Here’s Why an E-ink Notebook Is Better Than an iPad

It does one thing, but it does it very well

  • E-readers and e-notebooks are better than iPads and computers for reading, and taking notes. 
  • Battery life is off the charts, and you can use them even in bright sunlight. 
  • The reMarkable 2 e-notebook can do handwriting recognition, and sync to the cloud. 
Person using a ReMarkable 2 e-ink tablet

ReMarkable

E-ink notebooks are a niche, but they’re a really, really popular niche. 

ReMarkable, maker of the beautiful, slimline notebook you see in these pictures, is doing remarkably well, according to the money people. Just like how many iPad owners love their tablets and prefer them over laptop computers, so reMarkable notebook owners absolutely love their e-ink tablets, despite, or perhaps because of, their limitations. 

“To say that I LOVE traditional notebooks is an understatement. I own too many calligraphy pens to count, I have a full bookshelf of notebooks I've deemed too pretty to write in, and my oldest daughter is named Avery (the idea came from my favorite office supplies),” e-ink notebook superfan and PR consultant Amanda Holdsworth told Lifewire via email. “So when I switched to a Remarkable 2 e-ink notebook two months ago, no one in my inner circle thought I would stick with it. Let me just say, my pens and paper notebooks are really lonely.”

ReMarkable Advantage

Person using a stylus with ReMarkable 2

ReMarkable

Just like an iPad does less than a MacBook but does some things better, a reMarkable or other e-ink notebook does way less than an iPad but is superior in what it does.

Many of those advantages are shared with readers like the Kindle. You can read them in full sunlight because the screen works like ink on paper, and because there’s no active screen or backlight, the battery lasts for weeks, not hours. They’re also lighter-weight for a given size, and for many, their simplicity makes them less distracting.

And the purpose-made reMarkable also has a screen that feels a lot more like paper when you write on it, instead of letting the pen skate across the smooth glass with the Apple Pencil on an iPad. 

“As a fashion designer and a CEO, I prefer an e-ink notebook because I mainly want a device for sketching and note-taking and nothing else,” fashion designer and CEO Luke Lee told Lifewire via email. “An e-ink notebook, like the Remarkable 2, is best for sketching and note-taking. Its battery lasts a lot longer than an iPad, and has a greater texture and overall feel than an iPad.”

E-Notes

Person taking notes on a ReMarkable 2 tablet

ReMarkable

Like rivals Boox and Kobo’s Sage, reMarkable’s tablet can be used with a dedicated stylus to take notes, mark up documents, or just doodle. You can just leave it on the table, like any paper notebook, and it waits, barely using any battery power until you need it. An iPad can do the whole pen-input thing, of course, but if you don’t let it sleep, its battery will be done in a few hours. 

“Compared to a notebook [computer] or even iPad, Remarkable 2 is incredibly lightweight and thin. I travel a lot for work (I own a school PR and marketing consulting agency), so the fact that it is so portable and the charge lasts me weeks is key,” says Holdsworth.

iPads have plenty of other advantages, of course, like the range of apps, and their sheer versatility. But e-notebooks aren’t lacking in features. They’re just very focused. For example, reMarkable offers a monthly $7.99 subscription on top of the purchase price that adds cloud services, including handwriting recognition, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive integration, cloud storage, and sync with your other devices. 

An e-ink notebook, like the Remarkable 2, is best for sketching and note-taking. Its battery lasts a lot longer than an iPad and has a greater texture and overall feel than an iPad.

This last feature is pretty great. You can read and mark up documents on your reMarkable and you can search them later and file them on your computer. 

What tablets like the reMarkable show us is that general-purpose computers are versatile, but rarely excel in one particular area. If they do, it might be that we humans have adapted to the limitations of the device, and internalized them. 

A simple notebook based on paper is a good example of this. It draws on centuries of experience and doesn’t change much. Then again, you might ask why bother? After all, a paper notebook is still a pretty great piece of technology, with infinite battery life, a display that is viewable in sunlight, and easily bookmarkable pages. It might not sync with your Dropbox, but then again, neither does the reMarkable unless you pay that monthly subscription.

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