Amazon Kindle Scribe review: Reading is better than writing

Amazon Kindle Scribe review: Reading is better than writing
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I do not remember everything if I don’t write. Some of you know the feeling.

That’s why gadgets like new ones Kindle Scribe very interesting: in addition to serving books, it acts as a digital magazine. With the included stylus, you can scribble notes, jot down documents that require work, and yes, jot down reminders throughout the day in this new novel.

But Amazon is a little late to the party. Since it last developed the big-screen Kindle, companies like reMarkable and Onyx have dabbled in digital notebooks — and some of them have been so good that Amazon’s work can sometimes feel a little lacking by comparison.

I’ve spent the last few weeks testing the Kindle Scribe and testing it against some of its most interesting competition. Here’s what you need to know.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post, but at Help Desk, we review all products and services with the same critical eye.)

At $339 (or more if you opt for a nicer stylus and add a case), the Scribe is Amazon’s biggest, most expensive Kindle in years. Testing it alongside competing devices like the $299 reMarkable 2 and the $599 Onyx Boox Tab Ultra , it didn’t take long to discover that the Scribe wasn’t quite as good for reading and writing.

Scribe has perhaps the most polished software of the three, and is hardly the one I’d want to run through a novel thanks to its weight and excellent screen brightness. But if you’re interested in doing serious writing on such a device, you might want to consider something like reMarkable instead.

I’m not saying that taking notes or crossing items off a to-do list was unpleasant. Writing on Scribe was smooth and satisfying with its built-in stylus display, and it comes with a handful of notebook templates for people who need to switch between wide-ranging, gridded, and even sheet music “paper.”

What really pleases me is that Scribe’s writing features feel a little basic compared to some of its competitors.

For example, there is no way to select a bunch of text you typed and copy it. If you realize you’ve misplaced some notes, oh well – you’ll just have to delete it and retype it. (The iPad, reMarkable, and Onyx’s digital notebooks can handle this well.) Also lacking is any handwriting recognition, meaning there’s no way to search for specific things you’ve written or to transcribe your writing to make it more readable. .

Sometimes writers fail to notice the absence of these characteristics. It’s mostly for people who want Scribe for books – it’s definitely the first device for reading. In an email, an Amazon spokesperson said Scribe was “inspired” by people who have been putting notes and highlighting on Kindle books for years. Well, if you consider the last time Amazon debuted a new big-screen Kindle reader more than ten years ago, I’m a little surprised he didn’t improve his writing tools a bit more.

Want to borrow that e-book from the library? Sorry, Amazon won’t let you.

People who want to see more. The Scribe has a 10.2-inch screen, the largest Amazon has squeezed into a Kindle to date. This means you can now see more books at a glance, or – if your eyes aren’t what they used to be – you can actually increase the font size.

People who hate charging gadgets. Gadgets with e-paper displays are famous for their long battery life, and so far the Scribe is no exception. Unless you’re reading 24/7, expect it to last a few weeks on a single charge.

People writing notes in the margin of a book. As a digital notebook, Scribe is basic at best. But jotting down observations from books you’ve read — plus exporting and reviewing them later — works well enough.

People who work with complex documents. You can import and overwrite Word documents and PDFs, but Amazon says you won’t be able to save files with large spreadsheets. If you work with a lot of long PDF documents, you may find that Scribe hesitates when you try to go to a new page. (This doesn’t always happen, but it can really slow you down if you’re looking for something specific.)

People who store files in the cloud. Scribe can’t connect to services like Dropbox or Google Drive, which means working with the documents you store there takes some work. If you want to access your Scribe takedowns, you have two options: email them, or view (but not save) them in the Kindle app on your phone or tablet.

Those who like to sing on the tube. Most of Amazon’s other new Kindles can survive an accidental spill or splash. Not so for the company’s most expensive Kindle—you might want to think twice before packing it for a beach day.

Things Marketing Doesn’t Mention

Other devices may make reading a little easier. iPads and Android tablets can run Amazon’s Kindle app, which includes a useful feature that Scribe lacks: a two-column view when you hold your gadget horizontally. It’s a little more like reading a real book, and its absence here will be a real bummer for some.

You can simply drag and drop files onto Scribe. Using Amazon’s Send to Kindle website to send files to Scribe is easy enough and takes no more than a few minutes to arrive. But if you’re somewhere you can’t be online — or you don’t want Amazon as the middle man — you can transfer files with the included USB cable.

You can fill it with books you didn’t buy from Amazon. Well, well, Scribe’s product page technically mentions this. But it’s worth repeating that you can transfer digital books in EPUB format you did not buy from Amazon On the writer. So far the books I’ve tested this with seem like they should, but your mileage may vary.

The FBI closed the book on the Z-Library, and there was a clash between readers and authors

What are the alternatives?

If Scribe is an e-book reader first and a digital notebook second, reMarkable 2 is the exact opposite. You can’t buy a book in a book, although it makes no sense to load it with files to read. The lack of any interior lighting may require turning on a lamp for reading in bed.

What really shines is how he approaches writing and organization. Features that are missing in Scribe – like moving around pieces of writing and converting from handwriting to text – work beautifully here. ReMarkable also supports more options for customizing your pen strokes, as well as cloud services like Google Drive and Dropbox for easier access to your files.

Catch: The ReMarkable doesn’t come with a free pen — that’ll cost you at least an additional $79. The full package costs more than Scribe, but people who want to be productive can get more out of reMarkable’s features.

Meanwhile, the $599 Onyx Boox Tab Ultra is the most ambitious digital laptop I’ve ever seen. It has a processor fast enough to play HD video, a camera for scanning documents, and runs a custom version of Android. That means you can install Amazon’s Kindle app — or the Kobo Store or Libby — and read books from almost anywhere.

Catch: The software is, to be honest, a mess. There’s no need to fumble around for long before navigating through confusing menu options, and app crashes aren’t uncommon.

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