I am an inveterate list-maker and note-taker. There are scratch pads and pens all over the house so I don’t have to go hunting for something to write a thought on. For my writing, I’ve used spiral-bound notebooks – one for each fiction series. (The nonfiction have their own 3-ring binders for all the research!) The only problem with notebooks, despite highlighted edges and a lot of paperclips, is nothing is truly organized, much less searchable. The other problem with a notebook is it’s generally not where I have an idea, meaning I either go upstairs to the office to grab it, or write a thought on a piece of paper then transfer it. It’s not efficient and my Virgo-ness isn’t happy.
Sometime in early December, I think, an author I follow on Instagram (and I wish I could remember who), posted an image of a ReMarkable tablet they’d bought. They were thrilled with it. The idea intrigued me so I looked at it.
My first reaction was a gulp at the cost. It’s not cheap! By the time I added their upgraded stylus (has an “eraser” at the top) and an “inexpensive” cover, the pricetag was almost $600. On the other hand, how much money and time had I wasted using paper and having to search through things? They have a 100-day return policy so I bit the bullet.
I’ve had it about three weeks, now, and here are my thoughts:
- I no longer need pen and paper next to my recliner (where I do a lot of thinking as well as reading and watching television). If I have a thought, I can grab the tablet, wake it up, select a document and scribble something. No need to transfer my idea from scratch paper to a notebook; and it’s a lot faster than opening my laptop, waking it up, opening a Word document or my “to-do” list, then typing something.
- These same documents wirelessly sync to my laptop so I don’t need to haul a notebook around when I’m ready to do something with said scribbles. (I have it open in a separate screen right now so my thoughts on this tablet are immediately visible.) NB: The sync function is free for a year. After that, it’s $2.99 per month. Not so sure about that…
- The “feel” is very close to pen-and-paper. The stylus doesn’t slip around the page, which is something I was concerned about.
- The stylus is magnetic and snaps to the edge of the tablet. The magnet is strong enough it won’t easily fall off. At least, I haven’t yet just “brushed” it off.
- It has a hellacious battery life. Granted, I don’t use it daily or for very long at a time, but 3 weeks in, it still has about 50% battery. That includes the couple of hours it took to transfer a bunch of notes on my current WIP over from a notebook.
- I haven’t yet used these functions, but it does have the ability to work on Word documents and pdf files, as well as read epub books. You do need to drag-and-drop them to the tablet from wherever, though.
- While I type when writing a book, I know a lot of folks actually write. The handwriting-to-text conversion would be very handy for them.
- It comes with a bunch of different templates, from a plain sheet, to lined, to lists, to graphs.
- It doesn’t access the internet, which means when you’re thinking (or writing, or sketching), there’s no temptation to “just check social media for a minute or two.”
- I didn’t know until earlier this week that is has competition. I looked at its competitors and still think this is the best one for me. YMMV.
- I’m still getting used to the stylus. If you’re just writing, be sure to select the “ballpoint” or “mechanical pencil” option. Because it can also be used as a sketchbook, the “pencil” option will give you either really fat, smudgy lines, or your writing will be almost imperceptible, regardless of which thickness you select. (Thank goodness for the eraser function!) I do wish the stylus was a little fatter, or had a fatter option. It’s as skinny as a #2 pencil, which is hard on arthritic hands after a while.
- While it does a good job of handwriting recognition, if you’re making a list, use the list template. Otherwise, it doesn’t recognize line breaks when converting handwriting to text. (After I’d written out all the characters in the current series, I tested the text conversion. It was a mess!) Also, and really no fault here, while it does have “search” function, that only works after conversion to text.
- It has a “Quick Sheet” that is only a plain sheet of paper. There’s no way to set your personal “quick sheet” template to, say, lined paper.
- You also can’t delete a Quick Sheet which is a pain for me. I have a habit of scribbling myself a note (perhaps something I need to do the next day) then once I’ve acted on that, I can’t delete the Quick Sheet and a clean one will magically appear. I have to erase what I’ve written.
If you already have something that uses a stylus (perhaps a Galaxy Note phone), you can save a bit. Same thing goes for a cover – it’s not necessary but our cats don’t manage their claws well so I put a cover on virtually everything. I still have a month or so to decide for certain whether I’m going to keep it but I’m leaning toward, “yes.”