E Ink large screen tablets are not like traditional tablets. Unlike the offer from, , Google i , E Ink tablets are not made for video games, movies or the web. Instead, they offer a completely different experience by combining a distraction-free and easy-to-read Kindle-style environment with the ability to write and record a traditional tablet.
These devices avoid bright LCD screens and super-fast processors in favor of the sharp and energy-efficient gray scale E Ink technology. Although most E Ink tablets have some sort of rudimentary web browser, these devices are not designed to surf the Internet or provide the latest updates from social media. They are designed for reading and writing, with the highest possible paper-like experience.
That’s exactly what I was looking for when I started rehearsing for my latest show. As a professional actor, I spend a lot of time wearing printed scripts in conjunction with three rings. Much of each rehearsal process involves reading your lines from the page while walking around the stage and interacting with fellow actors.
Actors also tend to make copious notes on the margins of the script. The whole process requires a lot of concentration, and it is important to have as little distraction in the rehearsal room as possible. This was the ideal environment to test some of the latest E Ink tablets without interference.
For this review, I included devices with a minimum screen size of 10 inches and pen support.
Sarah Lord / CNET
ReMarkable 2 is the best E Ink tablet for capturing lots of handwritten notes. It is only 0.19 inches thick and 0.88 pounds, which makes it light and easy to carry. This 10.3-inch tablet uses a 226 DPI monochrome digital screen. Writing and text look clear and sharp, and you can choose from over 40 different note page templates, including seven music-only options. The software is easy to use, with clear buttons at the top for adding notebooks and folders. It has 8GB of internal storage and an optional cloud storage service for $ 8 per month (after a 100-day free trial). This Connect service also does handwriting conversion and has integration of Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.
The included pen does not require pairing or charging, but supports tilt detection and standard 4096 pressure sensitivity levels. Practically speaking, it offers the most realistic writing experience of any tablet I have ever used. The screen feels like paper, which gives the pencil a level of friction that is incredibly true.
ReMarkable 2 also shines with PDFs. Highlighted parts are automatically corrected and converted to a legible shade of gray without any necessary adjustment. You can add pages to PDFs for additional notes or write in margins with ease. The thinness of ReMarkable, two weeks of battery life, pen input and PDF management capabilities have made this E Ink tablet my favorite to use at rehearsals.
Given that, ReMarkable 2 is not without flaws. The biggest problem is that it lacks any backlight, which could be a problem. Much like a real book or notebook, this device requires an external light source for use in the dark. Even the cheapest Kindle now has headlight lighting for night use. It also doesn’t work well as an e-reader, as the only formats it supports are PDF and unprotected epub. This means that you will not be able to access your Kindle content or any other epub book with digital rights management software, which includes almost all e-books that can be legally purchased on the market.
In the end, I found this tablet incredibly useful. This is the cheapest E Ink tablet on our list, but it’s basically just a PDF device and a recording device.
Sarah Lord / CNET
Boox Note Air 2 is the E Ink device that most closely resembles the tablets I 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 app store, where you can download third-party apps that are optimized for the device. And yes, even though it doesn’t come pre-integrated into the system, there’s a way to access the entire Google Play store – although I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than downloading an e-reading app, because Boox still has an E Ink screen and isn’t made for gaming or video. A step-by-step guide on how to install the Google Play Store can be found in this handy overview of the previous model.
Also, Boox comes with only 64 GB of non-expandable memory, so you don’t want apps to charge your system. The company offers free 5GB of cloud storage from its own service to help you transfer documents to your device, although you can also use Dropbox, Evernote and OneNote.
The biggest advantage of the app store is that you will have access to the entire collection of books from the Kindle, Nook and Kobo libraries. You can also download the Libby app for library books, and Marvel Unlimited users can download the app and read comics, but not in color. Note Air 2 includes speakers and a microphone, which allows you to listen to audio books from Audible or other audiobook applications.
This is a great selling point of the device, but I think the experience in the application is less than ideal. Many of the features that make Note Air 2 unique are disabled in third-party applications. For example, you won’t be able to use a pen to write or highlight in books in the Kindle app. Instead, you’ll need to type in the notes you want to make, like using the app on any other tablet. To write directly to books, you will need to have them in e-book format without DRM. Fortunately, Boox supports a wide range of formats including PDF, epub, DOC and Mobi.
Note-taking and PDF management are strong on Note Air 2, but not as flawless as on ReMarkable 2. Highlights don’t correct automatically, and users have to choose the color and width of the marker. The Note Air 2 offers 16 color options in shades of gray, but they all look the same on the device, leaving the highlighted parts looking dark and messy. The included pen also has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, but it lags very short when writing across the page. On the other hand, you can include audio recordings for more precise retention. Note Air 2 also allows you to open a PDF and a notebook in split screen view at the same time, giving you the ability to read and take notes all at once.
Like the Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis, the Boox Note Air 2 comes with a warm and cool headlight to make the screen lighter for the eyes and give it a more paper-like look. You can easily adjust both lights using the 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 the E Ink tablets and works quite well, but nothing great.
You may see that the company recently announced the Note Air 2 Plus. I haven’t tried it, but it’s almost identical to the original Air 2 – only with a bigger battery, which makes it a bit heavier.
Sarah Lord / CNET
Kobo may be a smaller company than Amazon, but it has been producing e-readers for about that long. While Amazon once made a 9.7-inch Kindle, the product never offered a natural input with a touch screen or pen and was discontinued in 2014. More recently, Kobo was the first with a waterproof e-reader, and it is the first of a large e-reader players to make a 10.3-inch device with a pen.
Like most Cobos, the Ellipse is a great e-reader and offers weeks of battery life, depending on usage. Unlike the Kindles, Cobos has a seemingly unlimited ability to customize the reading experience. You can play continuously with margins, line spacing, fonts, and font size to get the page that looks exactly the way you want, regardless of screen size. The included pen can be used on any PDF or Kobo ePub, so it works just as well on books from the library as it does on books from the Kobo store.
Speaking of the library, Kobo is known for his deep integration with the OverDrive e-book library service. You can easily access, search, and download library books directly from your device, as long as your local library uses OverDrive. Borrowing an e-book from the New York Public Library was an impeccable experience and one that makes everything Cobos a must for library lovers.
Unfortunately, Ellipse’s recording capabilities are lacking. There is a noticeable delay when writing with a pen for any period of time, and the characteristics of a laptop are quite basic. Only four templates are available in basic notebooks and only one template per line in advanced notebooks. Advanced notebooks allow you to insert drawings, diagrams, math equations and a free-form section, 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 pencil brushes.
I haven’t been able to use the laptop feature for anything other than the most basic scribbles and I wouldn’t recommend it for anything more than that.
The Kobo Elipsa has 32GB of memory, a resolution of 227 DPI and a blue headlight, but lacks the warm light of a Boox. Although this E Ink tablet misses the label of long writing, it stands out as a large-screen e-reader, adapted to the library, with the ability to scribble in the margins.
How we test E Ink tablets
Each E Ink tablet undergoes extensive practical testing. In this case, each tablet was used for one week of rehearsal in a professional theater production. This included assessing the setup process, uploading PDFs and books to the devices, and using the device and the included pen as scripts during the full six-hour trial. Tasks included highlighting, taking notes in the margins, and creating and taking detailed notes in notebooks. We also downloaded e-books to the device and used it as a recreational e-reader.
Anecdotally, we considered hardware design and features, pen capabilities, overall ease of use, effective user interface layouts, laptop settings, E Ink settings, PDF tagging options, e-reading settings and format compatibility, support and performance application, and the overall speed and reliability of the system.
E Ink Tablet FAQ
How is an E Ink tablet different from an e-reader?
Both E Ink e-readers and tablets use E Ink technology to display words and images on a page. Both offer an unobtrusive experience that is easier on the eyes than a traditional color LCD screen.
E-readers are usually smaller in size and focus only on the experience of reading a book or PDF. E Ink tablets offer e-reading features, but also include the ability to use a pen to write notes in a digital notebook and / or on the margins of PDFs and eBooks. Because handwriting is an integral part of the E Ink tablet experience, the devices themselves tend to be larger to get as close as possible to the size of a sheet of paper.
Why isn’t the Kindle on this list?
Amazon’s Kindle line of e-readers is one of the most famous and popular E Ink devices. However, the company does not produce an E Ink device larger than 7 inches (although it once was), nor a real device that offers the ability to write handwritten notes in Kindle books or digital notebooks.
Who are E Ink tablets for?
E Ink tablets are best suited for people who enjoy writing notes or sketching by hand and who need to read and tag a lot of PDFs or e-books without DRM. They could be especially suitable for students, lawyers or any other professionals who need a digital recording device without interference.
They are not for people who want constant notifications, high processing speeds, watching videos or playing games.