Digital notepad that's *NOT* an iPad ...?

Rubber-ducking a use case here, and figured I’d post for thoughts…

I like writing with a pen on paper (both “I like the feel of paper” and “I prefer it to typing much of the time”). My problem is that whenever I do that, I have to do something less-than-optimal to get it into the computer (transcribe, take photos, etc.). I’d like a way I can take notes and have them automatically show up in my computer.

I also like my iPad Mini. And taking written notes on it isn’t bad. But at least until very recently, I use it infrequently enough (every few days) that every time I go to pick it up to use it, it seems to be dead.

I can literally charge it up, toss it in my backpack, and 72hours later - without doing ANYTHING with it, other than just letting it sit there in the backpack - it’s dead. This is consistent with Apple’s given standby time for the device, so it’s not a huge surprise. But with me being at least somewhat forgetful, it means that if I haven’t intentionally used it for a couple of days, I need to remember to take it out of my bag, charge it, put it back in the bag, etc. And of course the Pencil has to be charged as well, which can only be done on the iPad - and Ieaving it on the iPad makes battery drain faster.

I’d like something that could go a week or so without worrying about charging. I know this is the niche of the Boox, Remarkable, Kobo Elipsa, Kindle Scribe, etc. And I know most of those notetaking devices use styli that don’t take batteries, so that would solve the Pencil issue.

But I also don’t know that I need this badly enough to justify tossing $400 or so at a fancy piece of electronics.

Are there any midway points between “paper” and “fancy e-ink notetaking device” that anybody’s found? Pros? Cons?

Anybody feel like talking me into/out of spending money on an e-ink notetaker? :smiley:


I love love love my Kindle Scribe. It’s now a week and a half old - daily usage and battery is just over 60%!

You must remember it is new to the table and all the negative reviews in my eyes are just cheap shots. All complaints are fixable with software updates.

I love the fact you only get one choice of pen with 4/5 different thicknesses. At the end of the day it is my pen and paper replacement. Not an iPad equivalent. If I want a consumption device I switch on the TV or my iPad. Simple. Clear boundaries.


Further to that I have bought and sold a BOOX NoteAir 2 as well. I just could not get on with the Android operating system. I hate it with a passion!! Also, in contrast with the Scribe there are just too many choices of pens, thicknesses, colours etc etc that took me away from the simple writing experience I wanted!


So apart from all the griping from people about how annotating books is clunky, it’s nice & solid for notetaking? Is it easy to get notes and such off the device?

And did you go “basic” or “premium” for your pen?

I actually plan to do reading on the Kindle as well if I go that route…but I envision that the two activities would largely be separate. I figure a 10" screen will make some PDFs more accessible. :slight_smile:

I saw someone using a Rocketbook the other day and was reminded that I’ve always found them intriguing.

Last I seriously looked into it, I was worried about how easy it is to get the content out of their walled garden (I use plain text and markdown as much as possible) but I think the software has changed since then.

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(It’s also tolerant of my idiosyncratic handwriting.)
I charged it sometime last week, I think. Haven’t used it a lot, and have 57% battery left.

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I’m doing this dance too. Currently stuck between the choice of a Kindle Scribe and the Remarkable.

I was tempted by the Boox Note Air but don’t think I could cope with the Android operating system, I’ve seen a lot of broken screens and privacy is a concern.

As a designer the Remarkable appeals because the pen is pressure sensitive and it has shape drawing, you can also lasso text to move it and covert handwriting to text. Features sorely missing from the Scribe. I keep watching reviews that basically say the Scribe is a great reader with basic note taking capabilities. I’m hoping they will fix a lot of the complaints with software updates. Scribe does seem to be built really nicely has a 300dpi screen and a backlight, something missing from the Remarkable.

So I’m still stuck, neither device is perfect but I’m craving something low key to use early in the morning and late at night. A device that doesn’t blast blue light or distract me. Maybe the answer is a good old notebook. For now anyway.

Yeah, that’s kind of where I’m stuck as well.

I don’t believe Scribe’s light is a “back” light - I thought it was a “front” light like the other Kindles. Could be wrong though - and either way, ReMarkable doesn’t have it.

And I know that Amazon could fix things in software…but I’ve also been around long enough to know that even if they were promising fixes (they’re not), those promises are worth about as much as the paper they’re written on (i.e. “not much at all, since they’re not even on paper” :smiley: ).

The main thing that has me hesitating about a ReMarkable is that there’s no option for accidental damage coverage. I’ve heard from a lot of the Boox users that the whole issue is that large e-ink screens are incredibly fragile - so I’m assuming for the moment that all of the large devices will have similar durability issues.

I know it’s ridiculous, but my experience is that if I have the coverage, I won’t need it. And if I don’t, something will happen that I will.

They offer a “protection plan” when you pay for Connect, but that’s effectively just an extended regular warranty. It doesn’t cover anything regarding accidental damage. They do say that if you have accidental damage they’ll allow you to purchase a refurbished ReMarkable “at a reduced price”, but no clue whether that’s $1 off or $150. :slight_smile:

I frequently take notes on paper then scan them with Scanner Pro. It creates a well cropped copy of my note and uploads a PDF to my Google Workspace account. Both the file on Google and the copy that syncs to my MBA are immediately searchable (depending on my handwriting). And, as expected, the same process works perfectly with typed documents.

I always have my phone and my car keys with me, and normally a pen (and hopefully my wallet :grinning:). Why rely on something else?

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Thanks for this suggestion - exactly what I’m looking for. I’ve a Boox Note 3 I’ve had for a while, and it’s a superb eReader, supporting all the various services I use (Libby, Perlego, Kindle, Scribd). I don’t ‘see’ the Android operating system very often - I’m just opening and using apps. I’m less impressed with it as a handwritten note-taking device.

So I’ve ended up with a nice paper notebook and a Frixion erasable pen and love using them. A lot of the time my notes are transient and I’ll never need again beyond a meeting or train journey, but a workfow to scan, enhance and OCR notes is ideal when I need it. And, if I drop/smash/lose the paper notebook… well I won’t lose much sleep over it!

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I might be wrong but robustness and build quality is something in the Scribe’s favour. I’ve had many Kindles and not a single one has had a screen failure despite some pretty rough treatment especially when travelling.

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I’ve been using an app called Carbo, which is starting to work for me and filling a void that was left when I stopped using Evernote… I carry a Moleskine cahier in my pocket wherever I go, and when I get home take a picture of anything I may have written… $.99 a month for a universal app, so there’s that…


Along those lines, the Black n’ Red notebooks are Scribzee enabled. It’s been a while, don’t remember if it does OCR, etc.


Ah that is one thing - it doesn’t have OCR yet - but that is fine for my note taking.

The share function on the note allows me to email it to myself - that works fine. Sending stuff to the kindle is as easy as going to Send to Kindle

I went premium pen - you then have an eraser and an extra button that can turn it into a highlighter - so with the basic functions the way they are there is absolutely no need to go into the menus.

I have loved reading on the bigger screen too.

I am a very simple use case so perhaps take my views with a massive pinch of salt!

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I loathed the Rocketbook. It felt worse to write on then my iPads. It didn’t make digitizing text any easier than using a scan of my handwriting (which when I print, OCRs quite well).

I gave it away.

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Time spent at My Deep Guide will be worth your while.

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Thank you! You just saved me a little money. :joy:

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That’s my experience too. I got an early-generation Kindle after a middle school kid had and used/abused it for a few years. It’s still working, and my girlfriend uses it sometimes.

Yeah, I don’t need OCR either - just a way to get whatever I scribbled off the Kindle.

I have two use cases - the wallet 3x5 card notes I take, and the “I’m sitting somewhere and have a notepad out” use case.

For the first, based on this thread, I’m going to play with the Rocketbook 3x5 cards. and see how they go. :slight_smile: And for the second, I’ll likely weigh how much I like the Rocketbook cards, how much I want a new e-reader, and either go with a Rocketbook or a Scribe. :smiley:

I’ve been on a similar quest, searching for a way to marry the convenience and power of digital notes (especially in a zettelkasten like system) with the superior ideation and focus of handwriting. Along the way, I’ve experimented with an iPad Mini, a remarkable, and a Boox Note Air, eventually finding a workflow through the Boox that I quite like.

I agree that the iPad doesn’t shine for long form writing. The Apple Pencil is too uncomfortable, and the battery life is too short. The reMarkable does much better on battery life, and the writing feels paper-like, but the software is very inflexible – coercing you to use the “reMarkable cloud” for your notes, or else spend a lot of effort manually moving files in and out of it. It has pretty good handwriting recognition, but only via a cloud service, so not without privacy risks.

The Boox is not especially approachable, but it is extremely flexible. With a bit of dabbling into the android app store, you can set it up to play very nicely with the Mac.

For example, I’ve set up the handwritten notes to automatically export as PDFs, synced (via SyncThing) into a sub folder in my Obsidian vault. With a few extra taps, you can export recognized handwriting into a txt file, also synced to Obsidian. The handwriting recognition is astonishingly good, and it happens on device. Plus, you can set up Hazel actions on the txt file to rename as md, or import to drafts… It interfaces wonderfully with all of the mac automation tools, and it’s such a boon to have your handwritten notes automatically converted and processed into the bigger note taking system.

I agree with nationalinterest that the android part of the Boox is mostly invisible. It’s like a crowded basement full of useful tools (like SyncThing), but most of the time there’s no need to venture downstairs – you can just treat it like a writing desk.


Just jumping here to say, I love my Scribe. Amazing device for Note taking. Notes can’t be exported just yet, but once exported I assume there will be million ways to digitize the text with OCR.
Amazing device for sure.

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