Last updated: September 2023
The following review was based on the latest system update provided by Mobiscribe as of late August 2023.
Design and Build
The Mobiscribe Wave is constructed with a contoured, plastic back which makes it easy to hold one-handed. The device weighs 256g by itself and 132g for the magnetic cover and stylus combined. The device snaps into the provided cover which holds it surely. It is easy to pry out the device from the case without strain on either. The case features two loops, one for the included stylus and a magnetic loop that can handle slightly larger styluses. However, a stylus such as the Lamy All Star will not fit within the magnetic loop.
The device is solidly constructed and does not feature any creaking or suspect quality. The Eink panel cover is not flush with the bezel, so there is a slight ridge transitioning between the two. The device is waterproof, which is quite unusual for an Eink notetaking device, and is rated at IPX7. The waterproof design likely inspired the blue back color of the device which is a nice match with the color scheme of the rest of the device, including the cover.
The Mobiscribe Wave has a competent CPU and enough RAM that the system does not drag down. While it can take a bit longer to move between menus than more premium devices, the Wave would not be considered sluggish. The best way to describe it would be a ‘step behind’ more premium devices such as the Boox Tab Mini C. The speakers are decent but nothing special, which is the norm for Eink tablets.
Front lighting is present in both warm and cold iterations and works well. The lighting is evenly applied across the screen with no notable issues, except save for the very bottom which does have slight light bleed in the corners. There is a dedicated button to turn front lighting on and off, located adjacent to the power button – the only two buttons on the device. Volume is handled via a drop-down menu which is also where the detailed front lighting options can be selected.
This device uses a standard Carta screen which is common among eReaders. The device can experience some ghosting, but this is minimal and can be cleared using the refresh icon at the top of the system’s UI.
The included stylus is a weak point for the Wave. It’s a very thin, plastic stylus that feels insubstantial in the hand. However, it does have a pencil-like hexagonal grip which is welcome and does feature an eraser which is activated when pressing down upon it. The stylus is certainly not premium but would make for a good travel item due in part to its lightness. Functionality, it works fine and performs better than it feels. It can be replaced with most Wacom styluses if need be (although not all styluses will fit nicely under the flap of the case). Charging is not required.
Placing files on the device can be done in numerous ways natively and the potential of using Android apps expands on that ability. Mobiscribe provides its own file sharing service but one could just as easily hook up the device to a computer’s USB port and load and unload files that way. The device seems to focus on Dropbox integration, however using this service is not required.
Notes will need to be converted to PDF or PNG files to be viewable outside the device. Notes can be e-mailed from within each notebook. However, backup of files can occur en masse either on the device’s internal memory, or via Dropbox, Evernote, or MobiCloud integration.
Notes are organized using a file and folder structure and can be sorted in 6 different ways.
The Mobiscribe Wave has a surprisingly powerful notetaking app that is among one of the more feature-laden in the industry. Features include, but are not limited to:
- 52 templates
- 6 pen styles featuring 6 grey-scale options with a wide range of line widths
- 5 additional layers beyond the template
- 4 custom shapes with line style options, 6 grey-scale options, and multiple line widths
- Ability to insert text boxes, images, customizable tables, and hyperlinks to other notes.
- Searchable handwriting both within a notebook and across all notebooks.
- Handwriting conversion to text with mixed but generally competent results.
- Bookmarking of notebook pages and ability to add note marks on a given page.
The actual experience of notetaking is decent but hampered by the smaller screen (vs. 10-inch devices or larger). The device does have a subtle, but satisfying, auditory sound when writing but is not as notable as competitors such as the Remarkable 2 and will not simulate the sounds of writing on paper.
Overall, the notetaking app is well developed and a pleasant surprise. It would fare much better on a 10-inch screen where it would surely shine, but as-is the device is still competent at creating to-do lists, jotting down ideas, or even journaling.
The native reading app is much more limited than its notetaking counterpart. It’s a solid app for reading ePub documents but struggles with PDF viewing – especially when the source material was intended for a normal paper size (e.g. A4). The reader has a very limited accessibility with file types and cannot read popular comic formats such as CBR.
Pinch to zoom functionality is there but is not particularly smooth. As with notetaking, the app uses a file and folder organization structure that can offer either a list or icon view. Documents can be selected as a favorite for easy reference.
The Reading app is not bad at all, it just doesn’t reach the detail and quality of the notetaking app. But for what it does, it is certainly competent.
The inclusion of Android 12 and the ability to download Google Play store apps, once the device is registered, expands on what the device can natively do. The most obvious way it does this is as an eReader where you have access to Kobo, Kindle, Google Books, Libby, and more. Thus, you have access to all major reading eco-systems without being constrained to any.
However not all apps work well on an Eink device, and notetaking apps outside of Notes are a mixed experience. OneNote, for example, has a sluggish writing experience with the stylus.
You can watch movies and animations on the device but this is not recommended as the quality will be notably low.
Android 13 is the current version of that operating system as of this writing. As a result, apps for Android 12 may not have all the features that are currently available in the most recent versions. However, this is generally not a concern when dealing with reading apps.
Mobiscribe support can be reached by submitting an issue using the Feedback tab in the systems screen. They also have a private Facebook group (3,600 members) and can be e-mailed directly at email@example.com.
Given the restocking fee and having to pay for shipping to return a device, it’s recommended to purchase this device from a third-party seller such as Amazon that may offer more lenient return terms.
The Mobiscribe Wave is one of the least expensive eNotetaking devices on the market but offers solid performance that belies its price point. The UI is easy to learn, the reading app is competent, the inclusion of the Google Play store adds to the device’s potential, and the notetaking app is premium in design and features. The device and case are well-built, only hampered by the lower-end stylus.
It is not a premium device, however. It can’t handle a lot of file types that competitors can and it’s not as snappy as the best products out there.
So who is this device ultimately for? It’s waterproof design, lightweight form, and included case make this an ideal eReader/eNotetaker for travel. For anyone who has an eReader but is also looking to take notes, say for journaling or creating lists, etc., the Wave makes a compelling case to be that device. For buyers who are budget conscious, the Wave is inexpensive in price but remains a quality product. Those are all cases where the Wave might be a good fit.
For buyers who have a premium device, such as a Boox with eReading/eNotetaking functionality, the Wave will seem like a step down. Still acceptable, but not as good as the device that one would be giving up.
Ultimately, the Mobiscribe Wave fills a unique place in the market and is well worth considering. Mobiscribe has proven they are a solid player in the Eink space and is a company worth keeping an eye on in the coming years.
About the author
Jeffrey has been a fan of Eink devices since his first eReader back in 2007. Since then, he has owned over 15 Eink devices from 8 different companies (and counting) which have ranged from dedicated eReaders to fully functional productivity devices.
Using his experience and passion for the subject, he creates videos on YouTube to share his knowledge and interests in this area (youtube.com/@jeffreymoss -- please subscribe!). He can also be found posting on Reddit under the username Disastrous_Analyst_1.
Professionally, Jeffrey has worked in the Healthcare industry for over 25 years in various analytical and administrative roles and that work continues. It should be noted that he uses an eNotetaking device at his place of work daily.
He lives in Northern California with his wife, son, and two cats.