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The 5 best digital notepads in 2024 will free you from paper clutter forever

The 5 best digital notepads in 2024
Boox, Amazon

Forget about writing down your ideas on sticky notes, paper napkins or scraps of paper -- all of which create clutter and can easily get lost. Now you can create handwritten notes and drawings, organize them in customized virtual notebooks, back up your notes in the cloud and then share them with others -- all with a digital notepad. And you can use these devices to read, annotate and sign PDF files, too. 

The best digital notepads look like tablets, but they have an e-ink display that's easily readable in almost any lighting -- just like the best e-readers. Using a stylus, you handwrite or draw directly on the screen, within the pages of customizable virtual notebooks. Then, in most cases, you can automatically convert your handwritten notes into editable text, or store the notes as you created them. 

Digital notepads give you plenty of virtual paper style options and even let you to choose your simulated writing instruments, such as a ball-point pen, fountain pen, pencil or highlighter. While some of the latest digital notepads can also be used as e-readers or offer basic tablet functionality, their main purpose is to replace a traditional notepad.

Keep in mind, with a specialty app (like Goodnotes 6 or Notability) and an Apple Pencil, any Apple iPad tablet can be used as a feature-packed, full-color digital notepad, as can any tablet that has a stylus available for it.

Our top picks of the best digital notepads for 2024

Our in-house consumer tech experts have jotted down their research notes and compiled this roundup of the best digital notepads out there. Get ready to handwrite or draw directly on an e-ink display using a pen-shaped stylus. This nicely recreates the experience of handwriting on paper using a traditional pen or pencil. Organize and access all of your notes in one place. And because these devices rely on an e-ink display, battery life is typically up to several weeks, not mere hours, like a traditional tablet.

Best digital notepad overall: reMarkable 2

Remarkable 2

Display size: 10.3 inches | Display type: E-ink | Resolution: 1,872 x 1,404 pixels, 226 DPI | Color or monochrome display: Monochrome | Internal storage: 8GB | Expandable: No | Stylus included: Yes | Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi | Operating system: Codex | Battery life: Up to 2 weeks

Unlike a traditional tablet that's built for a ton of tasks, or an Amazon Scribe that's for both note-taking and e-reading, the reMarkable 2 is first and foremost a digital notepad. It's designed to replicate writing on paper with a pen.

What we like most about this device is that it's extremely thin and lightweight. The monochrome, e-ink display is also quite readable, with minimal glare. And the rechargeable battery lasts up to two weeks.

As a digital notepad, you can create custom-named notebooks, and each can contain any number of individual pages filled with your handwritten notes. As you're writing, you can opt to leave the content as is, or convert it automatically into editable, typed text. This makes it great for note-taking, managing to-do lists or organizing important information.

Another task the reMarkable 2 handles exceptionally well is PDFs; you can view, annotate, highlight, sign, organize and store them. All content within the reMarkable 2 can be synced with your choice of cloud-based services, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive. 

Beyond PDF files, this note taking tool is compatible with Microsoft Word documents and PowerPoint presentations. It also can serve as an e-reader that accepts ePub files, but that's not the intended purpose of this device. If you're looking for a versatile digital notepad that provides a writing experience that feels like you're using real paper and a pen, reMarkable 2 is a great option.

Best digital notepad and e-reader combo: Amazon Kindle Scribe

Amazon Kindle Scribe

Display size: 10.2-inches | Display type: Paperwhite | Resolution: 300 ppi | Color or monochrome display: Monochrome | Internal storage: 16GB, 32GB, 64GB | Expandable: No | Stylus included: Yes | Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi | Operating system: Amazon FireOS | Battery life: Up to 12 weeks

We're huge fans of the Amazon Kindle Scribe, mainly because it can serve as a digital notepad and full-featured e-reader compatible with any Kindle-friendly e-books. The 10.2-inch paperwhite display is very easy to read, and the device's battery lasts up to three months between charges.

For our coverage of the five best e-readers for 2024, the Scribe was named best e-reader for note taking. Be sure to read our in-depth review of this powerful tool to discover all that it can do.

The Amazon Kindle Scribe also offers yet another cool feature that other Kindles don't. It's a digital notepad. You can handwrite or draw on the display using a stylus. Use the note-taking app to create custom digital notebooks and then fill them with pages containing thoughts or sketches. These notes are stored within the Scribe, but can easily be shared when the device is connected to the internet via Wi-Fi.

As you're reading, you can annotate the content of e-books with handwritten notes, or annotate PDF files. A basic stylus comes with the Scribe and a three-month trial subscription to the Kindle Unlimited service is included, as is a USB Type-C charging cable. 

Best compact digital notepad: Moleskine smart writing set

Moleskine Smart Writing Set

Stylus included: Yes | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: Up to 11 hours | Notebook compatibility: Moleskine Smart Notebooks (small or large) | App: Moleskine Notes app (iOS/Android)

Most digital notepads have all of their technology built into the tablet. That's not the case with the Moleskine smart writing set. In this case, there's a lot of tech bundled into a smart pen that works just like a ball-point. In fact, the smart pen also writes on paper.

The pen must be used with one of Moleskine's smart notebooks, which come in two sizes and in either a hardcover or softcover. As you're writing using the Moleskine pen within one of these notebooks, the pen actually records everything you write and draw. Transfer the work wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet and replicate it on the screen of a mobile device.

Using the Moleskine Notes app, your can view your handwritten notes, store them as PDFs, sync them in the cloud or share them with others. Content can be kept in your own handwriting or converted into text that can be edited. And all of your notes can be associated with keywords or tags that make them easier to locate quickly. 

Another useful feature: It can simultaneously record audio from a class or meeting and link those audio files with your handwritten content. This system is ideal for someone who wants to continue writing with a pen on paper, but store and share all of their notes or drawings digitally, too. 

Best digital notepad with a color display: Boox Note Air3 C

BOOX Tablet Note Air 3 C

Display size: 10.3-inches | Display type: E-paper | Resolution: 2,480 x 1,860 pixels, 300 ppi (monochrome); 1,240 x 930 pixels, 150 ppi (color) | Color or monochrome display: Color | Internal storage: 16GB | Expandable: Yes (microSD card) | Stylus included: Yes | Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Operating system: Android 12 | Battery life: Up to 16 hours

Boox is one of the few companies that offers digital notepads and Android tablets with full-color, e-paper displays. The Boox Note Air3 C has a 10.3-inch color screen. It's primarily designed to be a digital notepad for writing or drawing using different colored virtual inks, or for annotating full-color PDF files. 

As an e-reader it accepts 17 e-book formats. The device itself is a mere 5.8mm thick and it's extremely lightweight. As a note taking tool, it offers a paper-like experience for handwriting ideas and sketches.

Because the device uses an e-ink display, it's battery lasts for many hours. But it lacks a traditional display, so don't expect to work with high-resolution photos or video with the sharpness of a traditional tablet. The colors appear more muted. Resolution improves dramatically when viewing content in monochrome. As you're handwriting, the Note Air3 C can convert your handwriting into editable text. You can also use this device to view, annotate, sign and share PDF files. The handwriting and drawing capabilities are extensive, while the e-reader features are also robust. 

Because this is an Android device, it can be used for basic tasks that a tablet can also handle, like checking email, but this is primarily a digital note-taking tool for notes. Overall, we're very impressed with the note-taking capabilities of the Note Air3 C and recommend it to someone who prefers to handwrite, store and share their notes digitally.

For slightly less money, the Note Air3 ($400) is available with a monochrome screen.  It can handle everything that the Note Air3 C can do, just without the color. If you're going to invest in a Boox digital notepad, however, we suggest going with the full-color version. The use of color gives you more options when handwriting notes, drawing or annotating PDF files. There's even a virtual highlighter that allows you to highlight text in PDF files using the colors of your choice. 

Best digital notepad with tablet functions: Boox Ultra C Pro

BOOX Tablet Tab Ultra C Pro

Display size: 10.3-inches | Display type: Kaleido 3 | Resolution: 2,480 x 1,860 pixels, 300 ppi (monochrome); 1,240 x 930, 150 ppi (color) | Color or monochrome display: Color | Internal storage: 128GB | Expandable: Yes (microSD card) | Stylus included: Yes | Connectivity: USB Type-C, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Operating system: Android 12 | Battery life: Up to 21 hours | Keyboard: Optional

The Boox Ultra C Pro can do everything that the Boox Note Air3 C can do as a note taking tool, but it also serves as an Android tablet.

It comes with the same collection of preinstalled apps as other Android tablets and allows you to install additional apps from the Google Play Store. The Boox Ultra C Pro has a full-color, e-ink display. This means it can be viewed in any lighting situation with virtually zero glare. 

Be warned: Between the speed of the processor and the sluggishness of the display's refresh rate, the Boox Ultra C Pro is not suitable for video. And while it can display full-color, high-resolution photos, the colors will appear muted and the images will lack detail. But this digital notebook is great for basics like web surfing, email, word processing, spreadsheets or any tasks that don't rely on video or graphics. 

Also on the plus side, the Ultra C Pro comes with a stylus and runs Android 12. It also has a built-in camera, speakers and a microSD memory card slot. It supports 24 digital file formats. A variety of optional cases (that also serve as stands) and a detachable keyboard are sold separately. While not for everyone, the Boox Ultra C Pro is a great option for people who prefer hand-writing over typing, but who want the core features of a tablet in a single, lightweight device.

How to choose a digital notepad

A digital notepad should be as comfortable and intuitive to use as a traditional pad and pen. Here are five things to consider when choosing which digital notepad is best suited to meet your needs:

  • Design: The best digital notepads are compact, thin and lightweight. They rely on an e-ink display that's easy to read in any lighting (including direct sunlight) and they come with a pen-shaped stylus that's as comfortable to use as a pen. You also want the ability to choose a paper style (blank, lined, graph, etc.) and create customize notebooks that can contain any number of individual pages. The operating system should allow you to store your handwritten notes locally, sync them with a cloud account and share them with others via email. 
  • Display: An e-ink display should be glare-free and easy to read in any lighting. The higher the resolution, the better (especially when it comes to full-color e-ink displays). Most displays built into digital notepads have a resolution that's measured in horizontal and vertical pixels, or in pixels per inch.
  • Functionality: Beyond handwriting or drawing on the display, you might want to automatically convert writing into editable text. Other useful functions include the ability to markup, annotate and sign PDF files. Some of the best digital notepads also serve as e-readers, audiobook players and more. Also, while some digital notebooks only sync files with the manufacturer's own cloud-based service, others are compatible with services like Google Drive, Microsoft 365, Dropbox and Evernote.
  • Stylus: All of the digital notepads featured in this roundup come with a pen-shaped stylus. However, in some cases, you can upgrade to a premium stylus for an additional fee. To get the most out of a digital notepad, you want a stylus that feels like a pen in your hand and that replicates the experience of handwriting on paper. If you flip over the stylus, the opposite end should work as a digital eraser (just like a traditional pencil). When using one of the best digital notepads, you can choose your virtual writing instrument. Options typically include a ball point pen, pencil, felt tip market, highlighter and fountain pen. 
  • Battery life: Because these devices rely on e-ink displays, their battery life tends to be much longer than a traditional tablet. In some cases, you can expect to use a digital notepad regularly for up to four weeks before needing to recharge it.

When it comes to keeping up with the latest technologies, our team of consumer tech experts has you covered with comprehensive product roundups, in-depth product reviews and details about where and how to find the best deals. We cover everything from laptops and action cameras, to the best TVssmart grillstabletssmartwatches and noise canceling earbuds and headphones.

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