The tool on my desk: ReMarkable tablet

 2018-12-26
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I had spent countless hours to make reading and notetaking experience better with the tools I had a laptop and kindle eink reader, but nevertheless the efforts I was investing made me unsatisfied with the result. Perhaps I am easally disturbed by nuisances - eye irritation, unreadability, synchronization and convienince - which stood in front of my goals and started to form a goal itself. If only there would have been A4 sized ereadere on which one could write at that time. Meet ReMarkable!

Initially I was rather reluctant in giving away 420 eiro. The companny was new and had not produced any product before; then it was unclear how well I could trust their marketing promises and even if the promisise are match technological abilities. The consumer protection was also floating since the product was produced and sent directly from Honk-Kong. To find that I researched the internet. I found that one of the founders used to work on KDE an open source desktop environment. Then the companny had been created in Norwegian incubator and the tablet had received a positve review from Harward (I think I also cam acccros some award then). And also importantly they were collaborating eith established companies like Wacom and EInk who created a display with their given specifications. Together theese facts formed me a trust to believe ther marketing promises of having a eink tablet which can replace paper.

But tablets had been produced for years why did they not accomplish that goal was my question? There are two reasosn for that. First is that tablets like phones are being desinned (conciouslly or unconsciously) to take attention of the user - notifications, games, social network and "productivity" applications. The competition is fiece and that makes companies not to dare to make things what users need but instead they are participating in the game who can satisfy more wants (which marketers implant) of the user. The second reason is that LCD screens takes attention of everything around like sun in the sky. Also personally, I find they do produce more eyestrain and takes a part of my creativity also I feel that backlight makes me addicted to look into LCD screens (which is a reflex produced by engineering of the first). The galssy top of the LCD screens is also not helping of producing smooth writiing experience, even for the newest ipad-pro. Thus eink strenght and weaknesses are well suited to make a different kind of product - a usefull one.

The experience of the tablet and the company have been marvelouus one since I got my tablet now eactly year ago. The tablet is well built with a minimalistic design. Light enought to hold it comfortably in one hand by its corner, a two rubber strips behind its back to prevent it from slipping on the table, and three buttons in total. The marker comming with tablet is lighter than most pens andis even lighter than the IPad markers. That give flexibility and gentliness in my hands. The device perfectly fits on my ancient desktop setting and gives a feeling as device from the past and the future at the same time.

The writting experience does not dissapoint and constantly amazes me. It feels slippery like writting with marker on the soomth surface but still with a gentle friction. Lattency is bellow my expectations snd only in exceptional cases noticeable (interestingly more noticable when other person is writting). All strokes independently how fast they were made are captured as well all imperfections of my handwritting to a incredible resolution. It is like writing wih ink which reacts with paper producing the color. It is a pure magic!

Additionaly to the features one would expect from the paper, the tablet allows to revert strokes, erase, scale, zoom, move, rotate and layer the strokes and change the background templates. And after the drawing s finished I can send it as pdf directly from or as a plain text given by their excellent handwrtiing recognition software from the tablet which makes collaboration so much easier. When I am accustomed to the device and swithc back to the paper I do look for back button and moving functionality. I find theese function not just a toys to play around. Sometimes I use theese functions to scale lareger formulas down, or I do sometimes keep old derivations on the side of the page to remind what I had previosly attemted to do, but is not part of narrative anymore.

The ReMarkable had gone against the trend of adapting Android to their needs. Instead they had built it from open source technologies availabale and approached their software development from a humble point of view to make it exccellent for performance and battery life. Power users gain significant power too. The by default given ssh access and publicly made API for the writting lowers the barrier to explore their dreams into actual implementation. This ambitios goal also made a lot of bugs which made remarkable to crash unexpectedly and was slow in some occasions. Now after 6 updates there are almost no bugs which crashed the tablet. It is so stable that I completley forget my fears of loosing the things I write down which are also synhronized to a Cloud and the fears of not being able to present at a critical moment. It is now at the stage where I think they could develop features where my wish list would be: a single click tool change, synchronization between two remarkables or single click/gesture switch between two locations or documents, dictionary, natve Linux support (wine works pretty good), copy and paste between pages and etc.

What else is remarkable is their custommer support. In april 6 months since my mom received the device, after returning from a flight I saw that at the bottom of the screen a thin persistant line had appered. Although it did not affect functuality much, I contacted the custommer support giving the pictures and very shortly I received confirmation that they are ready to cocollect my device via DHL and send back replacement after cehks would be done and all that for free! The procedure took only a week where in the result I got brand nnew device with new markers, pencil and cover. Another encouteer I had very recently when synchronization with their cloud service started to fail at my universityis network. Again I contacted them and toghether we found what can I say to IT department to fix the synhronization (they had accidentally blaclicted a needed DNS) and that would not have been so easally to do if they had not commited themselves to open source software and empowering the users in this case with ssh access.

The ReMarkable tablet had been a trully remarkable companion for me this year. I have read insane amount of books, articles, and had made most of my scientific notes here. In some occasions it even replaces LaTeX. (Although I sill keep a paper notebook since switching between documents on the tablet takes too much time). It certainly had resolved my anxieties on how to improve my technology settings to improve reading experience and capturing of my thoughts. Overall I put ReMarkable as technology which instead of adjusting people goals to giving a sense of productivity helps people to achieve their genuine goals.

The question you might be asking yourself would it be cheaper to buy paper and books you need instead? Probably. For me the paper just makes a mess ;D. If you eventually decide to buy one, use a link bellow to get a 85 eiro discount:

https://remarkable.mention-me.com/m/ol/ng0he-janis-erdmanis


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