If you don’t know what a Remarkable2 is, you should definitely check it out. It’s beautiful.
It’s designed for people who write by hand, or sketch. The enhanced marker is better than any other stylus I’ve ever used. It writes SO well. It uses e-paper, much like the original Kindle DX I had years ago but it WRITES- and it feels like paper when you write on it.
TL;DR – I just sold mine and learned that I could use my iPad Pro 11” to achieve my GTD note taking goals.
What went wrong?
I wanted the RM2 to help me organize for work utilizing my personal permutation of the GTD process, combined with some ideas from the Full Focus Planner for goal setting and organization. It requires getting everything out of your head and onto paper, and it helps me just plow through what I need to do all day, and then at the end of the day I take stock and plan for tomorrow. When I’m done, I’m DONE, and go live my home life without worrying about what I didn’t get done, or what’s coming up. My process also requires the ability to quickly recall what notes I took during the myriad meetings and calls I had that day.
Because of that, I WISH the RM2 added more value to the writing PROCESS. With the Remarkable, you write, and can organize with “notebooks”. However…that’s about…IT. In its defense, that’s by design. There aren’t supposed to be any distractions.
But, the unit doesn’t add any additional value over writing in a paper notebook and scanning pictures with an iPhone. There is no ability to search on handwritten text, no tagging of pages or even notebooks, no bookmarking of pages, and (without using a hack) any ability to create your own page templates.
If you’re adept at this kind of stuff (Linux shell scripting/config), there are a plethora of hacks available on github (and commercially) to provide at least SOME of the missing functionality (such as quick page change, bookmarks etc)- of course with no support from the manufacturer because you’ve hacked the OS. The reddit groups are full of normal folks asking how to get non-interactive SSH going. This is not how you do consumer stuff.
After installing a bunch of hacks and designing some personal page templates that allowed me to do the GTD stuff I wanted this unit to help me with, I did finally settle on a repeatable, reliable workflow, albeit one that was still lacking in any ability to share my notes in any other format. But I hobbled along and I was…”ok”.
BUT- for $640 (the unit, the marker plus, and a leather folio), I want more that “ok”. Also, I already had an iPad Pro. The reason I hadn’t used it was a) the distractions and b) I never put in a similar effort to achieve that workflow on the iPad. So I figured, let’s see if I can do this on the iPad now that I know what the workflow should feel like, given my experience on the RM2.
A friend suggested I try Noteshelf. With this, I was easily able to re-create the custom page templates. And, lo and behold, it instantly recognizes my handwriting (eerily accurate), and lets me search on it! AND…tag each page/notebook. This app is EVERYTHING I could ask for in a pen-based notebook app. It also pairs well with Evernote, which I started using as well for my desktop, automatically publishing your notebooks as you use them. It even carries over the tags to Evernote.
Another great RM2 feature I liked was the FEEL of the stylus on the screen. They built in a bit of ‘grit’, so it feels like paper when you write on it. The iPad…it’s like you’re writing on an ice skating rink. That is, until you use a “paper-like” screen overlay that both adds grit but also reduces glare.
Bottom line- I sold my RM2 yesterday, and have a newfound appreciation for my iPad Pro. I have one less device (that’s GOOD), and I am keeping to my GTD methodology much more efficiently. They say for GTD to work, you need to be able to trust your system. I would never have gotten there had I not acquired the RM2 and figured out what my workflow was, so thanks Remarkable! But…you’re just not for me.