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  • Writer's pictureElisha Bae

New Way of Taking Notes: E-Ink Tablets


Five e-ink tablets laid out on a carpeted floor
photo credit: Engadget

While iPads were, and still are, a boom as note-taking devices, I've recently opted for a different gadget for my notes. I realized that my eyes hurt a lot after staring at my iPad for hours to take notes and that I don't use all the functionalities of iPads (because I mostly use my phone and laptop in combination). Ironically, I also noticed that I get distracted by my iPad during class because it's so easy to just slip into the internet from time to time because the tablet had more tools than the note app I needed. That's when I started looking for other options. I remembered using my dad's e-ink tablet last year (probably the Boox Note Air 2)



What Are E-Ink Tablets? How Are They Different from iPads/Other Tablets?

E-ink tablets use electronic ink technology to mimic the appearance of ink on paper. Unlike traditional LCD or OLED screens used in iPads and other tablets, e-ink displays are reflective, meaning they don't emit light. This makes them much easier on the eyes, especially during prolonged use.



How Do They Work?

E-ink displays work by using microcapsules filled with black and white particles that move when an electric charge is applied, forming text and images. This technology allows the screen to remain static without power, consuming battery only when the content changes.



How Do You Write? What Mechanism Does It Use?

Writing on an e-ink tablet typically involves using a stylus that interacts with the screen to create text and drawings. The stylus can be passive (no battery) or active (battery-powered) and provides a paper-like feel due to the screen's texture and response.



How Do the Inks Show on the Tablet?

The black and white particles within the microcapsules align to create visible text and images when an electric charge is applied. This gives the screen its characteristic sharp, high-contrast display that remains clear even in bright sunlight.



Advantages of Using E-Ink Tablets

- Easier on the Eyes: The reflective nature of e-ink screens reduces eye strain, making them ideal for long reading or note-taking sessions.

- Better Battery Life: E-ink tablets consume less power, often lasting weeks on a single charge.

- Minimalistic Features: With fewer distractions, these devices help maintain focus on reading and writing tasks.

- Excellent E-Readers: They provide a superior reading experience, closely resembling real paper.



Disadvantages

- Slower Response Rate: The technology behind e-ink results in slower screen updates compared to conventional tablets.

- Slow Refresh Rate: This can make browsing the web or watching videos less effective.

- Lack of Color: Most e-ink tablets are monochrome, which can be limiting for colorful note-taking or media consumption.

- Not an All-In-One Device: E-ink tablets are designed primarily for reading and writing, lacking many features of traditional tablets.


My Experience with E-Ink Tablets

Initially, I found that my eyes hurt a lot after staring at my iPad for extended periods, and I didn't use many of its functionalities. The constant temptation to browse the internet was another significant distraction. Seeking an alternative, I remembered using my dad's e-ink tablet, the Boox Note Air 2. I appreciated its eye-friendly screen but found it a bit too clunky.


Then I discovered the Boox Note Air 3C, which offered color display capabilities, and the Supernote A6X2 (Nomad), which seemed perfect for jotting down ideas and prayer or Bible study notes. Ultimately, I chose the Supernote A5X because of its larger size, which suited my needs better. Then I also got the Boox Note Air 3C as a Christmas gift - the color capabilities were really making the Boox appealing.


Comparison: Boox Note Air 3C vs. Supernote A5X

- Boox Note Air 3C: Offers a color e-ink display, making it more versatile for colorful note-taking and media viewing. It's a bit heavier and has more features, making it closer to a traditional tablet experience. The pen strokes sometimes didn't land where I wanted it to, which made me frustrated from time to time, but it was a great experience.

- Supernote A5X: Focuses on simplicity and a superior writing experience. It's lightweight, has excellent battery life, and provides a distraction-free environment. I was so used to charging my iPad every night but I went 2-3 weeks without even thinking about charging my Supernote. It's honestly crazy.


Why Not the Remarkable 2?

I considered the Remarkable 2 but ultimately decided against it because it required a subscription for some features and seemed slightly heavier compared to the Supernote A5X.


All in all, switching to an e-ink tablet has been a game-changer for my note-taking and reading habits. It has helped me reduce eye strain, stay focused, and enjoy a more paper-like experience, making it a worthwhile investment!

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