It has been exactly six months since Remarkable started accepting pre-orders for its 10.3″ E-ink writing tablet. In that time it has sold 100 million kroners worth of tablets (around 28,000 units, according to today’s email, or $11.8 million USD).
But the big news today are the early buzz in the tech press. The Verge, Laptop, Digital Trends, Cnet (beware the annoying auto-play video) and other sites have posted stories on the Remarkable today. Several of the stories are being described as reviews, but you might want to take that with a grain of salt.
I am getting the strong impression that all of these stories are based on reporters getting to see the Remarkable at a press event. That makes them less “reviews” than coverage of a launch party.
But either way, we now know a lot more about the Remarkable than we did last week.
For starters, we can see it in action in Cnet’s video:
The Remarkable runs a proprietary version of Linux on 1GHz CPU with 512MB RAM and 6GB of internal storage (specs).
It also has Wifi and packs a 3Ah battery into 350 grams, but the more important detail here is the display (and the software to run it, of course).
This writing tablet is based on a 10.3″ E-ink screen with 1872 x 1404-pixel resolution.
One of its strong points, according to the company, is extremely low latency in the E-ink screen’s response rate. Remarkable says they spent several years getting the latency down to 55 milliseconds.
While the first-hand reports say the tablet is that fast, it’s hard to believe that Remarkable did the work given that the company boasted little hardware
no engineering talent when the tablet launched last November.
The tablet also has a multi-touch capacitive touchscreen which is also pressure-sensitive (2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, according to the specs).
That pressure sensitivity is attributed to the Remarkable’s stylus, but several of the stories say that the stylus is passive, not active. Those stories also give the impression that, aside from replaceable felt tips, the stylus is just plastic.
Nevertheless, several of the reporters who saw the Remarkable tablet were impressed.
The real standout feature to me was the feeling of writing on the tablet. The reMarkable screen isn’t made out of glass, but rather a more durable and fricative material that really does feel like writing on paper with a pen or pencil. Even the sound is a delightfully tactile scratching that mimics the experience of writing in real life. The reMarkable pen tip does wear down, however, and will need to be replaced from time to time, although the pen does cleverly conceal a spare tip hidden in the top of the pen.
Why not use an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 ($635.48 at Amazon.com) and a pressure-sensitive stylus instead? That’s a question that the ReMarkable tablet still needs to answer. But it looks like it nails making e-ink sketching feel real. Or, nearly real.
I’d love a Kindle that had a note-taking feature like this. But I don’t know if I’d pay up for what ReMarkable’s offering yet.
I spent some time in the Notebook app where drawing options sit along the left edge. You can hide the menu options if you just want a clean drawing or writing surface. Pen options include markers, pencil, pen, ink and all are nuanced enough to satisfy the demanding artist or note taker. There are more sophisticated tools like layers, and the ability to marquee portions of your notes or sketch and move, resize, rotate or copy them.
Obviously, none of this is, ahem, remarkable in the world of tablets, but to see it all work easily and smoothly in electronic ink is impressive
Pre-orders for the Remarkable tablet are set to ship in August. If you buy on now, it will set you back $479 and will be scheduled to ship in October.