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Amazon Kindle Scribe review: 7 months later, it's so close to perfect

Since its launch, Amazon has released three significant updates for the Kindle Scribe. Here's how it's aged.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Amazon Kindle Scribe

4 / 5
Very good

pros and cons

  • Large high-resolution display
  • Fantastic writing surface
  • Excellent ebook reader
  • Long battery life
  • Premium pen is not as pricey as competitors'
  • Not water resistant
  • No physical buttons

This review was originally published on December 12, 2022, and was updated on July 7, 2023.

Ebook readers have been a part of my life since 2007. At one point, I even considered the Kindle DX to get that big-screen reading experience. Naturally, I was intrigued when my coworker bought a ReMarkable 2 and showed me all the reading and note-taking possibilities of the tablet. 

But right as I was about to check out, Amazon unveiled the Kindle Scribe, the first of its kind to support in-display writing with a massive 10.2-inch display. 

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Seven months have passed and the Kindle Scribe remains as my on-the-go note-taking tablet. When I first reviewed the device, I listed seven improvements I wanted to see on the Scribe, which we'll revisit later in this article. Since then, Amazon has rolled out three firmware updates this year. So the question now is, "How much better has the Kindle Scribe gotten?" Here's the verdict.


Display 10.2-inch Paperwhite, 300 ppi, 16-level gray scale
Storage 16GB/32GB, or 64GB
Front light 35 LEDs
Battery life Reading up to 12 weeks, writing for up to 3 weeks
Connectivity WiFi and Bluetooth
Supported formats Kindle, TXT, PDF, DOCX, DOC, HTML, EPUB, RTF, JPEG, GIF PNG, BMP, Audible
Battery 577mAh
Dimensions 196 x 230 x 5.8mm
Weight 433 grams

Still a Kindle for e-reading

The Kindle Scribe is Amazon's biggest ebook reader and is the culmination of all the optimizations and capabilities added to the Kindle ebook reading experience over the past 15 years. Like most Kindles, buying one of Amazon's new tablets comes with a free trial of its Unlimited service, which allows you to borrow digital books to read at your leisure. I've found this service practical enough to commit to even after the trial ends. 

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The Kindle Scribe supports Audible, too, as long as you're connected to a Bluetooth headset for audio playback. Battery life will obviously be impacted with Audible books more than with standard e-ink experiences, but it is nice to be able to enjoy Amazon's audio service even on the much larger Scribe.

The Kindle Scribe next to the Kindle Oasis.

The Kindle Scribe (left) is much larger than the Oasis (right)

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The higher brightness levels, glare-free Paperwhite display, warmth controls, and 10.2-inch screen make for an awesome reading experience. I only wish there were hardware buttons like I have on my Oasis to easily turn pages. It's an essential feature to have, especially when handling a tablet this big.

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The left side bezel is a bit wide, in my opinion, but it does make it easier to hold the tablet with my left hand and write with my right. Amazon considered accessibility for all so you can rotate the Scribe 180 degrees and have the wide bezel on the right side with a pen in your left hand, making it an ambidextrous tablet. 

It's worth noting that the Scribe does not have an IP rating for water resistance. Over the years, I have used my Kindle Oasis at the beach, by the pool, and even in the bathtub because that reader has IPX8 water resistance, so it's unfortunate that Amazon's more expensive and modern offering doesn't. 

How the Scribe replaces pen and paper

I'll confess: I have drawers full of notebooks filled with my scribbling and sketches throughout the years. As each book gets filled up, I store them in one of my storage drawers, and eventually remove them for recycling. My desire to find something that doesn't waste paper and also provides the ability to preserve and share my notes has been met with the Amazon Kindle Scribe.

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A key function that I'll add is how I can quickly and easily erase my handwritten notes by 'brushing' the eraser portion of the $59 Premium Pen. It's an optional accessory for the Scribe, but one that I highly recommend picking up if you want the full note-taking experience. If you order the Kindle Scribe without a case, you will find that the pen magnetically attaches to the side with the narrower bezels -- and it does so fairly securely. 

Kindle Scribe with the stylus on top.

The Kindle Scribe has replaced my usual notebook and pens.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

If you find yourself using your Kindle Scribe daily like me, make sure to keep an eye on the pen tips for optimal performance. Amazon includes five replacement tips and the tool in the package. It's quick and easy to replace a tip, and I've gone through a couple after noticing the tip deforms a bit after extensive use. Ten additional replacement tips are also available for $14.99.

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While I have various other tablets, I've yet to find a pairing that feels natural, both in hardware and software and often end up rarely ever using the stylus that they support. An e-ink tablet like the Kindle Scribe solves that issue. 

What's new after the updates?

As I mentioned in the introduction, when I first reviewed the Kindle Scribe, I had seven areas of improvement that I wanted to see. Since then, Amazon's rolled out three major firmware updates to the tablet that address some, but not all, of my pointers.

What's been addressed: 

  • Basic file management: Amazon has improved file management and the ability to quickly and easily navigate and organize the pages of your notebooks. The first of the three updates provided subfolders, page navigation, and additional brush types.
  • Handwriting to text: The Scribe now supports handwriting to text, which allows users to better leverage the optional stylus.
  • Import content into notes: Another update provided users with the ability to send documents from Microsoft Word to their Kindle.
  • Export notes in other formats: When it was first launched you could quickly and easily send your handwritten notes as a PDF to an email. With the latest update, you can now send it as a text file. Even better, if you choose the Convert to text and email option then you can preview, review, and edit that notebook before sharing with up to five email addresses.

What hasn't been addressed:

  • Shapes: While graph paper is one of the note templates offered, it is still tough to make straight lines in ink. I would love to see support for basic shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles, and even lines for when I need to sketch up designs and engineering mock-ups. 
  • Colored pens: Even if color e-ink is not used on the display, it would be nice to have access to different colors and highlighters so that when they are exported, the receiver can better visualize your input.
  • Quick toggle between book reading and notebooks: It is quick and easy to add notes within books you are reading, but sometimes I have a thought I want to write down in one of my notebooks instead. Currently, users have back out of the reading experience and navigate to the Notebooks section in order to jot down a word or two.

I would also love to see some integration with OneNote. The fact that Microsoft Word support is provided gives me hope for that to happen. Unfortunately, Amazon is less open when it comes to its plans and commitments for feature updates, so I'll be keeping an eye out every few months for when new updates are released.

Bottom line

When I first considered the Kindle Scribe, I wasn't looking for a tablet for media consumption, graphic designing, or the slew of other functions that are best performed by an iPad, Surface Pro, or Samsung Galaxy tablet. I was simply looking for a good digital tablet that mimicked my traditional pen-and-paper experience. 

Today, I use my Kindle Scribe daily as my primary note-taking device, and the habit of carrying it has also resulted in me reading more books than I have in years. It's an excellent ebook device while also serving as a capable working tablet.

Alternatives to consider

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