The best E Ink tablets for 2024

Ever since E-Ink tablets became available, I have been intrigued by their potential to combine the tactile satisfaction of pen and paper with the convenience of digital tools. As a longtime lover of physical notebooks, I have accumulated countless paper notebooks over the years, using them as a repository for various ideas, to-do lists, and meeting notes. However, as technology advanced, it became more convenient for me to store these things digitally in apps on my phone. E-Ink tablets seem to offer a solution that bridges the gap between the physical and digital worlds. In recent years, these devices have made significant progress, and we are now seeing the emergence of color E-Ink tablets. To assess their functionality and convenience, I tested several E Ink tablets and evaluated their performance. In this article, I will explore whether E Ink tablets are truly worth investing in and which ones are the best on the market today.
An E Ink tablet is a niche product that appeals to a specific group of individuals. If you prefer the aesthetics and tactile experience of e-paper displays over the LCD panels found on traditional tablets, it would be a logical choice. It is also suitable for those who desire a writing experience that closely mimics using paper (although this functionality can be achieved on a regular tablet with the right screen protector) or prefer a device that minimizes distractions.

However, it is important to note that most E Ink tablets do not operate on the same operating systems as regular tablets. As a result, there are limitations on the range of activities that can be performed on these devices. Even when certain E Ink tablets allow the download of traditional apps such as Chrome, Instagram, and Facebook, they are not optimized for casual browsing. This is primarily due to the inherent characteristics of E Ink displays, which exhibit noticeable refresh rates, lack color, and offer lower quality compared to even the most affordable iPads.
One of the major reasons why you may not consider an E Ink tablet is the writing experience. The quality of this experience largely depends on the display’s refresh rate and the stylus’ latency. It is important to ensure that the E Ink tablet you choose has minimal latency and comes with a stylus.
When selecting a tablet, the next aspect to take into account is the reading experience. If you anticipate reading a significant amount of books, documents, and other materials on the tablet, it is essential to consider this factor. E Ink tablets are available in various sizes, but they generally tend to be larger than traditional e-readers to facilitate writing. While a larger display can be beneficial, it may also lead to slight discomfort when holding the tablet for extended periods. In contrast, most e-readers are approximately the same size as a paperback book, providing a similar experience to reading in print.
The selection of supported file types can greatly impact the reading experience on E Ink tablets. It is difficult to make a general statement as this varies greatly among different E Ink tablets. However, it is generally recommended to choose a tablet from a company with a history in e-book sales, such as Amazon or Kobo, for a better reading experience. If you have purchased titles from the Kindle or Kobo store, they should automatically be accessible on your Kindle or Kobo E Ink tablet. However, it is not advisable to transfer Kindle titles, which are protected by DRM, to a third-party device.
Furthermore, the availability and functionality of search features on E Ink tablets can vary greatly between different models. When choosing a tablet, it is important to consider the importance of being able to search through your handwritten notes and markups. I observed that Amazon’s and Kobo’s E Ink tablets offer a convenient way to revisit notes made in books and files as they automatically save the pages where you made annotations and highlights. However, the search capabilities on E Ink tablets that support different file types may not be as standardized. Nonetheless, these tablets often come with powerful features, such as text search in handwritten notes and handwriting recognition, which allows you to convert your handwritten scribbles into typed text.

In addition to search functionality, another aspect to consider is the sharing and connectivity options available on E Ink tablets.
The final aspect to consider is sharing and connectivity. While E Ink tablets are known for their distraction-free capabilities, manufacturers understand that your notes and doodles are not created in isolation. It is likely that you would want to access them elsewhere, which requires some form of connectivity. All the E Ink tablets I tested were equipped with Wi-Fi and some even supported cloud syncing, companion mobile apps, and the ability to export notes via email for easy access on other devices. However, it is important to note that these tablets do not directly integrate with digital note-taking systems such as Evernote or OneNote. Therefore, if you rely on these apps, the E Ink tablet will serve as a supplementary device. Ultimately, it is essential to consider how you intend to interact with the documents on your E Ink tablet once you have completed your tasks on the tablet itself.