The reMarkable Tablet is moving to a subscription service model

Originally published at: The reMarkable Tablet is moving to a subscription service model | Boing Boing

Well that sucks. Guess I should not have put off buying one. Now I guess I won’t be getting one at all.



“The door refused to open. It said, “Five cents, please.”
He searched his pockets. No more coins; nothing. “I’ll pay you tomorrow,” he told the door. Again he tried the knob. Again it remained locked tight. “What I pay you,” he informed it, “is in the nature of a gratuity; I don’t have to pay you.”
“I think otherwise,” the door said. “Look in the purchase contract you signed when you bought this conapt.”
In his desk drawer he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his door for opening and shutting constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
“You discover I’m right,” the door said. It sounded smug.
From the drawer beside the sink Joe Chip got a stainless steel knife; with it he began systematically to unscrew the bolt assembly of his apt’s money-gulping door.
“I’ll sue you,” the door said as the first screw fell out.
Joe Chip said, “I’ve never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it.”

― Philip K. Dick, Ubik


@SeamusBellamy: The link on the page for this article going to the bbs thread is broken and redirects back to the article; wanted to give you a heads up on that.

Thanks for that. This is outside of my control, but I’ll see if our sys admin can sort something out.


I’ve had my eye on these for awhile. My first reaction to this story was to sigh. While I want cool companies like this to keep their doors open (and ideally not get bought by someone like Google), I find subscriptions a huge burden. Their announcement is terrible at telling me what I’m looking for: price and features. All it says is, “For a full list of Connect features and to compare the different plans check out our product page.”

The best explanation I can find is pretending to buy one and clicking on each option. These seem to be the options:

  • Free - take notes, read web articles and ebooks, annotate PDFs and organize all your notes on device
  • Connect Light $4.99/mo - “Unlimited cloud storage”
  • Connect $7.99/mo (and save $100 on device purchase) - “Unlimited cloud storage,” Google Drive/Dropbox integration, handwriting conversion, screen sharing, extended warranty and return.

I understand charging an inflated subscription for services they host, but it feels a bit gross to charge for integration with things like Google and Dropbox.


Welcom back, Seamus! Is that $7.99 per month/year/day/sentence/period/letter?


For anyone looking to actually own a similar device, the pinenote may of interest once the software is sorted. Specs look nice though. Video here.


What burns my biscuits is that they just sprung this on potential customers. I mean, this is probably by design. But if I knew there was a deadline for actually owning the thing instead of renting it, I would have jumped a lot sooner.

Something something Osborne effect.


I like the idea of this, and a few quid a month for the subs is not unreasonable; but honestly, my iPad Pro does all of it and more; and I couldn’t live without it, and can’t handle another device in my bag.

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I’ve been quietly watching the e ink tablet market waiting for them to mature to the point I thought they were worth it. I saw this review for the Onyx Boox Nova Air the other day and for the first time thought I’d like to take the plunge. It’s slightly more than the reMarkable, but with no sub and Android 10 and Google Play store baked right in.

No access to Libby is a deal-breaker for me and so is a lack of basic, persistent cloud file storage (looks like reMarkable docs delete 50 days after last access for the free tier… nope!).


“We plan to offer free access to Connect for as long as we’re able to. There are things we can’t control that might affect this, but if we make changes to Connect then we’ll work hard to offer you free access to whatever comes next as well.”

Double nope!


Yeah, my ideal setup is an iPad with an e-ink folio that acts as a second screen, but that’s probably never going to happen. Hell, I wish my iPhone had that.


I bought one for my wife about four five years ago and she loves it, and I must say I’m a bit jealous when she busts it out to jot down notes, write down recipes, and tend to lists. She doesn’t connect it to anything. The new model is really nice, but if it forces you to use it in a way you don’t need or want to, kind of makes it a bit harder to swallow. I do want them to succeed and unfortunately this is what companies have to do in order to survive in the capitalism game.

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Let’s be honest … a company that charges you rent for the use of an object that you purchased and is already in your hands automatically “forces you to use it in a way you don’t need or want to.”

Stop buying from or doing business with these companies. They’re not doing it to survive “the capitalism game.” They’re intent on dumping us all back in a rentier/feudal system where they don’t have to suffer the indignities of anything remotely like capitalism.


“Cloud” access is the new inkjet refills. Sell the main product for a fair price, but then get you on the ‘supplies’. Don’t like it? Try to hack the firmware? Enjoy your brick.


rolls eyes dot gif

To be clear, if you already own a Remarkable you get the Connect service for free. If you buy one today and subscribe to the full service, you get $100 off. If you buy one today and decide you don’t want to use the service, there are free workarounds for everything except the handwriting conversion (which requires costs on their side to use MyScript’s API calls).
I got an RM2 a year ago and it’s the only device that can convert my bad handwriting to text. Trust me, I’ve tried everything out there, even MyScript’s own application Nebo doesn’t do as well as RM’s.

When the alternative is a cloud-based subscription service, I don’t feel like taking notes on dead trees constitutes “wasting paper”. My notes will never disappear if I stop paying, or if some company screws up or goes bankrupt. They’ll never be stolen by hackers and published online. I can only lose them due to my own bad luck or negligence, and that’s how I prefer it.


Exactly my thoughts


And mine. I was just getting enthusiastic enough to overcome the cost hurdle.


As near as I can tell, the only practical justification being offered here is that every new customer paying for a subscription will give every old customer the peace of mind that the company will be financially secure enough that they don’t have to back up their files.

I don’t find that particularly compelling (especially if I were a potential new customer) but for the record, it is possible for subscription-based companies to fail. In fact, if I had to guess which of two companies is healthier, it’d be the one that didn’t just radically change its revenue model.