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reMarkable 2 - One Week Later

I've had the reMarkable for a week now; I gave it a 24-hour review, here's the one week update.

First off, I've used it each and every day, morning, daytime and evening and it's amazing. I've even used it a bit in my art, where it certainly isn't going to take over but has its uses.

tl;dr: Would I recommend it?

Yes, if like me you do all your thinking by scribbling down notes in a notebook. Sometimes it focuses my thinking just to hold a pen and hover it over the page. My life lives in notebooks.

No, if you're disorganised or don't have a system, and you're looking to throw money at a solution in the hopes that it magically makes your life better.

This thing is literally just a paper notebook, but digital. If you don't already have a notebook and work on paper, then don't buy this, buy a notebook and a nice pen.

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How I use it (so far)

I was worried about notebook bloat, with the number of folders and notebooks exploding on the first day 🙃 As expected that's reduced down over the week as I've gotten more used to the idea that while I can have an infinite number of notebooks I actually only really need about four.

It's boiled down to this, I have three notebooks on the main page...

There's a default one that always lives on the homepage called "Quick sheets" which you can summon from everywhere, and one I created called "Sketching" which is optimistically there to encourage me to sketch.

There are still many more notebooks tucked away into folders, for jotting down blog post ideas and things like that. But the three above + Quick sheets are the main ones.

"To do", in an ever-expanding list of things I need to do, at some point, this could be small like "post a letter", or big like "paint the shed".

The "What I need to do each day", is literally that, a checklist of things I need to do each day "Make soup for lunch", "Prepare salad vegetables for the day", "Do exercise", "Go to work", in roughly the order I do them.

The "Day Planner" is what I actually have to get done today (and future days), for example, today is "Write one week review of the reMarkable 2 tablet". The Day Planner is the closest to a desk diary, it's mainly for today, but I can pencil in things for future days.

"Quick sheets" you can access from the homepage, but always add new pages to from pretty much anywhere, there's a button on the main top bar.

The Quick sheets act as my actual notebook, the one I carry around with me and the ones that sit on my desk at work and home. The moment I think of something I need to remember, onto a new Quick sheet it goes. On the phone and need to takes notes, Quick sheet. Zoom call and need to doodle to pretend to be attentive, totally works for that. If I need to get something down quickly then I don't scrabble around trying to get it into the correct notebook in the correct folder, that comes later.

During the day at various "save game checkpoints" I check the "What I need to do each day" to make sure I've done all my morning tasks, eaten my lunch, done my stretches, whatever. When I finish a task I check the "Day Planner" to see what else needs doing.

At the end of the day is when I sort out all those Quick sheets, ones that need to be moved to the "To-do" list get added to that. Things that need to go into specific notebooks, like blog post ideas, get put there. I'll keep going through the Quick sheets until I've processed everything and then delete all the pages so it's ready for the next day.

Then I'll review my "What I need to do each day" list and adjust it if I need to, mainly when I need to add another item into the list which I forget, although I think it's settling down into its final form now.

Then comes the "To-do" and Day Planner review, things that didn't get done get moved to the next day, other things from the To-do list get added in. Notebooks in the other folders get a review to see if anything in there can get turned into a task... an idea for a blog post may have turned into notes for that blog post, could then turn into a task to actually write the blog post.

By the end of the evening and that review session, everything is set up for the next day.

That's how I use the reMarkable on a day to day basis.

Which all sounds pretty great, apart from a couple of things, which I'll list below.

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Cons

Of which there's one.

The way I use notebooks is to scribble down thoughts, ideas, plans, whatever into either my pocket or desk notebook, and then reorganise them into lists, notes or tasks later. By having all of them open at the same time and flipping back and forth through the pages, copy bits and bobs from here and there.

It's slow to flip back and forth between pages in the reMarkable. You can see an overview of a notebook and jump to a page sure, but it's still slower than flipping between paper pages. Jumping back and forth between notebooks to copy from one and write in the other is also slow.

Yes, there's the ability to select some writing and cut/paste it into a new notebook. But it's the act of writing, and re-writing that helps me think and helps things still in my brain.

Selecting, copying, pasting, moving is a technical act, I'm focused on getting it right and not screwing up, I'm not even taking in what the words are. Re-writing is a focusing act, I'm absorbing the words as I read and write them.

Luckily there is a solution, which seems like a very specific overkill solution but hey it works.

The reMarkable syncs the notebooks with both a desktop app and an iOS/Android app.

So I sit with my iPad (iPad mini, which I use for flying my drone) open on the Quick sheets page, and then copy the notes from there into whichever notebook they need to go to.

Quick reviewing of all my various notes and scribbles across several notebooks I do on the app, desktop or mobile/tablet while writing in the reMarkable.

I guess what I'm saying is, for me, the best way to use the reMarkable 2 tablet, is to also have an iPad. I only use it for a very specific short purpose and time, but it makes all the difference.

Once the moving notes from one place to another has happened, then I go back to just using the reMarkable to read through my notes and make new ones. But the "page flipping" still needs another solution.

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Things I'd like to see added

These aren't really cons, but things that I think would improve the whole experience.

1. When you are in a notebook, you use the swipe down gesture to get back to the folder the notebook sits in. When you get to that folder you have to press the "My files" link to get back to the home page. I'd like the swipe down gesture to also take you back there. The swipe down feels like a "go back" action, but it only works in one place.

As you can nest folders, to be able to swipe, swipe, swipe, to back out of each one would be lovely.

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2. The reMarkable 2 has a "sleep mode" when it's shut down, a blank screen that says "reMarkable is sleeping", with a whole bunch of blank space around it.

I have my reMarkable locked behind a four-digit passcode, so you know, if I lose it people can't read my notes.

But in the same way, an iPhone has some limited information you can see/use, i.e. medical information and an emergency number to call I would like the same thing on the reMarkable.

My request would be that you can double press the wake-up button to be able to write on that sleep mode screen. Which serves two purposes.

One, I can add contact information right onto that screen.

Two, if I really need to scribble something down quickly, and also be able to read that without having to wake the tablet up. I can just double press the button and write directly onto that screen.

Even quicker "Quick sheets".

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3. This one I can see never happening for good reason but, the last request, I would like to be able to highlight some text or an area on one page of a notebook, and then link that to a different notebook, even better a page or text anchor in that notebook.

Yes, I want hyperlinks in my notebooks.

My To-do items often include things like "Review this other more specific to-do list in this other notebooks" and I'd like to be able to link directly to it.

I image that's a feature that sounds easy, but becomes really difficult when people can add, delete and move pages, cut and duplicate text, and even run the eraser right through the middle of text.

But one can dream.

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Quibble

The reMarkable boasts a two-week battery life, at the rate I use it, a lot, I get about two-three days. One day I used it extensively with the WiFi turned on the whole time and it's just scraped in with 10% power left at the end of the day.

I have no problem charging it each night, but if you use it a lot that two-weeks is just a dream.

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Conclusion

I've used tablets before, I've written on iPads and other "surfaces", to me this feels like the first useable paper-like writing tablet. It's super thin, light-ish, fast at writing, feels like writing on paper.

As with all technology, the next version will be better, no matter at which point you buy, you'll be buying one that will be superseded in a couple of years time.

I wouldn't buy earlier versions, I would buy this version, I'll definitely buy later versions. It's nice to know that it's only going to get better from this point.

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