Digital notebooks are becoming a bit more common, with some solid contenders already on the market (See our Remarkable 2 Review here). They allow you to have the convenience of a tablet, but thanks to an E INK display, the battery life is something a regular colour tablet can only dream of. Having used the Supernote A5X for a little while now, it has quickly become my new go-to for any note-taking, making my old moleskin a bit obsolete.
Let’s get it out of the way, the Supernote A5X is not going to replace your iPad. This is a tablet that is built for creating content distraction-free, with the software and hardware built from the ground up for that purpose. With the price point of $499, this is not made to compete with a Kindle, and while it can be used to read a PDF, the Supernote A5X excels at note-taking and creation.
The massive 10.3-inch screen delivers a sharp and crisp greyscale display that makes text easy to read and write. The Supernote A5X boasts an E INK Möbius touchscreen display with a resolution of 1404×1872 with 226 PPI. Reading books on the display is a fantastic experience, with no fear of glare, or other distractions. The touchscreen also just feels great to write on, giving you a near-paper experience as you jot down information.
As mentioned before, the E INK screen makes for amazing battery life. In testing, we found it lasted well over five days of use before it needed a top-up. This could vary based on use, but for most people, there should be no fear of running out, even when on the go. The USB-C connector makes charging easy, with it feeling more in line with what you can expect in longevity from a Kindle compared to your standard colour tablet.
Unboxing the Supernote A5X was a good experience, Ratta has included everything you will need to get started right inside the box. Right off the bat, you will have a leather case, the tablet, and the included pen. Unlike other offerings, the pen included with the Supernote A5X is a pleasure to use, featuring a very classic look that feels akin to a high-end pen you would see around a luxury office.
Sadly, unlike the Remarkable 2 that uses magnets to keep your pen with the tablet, you will need to resort to the leather loop on the case to keep things secure. While it works, it feels a bit less elegant, and did fall while carrying the device around the CGM offices.
“…the pen included with the Supernote A5X is a pleasure to use, featuring a very classic look that feels akin to a high-end pen you would see around a luxury office.”
The software makes taking notes easy, with everything feeling almost instant. From the point of turning on the Supernote A5X, you will quickly be able to open a new note and get to writing. It overall feels very natural and easy to make part of a routine. While an iPad or smartphone also works, it does feel much more cumbersome in comparison, making it much harder to jump in and take down thoughts as they come up.
Under the hood, the Supernote A5X has respectable specs, but it won’t be giving Apple a run for its money anytime soon. It features a quad-core Cortex A35 processor, 2 GB RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage. While nothing too elaborate, the A5X is built for one task, and it does that task very well. Even though it does look limited on paper, in practice, most of the workflow felt instant, with the process of taking notes feeling snappy and very similar to writing on standard paper—something I am very happy to see.
“From the point of turning on the Supernote A5X, you will quickly be able to open a new note and get to writing.”
The Supernote A5X also features Wi-Fi, has Bluetooth 5.0, and is all powered by a 3,800 mAh battery. As mentioned above, the USB-C port can be used for both charging along with transferring files. It all runs on a custom skinned version of Android 8.1 and feels very stable with no issues of crashing, or other bugs that could make for a less than ideal experience.
While the Supernote A5X runs on Android, you would not know it just by turning the device on. It feels tailor-made for reading and writing documents. You are presented with a series of folders when you first fire up the device, and you can go from there. Even from the first time you turn on the A5X, you will be in a document and writing in under five minutes.
The 10.3-inch E INK screen is tailor-made for reading also, with it offering a Kindle app to let you access your digital library with ease. The screen makes for a very pleasant experience that is great if you find an Amazon device a bit too small for your needs. While I would not advise the Supernote A5X if all you plan to do is read documents, PDF files or otherwise, it is great to see it does it, and does it well.
“Under the hood, the Supernote A5X has respectable specs, but it won’t be giving Apple a run for its money anytime soon.”
The Supernote A5X does away with many of the distractions you find on other tablets. While it does have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you won’t see any notifications from email, Messenger, Slack, etc. This is made to be a distraction free device.
From writing, to sketching, the A5X was a very easy to use experience. The pen is one of the best I have seen on tablets to date. It is very natural to write with, and the fine point make it fantastic for a quick drawing, and the fact it is all backed up in cloud storage makes it less worrisome should anything happen to the tablet. I also just loved the way writing feels on the tablet. It is a very smooth experience that feels better than paper at times thanks to the responsiveness of the screen and pen input.
There is a world of E Ink tablets on the market, but few allow creation in the natural way of the Supernote A5X. It is an easy-to-use, well-built tablet that, beyond simple PDF reading, or a Kindle face daily. While it does come at a premium, if you are looking for a tablet that gives that notebook-like feel, look no further than the Supernote A5X.