There are readers who haven’t picked up a book in over a decade. What made the e-reader possible was electronic ink. Also known as electronic paper, this display technology has been developed for decades. An e-ink screen consists of microscopic capsules of dark and light pigments placed on a grid, the light pigment positively charged and the dark pigment negatively charged. Apply a positive charge to the grid square and a particle of light rises to the surface and vice versa.
The advantages of E-ink over “traditional” display technologies such as LED, TFT and LCD are many. For starters, it uses minimal power because the display doesn’t emit light. Without power, the dark pixels simply stay in place, leaving the text or image on the screen. It was a game changer for readers. eye strain is a thing of the past because, while e-ink isn’t particularly responsive (making quick changes between images and layouts impossible), it’s perfect for text.
Amazon Kindle Scribe 2022
The new Kindle Scribe is the latest and most beloved version of Amazon’s own brand of e-readers. For the first time, Kindle is available with a stylus, which greatly increases the functionality and flexibility of the device. Kindle Scribe is primarily about books and won’t be very useful unless you’re dealing with an Amazon subscription of some kind. However, even a premium Kindle Unlimited subscription isn’t an open gateway to the world’s printed matter, and there’s still plenty of content that needs to be paid for separately.
Confusingly, Unlimited gives you access to some, but not all, of the extensive Audible library (pair the device with Bluetooth headphones to listen to audiobooks), as well as a limited collection of magazines. They are published as “Kindle editions”, which not only have to make the most of the black and white screen, but also lose their character and readability when the text is presented in large, unbroken chunks.
As with all ebooks, formatting can be an issue (typewriters and graphic designers will die), especially if you’re playing with 14 levels of font size. The flood of self-published books that followed the launch of the Kindle (through Kindle Direct Publishing) further degraded the art of book design. That being said, the Kindle has been a boon for the voracious reader, especially those who are less concerned with the physicality of a book and more with its content. The backlight means you can read in the dark and you can also adjust the ‘warmth’ of the display.
The Scribe’s Premium stylus is a pleasure to use and glides across the surface of the tablet. The notebook feature lets you create custom workbooks with lined templates for diaries, notes, and more. Innovation isn’t Amazon as e-ink pen typing tablets start to proliferate. Right now we’re regular users of the excellent reMarkable 2, and there’s also the Boox NoteAir2 app to consider.
The writer understands correctly that having a case with a pen is. The reMarkable’s magnetic clip is very good, but doesn’t hold up well to flipping around in a bag. If you don’t have a case (another optional extra), there’s a much stronger magnet than the reMarkable to keep the pen in place when not in use. Mercifully, the pens used by these devices are replaceable and don’t require self-charging, although they do come with extra tips as the stylus eventually needs to be replaced.
To get the most out of Scribe’s 64GB of storage, you’ll enter the world of subscriptions and DRM (digital rights management). Power users will find ways to move their libraries between devices without too much trouble, but Scribe favors the longtime Amazon user who can handle the immersion and interact with the company’s vast ecosystem and all its probing tentacles.
In comparison, reMarkable feels like a much more indie and stand-alone offering. It also reads PDF files and e-books (in the widely used ePUB format), and you can scribble on them to your heart’s content. You can do the same with Scribe, although it won’t let you deface ebooks, only add notes to “sticky notes.”
ReMarkable is first and foremost a note-taking device, not a reading thing. Artists will enjoy a wider variety of “pen” types, including calligraphic writing modes, pencils and markers, while the screen is slightly rougher and paperier, creating realistic resistance to the nib.
Both offer a premium experience, but obsessive lettering will have more to do with reMarkable’s very analog feel. The Scribe, on the other hand, takes e-readers to a new level of elegant sophistication.
Amazon Kindle Scribe, £359.99 (16GB model including Premium Pen), Amazon.co.uk: (opens in new tab)
reMarkable 2 (includes Marker Plus and Leather Leaf), £557, reMarkable.com: (opens in new tab)
A Brief History of the Kindle
Fifteen years ago in November 2007, Amazon released the first Kindle. Over the years, the company has managed to create a huge number of variants of what is essentially a very simple form factor. There’s still a veritable bookshelf of Kindle options, including models for smaller readers and the Paperwhite series, a more compact, less pocket-sized device that looks more like a paperback book with a screen that’s made e-Ink even better. it is increasingly paper-based.