Kindle Scribe- Initial Impression

I put in an early preorder of the new Kindle Scribe and it arrived last week. I’ve only had a few days of use, but have only seen review site discussions and no real user comments.

I had thought about buying one of the other e-Paper tablets like the Remarkable 2, but just didn’t see the value for digital handwriting only. I’ve also given the iPad and Apple Pencil approach a try over the last few years, but it never stuck. It’s a combination of not liking the stylus on glass feel and the availability of distraction when reading documents.

Since I’ve been successful with book reading on the Kindle, I wanted to try the Scribe. And as it turns out, the Scribe is a big Kindle with stylus input added.

This means the device is quite modal in use.

Reading Kindle books or any document in the Amazon format provides the standard Kindle experience plus stylus. So you can highlight and add sticky notes. Just the notes can be typed or handwritten. The addition of handwriting is nice as it makes casual use away from a desk much easier. Solving one of my issues of note taking for reading away from the desk.

PDFs get to the Scribe via sharing with the Kindle app or via a website for sharing. But now there is only highlighting and writing on the PDF itself. And since many PDFs have minimal white space for writing, it’s really mostly highlighting and a few words in the margin as guides, not real notes. I’ve already seen that PDF templates are going to be a useful addition. There are already some being created for daily agendas and Bullet Journal layouts.

Finally, there are independent Notebooks which can use a handful of supplied templates. The templates are limited and really not very good. The lines and dots are both too big and too dark to be usable the way a paper notebook is or even nice iPad apps like GoodNotes. For now, it’s not much use for me. I’d rather use fountain pen and paper since I can quickly scan a page with my iPhone and GeniusScan if I want an archive online.

So far for me the value is a large format, distraction free PDF display with easy highlight and margin notes as if I had a paper printout. Exactly the way the Kindle has served as a paperback size book substitute. I’ve also done some reading in books with handwritten notes. We’ll see if the handheld nature of the device is worth giving up a notebook and pen.

In summary, many of the tech site reviews have captured the device quite well. It’s a reading device with supplemental pen input. At least at release. Amazon has tended to just focus and incrementally improve its Kindle software and my expectation here is similar. I’ve got just a few immediate needs for improvements- sticky notes or more room to take notes on PDFs. A more compact export of notes and highlights from PDFs. A quick way to switch from book or PDF to Notebook mode. But overall, a solid start with some refinement needed.

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