Home / Gadgets / Sony and reMarkable’s dueling e-paper tablets are strange but impressive beasts

Sony and reMarkable’s dueling e-paper tablets are strange but impressive beasts

Poor paper. It’s in that ironic class the place those that find it irresistible probably the most are those attempting their toughest to exchange it.

Case in level: Sony and reMarkable, a couple of businesses as unalike as you’re prone to discover, but with the shared undertaking of constructing a tool that adequately serves the similar objective a couple of sheets of paper do. They have skilled combined good fortune, every operating and failing in numerous tactics; but those units left me positive about long run probabilities — whilst on the identical time clinging tenaciously to my pocket book and pen.

Both tablets depend on e-paper presentations, maximum regularly noticed in Amazon’s Kindle units but that have discovered area of interest makes use of outdoor the e-reader global as they’ve advanced against this and reaction time.

Both give a boost to a stylus and fingertip for enter; each have an unlit monochrome display screen; each are refreshingly skinny and gentle (350 grams, 6-7mm thick); each have their very own devoted app; and each aspire to exchange published paperwork and scrolling thru PDFs for your computer. (Both are additionally moderately dear.)

Yet there are transparent variations between the 2: Sony’s Digital Paper Tablet DPT-RP1 (I’ll name it the DPT) is the scale of an A4 sheet of paper, which mixed with its lightness makes it by hook or by crook alarming. It’s laborious to imagine it’s a real instrument. The reMarkable, however, is smaller (about 10″x7″) and a triplet of buttons on its decrease bezel invite interplay. It’s similarly gentle, but doesn’t give off that “how’d they make this thing” vibe. At least, now not but.

The brief model of every instrument’s tale:

Sony DPT-RP1

  • 13.three″ 1650×2200 display screen
  • 16GB interior garage, PDF give a boost to
  • $700

This good-looking satan is the sequel to at least one I take into accout dealing with at CES years in the past, and it’s been given a vital, if now not radical, improve. The newest model were given a much-improved display screen, a number of interior garage (16GB doesn’t replenish too rapid while you’re most commonly taking a look at paperwork) and higher handwriting and note-taking capacity.

It’s in particular aimed toward individuals who must care for a number of wordy paperwork and are bored with doing so on a computer display screen, LCD-based pill or small e-reader. Think scientists reviewing research, attorneys going over case information and so on.


  • 10.three″ 1872×1404 display screen
  • 8GB interior garage, PDF/ePub give a boost to
  • $600

The reMarkable (and sure, they do the camel caps factor) is one of these crowdsourcing good fortune I love to look. An unique and formidable thought completed with laborious paintings and ingenuity, and on the finish of all of it, a viable product.

The group used to be merely enamored of the concept an e-reader-type instrument will have to be extra interactive, permitting you to caricature, annotate paperwork and proportion them are living. To that finish they labored for years, ultimately even consulting with E-Ink, which makes the presentations in query, to supply a display screen that now not solely looks as if a published piece of paper, but feels adore it while you write on it.

And now to pass judgement on the 2 units at the 3 R’s: studying, writing and intermotion. What? Only one of the vital different 3 R’s begins with an R.


As some distance as offering a awesome platform on which to learn thru paperwork that are most commonly monochrome — research, complaints, books — each units be successful admirably. Neither has as just right a display screen as a Kindle Oasis or Kobo Aura One, but they’re greater than just right sufficient — and anyway, it will be excruciating studying an educational paper on a Kindle.

If I needed to give the brink to one of the vital units strictly in show high quality, it will need to be the DPT. Slightly whiter whites and higher distinction give it the brink, even if technically the reMarkable has the next DPI (226 as opposed to 206). A grid at the display screen is solely visual while you glance shut, but hardly afflicted me when studying from a typical distance. Text is rendered reasonably higher at the Sony to my eye, even though it’s infrequently a blowout.

But one additionally has to believe that the Sony’s display screen is big. The reMarkable and its bezel have compatibility conveniently inside the display screen space of the DPT. Not everybody in truth desires to learn on such a huge instrument, and paperwork now not meant for that measurement can blow as much as comical proportions. E-books, as effectively, finally end up taking a look like both youngsters’s tales if you happen to bump the textual content measurement up, or impenetrable partitions of textual content with common carriage returns if you happen to don’t.

This objection applies to the reMarkable, as effectively, but much less so. (Sony does deal with this downside having the ability to display two portrait mode pages without delay whilst the instrument itself is in panorama mode.)

If I had to choose from one measurement and the opposite, I’d pass with the reMarkable in a 2nd. It suits in additional baggage, doesn’t really feel so awkward and it’s now not such a lot smaller full-page PDF appears filled onto it; you infrequently realize after some time.

As for construct high quality, each units are extraordinarily well-made, and particularly reMarkable touts the close to indestructibility in their instrument. The Sony doesn’t really feel flimsy in any respect, but as I discussed sooner than, its nice measurement does make it really feel like a legal responsibility, like a passing biker will clip the nook whilst you’re studying it within the park. I do, then again, approve of its extra-minimal design, whilst the reMarkable’s silver again and a couple of buttons make it moderately the extra gadgety of the 2.

One different position the place the DPT colleges the reMarkable is in on/off quickness. One of the good stuff about e-paper units is you’ll transfer them on and a 2nd or two later you are again for your ebook or article. The DPT isn’t any exception to that, and it’ll handle a fee for weeks and nonetheless activate in a snap.

The reMarkable will do this when it’s in sleep mode, but it is going from sleep mode to totally off after some moderately brief period of time that you’ll’t regulate. From being off, it takes 15-20 seconds or extra to activate — an eternity at the present time! No doubt that is to beef up the battery lifestyles, but it’s aggravating as hell. This is one thing that may and most likely will probably be adjusted (or with a bit of luck made adjustable) in a device replace, but for now it’s a ache.


Here a minimum of we’ve a cast winner. Writing at the reMarkable is a excitement, and whilst it’s nonetheless now not relatively like pen on paper, it’s a hell of significantly better than lively stylus on glass.

The near-instant reaction time of the reMarkable’s e-paper display screen (it’s round 50 milliseconds) makes writing really feel herbal, now not like a tool catching as much as one thing you probably did part a 2nd in the past. This is really important, because the comments of what you spot impacts the way you write — while you forestall crossing that T or dragging out the descender of that y. The group used to be obsessive in getting the latency down, and succeeded to a better extent than, in truth, I anticipated used to be conceivable on this sort of show. E-Ink itself, they advised me, used to be extremely inspired.

Above, the reMarkable; underneath, the DPT.

But now not solely does the road practice the top of your stylus with a quickness, there’s a global of expressiveness to be had will have to you select it. The pill doesn’t simply observe the top, but additionally the drive and orientation of the stylus. So with the pencil instrument, you’ll make a skinny, gentle line via conserving the stylus just about perpendicular to the display screen and slightly touching it, or make large brushlike strokes via angling it down and urgent tougher. This isn’t at all times helpful, and it takes a while to get used to, but it truly is fantastic that it’s conceivable on an e-paper instrument, and I will be able to see it being followed via a number of sketchers and be aware takers.

Furthermore, the pill ships with quite a lot of templates — grids, strains, and so forth. — and helps a couple of layers, which you’ll export as Photoshop information.

Certainly it inspired the TechCrunch group. I had it with me for note-taking (and appearing off) functions at Disrupt SF, and everybody who touched it and wrote on it fell in love, asking how they may get one. These are individuals who see state-of-the-art tech all day, each day.

I didn’t have the DPT with me, but I feel it will have elicited a extra polarized reaction. It’s so giant — but while you recover from that, you get started pondering how great it will be to run thru SEC filings or Pew research with this as a substitute of on a computer.

You can write at the display screen of the DPT as effectively, but in spite of Sony’s very best efforts it’s now not just about as responsive because the reMarkable. It’s shut, positive, and manner higher than the units I’ve noticed sooner than, but as they are saying, shut solely counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. In this example, it’s shut sufficient that I wouldn’t thoughts doing a couple of annotations of a protracted file, but I will be able to’t picture-taking notes with it or drawing the rest but the most simple shapes. The lag and ensuing really feel that issues are reasonably off what you meant is solely sufficient that you simply realize it.

Unfortunately neither helps handwriting popularity now, even though it’s at the horizon.


Here we’ve what’s truly the Achilles’ Heel of each units. The truth is that at this time, they’re simply too restricted within the content material you’ll placed on them, how you’ll edit and annotate it and the way you navigate it.

The DPT has the advantage of simplicity. It’s very easy: load pieces (most certainly PDFs) on it by means of the related desktop app, and they seem in an inventory at the pill. Open it up and you may have the now-familiar touchscreen controls: swipe left or proper to modify web page, or faucet the perimeters of the display screen; faucet the middle to open view choices, alternate the pen taste, and so forth. You too can briefly zoom in on a space, even though taking into account the scale of the item I by no means felt the wish to do that. A unmarried button on the best opens a small, easy menu with fresh paperwork and the choice to go back house.

The reMarkable, however, throws a wide variety of items at you from the start. You nonetheless upload your paperwork from a desktop app — and right here I might as effectively point out that you wish to have to arrange a loose, easy account at the web site to take action, and to permit web-based syncing of paperwork (it used to be fast and turns out risk free). Once they’re at the instrument, you navigate by means of a hectic house display screen that lists all doctors, or simply PDFs, or simply e-books, or your notebooks, of which you’ll create as many as you prefer: one for sketches, any other for paintings notes, any other for to-dos, and so forth.

Inside paperwork, you’ll use the 3 buttons on the backside of the instrument to move ahead, again or go back house. Disappointingly, you’ll’t swipe or faucet to visit subsequent or earlier pages. I a lot most well-liked the DPT’s simplified controls; buttons could also be helpful on a devoted e-reader, the place web page turning is via some distance probably the most common motion, but the reMarkable is supposed to be like a work of paper and the buttons appear at odds with that concept.

The actual factor I’ve, then again, is one I’ve with each. You’re very restricted in what you’ll do with the paperwork. Reading them is excellent. But neither instrument is just right at exporting the movements you are taking off the instrument. For instance, if you happen to discover a portion of a file you wish to have to keep in mind, what are you able to do?

On the DPT, you’ll spotlight it, but then what? On the reMarkable, you employ the highlighter pen to mark it, but then what? The DPT has a artful gadget the place you’ll put a celebrity or different symbols on sure pages, then simply re-find the ones issues later — but then what? The reMarkable means that you can upload annotations to any web page in a trice — but then what?

All those movements finally end up staying at the instrument or dealing with some convoluted export procedure. Why can’t I make a selection some textual content at the reMarkable and have or not it’s copied to a clipboard within the app? Why can’t I drag out a rectangle and have it save a screenshot? Why can’t I’ve the starred paragraphs of the PDF at the DPT robotically spotlight within the unique file?

Ultimately you most commonly engage with content material via drawing on a clear layer on best of it. That’s nice for some stuff, but now not specifically versatile. You can construct a workflow round both any such, but it received’t be lovely.

Furthermore, the content material I will be able to get entry to is very restricted. No time-shifting services and products like Pocket or Evernote are supported, even in a restricted type. Only PDFs and ePub information will also be learn, or sure archives. Both units have Wi-Fi, but neither one has even a rudimentary or text-only information superhighway browser. I would like to have any of this stuff, but for now the use circumstances for those units are restricted to “reading files you already have, and making a few limited changes to them.”

Long are living strong point units

Compared to one thing just like the Surface or an iPad Pro, the DPT and reMarkable might appear fairly restricted. But that’s roughly the purpose.

You’re now not intended so that you can write a unique for your DPT, or play some complicated 3-d recreation. These are units designed with a couple of very particular functions, and they satisfy the ones functions — lovely effectively, as you may have noticed. They’re gentle, they’re sturdy, they’re delightful and relatively easy to make use of.

The truth is that this can be a lovely new product class, or a minimum of a long-neglected one (RIP Kindle DX) and I feel it’s unbelievable that businesses giant and small are taken with doing one thing other.

On the opposite hand, they’re nonetheless understanding precisely what those merchandise will have to be capable to. Sony has a company thought and is making its play for the clinical and criminal markets the place lengthy paperwork are commonplace and a handful of markup equipment are enough. reMarkable has a broader imaginative and prescient and a technical resolution for reaching it: extra and sooner interplay, higher integration with current services and products.

While I will be able to say that the Sony has accomplished its objective, that objective is deliberately restricted and as such makes it horny to a moderately slender slice of other folks. The reMarkable is probably horny to way more other folks — orders of magnitude extra, I feel — but it has but to reach its imaginative and prescient.

Fortunately, reMarkable is conscious about this and basically simply sought after to send a operating product. The highway map for the following 12 months has a number of attention-grabbing options on it, ones that may make the instrument extra flexible and dependable.

That reMarkable has offered tens of 1000’s of its extraordinarily area of interest instrument and Sony hasn’t given up at the DPT whilst letting its different e-readers die is promising. There’s a spot for units like those in my space and, increasingly more I am hoping, many extra.

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