I can still remember exactly where I was when I first learned about the Amazon Kindle. It was the fall of 2007, smartphones hadn’t yet flooded the market, and ebooks existed but weren’t yet widely embraced. After all, who wanted to sit in front of their computer screen and read a book? That was pretty much the only way to read an ebook at the time.
That first-generation Kindle looks bulky and unwieldy by today’s standards, all these thirteen years later. But to my eyes, sitting in my office and watching the trailer video for a handheld e-ink device which could carry hundreds of books at once, all easily downloaded from the Amazon store and delivered into my waiting hands in a matter of seconds… well, it was a technological revolution. With this new device, I could carry my entire library anywhere I went.
I didn’t buy that first-generation Kindle, because I couldn’t afford it at the time. The idea of purchasing a tablet seemed decadent in 2007, extravagant. But a year later, when the second-generation Kindle came along, I snapped it up and never looked back.
In the intervening years, a dizzying array of tablets have come to market—but the Kindle still stands alone as the best of them all, at least to this voracious reader. Certainly, other tablets can do more—you can watch movies, play games, browse the internet, access your social media accounts, etc. And yes, I could download an app to read my Kindle books on them as well.
So why do I still treasure my Kindle? Because everything about it is aimed at doing exactly one thing—and doing it extremely well. It’s a triumph of targeted design, and the target is the reader, making the reading of ebooks as seamless and enjoyable as possible.
In other words, its target is me.
In the summer of 2019, I had a bit of déjà vu. You see, once again I was sitting in my office when I encountered a video trailer for a new tablet—this time, a tablet aimed to do for writers what the Kindle (and its equally excellent modern competitors, like the Kobo) does so expertly for readers. This tablet was called the reMarkable, and its function was similarly targeted at doing one thing only, but doing it very, very well.
What is that one thing? Simple: allowing writers to write by hand, and get that writing translated efficiently and accurately into electronic text—and all this on a black-and-white e-ink display just like the Kindle has.
As someone who has longed to write by hand more often, but struggled to find a technological solution that allows me to do it well, when I watched the trailer for that first-generation reMarkable, I was intrigued and excited.
Like with the Kindle more than a decade earlier, I waited until the second-generation came out—which finally happened in 2020. The new version is sleeker, lighter, more responsive, has improved battery life, and comes with a bunch of new and improved features.
It was worth the wait: and I finally gave in to temptation, gifting it to myself for a Christmas gift.
I’ve now been using the reMarkable for several weeks, and I am astounded, once again, at how wonderfully targeted it has been designed to meet my writerly needs. This tablet was made with me specifically in mind.
There’s something about writing by hand that lets me get a jumpstart during a writing session. I start jotting down notes, then those notes turn into sentences, and pretty soon I’ve got a good flow going. The reMarkable allows me to do this seamlessly—then, with a few taps of the stylus (which in itself is a marvel of design, with the pen on one end and an electronic eraser on the other), I can convert my handwriting into text, send it wirelessly to my laptop, and paste it into my Microsoft Word work file.
Does the translation algorithm get everything exactly correct? It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close—and it’s not like I won’t be re-reading my writing over a few times as part of my editing process anyway.
I should acknowledge that I already own a multi-use tablet that technically has this ability to turn my handwriting into text, but it’s cumbersome. That tablet has a sensitive touchscreen that won’t let me trail my hand along it, the stylus isn’t a good fit for my hand, and the resulting electronic type doesn’t automatically wrap the text from one line to the next, making it really hard to integrate into my Word files. Also, that tablet doesn’t have a quick and easy way to send the text from one device to another.
The reMarkable has solved all those design flaws.
Now, this tablet won’t be for everywhere—it’s a bit pricey, for example—but if you’re looking for a solution that will allow you to write by hand the way you’ve always wanted, with the ability to smoothly and effortlessly marry your handwriting with the writing you already do on your computer, combining both methods and being able to switch between them at your heart’s content, then maybe you’ll enjoy the reMarkable as much as I do.
To learn more about the reMarkable tablet, visit their website.
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored three novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has released two sequels, The City of Darkness (2013) and The Law of Radiance (2015), completing the series. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.