When is a tablet not a tablet? That’s the question ReMarkable is asking with its second tablet, and while it lacks the color display of some of the other best tablets we’ve tested, that’s all part of its charm - it’s focused on text, and text alone.
That means it’s hard to get distracted when flicking through notes and documents, easy to put digital pen to paper when planning a project, or just a great way to read an e-book.
Its minimalist approach won’t be for everyone, of course - there’s a lot you can’t do with the ReMarkable, despite costing close to $300 - but if you’re desperate for a distraction-free writing environment there are few better options out there.
Display size: 10.3-inch
Internal storage: 8GB
Dimensions: 7.4 x 9.6 x 0.19 in
Battery life: Up to two weeks
Where it stretches ahead of its competition is in its optional keyboard, too. It’s not cheap, but adds to the typewriter-like sensation of having something built just for writing. It shares the same intuitive design as the ReMarkable itself, and that makes it a great-looking device whether it’s on your desk or in a boardroom.
We know servers cost money to run, but we’re a little lukewarm on Connect, ReMarkable’s cloud-syncing service. It’s not that it’s not great, it does a great job of letting you drag and drop files, but if the ReMarkable is the only place you need to keep your notes, you may not get enough value out of your $2.99 a month subscription.
Lloyd is an experienced freelancer, working across tech, fitness, and the intersection of both. When not writing, you'll find him at the gym, or playing video games.
ReMarkable 2: Price and availability
The ReMarkable 2 starts at $279, making it considerably pricier than a Kindle for e-reading. That means if you’re looking for somewhere to read your books, you’re better off with Amazon’s device.
Still, it’s much more than an e-reader, and that price includes the tablet itself, the stylus for making notes and navigation, a charging cable, and a 100 day trial for Connect, the document syncing service.
The biggest point of comparison here is the Kindle Scribe, and both are priced essentially the same. We’d argue that the ReMarkable’s array of notation options, as well as its better stylus, makes it the pick of the pair, but it doesn’t support Kindle books for e-reading - so they even each other out in that regard.
ReMarkable 2: Design
The ReMarkable 2 is a really sleek-looking tablet. It’s almost impossibly thin (the USB-C connector is about the same thickness as the tablet itself), and the bezel is thin enough on three sides to feel just about close enough to a standard sheet of paper.
On the left-hand side, there’s a metal side that holds the charging port and keyboard connector, and the back features the company’s logo. It’s just about as minimalist as you can get, which backs up the idea of the ReMarkable offering a distraction-free note-taking environment.
The only physical button comes in the form of a power button, but it makes the iPad Pro, a pretty svelte device given the power packed inside, look gargantuan in comparison.
Since it’s so lightweight, too, it’s easy to hold with one hand, but since it’s flat on the bottom (no camera bump, remember), it feels just as at home on a table.
ReMarkable only offers one color, and it’s white with a silver side. The included stylus is available in a dark gray/black and feels close enough to a pencil that, when paired with the impressively accurate display, feels genuinely like you’re using one.
ReMarkable 2: Performance
As mentioned earlier, while the ReMarkable 2 can do a few things, it really is the master of one - note-taking.
The 10.2-inch display lacks a backlight, but it does have a coating that makes it feel just like a piece of paper when using the stylus. While the former rankles a bit, especially at this price, the latter does make it a joy to use and feels closer to writing on paper than any other tablet we’ve tested. It’s also quieter than tapping on a standard glass display with a stylus.
Files are separated into ‘Quick Sheets’ and notebooks, with the former for those moments where you need to jot down something quickly, and the latter more focused on grouping together your pages for certain projects. As you build up a library of scribbles and doodles, it’s easy to put them into folders and search for them, too.
Quick Sheets ensure there’s always a canvas to add to, but there are notebook templates that offer lines, margins, and a few other options, too.
If you’ve got the money to spare, you can pick up a very good keyboard attachment too. It clips on with ease and doesn’t add too much bulk, but it does feel less useful on lined pages. Other than that, though, it feels like a digital typewriter.
The ReMarkable 2 can act as an e-reader, but only for files that don’t have DRM (Digital Rights Management) protection.
Essentially, EPUB files will work great, as will your PDFs (although they’ll naturally be in black and white), but you won’t be accessing your Kindle library on the ReMarkable.
You can, however, import files. This is done through a combination of Connect and a browser extension that lets you import text from a website into the ReMarkable. It’s easy to do, and means you can probably export a lot of DRM books into more easily accessible webpages (so long as you own them).
That lack of a backlight makes it tough to recommend for reading late in the evening, though.
We’ve already mentioned the ReMarkable browser extension, but you can also import documents from other sources.
Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive are available options, and you can pull files in from any of those. You’ll save a local copy to the device, then export it out again, and while that can feel like a hassle, it’s pretty easy to do in practice.
If you’re wondering about highlighting with a black-and-white display, there’s some good news - you can look over your annotations in color on your computer through the ReMarkable app. We’d love the option for a color display on a ReMarkable one day, but for now, it’s a solid middle ground.
One of our favorite annotation features is layers, which offer the option to drill down into several levels of notes, meaning you can show or hide them as you wish.
To get the bad news out of the way, the ReMarkable 2 takes three hours to hit a full charge. That’s a lengthy period of time, but it’s certainly worth it.
ReMarkable claims the tablet has two weeks of battery, but it’s a pretty conservative number. In our testing, with the tablet rolled out for scribbles a couple of times during the working day, a doodle or two a week, and very little else, it reached almost a full month.
Naturally, you’ll get less than that if you’re using it more regularly, but it’s impressive nonetheless - especially in such a slim device.
How does the ReMarkable 2 compare?
When comparing to some of the best tablets we've tested, there are some notable differences.
For one, the ReMarkable 2 is much more focused on getting words to digital paper, forgoing anything that could be considered as a distraction. That makes it an entirely different prospect to something like the iPad Air M1 with its huge array of apps to choose from - and its color display.
In terms of e-reading, it matches the Kindle Oasis pound-for-pound in everything except for access to the Kindle store - as we noted earlier, you'll need to find DRM-free versions of your favorite e-books.
Finally, the keyboard is an enjoyable experience and while the tablet itself lacks the versatility of the Microsoft Surface Go 2, we preferred the keyboard included for quickly taking down notes or organising our thoughts.
ReMarkable 2: Verdict
|Price & availability||Competitively priced compared to Kindle Scribe.||4.5/5|
|Design||Almost impossibly thin, looks great.||5/5|
|Performance||Excellent battery life, great stylus. File management easy to adjust to.||5/5|
There will always be naysayers to the idea of a digital notebook, but the ReMarkable 2 is the proof that the concept not only works, but is an effective way to manage documents.
The ReMarkable 2 is well worth a look for anyone looking to get serious writing done, too, but we’d steer clear of it for reading thanks to its lack of backlight.
Buy it if...
You want a distraction-free writing experience
The ReMarkable 2 is a great place to jot thoughts down before turning them into something more concrete.
You want something portable
Not only is the ReMarkable 2 remarkably slim and easy to carry, but its battery life means you won't need to reach for a charger often, either.
You want the option of a keyboard
While a pricey extra, the ReMarkable 2's optional keyboard is well-designed and feels great to use.
Don't buy it if...
You want a traditional tablet
The ReMarkable 2 won't be suitable for media consumption outside of DRM-free e-books.
You want to read Kindle books
There's no storefront for e-books here, so you'll need to source your own.
How we tested the ReMarkable 2
To test the ReMarkable 2, we put it through its paces multiple times a day, taking meeting notes and scribbling down ideas as if it were a scratchpad of sorts.
We also connected the keyboard for writing longer pieces, including parts of this review.
Read more about how we test