While reading lot's of papers for my Thesis, I was looking for another solution than printing important papers. So I started browsing the internets, watched tons of reviews on YouTube, etc.

I learned that, as of 2018, most of the current eInk eBook readers support PDF reading. However, none of the reviews covered, if the readers can be used for highlighting and adding annotations to the PDF-files as necessary for a sufficient literature review.

Therefore, I wanted to ask if any of you can share their experiences with certain devices and include some advantages and drawbacks. Some rather outdated discussions on this topic does not cover current devices.

I thought that probably devices that support working with a stylus (such as Onyx Boox Max, reMarkable, etc.) are more suited for excessive reading (and marking). What do you think.

I'm not asking whether or not to read on an eReader, but trying to shed some light on which device in this giant ecosystem is suitable for the needs within academic work.

  • for me, a tablet is much better. Mar 5, 2018 at 13:55
  • 1
    @user2173836 I acknowledge that tablets might come with the better editing possibilities. However, eInk doesn't stress the eyes as much. (Might be subjective...)
    – loki
    Mar 5, 2018 at 16:33
  • dated answers are mostly "I have been thinking about this and that" and are from 2018
    – neuronet
    Jun 19, 2023 at 21:58

8 Answers 8


I love my Kindle and was looking for a solution that would allow me to read scientific papers on epaper display. Generally, that boils down to finding a reader that has a screen big enough so that it can acomodate single PDF page, with margins possibly removed.

I don't annotate printed papers much, so option of having a stylus is not deciding for me. You'd have to think how much marking does your workflow involve. For me, the speed and software quality of a reader are first priority for me, as you have to be able to read comfortably before you can start thinking about annotation.The screen has to be also big enough to read PDFs comfortably.

That said, recently I have been contemplating two readers: reMarkable and soon-to-be released Onyx Boox Note, both sporting a little more than 10" display. Both adverise as supporting marking of documents. The reviews for the former unfortunately point out that it's reading experience is sub-par, the latter has not yet been reviewed, as far as I know. I've also emailed manufacturers of those solutions and asked for a precise dimensions of active part of the screen (to know whether PDFs fit well). Nobody answered, what is not very reassuring. EDIT: reMarkable manufacturer has replied stating that the screen dimensions are 210x162 mm.


After contemplating the reMarkable and going for 12" iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, finding it too big and heavy and trading it for smaller iPad Pro with Apple Pencil, I've just ordered the reMarkable. Have not been happy with experience of writing on glass. And with new Macbook 12, I think reMarkable + laptop will better give me what I need (off-computer reading, annotating PDFs, correcting student papers + on-computer writing, email) than the iPad, which kind of tries to do both, but none of them well. Ability to also use reMarkable as a personal journal and for to-do lists, is a bonus. Relieved that it's now possible to name folders, but concerned to read above that annotated PDFs end up as huge files, a problem that is also apparent on the iPad, and which I was hoping reMarkable had resolved.

  • Any update on how this is working out for you?
    – daknowles
    Jul 14, 2020 at 4:23

If money is no object, the 13.3-inch Sony DPT-RP1 (currently retailing at 699 USD) is probably the best option. Reviews from Laptop Mag and PCMag and generally positive, and many of their reservations are to do with the lack of functionality beyond reading and annotating PDF files. As PCMag concludes:

If you're an academic who belongs [sic] to PDF-format journals that clutter up your desk, this tablet will your new best friend.


I have a reMarkable as listed in @lukeg's answer, and have used it extensively for academic purposes. I haven't tried any of the alternatives (although I have tried an iPad Pro with stylus). Some points:

  • It's really excellent to write on. The feel of the device is really good - compared to using a stylus on, say, an iPad Pro, the reMarkable is very nice to write on.
  • It's not just the size of the screen that matters, but how much is usable. The reMarkable is pretty good, but it loses accuracy near the edges - probably the last 3-5mm on each edge isn't usable, depending on your writing style. If your PDF documents don't have large margins, or big line separations, they can be hard to annotate.
  • It's fine to annotate and highlight PDFs. It is, of course, only black-and-white, but exported files show highlighting in colour (yellow).
  • The exported PDFs are really large: essentially 1MB per side of A4. This causes problems with electronically sending exported files to others. (This may improve with software updates - there were big changes in the 1.6 update, for example).
  • All documents are stored in reMarkable's cloud. This is a very serious issue for data protection, particularly around student work.
  • The battery life is good, but not that much better than other tablets.
  • The cost is high: I don't begrudge paying that amount for myself, but if you're worried about cost I can't say I think it's worth the amount of money.
  • The latest software update (1.6) included handwriting recognition. This currently doesn't work on PDF documents, and (at least on the samples I've tried) isn't accurate enough to be useful.

My Kindle Paperwhite works well for academic books; the highlight function is key. Reading academic papers on it is a pain, especially ones in two-column format. Not being able to annotate, via stylus, is a real pain. Being able to 'write' notes on a paper is key for me; I still print papers for this reason.


As a general comment on the eInk reader vs. the Ipad/Surface/ … As an eReader cannot do Internet, Facebook, News etc., if you only have that the temptation to just quickly check whatever is greatly reduced.

I find I read much more concentrated with an eReader than an Internet surfing device. I think there is even some research on this focusing mental cost.

So for me the eReader was a Godsent.


I have the HANVON E960. It was about 3000 RMB and I have never seen it outside of China.

I love it. Solid, works fine, though the stylus broke after two years.

The best way to go about it is get a Chinese friend to order it on Taobao, and then switch it from Chinese to English. The software translation is not great, and the folders are named in Chinese. BUT - the battery is great, the production is solid etc. I actually picked mine up in some shady back room office in some big block in Shenzhen, as I was suspicious and wanted them to switch it on in front of my eyes. They didn't speak English, so I was talking to them with a friend translating on my mobile. They were however super friendly, and I have it now with me and it is great!


Kindle Paperwhite is great for reading entertainment books. I was looking for a device for reading academic books and paper as well, my research shows three devices/brands:

  • Sony DPT RP1(13.3")/CP1(10.3"): good looking, really light, not good writing experience through
  • Onyx Boox Max(13.3")/Note(10.3"): with Android 6.0 system's full functionality
  • Remarkable(10.3"): best writing experiences, seems battery not so good

I have been struggling back and forth (mostly because none of them is cheap).


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .