In recent years, the Amazon Kindle has only seen minor updates, getting advances like sharper E Ink screens and a welcome switch to USB-C charging ports, but today Amazon announced a major upgrade in the new Kindle Scribe, which turns the e-reader into an e-note device with an included stylus that never needs charging.
Although Sony beat the company to the punch, Amazon’s Kindle was arguably the E Ink device that finally popularized ebooks and e-readers with consumers. And although many predicted the death of E Ink devices when the iPad arrived, they’ve instead thrived, thanks in part to the arrival of more capable e-note devices like the reMarkable tablet, which leveraged electronic paper technology to create digital notepads.
Bigger Is Better
As with devices like the reMarkable 2 or the Boox tablets from Onyx, the new Kindle Scribe is much larger than Amazon’s other e-readers. It’s built around a 10.2-inch, 300 PPI, glare-free E Ink screen that includes a front light that automatically adjusts the screen brightness to account for a room’s ambient lighting, which can be shifted to warmer tones for when you want to read or work late at night with less risk of affecting your sleep.
Like the Kindle Oasis e-reader, the new Kindle Scribe features an asymmetrical design with a thicker bezel on one side, making the e-note easier to hold in one hand while using the stylus in the other. It also measures in at just 5.8-millimeters thick, which is actually a bit thinner than the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, but also a bit thicker than the reMarkable 2, as reMarkable doesn’t include screen lighting on its E Ink tablets yet.
Two Stylus Options
The Kindle Scribe will be sold with two different stylus options. The cheapest version of the e-note will include the Basic pen, which unlike the Apple Pencil, never needs to be charged. Still, you can magnetically attach it to the side of the Scribe for storage.
A pricier version of the Kindle Scribe will instead include a Premium pen that offers the same battery-free functionality as the Basic option, but adds a dedicated eraser tool on the end, as well as a shortcut button near the tip that can be customized to quickly switch the pen to eraser or highlighter modes, or open a new sticky note when pressed.
Like other e-notes, the Kindle Scribe allows eBooks and PDFs to be annotated directly on the page text, but also uses digital sticky notes tagged to specific parts of a document. These notes get automatically organized and can be quickly accessed outside of a document as needed. The e-note also serves as a digital notepad, coming with a variety of templates including to-do lists, lined paper, or blank pages for sketches.
Where the Kindle Scribe might be lacking, at least at launch, is getting hand-written notes or sketches onto other devices. Ask any reMarkable user what their favorite feature is and they’ll probably point to its flawless cloud syncing and mobile and desktop apps that allow documents to be easily uploaded and downloaded. With the Kindle Scribe, while all notebooks are “automatically saved and backed up to the cloud for free,” users will have to wait until next year to be able to access them through the various versions of the Kindle app.
Amazon didn’t share specific details on the Kindle Scribe’s battery life, aside from promising “weeks and weeks of battery life” that could potentially last up to a full month depending on its use. But we do know that, like the company’s other e-readers, the Scribe will have full access to the Kindle Store for purchasing ebooks right on the device, and will include a four-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited.
Pricing and Availability
Like the Oasis, the Scribe will be a premium Kindle offering, and starts at $340 for the 16GB model that includes the Basic pen option, and will arrive in time for the holidays. Pricing goes up from there for those who opt for the Premium pen, or want the Scribe with more storage, as 32GB and 64GB options will also be available.
Amazon is also releasing a collection of leather and fabric covers in various colors for the Kindle Scribe, with a folding lid that can double as a stand and support the e-note at different angles for reading and writing, although pricing details for them haven’t been revealed yet.