Tablets are the latest type of tech to play dumb

Tablets are the latest type of tech to go “dumb.”


November 18, 2019

Imagine what would happen if your Moleskine-carrying hipster friend and iPad-idolizing nerd friend ran at each other really fast and became one person. 

That person would probably be really into so-called paper tablets, which let users sketch and take notes without the constant bombardment of email and app notifications.

No more notification ping-a-ling

The Norwegian hardware startup reMarkable just scored $15m from Spark Capital in a Series A funding round. After 3 years and 100k tablets sold, it’s ready to take a deeper dive into product development.

The $500 tablet has a Linux-based operating system, and its big sell is its handwriting conversion feature, which somehow reads your chicken scratch and transforms it into typed text accessible via a companion app.

ReMarkable’s CEO says the gadget isn’t meant to compete with the iPad and other “do-it-all notification machines.” The point, he says, is to let people focus. 

Go dumb or go home

ReMarkable isn’t the only tablet maker playing dumb. Sony’s Digital Paper series mimics the basic mechanics of reading and writing on paper with the added bonuses of being able to share, search, and encrypt documents. Amazon’s Kindle is also trying to compete in this category.

And for a pocket-sized dose of dumb, there are a number of stripped-down phones on the market. There’s the Palm — no, not the one you had in the early aughts — and the Light Phone 2.

Is a revolution nigh? Probably not. But do these devices offer nice break from an always connected culture? Absolutely.

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