Much Ado About E-Notes

It’s another “Much Ado” post! I guess I do these *shrug*.

I have mentioned on this blog that I do hand edits after I type up my works. I print out my work double-space (which is usually a big stack of paper), sit down somewhere comfy and go over my work with a pen. Then I scan in my work, page by page (and re-scan skipped pages, which was frustrating af when it is hundreds of pages), and shred the originals because I have zero place to put them.

What it usually looks like

Then the pandemic made that a bit shaky (yay, supply chain nonsense and the evils of capitalism) so I got an e-note after looking at a bunch of e-notes for quite a while carrying an angry expression on my face because I didn’t mind my (cumbersome) system. That and e-notes are quite a bit on the pricy side. Like “Playstation 5 prices” level.

It wasn’t exactly easy to find a good e-note – which is basically like a digital notebook you write in, so think of an ereader you can write in, if that makes sense – because I wanted to make sure the e-note could obey strict parameters

  • Replicate the paper experience – my writing experience needs to match a regular degular experience with paper and pen, I do not need fancy, I need a digital paper and pen experience
  • Must be about the size of a piece of paper, nothing smaller
  • Pen/Stylus has to be affordable (and bonus, it has to erase since it has that feature)
  • Must have a super straight forward user experience, I must not have to click or tap through a million things to write notes on
  • Must be able to write thinly (because I prefer fine and extra fine point pens, it must be replicated in the digital)
  • Must be easy to make notes alongside my works since I sometimes write in new long passages and/or chapters
  • Must be easy to bounce between notes and my works
  • Must be easy to port my work into my Drive
  • Must have a cover (to protect my expensive purchase)
  • Must have a long battery and short charge time
  • Must not have a mic, camera or speakers – replicate paper only
  • Must be able to use the device outside of a proprietary app
  • Not Amazon

That’s the short list off the top of my head. When I consider a tool, especially pricey piece of tech, I look at everything about it. I don’t care how popular or pretty it is – it needs to work. That way, I only have to buy it once and call it a day. My phone is from 2019 and still works just fine, it does everything it’s supposed to and what I got it for. Ditto with my laptop, which I got in 2020 after I fried my previous one (I messed up a circuit I was making on a breadboard and it was plugged into my arduino, which was plugged into my computer. There was a kickback surge and it fried the computer). As long as it can play VR, allow me to make 3D printer files and format books, I’m good. My fountain pen holds an immense amount of ink and has a super fast refilling method (vacuum) so I don’t need another.

I measure a million times, cut once.

Ditto with e-notes. Which has been a headache.

Originally, I wanted the Remarkable but then I learned they were more trouble than they were worth from all the reviews so I looked at something else and eventually wound up with the Ratta Supernote A5X.

What I have now (in terrible lighting)

The Ratta was a pain in the derriere to get, I had to wait so long to get my Supernote but apparently not as long as people who purchased after February, who were then told basically “you’ll get it when you get it lolz”.

It was not perfect. I wound up accidentally peeling off the protective layer (because I thought it was the shipping protective layer, similar to what you see on a brand new smartphone fresh out the box) and got into a back and forth with the company over it because, welp, their Supernote comes with a ceramic tip stylus, which only works with that layer and will destroy other screens on any other e-note. And the stylus doesn’t come with an eraser button either. Ratta tried to tell me I can use gesture erase (put my fingers on the screen in a particular way) but that’s too much work when I’m in the middle of working. I wanted straightforward.

Plus, it had hoooooooooooorrid palm rejection. If I wrote with a stylus (I had to use my Note 9 stylus in the meantime, which worked but sucked … and baffled my phone because it knew the stylus was being used but didn’t know for what so it decided to act out) the screen would randomly turn pages, zoom in a bunch, or assume I’m doing gesture erase and nuke the word I was writing (which is almost always the entire word because, as you can see, I write in cursive). I had a massive back and forth with Ratta over this. I was not happy. And for the price I paid? It was absurd.

Thus I didn’t use it for the longest while. Because it frankly sucked and I also needed to get a stylus that had an eraser on it. I eventually fixed the stylus problem – I have two now, the Lamy AL-Star pointed end stylus (Lamy is a fountain pen brand, I had no idea they also did styli) and the classic Wacom pen, which has an eraser but no cap. I want a cap – remember, I want as direct a replication of the pen/paper experience as possible.

Then apparently Ratta had two updates, which greatly improved the stability of their product. I could write on it without zooming or going back and forth on pages accidentally. I tried hand-editing a short work and a long work to see how it could compare to my previous system. I still don’t like that I can open the side panel on the bottom right corner when my hand goes over it but it’s better than before.

Right now, Ratta is “mid” in comparison to my previous method. They’re okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay but not brilliant. If I had to go back to my old method, I wouldn’t be too heart broken. Now, being “just about the same as good as previous method” is a step up for Ratta, which was originally “hated it/what a dupe”. I don’t know if it is just a case of needing time to get used to the digital method or what but so far, the Supernote is doing better than it did in the past. Especially since they also finally brought in regular erasing (spot erasing) instead of just taking out an entire word just by erasing one letter (when writing in cursive). They didn’t tell anyone, as far as I know, I found out by accident. You operate regular/spot erasing by quickly double clicking the eraser button on the side. And when you’re done, just click the eraser button again and you’re back to writing.

The Lamy writes really well, btw, to the point I sometimes forget it is a stylus and try to use it like a regular pen lol.

I do like the little physical side bar (which is a line on the right side of the Supernote) though. It makes switching between notes and documents massive quick. And I can quickly get rid of any ghosting left behind from previous scribbles and such, which is a common issue on e-ink products.

With the story above, that is 122 pages, the Supernote could handle the editing process for over a few days before needing another charge. It is a bit of a slow charge (a couple hours) but I can do it during nap times. It does send documents pretty fast via Dropbox to Drive but I need to refresh my knowledge on Ratta’s bluetooth so I can use that method also.

So far, the Supernote is okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay but at least it is an improvement from “I don’t wanna use this” to “I can actually do work with it”

Which is the important part.

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