The second generation Fujitsu Quaderno is the best 13.3 inch digital note taking device on the market. This product is designed to view and edit PDF files, freehand draw and take notes. It is simply the most responsive e-note that has ever been released and this is primarily attributed to the exposed e-paper display. The device is also employing brand new E INK technology, which makes it fast, responsive and an utter pleasure to use. This product is only available in Japan, but does have an English language option. You can buy it internationally from Good e-Reader for $779.99.
The Fujitsu Quaderno A4 second generation is using a brand new E INK Carta 1250 e-paper display. It is the first product in the world to utilize this new screen technology. It was originally developed both black and white displays, but also color e-notes. This version has a thinner film and faster ink, enabling faster page turns. This is really evident on large PDF files, whether they are textbooks, RPG manuals, graphic novels or manga, they are all lighting quick, faster than any e-note we have ever reviewed. When employing the stylus, 1250 also has less latency, you can expect less than 30 milliseconds. To put this in prospective, the Remarkable 2 has the lowest latency in the business with 21 milliseconds, while the Reinkstone R1 has 40 milliseconds, this is about average for the entire industry.
The A4 features a 13.3 inch E INK display with a resolution of 1650 x 2200 with 207 PPI. You will be able to interact with various UI elements with just your finger, thanks to the capacitive touchscreen display. Fujitsu is utilizing a WACOM display for the first time. It comes with a free stock stylus, but you can basically use any stylus you want, including Remarkable 2 pen, Lamy Al-Star or iReader X Pen. You do not want to use the Supernote pens on this device, because their nibs are made of ceramic and will damage the screen.
Fujitsu is the only company this year to go with an exposed e-paper display, instead of employing a flush screen and bezel, with a layer of of glass. This provides a myriad of positive benefits, such as natural or artificial light being absorbed, while glass reflects it. There is more torque on the stylus and friction when drawing on e-paper, this provides a better drawing experience and feels more organic. The only other e-note that has been released in the past 3-4 years with an exposed display was the Sony DPT-CP1 and RP1, the previous generation Fujitsu A4 and the Remarkable 1. Here at Good e-Reader we have reviewed every single e-note in the world, and have found that drawing on glass is not the same experience as drawing on e-paper directly.
The Fujitsu A4 is powered by a Cortex A53 Quad-core 1.8 GHZ processor, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which is good for storing around 10,000 PDF files. It has a USB-C port, which is great for people who want one cable for all of their devices. It has WIFI, Bluetooth 5.0 and NFC support for FeliCa (screen unlock) and NFC Forum Type 4 Tag (easy connection with QUADERNO Mobile App). This is great to basically lock your device and make it inaccessible from people who pick up when you are not around or if it gets stolen. You will easily get up to 4 weeks of usage before you have to recharge it. The dimensions are 222.8mm x 301.1mm x 5.7mm and weighs 368g.
The design of the A4 2nd gen is white and has a e-paper screen with 16 levels of greyscale. It comes with a stylus, but not a case or screen protector, those you have to buy separately. There are three replacement nibs and nib removal tool and a black USB-C cable. The retail packaging is cardboard stock that has a picture of the device on the front with some light tech specs on the back. You get a quick start guide, user manual and warranty documentation, but it is all in Japanese. You can view translated versions that have been converted to English on the Good e-Reader Knowledgebase.
The stylus is comprised of a plastic body and is a dull grey, with light bronze edging. There is an eraser on the top and a single button on the side. Both buttons can be remapped to do different things or disabled altogether. For example, by default the button on the side is highlight and the top is an eraser. You have 6 different options, such as refreshing, lasso tool or a myriad of others. This stylus does not need to be recharged and is battery free. There is no pressure sensitivity on the pen.
If you are a business, the A4 has the ability to remotely connect up to a content server. This is basically a repository files. Since this product is designed to replace paper, it makes sense to have all work files, housed on a central server. Take for instance a law firm, that is juggling like 500 cases at once, and there is many juniors, interns and various levels of lawyers all working. Having each case, assigned a specific directory, would allow people to view/edit documentations and then upload the edited document back to the server, so other people can view it.
Do you want to print a PDF that you have edited or a note that you have made? Fujitsu sells a line of ScanSnap printers, that you can configure in one of the dropdown menus and configure whatever model that you have purchased. Fujitsu also has desktop software for PC and MAC. This makes it easy to manage documents such as inserting and retrieving documents. The company also has mobile apps, which do the same thing, for iOS and Android, but they are only available in Japan. You can download the Android version from the Good e-Reader App Store.
There are numerous things that I wished Fujitsu addressed in the design stage of the A4. A front-lit display would have been really nice, giving people the ability to work during the day or night. I get why they did not do it though, this is basically designed and marketed to the Japanese market, where people typically just work during the day and leave work, at work. So having a product for the workday is what they decided to do. I also wish Fujitsu took advantage of the Bluetooth functionality to have a music or audio player or to even have a keyboard attached via the USB-C port. A Micro SD port would have also been nice, for those of you with huge PDF collections.
Software and note taking
The Fujitsu Quaderno A4 second generation is running an Android OS, but the exact version number is unknown, but we will find this out in a couple of weeks. There is no documentation on what version it is, but we might be offering an unlock service very soon, which will give users the ability to have Google Play preinstalled, to download free and paid apps, without losing any of the software functionality or menu system.
Fujitsu does not offer a home screen, in the traditionally sense. Instead, there is a main drop down menu that provides shortcuts to all of the features. This includes your notes, settings menu, Airscan, Schedual, File Browser, Settings and firmware update. The settings menu is where you can connect up to a WIFI network and establish Bluetooth accessories, such as FLICA. This is also where you can control the remapping of your stylus buttons, manage your imported templates. There is also a screen lock function, which allows you to establish a password for the device. Just make sure you remember the password, there is nothing Fujitsu can do to remotely unlock it for you.
The only format that this device can read is PDF files. It cannot read EPUB or MOBI files. You can import in PDF files from Windows Explorer, but plugging your Quaderno into your PC with the USB-C to USB-A cable. Simply drag and drop the files and they will be readable and editable when you open them up. When you open up a PDF files, of any size, turning pages is lighting quick, this is primarily due to the new E INK Carta 1250 screen. Whenever you turn a page there is a full page refresh, which limits ghosting. There is basically a flash on the screen when you turn a page. You can use the stylus to highlight or draw on PDF files, there are various pen/pencil sizes you can employ for line thickness. There is also 2 color options, blue and red, but these colors can’t be viewed directly on the A4, instead you have to export the file back to your PC or smartphone to see it. When you pinch and zoom a PDF file, there is a percentage meter on the top left corner, but there is no mini map to assist in orientation, like Amazon does with the Kindle, or Kobo. Pinching and zooming overall is super quick, there is no lag or anything else, it just happens.
You can edit PDF files with the Fujitsu Stylus or any other WACOM enabled stylus. You can highlight specific passages, highlights can be done, on top of highlighters, to make it darker. There are 11 different levels of darkness, which you can highlight, then highlight it again and again, to make specific passages standout. If you want to remove the highlights, simply use the eraser button on the stylus and it will remove all of them.
One of the most compelling features about notes or PDF files, is the split screen view. You can have two different PDF files opened at the same time, two different note pages, or a PDF file and note page. It is possible to write on both screens with the stylus, but if you are editing one PDF page, and draw across the screen, it will stop at the edge of the page, this is useful for keeping each screen independent of each other. There is also a split page view. This is really useful for PDF files, where you can view page 1 on one side of the screen and page 2 on the other. This is also useful for ebooks, manga or digital comics that are avsailable in PDF form. There are plenty of free online converters that will take a DRM-Free EPUB/MOBI/PRC and convert it to PDF.
We tested a number of PDF files to see how the A4 2nd gen can handle them. There were small ones, around 40MB in size, such as the Naruto manga. We tried a 600MB file, the Becket Baseball price guide, which we test all modern products on and a 1.3GB file, which was tremendously image heavy, it was biology textbook. Basically, from a user point of view, there was no distinction between a large file and small file, every one took about 1-4 seconds to load and page turns occurred at about the same pace, which is quicker than the Kobo Elipsa, Onyx Boox Note Air or even the Remarkable 2.
There is a really nice schedule app that comes with the device. You can use the stylus or your fingers to click on a specific date, and then when you click on that date, it provides a breakdown of all 24 hours in a day. You can use the stylus to handwrite specific notes or use the keyboard to write in specific tasks or appointments. When a specific day is edited, it will show a notification flag, click on it, and we will show a bubble of all of the tasks. Basically, the schedule feature is simply not a background template but a totally interactive feature, that I wish more e-notes had.
The Note taking experience might be the singular reason why you want to buy the Quaderno A4. The giant 13.3 inch screen provides ample real estate to freehand draw or take notes. There is a UI on the top of the screen that can be hidden or visible. There are various pen/pencil’s to choose from, as well as two different colors, red and blue. There are lassos, various eraser sizes and templates, which is a good starting point. The entire experience is very similar to the first generation Quaderno or even the Sony Digital Paper. The reason why these devices are so successful, is they are easy to understand and use, there isn’t a million advances features to complicate matters. Want to make a new page, click the + sign, change the template, no problem, there is around 30 of them, more can be downloaded from the Fujitsu website. When you are done drawing, the files can be saved as PDF files and can easily be copied over to your PC/MAC. One of the drawbacks of taking notes, is that there is no handwriting to text feature.
If you click on the top right corner, there are a number of options that appear. These are the same things you find in the note taking app, but also when viewing a PDF files. You can jump to a specific page, view page thumbnails, display documents side by side, two page spread, page reflow, delete/make a new page, change document name, copy document, save.
The Quaderno A4 second generation brings tons the table and there are a ton of use case scenarios. A teacher can grade tests, it is great for signing documents, such as tax returns or contracts. It makes a really good e-reader, with its use screen. The everyman can find a ton of value on this, and it does things that no other e-note on the market does. The drawing features might not be as advanced as the Remarkable, with its various layers, or Supernote which is primarily aimed at artists and creative professionals. I think this is a jack of all trades, it does everything really well.
I believe the Quaderno A4 is the best digital note taking device of 2021. It has brand new E INK screen technology, which basically improves the performance of the device system wide. Drawing is faster, page turns are faster and stylus latency is next to nothing. Fujitsu really hit a home run, anyone can basically get with this product does in 10 minutes and find value in it.
This shines a new light on the Legacy the DPT started. It pays homage and respect to a true note-taking experience. There are very few bells and whistles compared to its competitors, but it’s a professional, high quality execution at a note-taking tablet. There are so few 13.3 in devices on the market that it’s refreshing to see them still exist especially under such a positive name like Fujitsu.
Fujitsu Quaderno A4 2nd Gen$779.99
- Beautifully built
- Thin and light
- Can you use any stylus on the market
- The only device to use a plastic screen
- Probably the best writing experience on the market
- No lighting system
- No SD Card
- Little to no advanced features
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.