per-inch)||300 PPI||226 PPI||227 PPI|
|Front lights||Yes, front light and adjustable warm light||None||Yes, front light|
|Pen charging||None needed||None needed||2 AAA batteries|
|Storage||16GB, 32GB, 64GB||8GB||32GB|
|Supported file types||Kindle Format 8 (AZW3), Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; PDF, DOCX, DOC, HTML, EPUB, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion; Audible audio format (AAX)||PDFs, JPGs, PNGs, and DRM-free EPUB ebooks||EPUB, EPUB3, FlePub, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR, Kobo Audiobooks|