Scribe Comparison Lead

Keeping a notebook full of notes and sketches is a time-honored tradition, but it’s also one that’s slowly starting to change, thanks to modern tech. Digital notebooks are slowly becoming more common, as are tablets that are getting better and better for folks who like to write.

Amazon just released the Kindle Scribe, a device that brings the ability to take handwritten notes using a stylus to the Kindle lineup, joining the likes of Apple’s iPad Mini and the ReMarkable 2 as devices you can use as dedicated digital notebooks.

With the options for devices that serve as digital notebooks growing, it can be difficult to figure out which one is right for you. Below, we’ll walk you through each device and who it’s for to help you make up your mind.

How the iPad Mini, Kindle Scribe and ReMarkable 2 compare

Display

8.3-inch Liquid Retina Display

10.2-inch E Ink display

10.3-inch monochrome digital paper display (E Ink)

Remote notebook access

Yes, either with Apple Notes or via third-party apps

Yes, in the Kindle app

Yes, with Connect plan

Connectivity

USB-C, Wi-Fi, LTE

USB-C, Wi-Fi

USB-C, Wi-Fi

Storage

64GB, 256GB

16GB, 32GB, 64GB

8GB

Monthly subscription

Depends on the app

No

1-year free trial, $2.99 per month after

Battery life

10 hours

Up to three weeks

Up to two weeks

Weight

293 grams

433 grams

403.5 grams

Dimensions

134.8 x 195.4 6.3 mm

196 x 230 x 5.8 mm

187 x 246 x 4.7 mm

Stylus Cost

$129

Bundled with Scribe

$79 for basic Marker, $129 for Marker Plus

Price From $499 From $339 $299

The iPad Mini is a full-fledged tablet that doubles as a digital notebook

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I won’t go off into the weeds of every feature the iPad Mini offers — because there are a lot — but instead I’ll focus on how the iPad Mini works as a digital notebook. I recently made the switch to the iPad Mini, ditching my more traditional pen and paper notebook workflow. It’s taken some trial and error, on top of hours of research, to get the iPad Mini to a point where I feel comfortable using it as my lone note-taking device.

Apple’s iPad Mini is small and portable enough that it lends itself to going nearly everywhere in your backpack. Its 8.3-inch display is the smallest out of the three tablets. It’s also the only color display.

In order to take notes on the $499 iPad Mini, you’ll need to purchase the $129 second-generation Apple Pencil. I also strongly recommend buying a Paperlike screen protector (you get two for $40) that not only adds a layer of protection to the display but also provides a touch of resistance to the tip of the Pencil while it moves across the display. The end result is that it feels more like you’re writing on a piece of paper and not a glass screen.

Because the iPad Mini has access to Apple’s App Store, your options are wide open as to which app or service you want to use to store and manage your notes. I landed on GoodNotes 5 as my preferred app. The biggest reason? I can search my handwritten notes (a feature the ReMarkable 2 and Scribe lack). But you don’t have to use GoodNotes 5 — you can use Apple’s built-in Notes app, OneNote, Notability or even Evernote. The options are practically limitless, really.

As far as writing on the iPad Mini, the Apple Pencil is one of my favorite styli I’ve used. There’s virtually no latency, it’s comfortable to hold and its capabilities can be customized and tailored to your desire, either in the iPad Mini’s settings or within the app you’re using.

One downside, however, is that the Apple Pencil needs to be charged, while the pens that work with the ReMarkable 2 or Scribe don’t even have batteries — they just work.

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The biggest potential downside of using the iPad Mini as a digital notebook is that it’s far too easy to get distracted when using the Mini. I think we’ve all experienced picking up our phones or a tablet to check on a specific thing, and then 15 minutes later we realize we went down the rabbit hole of checking all of our social networks, email and messages while never even touching the original reason we picked up our device. Add to that the fact that the iPad Mini also receives push alerts, and the chances of being distracted go up even more (fortunately, you can take advantage of the Focus mode capabilities in iPadOS to stay on task).

You’ll also find yourself having to charge the iPad Mini more frequently than the Scribe or ReMarkable 2. Both devices offer up to three weeks of battery life, while the iPad Mini will need to be charged once a week or so if you’re using it solely as a notebook. If you’re using it for more than that, perhaps to watch videos or surf the web, you’re going to be charging it every couple of days.

The ReMarkable 2 is the most versatile and well-rounded digital notebook

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The Kindle Scribe and iPad Mini are dual or multipurpose devices, while the $299 ReMarkable 2 is a tablet whose primary, and arguably only, purpose is to act as a digital notebook. You’ll need a $79 Marker or $129 Marker Plus to write on the ReMarkable 2’s display. Besides a difference in color, the Marker Plus also features an eraser that you press to the display to wipe away your mistakes.

The ReMarkable 2 has a 10.3-inch monochrome display that’s similar to the Scribe’s E Ink setup, but it lacks any sort of lighting, which makes it hard to use in a dark environment.

In fact, the pens that write on the Scribe and ReMarkable 2 are interchangeable, including the eraser feature on the higher-end pens. The back of the ReMarkable 2 has small feet that keep it stable as it’s placed on your desk while you’re writing on it.

Battery life should be more than enough for a couple of weeks of use.

The writing experience is on par with the iPad Mini, with near-zero latency or delay from when the pen moves across the screen until you see the digital ink appear. You have multiple tools at the ready as well, such as the ability to select your writing, copy it, move it or even convert your handwriting to text. You can even write in red or blue ink that shows up when you share the notebook or document.

One complaint I have about the ReMarkable 2 is that you can’t currently search your handwritten notes unless you’ve converted them to text.

From the moment you turn it on, the ReMarkable 2’s focus is on helping you create and manage notes or sketches in notebooks, along with managing documents you’ve imported to the tablet.

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You can connect cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive to the tablet to download and store local copies of documents on the ReMarkable 2, where you can then annotate or sign and then sync back to the service or email directly from the tablet.

There’s also a browser extension that will convert webpages to a PDF and send it to your tablet for reading, along with a Microsoft 365 plugin that sends Word and Powerpoint documents to your tablet for annotating and notes.

There’s also a screen-sharing feature that lets you mirror your ReMarkable 2’s display to a nearby computer, allowing you to give a presentation directly from the tablet.

The ReMarkable Connect app is available on iPhone and Android, and there’s a desktop version for Mac and Windows, allowing you to view and edit or add to your notes (editing is currently in beta but expected to launch relatively soon).

Connect is ReMarkable’s cloud service that stores and syncs your files. You get a free year of access to Connect with the purchase of a tablet, after which the service costs $2.99 per month. Without the subscription, you can still use the tablet to take notes or read documents and books, including syncing documents using Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.

As far as syncing to ReMarkable’s Connect service, all of your files stored on the tablet will remain available, but only files synced within the last 50 days of your subscription being active will continue to sync.

The Kindle Scribe is a Kindle first, digital notebook second

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The Kindle Scribe has a 10.2-inch display, and that means Kindle fans now have a giant tablet that’s designed for Amazon’s Kindle store and all of the books it offers. Of course, there’s more to the Scribe than the fact that it’s a giant e-reader. For instance, it’s the first Kindle device that works with a stylus for you to do more than take notes in your Kindle books.

The Scribe has a dedicated Notebooks section where you can create notebooks using one of 18 different page templates. You can store as many books and notebooks on the Scribe as its storage allows, with options ranging from 16GB to 32GB to 64GB.

The Scribe starts at $339 for the 16GB model that comes with Amazon’s Basic pen, forgoing any extra features. At $369, you can get the 16GB Kindle Scribe with a Premium Pen that has an eraser on the end of the pen, along with a shortcut button that you can use to trigger additional tools, like a highlighter or sticky notes, in the Kindle’s settings app. The Apple Pencil has a double-tap trigger that has a similar shortcut functionality, while the ReMarkable 2’s Marker Plus lacks any sort of shortcut feature.

Where the Scribe really excels compared to the ReMarkable 2 is that its display has a front light that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness based on your surroundings. The ReMarkable 2 doesn’t have any sort of display lighting. That means you’ll have no problem using the Scribe in a dark environment, be it to read a book or take notes.

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Managing your documents and notebooks on the Scribe gets messy due to the fact that all of your Kindle books, documents and notebooks are organized together in the Home tab. That means you’ll find word or PDF documents you sent to the Scribe next to the book you’re currently reading, which is next to your work or school notebook.

Currently, you have a few options for getting documents to the Scribe. You can use the Kindle app on your phone to send documents, the device-specific email address that Amazon gives every Kindle or Amazon’s online tool to upload and sync documents to your Kindle devices.

As for viewing your notebooks, you’ll need to use the Kindle mobile app on your iPhone or Android device. You can’t sync documents to a cloud service like Google Drive, nor can you access your notebooks on a computer via the web interface. So as long as you have your phone nearby, you can view your notebooks, but you can’t currently edit or add to them.

Using the Scribe right now feels very much like it’s an e-reader at heart, with aspirations of being a digital notebook. But it’s in its infancy, and is missing a lot of features that the iPad Mini and ReMarkable 2 offer, such as easier document and notebook management or access across a wide range of devices and platforms. Not to mention the lack of common note-taking tools like the ability to select text and move it around on the current document, something I use on a daily basis.

Amazon states the Kindle Scribe has six weeks of battery life when used solely to read, or about three weeks when used to take notes.

Bottom line

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To sum it all up, it really boils down to what and how much you want to get out of any of these tablets. The Kindle Scribe is a better Kindle than a digital notebook, but having all of your notes and books on one device may be appealing to some.

The iPad Mini does everything you’d expect from one of Apple’s tablets, and requires you to exercise self-control to stay focused on the task at hand. The benefit here, though, is that your investment is multipurpose and you have countless options for which apps and services you want to use to take and manage your notes. Just be ready to pay for it all; this is the most expensive option by far.

The ReMarkable 2 is a device with a single focus, and it excels at it. It’s meant for those who don’t want or need all the extras that an iPad offers, and it’s slightly less expensive.

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