E Ink tablets with a big screen are not like traditional tablets. Unlike offers from, , Google a E Ink tablets are not designed for video games, movies or the web. Instead, they offer a completely different experience by combining an unobtrusive and easy-to-read Kindle-style environment with the ability to write and take notes as on a traditional tablet.
These devices avoid bright LCD displays and super-fast processors in favor of the sharp and energy-efficient E Ink gray scale. While most E Ink tablets have a basic web browser, these devices are not designed to browse the web or provide the latest social media updates. They are designed for reading and writing with the most similar paper experience possible.
That was exactly what I was looking for when I started rehearsing my latest game. As a professional actor, I spend a lot of time wearing printed screenplays in three-ring binding. Much of every rehearsal process involves reading your lines from the page, navigating the stage, and interacting with other actors.
Actors also tend to make abundant remarks on the fringes of the script. The whole process requires a lot of concentration and it is important that there is as little distraction as possible in the test room. It seemed like an ideal environment for testing some of the latest E Ink tablets without distractions.
For this summary, I have included devices with a minimum screen size of 10 inches and stylus support.
Sarah Lord / CNET
ReMarkable 2 is the best E Ink tablet in which you can write a lot of handwritten notes. It is only 0.19 inches thick and 0.88 pounds, making it lightweight and easy to carry. This 10.3-inch tablet uses a monochrome digital display with a resolution of 226 DPI. The font and text look clear and sharp, and you can choose from more than 40 different page templates for notes, including seven notation-only options. The software is easy to use, with clear buttons at the top for adding notebooks and folders. It has 8 GB of internal storage and an optional $ 8 per month cloud storage service (for a 100-day free trial). This Connect service also performs handwriting conversion and has Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive integration.
The included stylus does not require pairing or charging, but supports tilt detection and standard 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels. Practically speaking, it offers the most realistic typing experience of any tablet I’ve ever used. The screen looks like paper, which gives the pen a level of friction that looks incredibly faithful.
ReMarkable 2 also shines with PDF. Bright spots automatically straighten and change to a legible shade of gray without any adjustment. You can easily add pages to the PDF for additional notes or write on the margins. The slim ReMarkable tablet, two-week battery life, pen input and PDF management options have made this E Ink tablet my favorite tablet for use in testing.
As already mentioned, ReMarkable 2 is not without flaws. The biggest problem is that it lacks any kind of backlight, which could disrupt the agreement. Like a real book or laptop, this device requires an external light source for use in the dark. Even the cheapest Kindle now has headlight lighting for night use. It doesn’t even work as an electronic reader, as it only supports PDF formats and unprotected epubs. This means you won’t have access to your Kindle content or other epub books with digital rights management software that includes almost every legally available e-book on the market.
In the end, I found this tablet to be incredibly useful. This is the cheapest E Ink tablet on our list, but it’s still basically just a PDF device and notes.
Sarah Lord / CNET
The Boox Note Air 2 is the most tablet E Ink device I’ve tested. This 10.3-inch tablet has a resolution of 227 DPI, runs on a customized version of the Android 11 operating system and even has its own application store, where you can download third-party applications that have been optimized for the device. And yes, even if it’s not pre-baked in the system, there’s a way to access the full Google Play store – although I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than downloading an e-book reader, because Boox still has an E Ink display and isn’t designed for games or video. A step-by-step guide on how to install the Google Play Store is in this handy review of the previous model.
Boox also comes with only 64 GB of non-expandable storage, so you don’t want applications to fill your system. The company offers 5 GB of cloud storage from its own free service to help transfer documents to the device, although you can also use Dropbox, Evernote and OneNote.
The biggest advantage of the app store is that you will have access to your entire collection of books from the Kindle, Nook and Kobo libraries. You can also download the Libby Book app from the library, and Marvel Unlimited users can download the app and read comics, though not in color. Note Air 2 includes speakers and a microphone, which allows you to listen to audiobooks from Audible or other audiobooks.
This is a great selling point for the device, but I’ve found that the experience in the app isn’t ideal. Many of the features that make Note Air 2 unique are prohibited in third-party applications. For example, you won’t be able to use the pen to take notes or highlights in books in the Kindle app. Instead, you’ll need to take notes that you want to take, as if you’re using the app on any other tablet. To write directly to books, you must have them in DRM-free eBook format. Fortunately, Boox supports a wide variety of formats including PDF, epub, DOC and Mobi.
Annotating and managing PDFs are powerful with Note Air 2, but not as smooth as ReMarkable 2. Highlighting does not automatically align, and users must choose the color and width of the marker. Note Air 2 offers 16 grayscale color options, but they all look the same on the device, so the lights look dark and chaotic. The supplied stylus also has 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels, but is still slightly delayed when typing. On the plus side, you can include audio recordings for more accurate preservation. Note Air 2 also allows you to open PDF and Notepad simultaneously in split-screen view, giving you the ability to read and take notes at once.
Like the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis, the Boox Note Air 2 comes with a warm and cool headlight that helps make the screen easier on the eyes and gives it a more papery look. You can easily adjust both lights using the swipe-down menu. In addition, it also measures battery life in weeks, not days.
Although this tablet is by far the most expensive on our list, it is also the most versatile of E Ink tablets and does very well, but nothing great.
You can see that the company recently announced Note Air 2 Plus. I haven’t tried it, but it’s almost identical to the original Air 2 – only with a larger battery, which makes it a little heavier.
Sarah Lord / CNET
Kobo may be a smaller company than Amazon, but it has been producing electronic readers for about the same amount of time. While Amazon once produced the 9.7-inch Kindle, this product never offered natural input via a touch screen or stylus and was discontinued in 2014. Recently, Kobo was the first to have a waterproof electronic reader and is the first of the major electronic readers. players create a 10.3-inch device with a stylus.
Like most Kobos, the Ellipse is an excellent e-reader and offers battery life measured in weeks depending on usage. Unlike Kindles, Kobos have a seemingly limitless ability to customize their reading experience. You can play around with borders, line spacing, fonts and font sizes all the time to get a page that looks exactly the way you want, regardless of the screen size. The included stylus can be applied to any PDF or Kobo ePub file, so it works just as well for books from the library as it does for books from the Kobo store.
Speaking of the library, Kobo is known for its deep integration with the OverDrive e-book library service. You can easily access, browse, and download books from your library right from your device if your local library uses OverDrive. Borrowing an e-book from the New York Public Library was a hassle-free experience that made Kobos a must for library lovers.
Unfortunately, Ellipse lacks annotation capabilities. There is a noticeable delay when typing with the stylus for any length of time, and the functions of the notebook are relatively basic. There are only four templates available in basic workbooks, and only one linked template in advanced workbooks. Advanced notebooks allow you to insert drawings, diagrams, mathematical equations and free-form parts, while also offering the ability to convert your handwriting into text. There are only a few types of pens to choose from and only five sizes of brushes.
I was not able to use the laptop function for anything other than the most basic scribbles and I would not recommend it for anything more.
The Kobo Ellipse has 32GB of storage, a resolution of 227 DPI and a blue headlight, but lacks the warm Boox light. Although this E Ink tablet lacks signs of long writing, it stands out as a large-area electronic reader suitable for libraries with the ability to scribble on the edges.
How we test E Ink tablets
Each E Ink tablet undergoes extensive practical testing. In this case, each tablet was used for a weekly rehearsal in a professional theater production. This included evaluating the setup process, uploading PDFs and books to the device, and using the device and stylus as a script throughout the six-hour testing days. Tasks included highlighting, writing margins, and creating and writing detailed notes in notebooks. We also downloaded e-books to the device and used them as a recreational e-reader.
Anecdotally, we considered hardware design and features, stylus capabilities, overall ease of use, efficient user interface layout, notebook setup, E Ink setup, PDF labeling capabilities, electronic reading settings and format compatibility, application support and performance, and overall system speed and reliability.
Frequently asked questions about the E Ink tablet
How is the E Ink tablet different from an electronic reader?
E-readers and tablets use E Ink technology to render words and images on a page. Both offer a distraction-free experience that is easier for the eyes than a traditional color LCD display.
Electronic readers tend to be smaller than size and focus only on the experience of reading a book or PDF. E Ink tablets offer electronic reading features, but also the ability to use the stylus to write notes in a digital notebook and / or on the edges of PDF files and e-books. Because handwriting is an integral part of the E Ink tablet, the devices themselves tend to be larger to get closer to the size of a sheet of paper.
Why isn’t the Kindle on this list?
The Amazon Kindle line of electronic readers is one of the best known and most popular E Ink devices. However, the company does not manufacture E Ink devices larger than 7 inches (although this was the case), nor does it offer the ability to take handwritten notes on Kindle books or digital notebooks.
Who are E Ink tablets for?
E Ink tablets are best for people who like to take notes or sketch by hand and who need to read and label a large number of e-books in PDF or DRM format. They might be especially useful for students, lawyers, or other professionals who need a digital device to take notes without distractions.
They are not for people who want constant alerts, high processing speeds, watching videos or playing games.