reMarks on the reMarkable Paper Tablet

None of these faults really rise above mild inconveniences. If this was all that there was to weigh the reMarkable against, I’d come away still giving it my most enthusiastic approval. Unfortunately the file management system for getting documents onto and off the device is near completely crippled.

You can pair your device with a desktop and mobile app that you can–in theory–drop documents into that will then go into the reMarkable cloud and sync with your device. In practice, this happens with zero reliability. Sometimes the document will appear nearly instantly. Sometimes it will appear some time later. Sometimes it just never fucking appears at all. It seems every time I look at the home screen, the device has trouble connecting to wifi (any wifi, I’ve tried it on at least three networks), and when it’s connected to the wifi, it can’t manage to connect to the cloud literally three out of every four times I’m on the home screen.

There’s an option for a beta feature that allows you to access the tablet’s storage through a browser window, but hilariously the actual IP was obscured by the text and the toggle switch until the most recent system update (it’s 10.11.99.1, by the way). This worked a couple times early on in my ownership, but has since then has just completely shit the bed. It. Does. Not. Fucking. Work. At all. I’ve toggled the option, I’ve restarted the device, I let it run completely out of power and charged it back up, the feature is unequivocally broken and nonfunctional on my device. Maybe a factory reset would work, but that’s not an option the reMarkable tablet allows.

These issues are, putting it lightly, an unforgivable sin for a device of this nature.

The first software update was recently pushed out to my device, and the notification e-mail featured this paragraph:

The most important issues we’ve focused on for the reMarkable tablet update itself are power management, support for more types of Wi-Fi connections and some functionalities which have caused frustration in the user experience, such as memory in the choice of pens and brushes. For the corresponding applications for iOS, Android, PC, and Mac, we’ve made it easier to import files, enhanced compatibility with a greater range of devices, and generally improved the reMarkable experience for a more seamless fit into your workflow.

Now keep in mind, these are all problems I’ve been experiencing since the initial software version, and while I don’t have benchmarks to compare its performance before and after this update, I certainly haven’t noticed any changes, or at least certainly not enough to bring its operation to an acceptable level. The most significant parts of the system update seem to be making some of the tool icons more differentiated from one another and some other minor UI flourishes and polish.

The reMarkable paper tablet shows an abundance of promise, and I’m hopeful that my most profound issues with the device is something that can be addressed on the software side of the equation. Even then, I think the price needs to be dropped significantly to have a solid value proposition for the consumer (especially the comically expensive case that is sold separately at thee times the price of a similar product for any other tablet). The discerning buyer might want to hold out for a hardware revision and see if the people behind reMarkable can make a device equal to the quality of the Canvas screen.

–Mike

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