The reMarkable 2 writing tablet makes note taking easy

As a freelancer, distractions cost me dearly: time not spent working is valuable wasted income. Once you’re distracted, it can take a while to get back to your original task, which further hurts productivity, according to a study from the University of California, Irvine. And when the world came to a standstill after the pandemic, my social life moved online – social notifications blew up my phone and laptop. Early last summer, I was distracted from writing by a notification for the fifth time in less than an hour, and decided it was time to remove distractions and seek an experience distraction-free writing. A Facebook ad highlighted one option that could work: a tablet designed in part to completely eliminate on-screen distractions.

I decided to take the plunge on the promise of the reMarkable’s glare-free 10.3-inch e-ink display writing tablet. The reMarkable 2 tablet has replaced all my work notes in a slim, distraction-free device. At 0.19 inches thick, it also promised me portability when flying between Iowa and New York. I’ve been using this device since April and so far I haven’t run out of memory on its 8GB internal memory yet.

The reMarkable 2 has been my most vital investment in 2021. The tablet removes all distractions – there are no more notifications to distract me. It allowed me to create detailed notes and presentations and prepare invoices with its many templates.

Previous devices I’ve tried, like the Microsoft Surface tablet as well as its competitor, the iPad, gave me the note-taking tool I needed. The only problem: they still sent me notifications. It was also far too easy to jot down one note one minute and find myself surfing Reddit subs the next – a huge problem for a time-sensitive freelancer with tight deadlines. The reMarkable 2 suppressed those notifications for me, so I didn’t have a chance to wander off.

One of the biggest issues this solved for me was with recognizing my organic handwriting. My cursive is impossible to read most of the time, so the reMarkable sold me in some ways on its handwriting-to-text software. The reMarkable was able to differentiate my cursive “I” from my “u”, so when I converted to text to email, I didn’t have to retrace my steps and make changes to documents.

The organization software allows me to easily flip through pages, create and copy entire notebooks, or even just grab a “quick sheet” if I haven’t had time to flip through my notes in a meeting . Unlike a paper-based experience, with just a few taps on the screen, I could be in my notes reviewing meeting minutes and marking up a downloaded PDF from the desktop app the next minute.

I’m also extremely picky about my pens due to my hypermobility, and I find this pen easy to handle. Similar smart pens, like the Kobo Stylus, require some sort of charging or some sort of battery to work. This is not the case with the reMarkable pen, which only required changing the pen nib every few months when worn out, although the pen was sold separately. The new pen model comes with an eraser, which makes it easy for me to build my projects with its 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. And it’s incredibly responsive, just like pen on paper, to be precise, with zero delay from the moment the pen hits the tablet screen.

Other Smart Laptops to Consider

If you’re not looking to spend the $600 the reMarkable sells for with the included pen and security cover, there are other more affordable options on the market. Especially with more and more consumers looking to digitize their lives, a smart laptop is a great way to have your notes accessible when you need them while still being able to focus on them without notifications.

1. Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

If the $600 price tag sounds ridiculous, then this Rocketbook reusable smart notebook is a great budget option. Just write with the supplied stylus and scan it with your smartphone. When you’re done, a little water wipes the page clean and makes it ready to use again. It was designed specifically for classroom use, but can be used for a distraction-free note-taking experience. It is compatible with a plethora of different cloud storage devices, from Google Drive to Dropbox.

2. Moleskine Smart Writing Set

Technically it’s a smart pen, but combined with the dotted, lined or grid notebook, the Moleskine smart notebook works to digitize your notes. In conjunction with the Moleskine app, you’ll have 176 pages to doodle, jot down ideas, and swap them to cloud storage. A USB cable is included for recharging the smart pen, and you can expect the pen to last a while before needing to be recharged. You can also get a smart notebook designed just for Adobe and Dropbox through Moleskine as well.

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Scott R. Banks