Review: Kindle Scribe

If you’ve followed this blog or my posts at Mad Genius Club over the years, you know I love me some gadgets. If it is something that makes it easier to read or write–preferably both–I will give it a try. Sometimes, that means  borrowing a friend’s tech. Sometimes, it means going to Best Buy or something similar and trying it in-store. Sometimes, I get lucky and manage to get my hands on the tech. The latter is how I managed to try the Kindle Scribe.

First impression when I slipped it out of the box is that it looks like the Kindle Oasis on steroids. The Oasis is 7″, 300 ppi. The Scribe is 10.2″, 300 ppi. The Scribe is surprisingly light and, not unexpectedly, well-lit. Both have the familiar e-ink screen. Hey, it is a Kindle after all.

But the Scribe goes far beyond the other e-ink Kindles. For the first time, Amazon has given us a Kindle with a stylus and the ability to not only take handwritten notes (ala “sticky notes) in e-books, but notes and highlighting on PDFs. But there’s more. You can create notebooks and files and write, create calendars, etc.

In some ways, it reminds me of the Onyx Boox Note Air. Both allow you to read e-books and their readers are easy to navigate and easy to actually read the book (unlike the Remarkable 1 or 2). The Boox does allow you to use both e-pubs and Kindle books. The Scribe is basically limited to Amazon downloads unless you do some conversion.

The writing experience, imo, is better on the Scribe than the Boox. The stylus feels comfortable and glides across the screen. I’ve never been happy with the lag time on the Boox.

Another difference between the two is that the Boox does allow for conversion from handwriting to text but it a bit wonky at best. But that’s okay for me because I don’t necessarily use devices like the Scribe or the Boox to create “typed” documents. Instead, I use them to brainstorm or jot quick notes down.

Of the ReMarkable, the Boox and the Scribe, the ReMarkable is much better for the conversion to text. However, you have to be connected to the internet to do so. You also have to be prepared to do a lot of reformatting. As much as I like my ReMarkable, I find myself either not converting text or spending too much time reformatting it. Considering the time involved, you might as well type the notes/document on your computer or tablet instead of handwriting it and then converting and reformatting.

Another difference between the Boox and the Scribe is the Scribe does exactly what it says it will. It is an e-reader that lets you take notes or annotate books/papers. You can listen to Audible books via blue tooth. The Boox Note Air, on the other hand, tries to be all of that as well as a tablet that allows you to use apps like Word, etc. The problem is it simply doesn’t have the processor power to do so easily or effectively. Like so some apps today, it tries to be more than it needs to be.

Then you get to the ReMarkable. I won’t like. I love the ReMarkable for note taking. It’s screen is larger than either of the others I’ve mentioned today. Overall, it is better for taking handwritten notes. However, I do like the feel of the Scribe as I write over the ReMarkable. I like the fact the Scribe, at least right now, seems to be more responsive than the ReMarkable. I like the fact the Scribe doesn’t lose e-book formatting the way the ReMarkable tends to. But the biggest advantage the Scribe has over the ReMarkable is the fact its display has built-in lighting. The ReMarkable does not.

In other words, there are good points and bad points to each of these three. When it comes to pricing, the Remarkable 2 starts at $299. Then you have to add the stylus. Those cost either $79 or $129. You get one year of their “subscription” (ie cloud storage and an extension of the warranty) then it goes to $2.99/mo. You can also buy a case or cover. The onboard storage for the ReMarkable 2 is 8 gig. Screen size is 10.3 in.

The Onyx Boox Note Air 2 has a screen the same size as the ReMarkable but a slightly different footprint. While the ReMarkable has its own OS, the Boox uses Android 11. From the official Boox site:

The 8-core processor together with 2 GHz clock rate and 4 GB of RAM ensure a comfort work with the most difficult documents. And 64 GB of nonvolatile memory allows the user to store a considerable library of technical literature.

Starting price is $529.

Then we get to the Kindle Scribe which falls between the two in both price and how it can be used. I got one of the “bundles”. The Scribe I got has 32 gigs and no ads. It also included the premium stylus. The cost was $389.99 (and currently you can space that out in payments of $78/mo for 6 mos).

Looking at the reviews for the Scribe and all I can do is smile and shake my head. Some of the low ratings come from folks who expected it to be a substitute for the ReMarkable. In other words, they didn’t read the product description or do a simple search on Youtube to see what early reviewers had to say.

Some of the complaints are valid–if the reviewers actually did what tech support said and didn’t just get upset and decide the Scribe was bad. I love the one who complained about how he spent several hours trying to register the Scribe to his account and couldn’t. I don’t know what happened with him but mine came already assigned to my account. All I had to do was finish the set up–choose language, etc. I didn’t even have to input my wifi information because of my other kindle devices.

But those negative reviews point out the problem with being an early adopter. There will be lemons. There will be those who buy because “oooh, shiny” and then get buyer’s remorse. But, after a day’s use, I have no real complaints about mine–other than the fact I forgot to get a case/cover for it.

The Scribe isn’t for everyone. It is costly. It is big, especially compared to the standard Kindle or the Paperwhite. But if you want a larger e-ink screen that allows you to read and annotate PDFs, take notes, access your Kindle account, you should look a this. But look at your other options as well. My preliminary rating of the Scribe is 8 out of 10, but that may change as I use it more.

Here’s Good EReader’s video of unboxing the Scribe. Take a look.

Featured Image created using Midjourney AI

 

About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.

Comments

  1. Very off topic but I noticed that Designation: Frejya is available for preorder in the KoboBooks store (release date of Feb 7th).

    Is that the correct release date (assuming things don’t go wrong)?

  2. How does it work for reading pdfs? I’ve ended up with a number of those.

    I’ve had some success with the Kindle Fire, but it’s pretty heavy and seems to run out of power fairly quickly. The 6.8″ Kindle is just a bit too small to read them comfortably.

      1. My concern about this is based on my experience with the Boox Note Air. An e-ink display simply isn’t designed for a lot of what they are selling it for–web browsing, etc. If the processor isn’t hefty enough, even if you can download the Word app or similar apps, you will find they lag as you type or write. I would recommend–seriously recommend–you do a hands on trial of it before buying, especially at that price.

        1. That’s a good point. The reviews I’ve seen look like they’ve got it fast enough for typing, but there’s also the Android word processing dynamic. Especially since I’m using OneDrive for syncing.

          I do tend to fiddle with tools. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s just chasing shinys. Sometimes it’s rearranging deck chairs. No idea which one this is.

          1. Air 1 but I’ve played with the Air 2 and had some of the same concerns. E-ink is great for reading and note taking. Not so great when it comes down to more tablet or computer type of apps. Part of that comes down to refresh rates of the screen.

            1. Did some research, and decided to take the risk. It looks like the older ones had a 40ms writing latency, and the new one is down to about 18ms. That should be enough to get past 50fps. From my VR fidling, 45fps (22ms) seems to be the cut-off for good vs laggy.

              Interestingly enough, the guy testing them had the ReMarkable 2 at about 21ms, so that seems to line up.

              We will see if it pays off or not. Should show up sometime before the 20th, baring whatever catastrophes happen between now and then.

              Do let me know next time you’re in North Texas, and we can see if I can get you a hands-on with it.

    1. I haven’t imported any native PDFs but have converted DOCX to PDF and imported those. That works fine. The caveat is if you want to annotate them, etc., you need to email them to your Scribe. It keeps them as PDFs and allows for the rest of it. If you side load, you can’t annotate them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.