E-Ink tablets (aka "digital paper tablets") are a fascinating product category with a dizzying array of available models. Unlike the traditional tablet market, there is no runaway market leader in the e-ink space (at least as of early 2023). What we have instead is a range of devices and brands which each have their own strengths, weaknesses, and quirks.
As a result, choosing from the available options can feel paralyzing, and requires careful research to find the best fit for your particular needs and workflow. In this post, we'll present the most popular devices, link to resources to help you make an informed purchasing decision, and provide a quick summary of pros/cons for the leading devices.
While there are many more devices on the market, the most popular e-Ink tablets at the time of writing are:
- reMarkable – a 10.3" tablet focused on replacing paper-based workflows
- Supernote – A5X (10.3") & A6X (7.8") tablets, similar in focus to the reMarkable but with a more robust feature set
- Kindle Scribe – excelling at (no surprise) ebook reading on a large, high-resolution e-Ink screen
- Onyx Boox – which has literally dozens of different models to choose from
Considering it's still a niche device class, e-Ink tablets have a surprisingly vibrant ecosystem of reviewers, Youtubers, and online communities. The following sites and channels contain a wealth of deep-dives to help you make a purchasing decision.
If you're researching for a tablet purchase, a fantastic and fairly recent resource is eWritable. It features an in-depth buyer's guide, full device reviews, and a helpful comparison table with all of the leading options. If you're a visualization nerd you'll also enjoy the spider chart comparisons. If I was looking to purchase a new tablet today, it would be the first resource I'd look to.
- My Deep Guide has incredibly in-depth reviews of many different tablets
- Kit Betts-Masters has a wealth of reviews and comparisons on his channel
- Brandon Boswell has reviewed several tablets, as well as how they integrate with popular desktop productivity software
- pixel leaves is less review-focused, but covers intentional use of e-Ink devices for notetaking and productivity
- /r/kindle (though it covers all Kindle devices, not just the Scribe)
Summary of options
While all of the resources above have much more detailed reviews and comparisons, if you're new to the market here's a bird's eye view of the main devices stack up as of this writing:
If you're looking at an e-Ink tablet for notetaking, reading, and planning, you might wonder if an iPad would fit the bill. It might! WIth powerful hardware, a slick UX, and endless app compatibility, not a lot of devices can compete with the grand-daddy of digital tablets.
Goodnotes, Notability, and other iOS notetaking apps have rich feature sets that eclipse what most e-Ink tablets can offer. The Paperlike cover can give you a paper-like feel with the Apple pencil, while also protecting your screen.
The flip-side is that the iPad is closer to a full-fledged computer than a dedicated note-taking and reading device. A notification, game, or online distraction is never more than a swipe away. This is the primary reason people are willing to spend a decent chunk of change for e-Ink devices with comparatively limited features and power.
In short, the iPad might be the best fit for you if you are looking for some combination of:
- versatility; usage outside of note-taking and reading
- color display and ridiculously powerful hardware
- all the advantages (but also downsides) of a general-purpose computing device
The reMarkable is probably the closest tablet to "electronic paper", and sits diametrically opposite the iPad along the features-vs-focus spectrum. If you are an avid paper notetaker but are looking for the advantages of going digital, the reMarkable is a great choice. The flip side is that the features set is intentionally limited, there is no backlight, apps, or Kindle integration, and the pace of software updates has historically been sluggish.
The reMarkable might be the best fit for you if you are looking for:
- a paper replacement (not a fully-featured tablet)
- no distractions (via intentionally limited connectivity and features)
- a device specifically designed around the writing experience
The Supernote is probably the closest competitor for what the reMarkable does, but it brings additional features and flexibility. The Supernote has a Kindle app, a pen that doesn't require nib replacements, and receives feature updates at a much quicker pace than the reMarkable.
Consider the Supernote if:
- you want a focused e-Ink device, but the reMarkable is too limited for your needs
- you don't want to mess around with replaceable nibs
- you value software that has an open roadmap and more frequent features & improvements
Amazon threw its hat in the e-Ink tablet ring several months ago with the Scribe, and the consensus seems to be that it boasts tantalizingly good hardware that (as of March 2023) is hobbled by half-baked and incomplete software. With (predictably) the tightest Kindle software integration and a 300ppi screen with backlight, if reading Kindle ebooks is your primary use-case, it may be tough to overlook even if the writing features are currently lacking.
Look to the Kindle Scribe if:
- reading Kindle ebooks is your primary use-case
- you don't mind a limited feature set for writing
- you really value a sharp display and snappy user interface
With over 20 devices listed on their site, Onyx Boox has by far the most hardware diversity in this product category. Their devices run Android and feature a lot of customizability. See the YouTube channels linked above for in-depth reviews of their latest models.
Consider a Boox device if you're looking for:
- something that straddles the line between a general-purpose tablet and a notetaking device.
- Android apps
- maximum tweakability in your device's user interface
- a really big (13") screen, as on their Tab X model