List of e-ink tablets and e-readers with stylus

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by JoeS, Apr 17, 2017.

  1. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    BTW, the link to the article on the Boox works for me just fine.

    As for e-ink tablets, my experience is that no one really compares to the remarkable for inking experience (which is superb), but I think that's in part because remarkable decided to build their own OS through Linux and abandoned using Android, which was not optimized at all for e-ink inking.
     
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  2. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    The update process is slow for the ReMarkable, but methodical. I've had the device for a year and a half, and it's been around for 3+ years (I think?), but we are still getting updates regularly. Lots of improvements under the hood (better battery life, better sync, quicker page turns for PDFs, etc), but also a lot of functional improvements like including cut and paste functions between notebooks, better emailing of notes, OCR for emailed notes, etc. Many functions are things folks honestly expect from a device as a basic function, but it's been nice to have them now. A lot goes through the cloud to the Remarkable servers (OCR, backup of notes) and this has caused security concerns for some folks, but not for me. Research says its using Google servers. Even for these things, there are work arounds with direct connection options to your laptop. At the very least, at least it's not being abandoned, like so many Android tablets. This current 3-year old device is only getting better and more sophisticated with time.

    They are slowly turning the tablet into a very good little note taker and PDF reader/annotator. There are various limitations (like no integration with OneNote or Kindle) and many work arounds (like emailing notes to a specific onenote email, to integrate it with an existing folder, or using Calibre to convert ebooks into ePubs or PDFs) for lots of things. There's also a very interesting and active community of DIYers, coding new elements and functions, making and sharing templates, etc. This is part of what makes it interesting, and why I'm glad it's not Android. There's also a surprisingly robust variety of aftermarket cases and such.

    If one wants an ereader that one can write on when you need to, there are probably better devices, although the Remarkable does an OK job if you basically use PDFs. But if one wants a note taker that can also function as a PDF reader, it's honestly a very nice tool. Writing is very very nice (EMR is always great!), the textured surface is a pleasure to write on, and the device itself is big enough (10.3" screen), well made, thin, and very very light (far lighter than an iPad, whi0ch is already pretty light). This device is still my current favorite tech writing and reading tool, despite it's limitations.

    I am excited about the RM2 coming out in August. I'll probably upgrade at that time. I'm definitely looking forward to being able to use a pen with an eraser tool too-- supposedly part of the tech update. The new device is going to be SUPER thin at .19", and looks to be getting significantly better battery life with the chip update and battery increase, plus a whiter screen. I think, with the RM2, we'll finally be arriving at the type of device many people were hoping to get back with the original release of the RM1-- both in terms of the OS and what it'll be able to do (cut and paste, e-reader functions, etc) , as well as the physical tech itself (superb battery life, pen with eraser, etc). It's been a long haul for a small company, but they really do seem to be arriving at what they promised, slowly but surely.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
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  3. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Have you compared the inking latency to any other EMR based e-ink tablets (eg. BOOX)? What were the differences you noticed?

    One of things that turned me off the RM1 is the lack of expandable storage.

    From Davis Remmel's project, there are actually pads on the logic board for an SD interface (but they aren't hooked up). With a bit of soldering/dremeling, you can actually mod yourself an SD slot:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I was really hoping with the RM2 they would address this, but again they've decided against supporting expandable storage. :(

    I can't really see a justification other than forcing people to use cloud transfer, which is worrying to me for such a small developer.

    Have you had any experience with the USB transfer method? They mark it as "experimental" which again, does not inspire much confidence.

    Over the course of the updates, have you seen any move to make local transfers easier?
     
  4. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    In terms of pen lag-- my experience is that devices are all getting so fast, it's not really a concern for me anymore. But the RM is very fast. Most other e-ink devices seem to have some issues with not providing smooth pressure ramping, IAF, etc. or they're too smooth and don't have any tooth, the way RM does. But in terms of latency, I don't think there's any issue with the RM. But I've not personally compared it to other e-ink devices.

    I've also not personally used the USB transfer method, but I know others have. The reddit forum for the RM is pretty active, and a good place to go for this sort of question. Generally, people are very helpful, and will point you to the proper online resource for folks who have done it before. But... I don't see why you couldn't transfer files by just plugging it in and using the desktop app, for example. You can also email your files as pdfs, which is another way to get them off the device.

    Some folks have serious personal concerns about file safety, privacy, cloud storage, etc., either for personal reasons or professional. I admit, that makes the device less appealing for those specific use cases. The vast majority of users don't care. Those that do either ONLY use the USB method, or get a different device.

    The conversation about cloud sharing and micro SD storage is similar to the one about users who want a front light. There are other devices that use one, but it's clear that is very very low on the "important list" for RM. They deliberately focus on NOT having one. If you want easy integration with Kindle or OneNote, or you want a front light, or you want microSD storage, and those are essential things to you, then it's clear that the ReMarkable is not for you. Even now, it's still a pretty niche device.

    Other devices offer those things, but generally the reviews I've read indicate that they either a) don't have as nice of a tactile feel when you write, b) don't have as smooth of pen input or c) don't have layers and what not. The RM is really still king for pen input, which is its primary selling point. Once someone else is able to offer an e-ink Android device, with a front light and USB storage, that can run OneNote and Kindle smoothly, that also has fantastic pen input with great tactile feedback.... then we'll have a real competitor. But so far, no one seems to be able to put it all together.
     
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  5. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    In the previous post, you had mentioned that in your experience, no other e-ink device compares to RM1. I was just wondering if you could elaborate on the specific tablet(s) and usecase you were comparing.

    Was the other device also EMR-based? Was there only one 'default' inking app to compare? Was it in a drawing or note-taking context?

    Just trying to build up some more solid data points, in preparation for jumping into the e-ink waters...as I've been quite tempted for a while now. :)

    The difference is that the SSH method might allow you to browse the file system, while the desktop app (it seems) is limited to specific file types.

    Basically, I was wondering if there was a way to locally transfer the 'raw' inking files/notebooks (like .one files for OneNote) as opposed to only processed formats like pdf/svg/png.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  6. jhoff80

    jhoff80 Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    For what it's worth, I found that the Boox Nova Pro (last year's device) was very smooth for inking in their own app, but was garbage at inking in any Android app. OneNote was especially poor. Since Android functionality is one of the main selling points of the device for me, it was an easy decision to return it.

    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/thr...readers-with-stylus.72085/page-18#post-539061

    The Nova 2 does have a more modern CPU and OS, so maybe it's better? But I doubt it.
     
  7. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Thank you jhoff80. This is a much better description of what I was trying to describe. If I said I owned other e-ink devices, I misspoke. I've read a lot of reviews, and the problems he describes are what I've read.

    If the device runs Android, then it makes a pretty good e-reader, but inking in Android on an e-ink devices is seemingly generally subpar, according to review. Unfortunately, the inking apps of the various e-ink vendors running Android are also still sub-par.

    Alternately, the inking app on the Remarkable is really pretty good, and getting better all the time. You get layers, cut and paste, smooth inking with different types of "pens", background templates, etc. There are a few more things I'd still like, but it's pretty good. Definitely much more robust than what you get on the Android e-ink devices. And that's not even touching on the whole "textured surface and pen nib" writing experience that the ReMarkable offers. That was important to me, personally. But since the Remarkable doesn't run Android, the e-reader experience is definitely not as good as e-ink devices running Android. Not even close. Although it does PDFs good enough for me. But my tablet needs focus dramatically on writing and not on reading.

    And that's pretty much the way it is. Currently, you have to pretty much still pick one over the other-- either they're primarily writing devices that can read PDFs ok, or their primarily reading devices that can ink ok in the OEM writing app.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  8. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    Ahh, so the problem we can't get an e-ink device that will run OneNote properly lies with Android? Personally that is my tech unicorn. I've tried so many solutions and they are all subpar.
    Today I will annotate on a PDF page on my Onyx Boox Max 2 (which today is ancient), print the page as a PDF file. E/mail it to myself, open it on my surface, import the page in OneNote, move the page to the right place and delete the same original page to be replaced. A rather cumbersome procedure. So imagine my relief when all i need on a page is some highlights.
     
  9. Steve B

    Steve B Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, that seems to be what the issue is. I'm speaking purely anecdotally from watching and reading reviews. Perhaps the e-ink devices are too underpowered? Or perhaps it has something to do with the way e-ink works, and how Android is coded, etc.? I don't really know.
     
  10. jhoff80

    jhoff80 Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    For what it's worth, in my testing it wasn't only OneNote, it was pretty much every ink app but the built-in OEM notes app on the Nova Pro. Only the OEM app was able to keep up with the pen without a 4-5 second lag. But the OneNote thing was one of the dealbreakers more than any other app.
     
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