REVIEW – Do you have an iPad or Android tablet that you use to take notes for meetings or school? A tablet is a great tool, but some people may find it counterproductive due to distractions from apps, social media, etc. For those of you who prefer digital over analog, I have a possible solution for you. This is the Supernote A5 X digital notepad. Let’s check it out.
What is that?
The Supernote A5 X is an e-ink tablet available in two sizes: A6 or A5.
What’s in the box?
- Supernote A5 X
- EMR stylus
- USB-C charging cable
- Folio cover
- Quick Start Guide
Operating System – Android-based Chauvet Handwriting Middleware
Processors – PX30 Quad-core Cortex-A35
Memory and storage – 2GB RAM, 32GB storage
Display – 10.3-inch, 1404×1872, 226 PPI E Ink Mobius flexible display
Screen Protector – FeelWrite Soft Film (pre-installed)
Battery – 3800mAh
Port and charging – USB Type-C 2.0, DC 5V 2A
Wireless and Bluetooth – 2.4GHz + 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Dimensions and weight – 178 x 245mm, 375g
Wacom G14 Technology
4096 levels of pen pressure
Design and features
At first glance, you might mistake the Supernote A5 X digital notebook for a large Kindle or other e-book reader because of its e-ink screen. Interestingly enough, you can install a Kindle app and turn the Supernote into an e-book reader.
With this device, the screen is aligned with the frame around it. The frame has a bit of a “chin” due to the location of the charging port.
The display itself is black on white or actually black on gray (monochrome). But unlike some (most?) e-book readers, the Supernote doesn’t have a backlit display, so you won’t be able to take notes in the dark.
You will notice a vertical line on the right side of the screen. It is a touch slider bar which is used to activate the on-screen menu. More information about this in the see it in action section below.
The back of the Supernote A5 X digital notebook has a rail groove along the edge that allows you to attach a folio cover.
The folio cover has a narrow plastic L-shaped rail that slides into the rail groove on the back of the Supernote.
Once the folio cover is attached, it gives you obvious screen protection when you’re not taking notes, but it also has a slot for the Supernote stylus.
In the image above, you can also see the top edge of the Supernote where the power button is.
There is a USB-C port on the bottom edge of the Supernote A5 X digital notebook. This port is used to charge the laptop battery and transfer data.
The stylus that comes with the Supernote A5 X digital notepad looks like a good quality pen. It has a nice weight and good balance.
The cap with pocket clip attaches to the back of the pen when used to take notes.
The tip of the EMR stylus looks like a fine point pen but this pen has no ink. This pen doesn’t require you to charge it either! Yay!
With such a small stylus tip, you might be wondering if the Supernote comes with extra nibs. I’m sorry to say no. But, you can buy a new “refill” from the Supernote site for $34. You can even make your own DIY stylus if you don’t like the look/feel of the standard stylus. Supernote also sells 2 other styluses that are compatible with their digital notebooks.
Notice the spring in the center of the “refill”. It provides a pleasant writing experience, it’s like the shock absorbers in your car.
Let’s take some notes!
As with most gadgets, the first step you need to take before using the Supernote A5 X digital notebook is to charge it. While charging, a small green status LED lights up in the upper right corner of the device.
Opening the folio cover will automatically turn on/wake up the Supernote so it is ready to accept pen input/writing.
At the top of the digital notebook are icons that you can tap to perform various functions such as writing, erasing, selecting, adding layers, undoing, and redoing.
The Supernote has a folder structure so you can save your notes, Word files, PDFs, e-books, etc. in folders named for the organization.
By default, documents will have a file name with date and time. But you can enter and rename the files to have an easier to recognize title/name.
You can synchronize all your documents and notes with the Supernote or Dropbox cloud, but this action is not automatic. You have to sync them manually, which I assume they do to save battery, but it seems the best solution would be to sync automatically every hour or so.
Your notes can be on a completely blank page or you can use templates. Several templates are included on the device, including lined pages, to-do list pages, grid pages, dot grid pages, music staff pages, calendar pages, and more. You can also download additional templates for a wide variety of note-taking options. I show how the templates work in the video linked below.
Taking notes with the included stylus doesn’t quite feel like writing with pen on paper. It’s similar to using the Apple Pencil with an iPad. The screen is hard and the pen tip is hard, so you feel like you’re writing on glass rather than paper. For me, I feel like I don’t have enough control over my writing compared to writing on regular paper with a regular pen. My writing is much more sloppy.
I also had issues with the palm rejection feature. Being left-handed, my palm often touches the top icons, which will annoyingly throw me back into folder view while I’m writing something. Fortunately, you can move the toolbar from the top of the screen (if you remember to do so before you start a writing session).
See in action
In addition to using the Supernote for its primary function of replacing paper for taking notes, you can also install the Kindle app on this device, use it as a calendar with your Google or Outlook account, and use it for emails. Of those features, the only one of those extra features that I was able to actually get to work was the Kindle app and the experience wasn’t great. Browsing through books is extremely slow.
I was unable to sync my email or Google calendar to this device and in all honesty I would probably be tearing my hair out trying to use this device for these tasks. I consider myself a power user when it comes to Gmail and Google Calendar and if using those services on the Supernote resembles the note-taking experience on this device, I’ll stick to my phone or my Macbooks.
What I like
- No distractions
- The pen does not need to be charged
- No write lag
- Long battery life
What I would change
- Too expensive for what it can do
- Slow performance
- Palm rejection needs work
- Requires backlight
I really wanted to love the Supernote because I dreamed of marrying my love of analog to digital when it comes to journaling and note taking. The interface feels too slow and clunky to me. I know there are a lot of people who love the Supernote, but unfortunately I don’t seem to be part of that group (yet). The device itself is very well made and has wonderful battery life. It’s just that the user experience for me wasn’t good enough, fast enough, smooth enough to make me want to switch from my tried-and-true paper and pen to this digital note-taking system.
It is important to know that Supernote as a company is dedicated to improving this device instead of coming up with new devices. They listen to their customers and have released OS updates to include new features and improvements.
I enjoyed testing the Supernote and while it didn’t convert me to digital note taking, I’m sure it will at some point in the future.
Price: $499.00 (with folio cover)
Or buy: great note
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Supernote.