I love a good throwback. Football jerseys, flannel shirts from my 90’s grunge phase, a Sunday spent playing Tecmo Bowl… sometimes it’s just refreshing to escape a constantly changing world and revisit a time when things were simpler. I am obviously not alone in this, as evidenced by the fact that Nintendo’s new Mini NES console can’t even seem to make its way to retail shelves before it’s sold out again. As a writer and consummate doodler, one of my favorite things to do is sit in a comfy chair at home or my local coffee shop and jot down every single thought and idea that comes into my head in a tattered, dog-eared, aging journal. Remember that, guys? Pen and paper? It’s a notion that seems to be moving in the same direction as cursive handwriting – a near-forgotten novelty. That is, until this week. A new device deemed simply “reMarkable” is aiming to capture the same nostalgic feel of pen and paper in tablet form.
The company’s website describes reMarkable as “a breakthrough paper tablet for thinkers, readers, note takers, doodlers, idea people – for those of you who, like us, love the uninterrupted freedom from digital distraction that paper provides.” In order to maintain their promise of a distraction-free environment, the reMarkable won’t even run iOS or Android apps. Instead it uses Codex, a custom Linux-based operating system optimized for low-latency e-paper displays. In its current form, the company says it will support only PDF and ePUB files, with more formats to be announced at a later date. Perhaps the most important detail to know is that reMarkable claims to have remedied the much-lamented latency issue surrounding the majority of e-readers on the market. Thanks to a “Canvas” display and the decision to not use any glass in the tablet’s design, not only does it actually feel like you’re writing on actual paper, but the company claims it will be “the world’s fastest E ink tablet on the market” with an unnoticeable 55-millisecond latency. The specially-designed stylus requires no battery and includes a “high-friction pen tip” with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity – that’s twice as many as the mighty Microsoft Surface pen.
While e-readers have recently seen a steady decline in sales, they nonetheless are still selling. Much like the reMarkable device itself, they serve a niche market of consumers for whom the tablet is an ideal choice for their personal preferences. Plus, it’s wildly convenient – it weighs about as much as Apple’s iPad Mini, and boasts a battery life that will last “for days”. In addition to the obvious cool factor of creating personally-doodled documents, the reMarkable allows you to share those files across devices, as well as import textbooks and documents that you can doodle or sketch on, too. The one big drawback to this arty little e-inker is the price. Pre-orders just started for the bundled limited first edition, which includes the pen, folio case, and shipping for a whopping total discounted price of $379. If you snooze on the early bird special, you’ll end up paying nearly double that, as all three components bought separately after pre-order will total $687. We have a long wait to find out if this creative endeavor pans out, as the remarkable isn’t set to ship until the summer of 2017.
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