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This is my new favorite Android device, and it’s not a phone

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E Ink logo over an array of AP logos

What can I say? I’m a sucker for purpose-built devices. Perhaps this stems from being born in an age where such things existed in all walks of life, from washing machines and refrigerators that would last 50 years to tube televisions and tape recorders that delivered a polished and purpose-driven experience. I miss those days when it feels rare modern tech can deliver on all the promises it purports to fulfill. Sure, we have tablets that can do everything under the sun, but do any of those features ever feel polished to the point of perfection? Of course not; well-made things last, and despite the claims of going green across so much marketing, the last thing any mainstream tech manufacturer wants is for your device to last; the yearly churn must continue to drive profits.




In comes Ratta, the company behind the Supernote Nomad electronic notebook, and I’m infatuated with this device. Not only for its clear case and fancy carbon-tip pens but also for what the company stands for. You see, unlike many out there, Ratta subscribes to something different, what could be called a Kaizen method of constant improvement for its products. Instead of yearly churn with new devices, Ratta chooses to support its products long-term, designing them with this in mind. This is why the Supernote Nomad E Ink tablet comes with a removable back, replaceable batteries, and expandable storage; it was designed so users can make it last for years to come. Best of all, these users can expect continual improvement as Ratta expands the UX and UI. And you don’t have to take my word for it; just visit the Trello board Ratta maintains or dip into Reddit to find responses like this. The company is active and cares what users think, which is super refreshing.


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What exactly is a Supernote Nomad?

Well, that’s simple; it’s a second-gen travel-size e-notebook. A better term would be digital stationary, and Ratta takes its stationary seriously. That’s all this thing is: it’s a simple device for taking, storing, and syncing notes, annotations, and doodles. Do you feel like drawing a little sketch to save for later? Grab the Nomad. Want to annotate a PDF or e-pub? Grab the Nomad. Looking to read a new Kindle e-book? Grab the Nomad (despite no ability to sideload yet, the Kindle app is available). Heck, despite a processor that was chosen to keep power consumption low, this thing can even convert your handwritten text on the fly, and it somehow manages to recognize my chicken scratch, which is impressive. The lack of backlighting ensures the only thing drawing power is the screen and your Bluetooth/Wi-Fi radios if you choose to leave them on (I don’t; I want to be distraction-free).


Supernote Nomad setup to write with keyboard while standing on yellow background

Syncing your notes and drawings is as simple as it gets. Just sign into your Drive or Dropbox account or make a Supernote account, and all your files will save in the cloud, where the default files save as .psd and .doc, which means editing is a breeze once you move a file to PC. I’m not kidding when I say I wrote a good portion of this article with a pen in hand. Even more impressive, you can create handwritten e-mails and send them, something I’m sure grandma would appreciate when you write to thank her for your last Christmas gift, providing that personal touch e-mails are missing.


I kid you not; for the last week, I’ve been doodling and writing like a madman, bringing me back to my days of maintaining black books filled with graffiti. The Supernote Nomad is simply the best replacement I’ve found for paper yet, and that’s not for lack of trying, as I’ve certainly reviewed my fair share of E Ink devices, including competitors like the Kindle Scribe. The Nomad is world’s better, and a lot of that has to do with the paired-down OS.

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Android does a lot of heavy lifting while remaining in the background

The Nomad runs Android, and you’ll set it up just like any other, but once you’re in the system, you’ll quickly see you’re limited to a couple of apps and a file explorer. You can jump from app to app with a swipe on the bezel, with a few shortcuts available for your favorite documents. The note-taking app is pretty robust, with layers available as well as a lasso tool so you can easily cut and paste any portions as you see fit. If you want to draw, you can do that in the note app, but there is another app called Atelier that you can download (there are two downloadable apps, Atelier and Kindle), and this app supports pinch and zoom, handy for sure when sketching more than a doodle.


Supernote Nomad showing drawing on screen with pen laying across the top

Basically, I’ve been drawing and writing a bunch more now that I have a very accessible option to use with the Supernote Nomad. Better than this, I can count on the experience of improving with a company that is willing to listen to users to make the changes they want. It’s a dream device for a power user like me; Ratta is responsive and consumer-focused, and its product is well-made and a joy to use. There’s a reason I’m gushing here: the Supernote Nomad is an Android device doing something different while doing it well, and this has me excited in a world where most Android phones and tablets are a snooze. Currently, the Nomad is backordered until March (that’s how popular it is within its niche), and the price may be considered high at $300 when Android is so paired down. But the experience is superb if you are like me and want a dedicated tablet to take notes and draw with. So, if you too enjoy purpose-built devices that excel at doing one or two things really well, you’ll likely enjoy the Supernote Nomad, especially if you’ve been looking for a digital solution to paper like me.


Supernote Nomad on white background front and back

Supernote Nomad

The Supernote Nomad is a purpose-built E Ink device perfect for taking notes and sketching. The tablet is small enough to be portable, but big enough to read e-books and PDFs comfortably, and the whole thing runs Android, which means you get access to apps like Amazon Kindle to round out your reading experience.

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