The Kindle Scribe looks great, but should you just buy an iPad instead?

A Kindle you can scribble on would have been brilliant five years ago. But an iPad's a better buy

Amazon Kindle Scribe
(Image credit: Amazon)

I remember when I first used e-ink in a very early Amazon Kindle Keyboard. "This would be brilliant if you could write on it," I thought. And at long last Amazon has delivered what I wanted: a Kindle you can write on. The $339/£339 Kindle Scribe is a 10.2-inch Kindle e-reader with a stylus that you can use to annotate documents (Word support is coming next year) or just scribble as you would on paper.

It's really clever, and you should buy an iPad instead.

I think the market for writeable e-readers is a very niche one, and while I can see it being handy in corporate environments, in education (provided Amazon gets the price right) or in sectors such as publishing, I don't think this is going to be a great option for the average reader. Because ultimately, this is just a Kindle you can scribble on – whereas an iPad is a tablet you can scribble on, and that's an important difference.

Why I think an iPad is a better buy

The best iPads aren't necessarily the most expensive: the soon-to-be-updated entry-level iPad is £319, with a typical street price of £298. Add in the Apple Pencil and you're looking at just under £390. That's more than the Kindle, but it's not much more – and the iPad can do much more. As I write this my youngest is sketching something in a drawing app after a bit of Fruit Ninja, some YouTube and a bit of level creation in Geometry Dash. I use my iPad to read Kindle books, digital magazines in Apple News, social media, RSS feeds... you get the idea. And that's before I turn to the many apps I use for work.

The iPad doesn't have e-ink, but for most tasks that's a strength, not a weakness: e-ink is slow, which is one of the reasons it lasts so long between charges. E-ink can't do animation, or video, or gaming. You can't use it to stream Netflix or Disney+.

Of course, Apple isn't the only option here. Android tablets are starting to get good, and if you like Amazon's cosy embrace the Fire HD 10 tablets are pretty great value for money: at the time of writing Amazon's discounting again and the HD 10 is £89 instead of the usual £149. 

Don't get me wrong. The Kindle Scribe is big and clever. But it's also very late to a market that already has writable e-ink tablets from the likes of ReMarkable, Kobo and Onyx. And it's hitting the market at a point where the reading experience on a tablet is better than ever thanks to features such as Night Shift and True Tone displays. 

Ultimately, on the Kindle Scribe the Kindle is the whole device. But on a tablet, it's just one of thousands of possible apps that do pretty much anything you can imagine. If you need to annotate or take notes all day long then e-ink may be best for you. But if you need or want to do more than that, a tablet is a much better buy.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).