At first glance, the reMarkable seemed expensive for a one show pony. Replacing a pad of paper for notes was its only selling point and truly main focus. Could it really fit my use case and deliver an experience I needed?
As one who regularly types notes and prints them for use in public speaking, I sought out a replacement for physical paper. I had multiple copies of notes, printed quite regularly, and often would get copies confused. In my flow, I numbered the pages as to not get them confused which order they were to be referred. I reprinted each time a correction to the notes or if the paper withered due to use. This seemed like a huge waste of paper. (At $.05 estimated per sheet of paper, 10 pages of notes would cost approximately $2 by the time I was finished.)
I first started using my Kindle Paperwhite as a replacement to printing. I could easily send myself a PDF and have it appear on my Kindle. Over time I realized the screen was perfect for the lighting environments where I routinely looked at my notes – a pulpit. It was like having my notes printed, but without the glare of an LED from a tablet. One flaw of the Kindle stood out: while it was the perfect size for reading a book, it was too small for reading full sized PDF documents at a distance. I learned that I had to type “convert” in the subject line of each PDF email sent to my Kindle. This allowed better font viewing, but my formatting would not appear the way I needed it to.
When I first saw the reMarkable, it looked like it would alleviate my two concerns. Once I received my remarkable (thank you, stimulus money), I was able to import a few PDFs and view them as full-sized on the glare-free e-ink display. The formatting was also exactly as I set it in my word processor. Everything seemed as if it was going to be perfect; however, the reMarkable had one flaw – it does not have a typing program. Yes, it does have an on-screen keyboard for filling out items such as filenames, emails, and others, but if you want to word process, you have to manually write out the letters. While this is good for hand-written note takers, this threw a wrench in my workflow. I could not use the reMarkable as an all-inclusive document processor to where I would no longer need to type on a computer. (To reMarkable’s credit, they did not market the device as such, but I was erroneously thinking there would be some sort of typing application included.)
After some reviewing my workflow of typing my document in GSuite, saving it as PDF, and uploading it to the reMarkable, I figured this required too much effort to get something on the reMarkable. There had to be an easier way – considering I would update my typed document quite frequently. Looking for options, I was able to find the google-drive-sync script and extend it to include Documents and convert them to PDFs. My workflow now is as follows:
I. I type a document into GSuite
2. It syncs to remarkable cloud and my device
3. I copy the file to a local folder, make annotations in the process of reviewing
4. I update the file on GSuite
5. Repeat from step 2
I still have a few flaws to work out with the sync, but it works for now.
As for the other aspect of the reMarkable – note taking and eBook reading, I have to say, that I quite enjoy the experience. Jotting down a to-do list, quickly putting thoughts down (instead of waiting for a note app to boot on a phone or computer), and notating on top of eBooks have been a breeze. The experience is just like using paper, and for one who can detect lag from a stylus, I cannot tell that I am using one.
For a device that is marketed as replacing paper notes, it does quite well. My use case is also satisfied with some modifications that I have made. Overall, I am satisfied in the purchase and 2 year break-even point.