Amazon Kindle Scribe review: Better than pen and paper but not the competition

When I turned 10, I used to be lastly allowed to personal a pen. At college, that was after we moved from pencils to ink, and our dad and mom had been instructed to get us all-new stationery. That was additionally the 12 months we realized to put in writing in cursive, as a result of we had been lastly large children and cursive writing meant we may… signal checks, I assume.

I don’t learn about children as of late, however bodily writing notes in pen and paper is a big a part of how I realized issues and arranged my ideas. It in all probability had one thing to do with the truth that my mother educated my brother and I to make use of “thoughts maps” as research instruments, too. After I begin planning a visit or a giant challenge, I instinctively attain for a notepad and a pen. That’s why writing on a pill that mimics this expertise holds a lot attraction for me (and doubtless lots of people round my age or older).

Amazon Kindle Scribe


  • Easy and pure writing expertise
  • Premium skinny and lightweight design
  • Roomy canvas for studying and writing


  • No handwriting-to-text conversion
  • Not water-proof

Although you may get a good stylus expertise on an iPad, Floor or Galaxy gadget, e-ink tablets usually final quite a bit longer and supply a extra paper-like studying expertise with no glare or blue gentle hurting your eyes. In addition they usually don’t include distracting apps or notifications to interrupt your work. So when Amazon introduced the Kindle Scribe can be its first e-reader that might assist stylus enter, I used to be intrigued. The Kindle collection are in all probability the preferred e-ink readers within the US, and so they may make digital notice taking far more accessible to a mainstream viewers.

At $340, nonetheless, the Scribe is the most costly Kindle. For that premium, you’ll get an even bigger 10.2-inch display screen with the identical 300ppi pixel density, a entrance gentle with 35 LEDs, an included Primary Pen and at the least 16GB of storage. You’ll be able to sync your notes to the Kindle app to view them with out the pill. However whereas e-readers by no means absolutely changed books, the Scribe may simply supply a greater expertise than an precise pen and notepad.

Design and {hardware}

Like most Kindles, the Scribe is marvelously skinny and lightweight. At simply 0.22 inches thick, this is likely one of the slimmest e-readers round, and I really nervous it would break after I left it within the flimsy purse I threw into an overhead compartment throughout my Thanksgiving flight to San Francisco. Fortunately, with the case that Amazon despatched alongside, the Scribe not solely survived being tossed round with heavy suitcases, it additionally held up after I unintentionally sat on it. (Sure, I’m a monster who’s too tough with devices.)

Extra importantly, at simply 433 grams or 0.95 kilos, the Scribe was gentle sufficient for lengthy intervals of studying. It’s only a hair lighter than the M1 iPad Air, which weighs 1.02 kilos, and because of a beneficiant bezel on the lengthy facet, the Scribe is simple to carry with one hand with out unintentionally triggering the touchscreen. As a result of the show rotates to all orientations, you should utilize this along with your proper or left hand.

The Amazon Kindle Scribe held in mid-air by a hand gripping its left side, with a pen attached to the right side. In the background is a window with white curtains.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Not like the Oasis or some e-reader fashions by Kobo, the Scribe doesn’t have bodily buttons for web page turning. There’s only a single energy button on the sting subsequent to the USB-C charging socket. It’s additionally price noting that, once more, not like the Oasis and Paperwhite fashions, the Scribe shouldn’t be water resistant.

As a pocket book

In some ways, the Scribe affords a greater expertise than precise pen and paper. I by no means run out of paper or ink or should sharpen a pencil. Erasing my errors is easy, I don’t should cope with cleansing up eraser mud, and I by no means find yourself with ink or lead stains on my arms. Amazon’s palm rejection right here is sort of excellent, apart from after I drag it throughout the display screen, which turned the web page. That didn’t occur typically sufficient to be annoying, and I rapidly realized to not transfer my palm when resting it on the show.

I cherished the sheer smoothness of writing on the Scribe. The latency is almost zero, and the moment I positioned the nib on the display screen, it left a mark. Because of the display screen’s matte end and responsiveness, drawing on the Scribe felt simply as pure as the actual factor. The Premium Pen that Amazon despatched with our evaluate unit has a shortcut button and devoted eraser on the high. Flipping the pen over to undo errors felt pure, however extra importantly it was simply as clean as inking. After all, because it’s a a lot bigger goal than the stylus’ nib, the eraser isn’t as exact, however the deleted marks on the display screen fade in a satisfying manner.

A close up of the Amazon Kindle Scribe's Premium Pen on its screen.

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

The one factor that took away from the Scribe being a full reproduction of a notepad is its display screen refreshing. Once you erase one thing, it slowly fades away and when it’s nearly gone, the show refreshes itself fairly jarringly. It’s a small quirk, however can positively catch you off guard.

Similar to pen and paper, the Scribe is restricted. You’ll be able to’t edit your notes on a cellphone or laptop computer after writing them. You’ll be able to view them, positive, however as a result of Amazon syncs them to the Kindle app as picture information, you may’t make modifications to them. You’ll be able to export them as PDFs to a different gadget and use a third-party editor to tweak your notes, however at that time you may as properly use Evernote or Samsung Notes.

Amazon’s software program doesn’t supply this perform although, and in comparison with competing note-taking apps for iOS, Android and Home windows, the Scribe’s options are very rudimentary. It doesn’t even do handwriting recognition to transform your scrawl to machine-readable textual content, that means it can also’t index something you’ve jotted down so you may search your notes by key phrases later.

Closeup of the Kindle Scribe's screen showing the

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply the gadget isn’t a delight. I cherished utilizing the Scribe as a notepad for my many lists. You can begin notebooks utilizing numerous backgrounds — a easy lined sample, or checkboxes to maintain observe of duties or purchasing objects. I spent my week or so with the Scribe organizing my vacation purchasing lists, planning a household trip, drawing tropical fruits that my buddies haven’t heard of and refamiliarizing myself with writing the Japanese alphabet (hiragana). I felt extra productive and arranged after I had the Scribe with me, and virtually misplaced after I wanted to jot down a thought and it wasn’t by my facet.

For my functions, the Scribe was completely sufficient. However for others who may want a extra subtle note-taking system, Amazon’s gadget is significantly missing. A biochemistry professor I spoke to who was eager on utilizing the Scribe to annotate notes and analysis articles, for instance, was disillusioned to be taught the gadget didn’t assist colours. You’ll be able to solely spotlight in grayscale. In the event you’re seeking to create artworks, you gained’t discover a full toolkit in Amazon’s app — only a pencil with just a few thickness choices or a highlighter. And in contrast to on an iPad, you may’t transfer parts of your drawings round simply by dragging and dropping them along with your stylus.

Making a pocket book isn’t the one manner you may doodle on the Kindle Scribe, by the best way. You too can take down notes while you’re studying an e-book. Nevertheless it’s not like you may scribble immediately onto the phrases of your e-books. You should use the floating toolbox to create a sticky notice, then draw inside a chosen rectangle. Once you shut the sticky notice, a small image seems over the phrase it was connected to, however in any other case, your scribbles are hidden. No annotating within the margins right here.

A sticky note box at the bottom of the Kindle Scribe's screen. The rest of the display shows paragraphs of text. Inside the rectangle, someone has written the word

Cherlynn Low / Engadget

Like I stated, Amazon’s software program is rudimentary. Nonetheless, if you consider the Scribe primarily as a clean writing pad that replaces all of your free items of paper versus a classy notes administration system, then it’ll nonetheless serve a goal.

The Pen

A big element of the Scribe expertise is the pen. The Premium Pen I obtained prices $30 extra, and provides a devoted eraser and shortcut button alongside the sting. Each the Primary and pricier pens snap magnetically to the sting of the Scribe and don’t must be charged, which is sweet. The stylus stays securely connected to the pill, due to the sturdy magnets, although you may take away it with out an excessive amount of pressure. I did discover the shortcut button on the Premium Pen somewhat too simple to unintentionally set off, because it’s positioned proper the place my thumb or index finger would relaxation. I often needed to remind myself to show the stylus so I wouldn’t press it by mistake.

Amazon’s Premium Pen is about the identical measurement as an Apple Pencil or Samsung’s bigger S Pen for tablets and paying homage to an actual pen. Anecdotally, it really felt extra snug than Apple’s stylus, probably as a consequence of a contact of malleability in its physique.

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