My Take on the Kindle Scribe

Another tech post so soon? Sure, why not? Off season. And this one has no real tie-in to training.


Tl;dr: Lots of words to describe my journey with writing on tablets and keeping myself organized.

Permit me to ramble a little and sort of set the stage.

Over the years I have used and invented a lot of different “systems” for note taking and keeping track of details at both work and home. Some digital, some analog — and some combinations of both. And usually with a bit of fancy technology mixed in.

Why fancy technology? Because ideally, any system I am using to keep notes in needs to be searchable.

For instance, I have had a series of Microsoft Surface Pro tablets and SufaceBooks (starting with the Pro 3) over the years. Primarily because of the surface pen and the ability to mix typing and writing with the OneNote app. I am a big fan of OneNote, but the writing experience on the Surface Pro never felt quite right. However, it runs Windows and all my apps, so was never a bad compromise.

Five years ago I had a chance to try the Apple pencil on an iPad Pro. Much better writing experience so I immediately bought one (and am now on my second). “Much better” in this case really means better than the Surface writing experience (imho) but still not really like writing on paper. Over time I found I was using the pencil less and less.

In my current work environment, using my own OneNote notebooks is not allowed, so I started experimenting with different apps that I could use on a work machine. Google Keep was where I eventually settled — fast and light but I gotta admit also pretty primitive. Especially around text formatting. And, I once again realized that if I type everything all day I’m not as apt to remember it. Simply put: I am much better off when I hand write information.

This led to Rocketbook. Write my notes by hand with pens (erasable!) and then use the Rockebook app to take a picture of notes and add them to the day’s Google Keep page. When the notebook is full just erase it and start over. The erasable paper is a little different so still not a perfect writing experience, but definitely the closest to pen & paper so far.

Then I saw the Kindle Scribe announcement and I knew I had to have one! With a little bit of groveling (OK, not really), Mrs. AdultOnset offered to get me one for Christmas.

The Kindle Scribe

I won’t bore you with a bunch of tech details about the Scribe; you can just click the link above and learn all about it. What grabbed my attention were two key points:

  1. It is a Kindle. And I love to read. And it is a big Kindle. And I really do love to read! (over 60 kindle books last year). Big Kindle means more words on the page which means more reading and less page turning. What’s not to love?
  2. You can write on it with a stylus and it has some built-in notebook capabilities. We have already seen how much I love gadgets that I can write on.

The reading experience on this thing is simply fantastic. The big 10.2″ 300 ppi screen is wonderful and very easy on the eyes. The auto-adjusting back lighting is amazing. The battery life is incredible (after one month of daily use I was at 40% battery). I love reading on this device. Even if the writing experience was garbage, I would still keep it to read on.

But thankfully the writing experience is not garbage. In fact, that is also fantastic. In my mind, pretty close to pencil on paper. I sometimes write down things I don’t really need to remember just because I like to write on it. 🙂

What is not so fantastic is the software around the built-in journals, lists, notepads. Certainly very functional, but missing many key features. For instance, you can’t insert a blank page anywhere but the end. No ability to move text from page to page, etc. No real great way to sync a notebook to your desktop. No real schedule of releases or roadmap, just this “coming soon” blurb:

Coming Soon: Kindle Scribe provides regular, free software updates that include new features. In the coming months, Kindle Scribe will add more writing tools, including new brush types and copy/paste tools, additional notebook organization options, and the ability to send documents to Kindle Scribe directly from within Microsoft Word.

From the product page

But right now, I don’t care. What is there is good enough.

My system is now very similar to what I was doing with the Rocketbook. I purchased a nice little PDF planner on Etsy (for $5.40!) that I write on every day. At the end of the day I transfer any uncompleted tasks to Todoist (another article for another day), then take a picture of the page with Microsoft Lens and drop it onto the day’s Google Keep page. My handwritten notes are now searchable online in Keep and my digital brain is current.

The hardware aspect is also quite nice. Very thin and very light. In fact so thin that I got nervous and immediately bought a basic case for it. Which made it kind of heavy… Don’t get me wrong, I like the case and it does exactly what I need. But eventually I want to find something a little lighter maybe? The Amazon branded kindle cases are crazy expensive so I think I will be waiting for the 3rd party market to continue to grow.

As new software features arrive, I have no doubt I may change how I am doing things and I look forward to them. But I am not dissatisfied with how this is working for me and have zero regrets.

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