Home / News / 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 essentially the most are those attempting their toughest to switch it.

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

Both tablets depend on e-paper presentations, maximum usually noticed in Amazon’s Kindle gadgets but that have discovered area of interest makes use of out of doors the e-reader international as they have got progressed by contrast and reaction time.

Both give a boost to a stylus and fingertip for enter; each have an unlit monochrome display; each are refreshingly skinny and mild (350 grams, 6-7mm thick); each have their very own devoted app; and each aspire to switch revealed paperwork and scrolling via PDFs to your pc. (Both are additionally moderately pricey.)

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 blended with its lightness makes it one way or the other alarming. It’s laborious to consider it’s a real instrument. The reMarkable, alternatively, is smaller (about 10″x7″) and a triplet of buttons on its decrease bezel invite interplay. It’s similarly mild, but doesn’t give off that “how’d they make this thing” vibe. At least, now not but.

The quick model of every instrument’s tale:

Sony DPT-RP1

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

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

This good-looking satan is the sequel to 1 I have in mind 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, a number of inside garage (16GB doesn’t replenish too speedy whilst you’re most commonly taking a look at paperwork) and higher handwriting and note-taking capacity.

It’s in particular aimed toward individuals who need to deal with a variety of wordy paperwork and are bored with doing so on a pc display, LCD-based pill or small e-reader. Think scientists reviewing research, legal professionals going over case information and so on.


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

The reMarkable (and sure, they do the camel caps factor) is this sort of crowdsourcing luck I love to look. An unique and bold concept completed with laborious paintings and ingenuity, and on the finish of all of it, a viable product.

The workforce was once merely enamored of the concept an e-reader-type instrument must be extra interactive, permitting you to comic strip, annotate paperwork and percentage them reside. To that finish they labored for years, sooner or later even consulting with E-Ink, which makes the presentations in query, to supply a display that now not solely looks as if a broadcast piece of paper, but feels adore it whilst you write on it.

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


As a long way as offering a awesome platform on which to learn via paperwork that are most commonly monochrome — research, court cases, books — each gadgets be triumphant admirably. Neither has as just right a display as a Kindle Oasis or Kobo Aura One, but they’re greater than just right sufficient — and anyway, it might be excruciating studying an educational paper on a Kindle.

If I needed to give the brink to one of the most gadgets strictly in show high quality, it might should be the DPT. Slightly whiter whites and higher distinction give it the brink, even if technically the reMarkable has a better DPI (226 as opposed to 206). A grid at the display is simply visual whilst you glance shut, but infrequently stricken me when studying from an ordinary distance. Text is rendered relatively higher at the Sony to my eye, even though it’s hardly ever a blowout.

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But one additionally has to imagine that the Sony’s display is enormous. The reMarkable and its bezel are compatible very easily throughout the display house of the DPT. Not everybody if truth be told desires to learn on such a huge instrument, and paperwork now not supposed for that measurement can blow as much as comical proportions. E-books, as properly, finally end up taking a look like both kids’s tales for those who bump the textual content measurement up, or impenetrable partitions of textual content with common carriage returns for those who don’t.

This objection applies to the reMarkable, as properly, but much less so. (Sony does cope with this downside being able to display two portrait mode pages immediately whilst the instrument itself is in panorama mode.)

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

As for construct high quality, each gadgets 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 earlier 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, alternatively, 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 things about e-paper gadgets is you’ll be able to transfer them on and a 2d or two later you are again for your e-book or article. The DPT isn’t any exception to that, and it is going to take care of 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 quick period of time that you’ll be able to’t alter. From being off, it takes 15-20 seconds or extra to activate — an eternity at the present time! No doubt that is to make stronger the battery existence, but it’s traumatic as hell. This is one thing that may and most probably will probably be adjusted (or confidently made adjustable) in a device replace, but for now it’s a ache.


Here no less than we now have a forged winner. Writing at the reMarkable is a excitement, and whilst it’s nonetheless now not rather 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 (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 2d in the past. This is basically essential, because the comments of what you notice impacts the way you write — whilst you prevent crossing that T or dragging out the descender of that y. The workforce was once obsessive in getting the latency down, and succeeded to a better extent than, truthfully, I anticipated was once imaginable on this type of show. E-Ink itself, they informed me, was once extremely inspired.

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

Above, the reMarkable; underneath, the DPT.

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But now not solely does the road practice the end of your stylus with a quickness, there’s a international of expressiveness to be had must you select it. The pill doesn’t simply monitor the end, but additionally the power and orientation of the stylus. So with the pencil software, you’ll be able to make a skinny, mild line by means of retaining the stylus just about perpendicular to the display and slightly touching it, or make broad brushlike strokes by means of angling it down and urgent tougher. This isn’t at all times helpful, and it takes a while to get used to, but it in point of fact is fantastic that it’s imaginable on an e-paper instrument, and I will see it being followed by means of a number of sketchers and observe takers.

Furthermore, the pill ships with quite a few templates — grids, strains, and so on. — and helps a couple of layers, which you’ll be able to export as Photoshop information.

Certainly it inspired the TechCrunch workforce. 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 might get one. These are individuals who see cutting-edge tech all day, each day.

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

You can write at the display of the DPT as properly, but regardless of Sony’s best possible efforts it’s now not just about as responsive because the reMarkable. It’s shut, positive, and approach higher than the gadgets I’ve noticed earlier 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 an extended record, but I will’t picture-taking notes with it or drawing the rest but the most simple shapes. The lag and ensuing really feel that issues are relatively off what you supposed is simply sufficient that you just understand it.

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


Here we now have what’s in point of fact the Achilles’ Heel of each gadgets. The truth is that at the moment, they’re simply too restricted within the content material you’ll be able to placed on them, how you’ll be able to edit and annotate it and the way you navigate it.

The DPT has the advantage of simplicity. It’s very easy: load pieces (almost 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’ve the now-familiar touchscreen controls: swipe left or proper to switch web page, or faucet the perimeters of the display; faucet the middle to open view choices, trade the pen taste, and so on. You too can temporarily zoom in on a space, even though taking into account the scale of the object I by no means felt the want to do that. A unmarried button on the most sensible opens a small, easy menu with contemporary paperwork and the choice to go back house.

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The reMarkable, alternatively, throws a wide variety of items at you from the start. You nonetheless upload your paperwork from a desktop app — and right here I would possibly as properly point out that you wish to have to arrange a loose, easy account at the web site to take action, and to allow web-based syncing of paperwork (it was once fast and turns out innocuous). Once they’re at the instrument, you navigate by means of a hectic house display that lists all medical doctors, or simply PDFs, or simply e-books, or your notebooks, of which you’ll be able to create as many as you prefer: one for sketches, some other for paintings notes, some other for to-dos, and so on.

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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 be able to’t swipe or faucet to visit subsequent or earlier pages. I a lot most popular the DPT’s simplified controls; buttons could also be helpful on a devoted e-reader, the place web page turning is by means of a long way essentially 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, alternatively, is one I’ve with each. You’re very restricted in what you’ll be able to do with the paperwork. Reading them is superb. But neither instrument is just right at exporting the movements you’re taking off the instrument. For instance, for those who discover a portion of a record you wish to have to keep in mind, what are you able to do?

On the DPT, you’ll be able to spotlight it, but then what? On the reMarkable, you utilize the highlighter pen to mark it, but then what? The DPT has a artful gadget the place you’ll be able to 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 going through some convoluted export procedure. Why can’t I choose 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 routinely spotlight within the unique record?

Ultimately you most commonly have interaction with content material by means of drawing on a clear layer on most sensible of it. That’s nice for some stuff, but now not specifically versatile. You can construct a workflow round both this type of, but it gained’t be beautiful.

Furthermore, the content material I will get admission to is terribly restricted. No time-shifting products and services like Pocket or Evernote are supported, even in a restricted model. Only PDFs and ePub information will also be learn, or sure archives. Both gadgets 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 gadgets are restricted to “reading files you already have, and making a few limited changes to them.”

Long reside forte gadgets

Compared to one thing just like the Surface or an iPad Pro, the DPT and reMarkable would possibly appear relatively restricted. But that’s more or less the purpose.

You’re now not intended as a way to write a unique to your DPT, or play some complicated 3-D sport. These are gadgets designed with a couple of very particular functions, and they satisfy the ones functions — beautiful properly, as you’ve noticed. They’re mild, they’re sturdy, they’re delightful and rather easy to make use of.

The truth is that this can be a beautiful new product class, or no less than 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 must be able to. Sony has a company concept and is making its play for the medical and felony 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 attaining it: extra and sooner interplay, higher integration with present products and services.

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

Fortunately, reMarkable is acutely aware of this and principally simply sought after to send a running product. The street map for the following yr has a variety of fascinating options on it, ones that can make the instrument extra flexible and dependable.

That reMarkable has bought 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 gadgets like those in my space and, an increasing number of I am hoping, many extra.

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