The Analogous Allure of Digital Notes
Have you ever found yourself yearning for a way to seamlessly transition between the analog and digital realms when it comes to note-taking? In today's blog post, I'm going to dive into the world of digital notes and explore an exceptional solution that combines the best of both worlds. In my previous article, I discussed Notability - a remarkable app (pun intended) for writing by hand in a digital format. However, its limitation lies in its exclusivity to Apple devices. While it syncs beautifully across iPads, iPhones, and MacBooks, Windows users are left without access on their machines. That's where "remarkable" enters the game with its impressive features and cross-platform compatibility.
Picture this: a device with an E Ink display that seemingly runs forever on a single charge - even outlasting my beloved iPad battery life! "Remarkable" offers just that and more. With its pressure stylus technology reminiscent of holding a real pen or pencil in your hand, this innovative tool stands out from the crowd.
Like Notability, you can create separate notebooks for different topics - no more intermixing ideas like in a traditional paper notebook; simply switch to another notebook at will. And here's where things get interesting: remarkable allows you infinite pages within each notebook while offering various templates such as graph paper or lined paper according to your preference. I will grant you that the reMarkable is not as fast or fluid as the iPad, but in my experience it's battery life and ubiquity more than make up for those limitations.
You can even import PDF files directly onto your device and write on top of them. This feature makes annotating documents or adding personal insights effortless. It has also become my number one method for signing documents and sending them back. No more print, sign, and scanning for me. One step sign and done. It's magic.
Now let's talk versatility. One major win for remarkable is its availability across multiple platforms including MacBook, Windows desktops, and yes even my phone. This ensures seamless synchronization between all your devices. Moreover, the market offers a wide range of third-party remarkable compatible styluses. Whereas the iPad only works with the expensive Apple pencil, there are a wide variety of stylus you can buy for the reMarkable including great solutions from brands like German fountain pen maker Lamy or legendary Sanford pens. These provide excellent options that work as well as (and sometimes better than) the official one.
However, let's address one minor drawback: when printing pages from remarkable, you may notice a slight difference in scaling. Due to its slightly smaller paper size compared to standard sheets, text or handwriting might appear larger than usual once printed at full size. For me this is not a dealbreaker, and it is the same problem as taking notes on an iPad Air with notability, but I wanted to bring it to your attention, nonetheless.
Despite being limited to black and white display (you can select from a limited array of color "inks" in the app), remarkable compensates for this limitation with its lightweight design and impressive battery life - qualities that make it an ideal companion for anyone constantly on-the-go.
Speaking from personal experience, I find myself reaching for my trusty remarkable notebook more often than any other digital solution. Its compatibility across platforms combined with exceptional handwriting-to-text conversion capabilities makes it indispensable during meetings or brainstorming sessions. Within minutes, you can effortlessly sync your notes as PDFs to Google Drive and even request an email delivery of all your handwritten content converted into editable text format! Also, reMarkable supports folders for your notebooks and documents, which allows me to keep my PARA Personal Knowledge Management system (PKM) in place. This makes the reMarkable an excellent bridge between a paper like feel and a digital one.
There is one other thing, about both the iPad and the reMarkable that I want to mention. I prefer both of these over a laptop, not only because of the pen to paper feel, but also because they lay flat on the desk when I'm writing. A vertical screen can act like a wall between you and the people around you. When you have a vertical screen, your eyes can get drawn and no one can see what you're looking at. The temptation to answer emails, or texts, or even scroll social media can be irresistible. With a device like the reMarkable, I can only look at notes. There are no other apps, no games, no messages. It really does mimic a paper experience very well, and that keeps me present in meetings. Sometimes removing temptation is the most effective way to managing temptation.
I will share one caveat. The reMarkable does have a $3 per month subscription fee to keep all your notes in sync. For me this is extremely reasonable, but it is something to consider. Subscriptions have a way of worming themselves into your wallet and never leaving. If you're not going to use a device like this on a regular basis you might consider the iPad/Notability solution as there is no ongoing charge for using the app (as far as I know).
Remember, managers produce results while leaders cultivate better thinking processes leading to superior outcomes (I'm sure you've heard something along those lines before). So don't overthink it; create simple rules for yourself when choosing which note-taking tool suits your needs. Nothing works one hundred percent of the time, but the difference between a professional hitter, and a minor league hitter is one hit a week. You don't need to have the perfect solution, just one that makes you a little better. And for me, having a solution I take with me is better than the one I leave at home. I did not expect to like the reMarkable as much as I do, however I have to admit they won me over and it is now my go to note taking device. It could be a solution for you too.