No More Paper

Jan 24, 2021
Might I suggest we embrace some pure analog music while reading this post? Let's sit back, relax, and have tune into a bit of piano for our background today. PHIDEL - Qi

What is the point of technology? Thinking in the most general sense, ever since the invention of hammers and axes up until smartphones, technology is supposed to make life better in some way or another. In that sense, after a long long time, I found some technology worth spending time with: digital paper.

Back in November I got my Remarkable 2. I've spent the past three months with this gorgeous slab of glass, and I love it! Note that I know not how to compare this device with similar products, assume I am talking generally about 10 inch e-ink tablets from here on out.

Writing

My previous post about Tenet was written almost entirely by hand on this new toy. I wrote about 30 pages just for that (8 of which made it into the final post). I felt great the entire time. It's just relaxing to sit down with pen and paper just writing without distractions,

It feels like a notebook on steroids. I can move paragraphs around, reorder pages and honestly, that's enough. It's flexible natural, and delightful. The end of the process involves some handwriting recognition & proofreading, but it is worth it.

Reading

Oh god, I don't miss my 6-inch kindle. A 10-inch screen is amazing for technical manuals, research papers and even comics mostly work well (I am not a big comic book reader and my current attempts at converting .cbr files to .pdf yielded pixelated results). I mean, well, I still use my kindle at night (and that's fine).

I'm also enjoying some chrome extension these guys made to send articles over to the tablet and read them later. I originally thought I'd want a browser on the thing, but nope. This extension is the right approach and I don't need to go trigger happy on hacker news while I have this in my hand.

I am scribbling like a madman on books ever since I got this (even though those scribbles are not searchable). It just feels fun, and it stimulates my attention while reading.

Drawing

Note, I am not an artist, I doodle but I have no intention of using my doodles for anything more complex than some basic block diagrams or simple wireframes. Honestly, it's good 'nuf for me. If you are a full-blown artist, go get a review from another artist. All I can tell you about this specific model is that it actually does feel like writing on paper as advertised. The only thing I miss is some tweaking on some of the brushes to gain some better control on the amount of black I’m using. I do not expect this to get "fixed" anytime soon.

Hacking

Possibly the main reason I caved in to buying this thing is that it gives you root over ssh. So far, I've added a low pass filter over cursor inputs to reduce some of the jagged writing, and I installed custom templates inspired by some fancy bullet journaling notebook (dot grids with markers for easy 1/2 and 1/3 page splitting). Gaining access to the framebuffer on this model for custom apps is still a work in progress, but meh, don't really need that... My magical sudoku exporting dream can wait.

If this last paragraph lost you, don't worry, it's the only one of its kind.

Attention and feel

The whole time I’ve used this I’ve felt liberated from distractions and empowered. That's not something any phone, tabled or VR headset has ever done for me. I’ve used this slab to sign papers for work, to blog, to learn, to explore my mind, to plan & journal and even to learn to draw a bit.

I honestly don’t care the software lacks bookmarks and is generally quite basic. For my own mental health, focus and productivity, this overpriced low feature device has exceeded my expectations.

This is by far my favorite purchase in many many years.