Remarkable has been in the note-taking business far longer than Kobo, and this is their primary focus. The company only has one model on the market, developing the brand, advertising, firmware updates and support. They bill the product as distraction-free, without all the bells and whistles of more capable e-notes. Remarkable issues update every couple of months, introducing a host of features and enhancements. They also have a line of cases, keyboards, and styluses to make it stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Kobo only got into digital note-taking products in 2020 with the advent of the first Elipsa, the giant e-paper screen on any Kobo. They said at the time; this was not a lark; it was the beginning of them utterly dominating the business. They followed the Elipsa with the Kobo Sage, an 8-inch e-reader, and in early 2023, they refreshed the ELipsa with the 2E, with a revised stylus and better hardware. Kobo does things Remarkable does not. They have a digital bookstore where users can buy audiobooks, ebooks, manga and other content. If you do not feel like spending money, borrow books from the public library with Overdrive. Users can enter their library card and four-digit PIN, and the local branch will appear on the home screen, making it easy to browse, checkout and read without needing a computer.
Remarkable 2 has the advantage of being the better e-note. This is their entire business, after all. They have more drawing features and a more advanced system. I like layers, which allow people to have multiple layers on a notebook, which appeals to artists and creators. They also have more templates than Kobo, and the Remarkable is more accessible to new users. Remarkable recently introduced a case with a keyboard, turning the Remarkable into a word processor. The Kobo is more appealing to new users who casually want to create notes, or solve math problems, without all the extra features.
Kobo Elipsa 2e has better hardware and internal storage. The company also has multiple cloud storage solutions to access content stored in the cloud or save them. Pocket, the read-it-later program, can read blog articles on the Elipsa in a friendly and easy-to-read format. Kobo also uses a Carta 1200 e-paper display panel, making the entire device snappier. Kobo has its Comfortlight Pro lighting system, with both warm and cool lighting, which can be blended. Useful for reading in the dark, the Remarkable 2 does not have a front-lit display, so you have to rely on overhead lighting or a lamp.
The Remarkable is best suited for editing and viewing PDF files and has the better drawing experience. Their marker Signature stylus kills Kobos stylus, it is better designed and feels premium, they also have better cases. The Kobo Elipsa 2E is best suited for large screen e-reader and audiobook player, since it has a very strong digital bookstore with all of the best titles. Kobo also has a subscription program, Kobo Plus, which has over 250,000 books to choose from. Overdrive is a huge advantage too.
Do you want a distraction free e-note with a better drawing experience or a more capable product?
Michael Kozlowski has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.