The Remarkable2 is a Win for Me
Update: Two months later, and I'm still using it! I tried out some custom paper and hacks for more features, but I think I'm just sticking with the default behavior for now.
I've been using a Remarkable2 for about a month, exclusively as my "digital bullet journal". I'm very happy with it. It's selling points all are plusses for me:
- thin and light, much nicer to hold and use than the iPad
- the non-backlit eInk display is so much nicer to look at than the iPad, especially outside (where it gets easier to look at with more light, instead of less)
- the pen feels great to write with, it's like night and day compared to the iPad (and I've tried numerous "paper like" screen protectors)
- the battery life is great. I've only recharged it a couple of times, whereas the usual iPad experience was "pick it up, oh look the battery is dead, lets go plug it in, I guess I journal later"
- the "pen upgrade" is still cheaper than the Apple Pencil 2, feels better in the hand, and you can use the back end as an eraser
I opted for the cloth-like cover, going for "cheaper and lighter" over leather.
There are, of course, downsides. We tend to use low lighting in most of the house at night, low enough that it makes it hard to use the non-backlit display. Color would be nice (esp for the bullet journal), but I don't really miss it. And navigating between journals, and flipping pages, is slower than GoodNotes on the iPad. And it's small size (similar to the 11" iPad) is too small to read a full page of a PDF, at least for my old eyes. (For that, I have a 12.9" iPad Pro).
But those are all minor compared to the overall experience. For me, the biggest win is that the journal is always "at hand"; the image in the header to this article shows where it lives during the workday, next to my keyboard and mouse, always open to the current notes/journal page. The battery life makes this practical, but the eInk display is the kicker. When I stop writing on it, I sit it down, and the journal page remains visible. But when it goes to sleep, the last page is still visible courtesy of the eInk display (although after some long amount of time it switches to a generic display).
One nice thing about the RM2 is you aren't limited to the pen they make, and folks are hacking (unofficially) the OS to add features.
I haven't tried the ddvk hack Tim referred to, but I did buy one of the Lamay pens. I don't like the nibs it shipped with (harder and "slipperier" than the RM2 pen nibs), but the nibs are compatible so I can swap. I likely won't use the Lamay until (and if) I install the ddvk hacks, since they're needed to make the Lamay's button switch to eraser mode (I won't give up the no-menu-required to swap between ink and eraser). Not sure how I'll feel about it; I never got used to using the side of the Apple Pencil 2 to switch between ink and erase.
If you like digital journalling, and you can afford to have a dedicated to device for it, I highly recommend the Remarkable2. It complements, not replaces, the iPad (which I will still use for other things), but is a far better tool for writing and journalling than the iPad (for me).
Edit: I forgot to add one more thing I needed to do, which was make a dot grid template that worked for me. The default templates had dots that were too small (for my old eyes to see) and spaced to tightly together (for my crappy writing to fit in). So I followed the instructions on the Remarkable2 Wiki on how to create and upload a template, using this dot grid image I created myself (darker dots, wider spacing).