When the first generation iPad Pro was released I saw two opportunities for my personal workflow. One was the easy, and simply beautiful, method for my couples to sign their Australian marriage paperwork electronically. The other was for me to leave my Mac at home with my heavy travel schedule and make the iPad the computer I took away from the house.
The iPad served both of those roles quite adequately, even more so as I upgraded to the 11" iPad Pro and the second generation Apple Pencil.
The niggling feeling I’ve had for the past year though, has been that I was too closely involved with the iPad, so much so that I couldn’t see it’s flaws, and the unhealthy relationship we’d developed.
Things like: finding peace with transferring a 4K video off an SD card into the iPad and there being no status update as to how much of the file has transferred or how much longer it will take; struggling with the multi-tasking two-three apps open at once strategy called Split View and how it never really worked that well; how so many developers seemingly don’t actually use an iPad despite developing apps for it, displayed usually by the lack of iPad feature support, or forcing us to use it in portrait mode when there’s a keyboard attached and it’s in landscape mode; and finally, so many developers just refusing to develop for the iPad, Instagram most notably.
So two products were launched this year that had a real shot at replacing the iPad and my entire computing setup.
The first was the MacBook running on Apple Silicon. It runs iOS-only apps better than an iPad, and it brings the responsiveness and the speed of the iPad, to the Mac, rendering my 16" MacBook Pro with an Intel chip, obsolete. The only thing the MacBook Air with Apple Silicon did not do was give me touch and stylus.
Enter, reMarkable 2.
So I gave in and ordered a reMarkable.
The reMarkable 2, or the Remarkable as I’ll refer to it from here on out, is a beautiful product, packaged beautifully.
The Remarkable syncs with the propriety cloud service, reMarkable Cloud.
And is supported by desktop and mobile apps.
Files can be uploaded to the cloud, and when the device connects to wifi, it synchronises back and forth.
The device is beautiful to use. It’s a simple, single-use, device. It displays documents and allows you to mark them up. Imagine a regular paper notebook married to that stack of documents on your desk.
The handwriting detection is pretty amazing well, considering my handwriting is more like a scrawl.
The unit also dabbles as a PDF reader and eBook reader, a task it handles well despite not being a Kindle. I’d love to have access to my Kindle library!
Compared to the iPad Pro 11"?
The Remarkable is 100% a nicer device to hold in your hand, and to write on. I’m using the stylus that has an eraser in the head of the stylus, and the screen is what Paperlike has been trying to bring to the Apple tablet family.
I find the Remarkable easier to write on, annotate with, and hold in my hand - with or without the leather case - the only problem is that it’s not running iPadOS and it doesn’t have an LTE modem.
If you’re trying to imagine what it feels like, imagine a large and thin Kindle you can draw on.
Size and weight
The Remarkable 2 is 187mm wide, 246mm high x 4.7 mm thick, compared to an A4 piece of paper, 210mm wide, 297mm high, and you know how thick it is. Compared to the iPad Pro 11", which is 179mm wide, 248mm high, and 5.9 mm thick.
The iPad Pro 11" is actually the thinnest Apple computer ever made, but it feels like a brick after holding the Remarkable in your hand.
The Remarkable weighs 404 grams, and the iPad is 473 grams, 69 grams heavier, a 17% increase in weight as you weigh them up in your hands.
It’s certianly nicer to hold the Remarkable, and especially when you factor in covers, cases, or keyboards. The Smart Keyboard really bulks out the iPad, whilst the Remarkable’s leather folio is still quite slim and lovely to hold.
The reMarkable 2 will only connect to “regular” wifi networks, not public wifi networks requiring authentication through a website, like the Qantas Free Wifi.
And the Mac software is the slightest bit buggy, but the developers have promised fix.
Will it do the job?
The reMarkable 2 is replacing my iPad Pro. It might not have a 4G modem, Dropbox sync, or the Kindle app, but it is the best electronic ink tablet with a stylus money can buy right now.
If the reMarkable guys are reading this, I’ll throw in a last minute request for a Safari extension as well, not all of us use Chrome :).