One week with a reMarkable 2

One week ago I received a reMarkable 2 in the mail. I'm not much of a gadgets person, but I was interested in buying it because, while I enjoy taking notes on paper, I find notebooks to be a very limiting medium -- at least for someone with my (slightly perfectionist about organization) personality.

I had settled on a workflow where I carry around one notebook which contains notes from sermons at the beginning and notes from personal Bible study starting about 1/3 of the way through. Any other notes, I would take on scratch paper (and then either scan it or lose it) or by typing on my computer. But I wanted to expand my notetaking capabilities.

So far, I have used the reMarkable 2 to take notes from two sermons, four meetings, personal study of seven Psalms, and two training videos. My first impressions of the device were very positive:

There have been a couple of learning processes. The first was finding the right combination of pen and template. The fact that the angle and pressure of the Ballpoint affected the line width bothered me, so I had to try a few pen settings before settling on the Fineliner with a thin stroke. I also had to experiment with a few templates before choosing US College.

The second learning process is still ongoing -- clean and efficient corrections. My first instinct is to flip the pen over and erase, but the eraser affects a wide and imprecise area. It will frequently erase partial strokes from adjacent letters. And unfortunately, the pen is not accurate enough to redraw such erased strokes onto a letter. I am getting more comfortable with the use of the "undo" toolbar option for immediate mistakes, the eraser toolbar option for precision corrections (which lets you use the pen tip and has a much smaller radius), and the selection tool + cut + clear for larger corrections. The eraser on top of the pen does have a place between the latter two tools.

Emailing PDFs directly off the device is very useful -- for two of the meetings, I sent PDFs directly to the other participants instead of transcribing and typing up my notes. The generated PDF was clear. The automatic handwriting transcription was... less useful. To be fair, I have somewhat idiosyncratic handwriting with narrow letter bodies, low x-height, and tall ascenders and deep descenders that tend to crash into each other, as well as an easily confused a, e, o, and u. I am probably a pathological case for most OCR algorithms. One document that I used as a test was transcribed fairly well, but the actual meeting notes I tried to transcribe were mostly gibberish.

I haven't loaded any PDFs and EPUBs on the device yet, but I expect that feature will prove useful. The fact that it runs Linux and is open for modifications was a major plus in my purchasing decision, but I haven't connected to it via SSH yet either. At minimum, I would like to customize the suspend screen and a couple of templates, and I may experiment with homebrew software if I'm confident that it won't break anything.

(One note on battery life: The battery lasts several days, but it takes two hours to charge.)

So far the reMarkable 2 is achieving the main purpose for which I bought it: allowing me to take handwritten notes in more situations than were previously comfortable or convenient for me. I don't think it will be as useful for writing documents that need to end up in typed form (gemlog posts or emails, for example), but my life brings many opportunities for notetaking and it fits that use case well. The main concern I have is maintaining the organization of my notes into the future when they start piling up, which may require introducing additional software (not necessarily on the device) into the process.

(I did not receive any compensation or consideration from reMarkable AS for this review. But if you are a tech company and you are interested in sending me devices to review, I wouldn't necessarily say no...)

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