The Onyx Boox Note Air and Remarkable 2 are two of the best 10.3 inch digital note taking devices that have been released this year. The two devices provide drastically different user experiences. Remarkable bills it as derestriction free, so you won’t find an internet browser, email or social media. Onyx, primarily markets it as a multipurpose tablet, with an E INK screen, but it also does a damn good job at drawing. What product is better?
The Remarkable 2 and Note Air both have 10.3 inch displays that have a layer of glass. They include a WACOM display and both ship with a stylus, although the Remarkable stylus is better, due to the build quality. One of the benefits of the Remarkable 2 is the tilt sensitivity, they are currently the only company to have this feature. You can do shading, by just drawing on an angle. This is an excellent feature and one of the big selling points. Both devices have 4,096 degrees of pressure sensitivity and palm rejection technology.
The Remarkable 2 features a 10.3 inch E INK display with Canvas 2.0 technology for a better refresh system when viewing PDF files or reading ebooks. It has improved, contrast, making sure it gives a great writing and reading experience. The resolution is the same as the original with 1872×1404 with 226 PPI, it also has multi-point capacitive touch. The screen has 21ms latency, which is very ideal. Underneath the hood is a 1.2 GHZ dual core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. Remarkable has basically doubled the processor and RAM from the original, but has kept the internal storage the same. Also, the company has decided to forgo a Micro USB port and instead embrace USC-C, which should appeal to the vocal minority that hates having multiple cables. It is powered by a 3,000 mAH battery and one charge should last around three weeks, the original model only lasted a few days. One of the drawbacks of the Remarkable 2, it lacks a front-lit display, so you cannot read in the dark or lowlight conditions, environmental light is a must.
The Note Air features a 10.3 inch E INK Carta HD Display with a resolution of 1872×1404 and 227 PPI. This device employs a front-lit display with both white and amber LED lights. There are 18 white LED lights, and 18 amber LED lights, for a total 36 LED lights. This system is designed so you can read at night or lowlight environments, and adjust the illimnosity via a software based slider bar.
Underneath the hood of the Note Air is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 processor, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. It has Bluetooth 5.0 to connect up wireless accessories, such as headphones or a speaker to listen audiobooks, music or podcasts. It also has a built-in speaker if you don’t feel like plugging in extra accessories. You can charge and transfer data with the USB-C port, which also has OTG. It comes with a gyroscope, so you can switch orientation on the fly. It is powered by a 3,000 mAh battery. It ships with Android 10, has Google Play.
On a pure hardware level, the Note Air trounces the Remarkable 2. It has a better processor, more RAM and a lighting system. It also has full app support via Google Play. What I like about the Air, is that it can run 2 apps side by side, or have 2 different PDF files open at the same time.
When it comes to the drawing experiences, both are relatively even. You have layers, different types of pens/pencils, colors, templates, and a while lot more. Onyx has a neat feature to use the microphone to do audio to text, if you are interested in that sort of thing. For awhile, Remarkable was the only company with a layer system, similar to Photoshop, but other companies have recently introduced the same feature on their devices, including Onyx and Supernote. One of the great things about the Remarkable, is that they sell a premium version of their pen, which is made of aluminum and is way better than the stock one. Onyx has never really got into digital stationary.
Editing PDF files is better on the Note Air, since you have more writing features available. You can have 2 page spread setup. Reading ebooks is better on the Air, since you can use the stock one, or just install Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Scribd, Moon+ Reader or Overdrive Libby.
I believe the Air provides the most value, we extensively have used both devices. Remarkable is still hard to get, they did a phased release, so they ship them, according to your batch number. Right now they are shipping batch 3/11.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten 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.