If for some of you the name ReMarkable could turn on a light bulb, I am convinced that there are still many people who do not know what it is. In reality, we are talking about the first, real, large e-ink "tablet" on the market which, in its day, attempted to revolutionize the sector by providing a device capable not only of guaranteeing the reading of ebooks on large displays but also of being able to be used as a real notepad with the advantage of being able to write on a surface that gave a feeling very similar to paper.
But times have changed, and brands like Amazon and Kobo have ridden the wave by presenting their own proposals related to this market niche. However, it is true that when it comes to e-ink the advantages are many, but at the same time there are many limitations that characterize the devices that use this technology: and it is precisely to overcome part of these limitations the purpose of the Huawei Matepad Paper.
The reason? Simple: the device of the Chinese brand (which we saw for the first time at IFA 2023), is one of the very few e-ink tablets to be animated by a tablet operating system and, at least on paper, it seems perfect not only for taking notes with the pen or reading ebooks, but also for web browsing or email management and being based on an Android core it can manage the installation of practically all APKs.
All characteristics that theoretically could make it a new point of reference for this particular market and that make it a real exercise in style by the brand. We have been trying it for some time now, and for some time we have been trying to answer a very specific question: why should anyone with a tablet use such a product, or why should anyone with an ebook reader prefer a e-ink tablet?
Matepad Paper Review: Is it really the future of e-ink?
The packaging of the Huawei Matepad Paper it's actually a bundle in which, in addition to the main device, there are all the accessories you might need to make the most of it. For example, there is the Folio Cover, which will connect to the device in a super immediate way and will protect it, but the new second generation M-Pencil has also been included (which arrives with two replacement tips) which connects magnetically to the tablet and is capable of detecting 4096 levels of pressure.
Design and materials
From a stylistic point of view, there is poco to criticize al Huawei Matepad Paper. It is an elegant device, with a minimalist design, but above all extremely thin and light: despite its large dimensions, it has a very small thickness of 6.65 mm and weighs only 360 grams. Sure, if you add the cover and the nib, you get to about 550 grams, but it's still the lightest exponent of its category.
All these features make it one of the most manageable and comfortable devices on the market, which can be easily used on practically all occasions, also thanks to a lateral "frame" that is just wide enough to allow it to be gripped with one hand without covering the screen.
The sensation is that of excellent construction quality, the predominant material is polycarbonate which, however, is of excellent quality and is not afraid of bumps or micro-scratches due to everyday life. The back is then in leatherette, which significantly improves the grip of the device and (almost) totally eliminates the problem of fingerprints, and despite its "hybrid" nature, those of Huawei have well thought of integrating a volume rocker and a good fingerprint sensor located in the power button.
But not all. Huawei Matepad Paper it also integrates two speakers capable of reproducing a sound quality far exceeding expectations, which makes it possible to use applications such as Spotify, or any other platform to listen to your favorite audiobooks or podcasts, provided that it is WiFi connection available. However, it does not have a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but is recharged via a USB-C port located at the bottom.
The display of the Huawei Matepad Paper it is a 10.3” Carta e-ink with a resolution of 1872 x 1404 pixels and a pixel density per inch of 227 ppi. Nothing new in fact, also because it is a display essentially identical to the one we saw in Kobo's Elipsa, but which has been optimized on the software side with some features aimed at improving extra-reader operations, and which point web browsing and performing slightly more complex tasks. But we'll get to that later.
The power of the backlighting is good, as is the idea of having covered the left side of the frame with the same imitation leather that we find in the back cover, in order to significantly improve the touch and feel and above all the grip.
Under the body then, Huawei Matepad Paper hides a Kirin 820E hexa-core processor, flanked by 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal memory which is not expandable. This is a respectable configuration for a device of this type which, albeit with some limitations, allows the execution of even more complex operations than simply taking notes or reading one's digital books.
As for connections, there is support for WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax (with support for 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands) and Bluetooth 5.2, but what pleasantly surprised me is the quality of the integrated speakers: the volume is good, the frequency balance is almost perfect, and they allow not only to listen to your favorite audio books hands-free, but also to play music from apps such as Spotify. In short, unless you want to watch movies or TV series, Huawei Matepad Paper it is a perfect product to always carry with you, especially when travelling.
It also integrates 4 microphones, which are perfect for example for recording interviews or lessons and, thanks to the pen, at the same time taking notes without any limitation whatsoever.
To animate Huawei Matepad Paper the latest version of the brand's proprietary OS takes care of it, HarmonyOS 2.0, which as previously mentioned is based on Android. It is a highly customized version of the Huawei GUI precisely for this type of device, which is characterized by an extremely simplified graphical interface for obvious reasons, in which it must be admitted that the brand has done an excellent job in terms of optimization fluidity (limited by the nature of the e-ink panel) and refresh management.
And these are optimizations that show themselves above all during Internet browsing: there are now many e-ink devices that integrate a browser, but none of these are able to guarantee the performance of the Huawei Matepad Paper. Poco but sure.
Too bad, however, that the browser integrated in HarmonyOS 2.0 does not integrate a reading mode, which would have made the web experience with this e-ink tablet practically perfect. Thumbs up for the Smart Refresh mode, which improves the refresh rate of the screen, which however requires some compromises: in essence it reduces the definition of the images and tends to use fewer pixels, however sacrificing the quality of the text printed on the display.
The nice thing though, is that given the Android nature on the Huawei Matepad Paper you will find a file manager, handy widgets, an email manager, a calendar and you can install practically all the APKs that interest you, including Telegram and Spotify. There is also the AppGallery, in which however the applications are very few, and out-of-the-box you will have to read your e-books only with the Huawei Book Store which did not drive us crazy. Poco bad though, because you can install the APK of Kindle or Kobo, to solve the problem.
In addition to reading, Huawei Matepad Paper allows you to take notes directly on EPUBs and PDFs, a very convenient function which, in combination with the excellent M-Pencil support, makes the device almost perfect for those with these particular needs. Furthermore, there is a split-screen mode with which it is possible to start two apps at the same time (such as the notepad and a book): a real godsend for strudents.
Notes with the M-Pencil
But the real highlight of the device is writing. The experience is excellent, latency is virtually non-existent, and the panel coating generates just the right amount of friction to almost perfectly emulate the experience of writing on a sheet of paper. In short, take notes on the Huawei Matepad Paper it's really a pleasure, also thanks to the excellent notes application that integrates HarmonyOS. In fact, in the app there are 9 layout models in which to-do's have been integrated as well as different types of lines and squares, which can be checked off directly with the pen.
Then there are 4 writing tools and three shades of gray to render the text in different "colors", but it also integrates handwriting recognition which, we must say, works exceptionally well. You can then also insert images which, if you were to transfer the file to a computer or smartphone, would be in colour.
Finally, given the Android nature of the OS, Huawei Matepad Paper it also supports printing or sharing documents: whether you use Telegram, WhatsApp, email or any other application, productivity will be ensured with this device.
The battery of Huawei Matepad Paper it's a 3625mAh which is hard to rate. And it is for the simple reason that with this e-ink tablet you can really do anything with it, which means that its autonomy will vary according to the types of use: the brand indicates 28 days of autonomy, but it is a value that honestly I don't feel like confirming or criticizing.
Of course, using it as a simple e-book reader with which you can also take notes, I am convinced that 28 days would not be a problem, but by launching the web browser, listening to audiobooks, or using one of the many apps that can be installed via APK, things would change profoundly .
Price and considerations
The price of Huawei Matepad Paper is 499,00 euros in the bundle which also includes the cover and the M-Pencil with 2 additional tips. Through the box below, however, you can buy it at a discount with a coupon and, by adding 10 euros, you can also receive the TWS FreeBuds SE earphones.
And yes, it is a very high cost that puts it in direct competition with real tablets, but it is rather in line with the amount required to purchase e-ink products with the same size and functionality: for example the ReMarkable costs over 550 EUR.
With the company Huawei Matepad Paper however you will have the plus of Android, which will therefore allow the installation of APKs, and the possibility of listening to audio with the speakers and recording vocal notes with excellent microphones. In short, it's not for everyone, but it's a fantastic device from many points of view: from the quality of the materials, to the hardware and software, Huawei Matepad Paper overcomes all the limitations of e-ink devices.
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