Scribbler’s Saga #65 – The Unremarkable ReMarkable Tablet

Posted: April 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

There I feel a little better…

© 2018 G.N. Jacobs

I’m such a sucker at times. After enough eyeball impressions (usually in my Facebook feed), I might just buy anything that looks like it could help a writer toiling away somewhere. The ReMarkable Tablet that you might have seen advertised in your feed was just one of those new shiny objects that I just had to have. And because of the average lead time for a product review post versus just going out and seeing a movie to get my two cents in with my Flamethrower column, I fucked myself because I’m past the return date about two weeks after purchase.

To recap this not ready for prime time [expletive deleted] device promises that it will replace all the many variations of paper married to a trusty ballpoint pen, pencil or watercolor brush (for those so inclined). The ReMarkable is a white rectangle with dimensions (in Portrait) that suggest European A4 width and American Letter length that maximizes the piezoelectric tech of your choice of finger tap keyboard, or the write on screen ability of the recent Apple Pen that comes with later iPads. I declare the promises of buying fewer spiral notebooks overblown.

When I first got the thing about four weeks ago, I toyed with it. I play with every new toy at least once as soon as I cut open the shrink-wrap. I set up the device connecting to my home WiFi so I can email files to myself for storage. I charge it up and get ready stylus poised and write.

In this early session, I tapped the button for Portrait Mode like how we’ve been taught to approach any old pad of tear off Letter sized paper (short across the top and longer vertically towards your body). And I got busy with the provided stylus making letters and words appear in a variation of a College Ruled template (blank pages induce my text to alternately go up to the right or down to the right). Everything seemingly worked more or less as advertised in that choosing Pencil made words appear that I could later retype into something else.

As you might see in the photo, this writing tablet has three buttons across the bottom when you orient it in Portrait Mode. The left button is Page Back sending you to the previous page (if it exists). The center button is the Home Button sending you back to the home screen where your note files are saved and you can choose any of your existing files or start something new in which to work. The right button is the Next Page button that will either send the user to the next page in sequence or if you’re at the end of the file it will automatically add a new page to the end of the file.

During this early session, my natural right-handed wrist on the page pen stroke style induced over decades of dealing with book reports and essays for school did me dirty. My wrist would hit this Next Page button suddenly putting me on a blank page orphaned from the rest of my notes/writing. I would have to hit the right button to find where I’d left off. I begrudge literally every second I spend fixing something that I don’t have to worry about using older technology (paper).

The second thing I noticed about writing with the tablet is that the plastic stylus is thinner than I like. If you were to mug me for the pens in my pocket you would see that while I have choices within the same brand between wide barrels and narrow barrels. The only thin barrel design I have has an iPad rubber stylus tip on it. I believe reinforced by how my pen strokes make my elbow feel that wide barrels sit easier in my fingers. Or I could’ve just convinced myself of this allowing my mind to think they fit better.

My solution, if I liked the tablet more, would be to dig out some of the leftover colored gaff tape from my film production days and wrap up the stylus for a thicker grip. It didn’t get this far, so we’ll never know. My words filled up the screen despite the screaming tendons in my elbow.

In the second session conducted more recently, I solve the Portrait problem by turning the tablet sideways to the right and picking the Landscape variation of College Ruled lines. My hand now moves away from the Next Page Button. All seems right in my writing universe as I imagine trading off between my Elfinbook notebook (see post) and the ReMarkable both allowing me to feel more progressive and pro-tree than perhaps I really am. The smaller reusable notebook that uses photographed pages to create PDFs would be good for some uses and the larger ReMarkable, I could maybe use for larger drawings because I really like belly-flopping off the 30-meter platform at the Olympics when it comes to my pictures.

Both paperless technologies are predicated on being able to create PDF files of my notes to send or cut and paste into a folder on my computer, especially wallowing in the arrogance of believing in a historically relevant literary estate. I’ve commented on the reusable notebook saving things to PDF and how easy it is to combine pages into one document. I tried the same thing with this big first draft of my review for The Death of Stalin. Tried as in – “Do or do not, there is no try!” – or the similar, “I’ll try means I’ll fail!”

Sending this handwritten text to myself using my fairly standard WiFi connection failed miserably because the file size was too large in PDF. Really, three pages of handwritten text is too large when other mobile apps can handle huge PDF files by comparison? And you have to send files from the tablet itself because there isn’t a Share Files button on the companion mobile app.

Trying to save things, when I realized I had the option of sending the file using the Photoshop originated PNG format I did that. The file went through, but then I added too many extra steps reconverting to a PDF. And the full text didn’t go through so I would have to rewrite the review or type from the tablet.

Gee, Guys! I feel so happy knowing that I paid $678 for a writing tablet that fails miserably in all of the small ways like file management that I ended buying an unusable paperweight. Maybe I bought something I could put onto a starship bridge set? Or some other flavor of movie prop? Certainly, what passes for my ethics says can’t give this [expletive deleted] away and have the gift accepted in the spirit intended. I wuzzz ROBBED!

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