While Apple's iPad dominates the tablet space, there are several other options available that can handle writing, reading, and light productivity. Here's how the popular iPad Air 5, Boox Tab Ultra C, and reMarkable 2 compare.
Beyond only comparing certain specs, we went hands-on with each of the devices. We wanted to see which was the best at being a lightweight, portable device to take with you on the road, out to a coffee shop, or even just to the backyard.
While an iPad Air 5 may be the default choice for Apple-inclined consumers, devices with e-paper displays are increasingly tempting.
Boox Tab Ultra C is a color e-paper Android tablet that can run popular mobile apps and has a keyboard folio available for it.
The reMarkable 2 e-paper tablet has been around for a few years, but recently got its own keyboard folio accessory. The companion keyboard instantly made it a more compelling device for people trying to crank out a few hundred words on the go.
These products are quite different from the others but overlap enough to present a purchasing debate.
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Specifications
|Specifications||iPad Air 5||reMarkable 2||Tab Ultra C|
|Price Starts From||$599|
Check best prices
|Processors||M1||1.2 GHz dual core ARM||Qualcomm Advanced Octa-core+|
|Storage options||64GB, 256GB||8GB||128GB|
|Ports||USB-C Port||USB-C Port||USB-C Port|
microSD card slot
|Resolution||2360 x 1640||1872 x 1404||2480 x 1860 (black and white)|
1240 x 930 (color)
|Pixel Density (PPI)||264||226||300 (black and white)|
|Wireless Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, |
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Keyboards
Each of these three products offers first-party keyboard folios that attach directly to the tablets. The iPad and the Tab Ultra C can also use Bluetooth keyboards, but the reMarkable 2 doesn't currently have that option.
Between Apple's first-party options, we preferred the Magic Keyboard because it features a trackpad and had better-feeling keys. The Smart Keyboard Folio doesn't include a trackpad and has fabric-covered membrane keys that could be a bit mushy.
These are significantly priced accessories, but in each instance, it wouldn't be possible to do much typing on the screen without a hardware keyboard.
We were really impressed by the feel and responsiveness of the reMarkable Type Folio. Both it and Apple's Magic Keyboard for iPad had a springy bounce to their keys, but the Type Folio felt incredibly responsive and robust for such low-travel keys.
The keys on Boox's Magnetic Keyboard Cover were adequate for typing but were a little tall and unstable compared to the other two.
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Reading
Having an e-paper display like Kindle, Kobo, or another e-reader isn't necessary for reading on a tablet, but it is helpful, especially reading outside in the sun.
The reMarkable 2 could be the ultimate e-reader if it had access to the Libby app to borrow digital library books, but it doesn't.
reMarkable doesn't have any content stores or ways to get content directly on it. You'll need to use its desktop or mobile apps to get PDFs and other supported document formats onto it.
Similarly, Boox Tab Ultra C is an Android tablet and has access to the Google Play store. Most apps worked fine on it, even if they weren't perfectly optimized for its tablet-sized screen.
Boox also offers a basic syncing service for free that can be used to easily get documents from other devices on it directly.
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Physical design
The reMarkable 2 tablet weighs 0.88 pounds and features a 10.3-inch monochrome digital paper display. It felt exceptionally thin and light to hold.
Even with the Type Folio attached, the device never felt bulky. The unit has one button for power and a single USB-C port for charging.
While reMarkable 2 isn't as big as a sheet of paper, its white border around the display and its thin frame do make it feel the closest to holding a paper slab, compared to any of the other products.
The iPad Air 5 weighs 1 pound and has a 10.9inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone. By itself, the iPad Air 5 was relatively lightweight to hold and carry around.
Once you magnetically attach a Magic Keyboard to it, however, its total weight did make it noticeable in a backpack. Still, because of the wide app support for the iPad, we could tote it around the house instead of undocking our MacBook Air.
The Boox Tab Ultra C weighs 1.05 pounds and has a 10.3-inch E-Ink screen. This product felt very similar to the iPad Air, in that it was plenty manageable on its own, but got much heavier inside its keyboard folio.
Although the Tab Ultra C comes with 128GB of storage onboard, it does also have a microSD card slot to expand that. From the exterior, the expandable storage area might look like a SIM card slot, but the Tab Ultra C doesn't have a cellular option.
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Displays
The display on the iPad Air 5 should feel familiar to anyone who has used an Apple device over the last several years. The resolution and pixel density were good, but not amazing.
There was a lot of glare when using the device outside, and while watching certain shows and films, blacks and dark shades can appear washed out.
In a controlled environment, however, the iPad's display was perfect for any general task, especially reading or writing.
The monochrome paper-like display on the reMarkable 2 had the lowest resolution and pixels per inch out of the three devices, but always felt crisp and very readable. Additionally, it handled all the refresh settings so typing on it was smooth and free from distracting input delays.
The Tab Ultra C utilized a black-and-white component as well as a color layer. The device did have a screen refresh center to control the E-Ink screen, such as refresh speeds, which was handy but also more fiddly than we ultimately wanted to deal with.
The color aspect was fine, in that it did help while browsing book covers and even the web, but it still looked rudimentary overall.
iPad vs reMarkable 2 vs Tab Ultra C - Notes
Hand-written notes are everything to some people and nothing to others. Each device has a stylus available for it and can be utilized for scribbling.
The iPad and the Apple Pencil 2 are surprisingly good, but each time we used the reMarkable stylus on its paper-like display it was convincingly like the analog experience.
In one instance, we saved a PDF document on our iPhone to the reMarkable app and then read it and signed it on the reMarkable 2 tablet.
Round-tripping for that type of content worked.
The stylus on the Tab Ultra C was good but felt different than the reMarkable one. Without comparing them side-by-side it's hard to pick a favorite and people should be satisfied with either option for writing out notes.
Which is the right device for you?
Even though these devices overlap in some use cases and look vaguely similar, the buying decision largely boils down to understanding your needs.
For business professionals who are trying to manage their own content in the form of PDF briefs, handwritten notes, and ePub books, reMarkable 2 makes a great choice.
The hardware is exceptional, including the near-perfect keyboard folio, but getting e-books and other commercial content onto the device can be a pain.
Typing and note-taking was a pleasant experience for people who are primarily using it for original content. We imagine lawyers, agents, publishers, executives, and possibly writers could get a lot of mileage out of it.
In terms of reading novels, long-form articles, magazines, and other commercial content, the Boox Tab Ultra C is a wonderful product.
It has the ability to use plenty of Android apps and get the most content onto the device while still having an e-paper display. You could also stumble onto YouTube if you really wanted to.
The Tab Ultra C is a fully-fledged tablet that excels at reading tasks. Writing in Google Docs is possible and works fine, but we did like typing on the Remarkable 2 better.
While both of these e-paper devices are great for reading and consuming text, neither one can "do it all" per se.
For that, the iPad Air remains the default tablet to buy for notes, reading, watching shows, writing, and general on-the-go computing. It just has the most glare when you're trying to be productive out in the sun.
Where to buy the devices
The reMarkable 2 is available for purchase at reMarkable for $279.
The Boox Tab Ultra C is available for purchase at Amazon for $599.