Nomad - Pre-Arrival

Why am I writing a blog post before I even received the device?
I am fascinated with the visceral experience I've had so far and thought it would be fun to document my thoughts and a couple steps in my journey: before I receive the device (this post), initial experience, and a couple months in.

The only people who may find this post interesting or useful are those at Ratta.

Initial Excitement

February 20th, I stumbled across cam shand's The Future of Paper - Supernote Nomad. I had never heard of Ratta or the Supernote before. A few things stood out to me.

The crystal back. I'm a child of my generation: the purple Game Boy Color and the iMac G3 are devices that stand out for their design which included exposing the internals. This appeals to my nerdy side. I like seeing different parts of electronics and how they work.

Expandable storage and replaceable parts. It is sad that this is such a unique differentiator in 2024, but it is. Seeing a company care about sustainability and supporting older devices is great and the type of company I would ideally like to put my money towards.

The interface. Specifically seeing the editable writing section (undo, copy and paste, text rotation) made me say, "Yes!" That's when I got excited.

The fact that there was such care in getting a screen protector from Wacom which makes it feel more like paper was a very nice bonus. I've been thinking about a drawing screen protector for my iPad for awhile, but just haven't done it yet. But the idea of a device dedicated to writing, but with the power of a computer, resonates with me.

Tangent: a little about me

This may be useful context:

  • I'm a software developer by trade, currently I'm a product manager. I'm 14+ years into my career.
  • I like writing long hand, but for productivity (work/personal improvement) I have never stuck to it for more than a month or two.
  • I have messy handwriting and am a poor speller. I will frequently scratch words out to rewrite them. The lack of undo on paper annoys me constantly.
  • Classmates would frequently comment on how small I write.
  • The lack of ability to search my notebooks has annoyed me.
  • As a data hoarder, I am very aware that there is no backup of my notebooks.
  • I like being particular with my pens and paper (thankfully I never got into very expensive pens, I like Muji pens).
  • I want to carry around a physical notebook and to have some use for it in my system, but I've just never overcome the above hurdles.
  • I've always wanted to improve my drawing skills and recently I've started to carry around a sketch pad to try to build up a habit of drawing once in awhile.

Back to the post.

Sleeping On It

I've never considered an impulse purchase as much as this one.

Thankfully I saw the video in the evening and it was easy enough to sleep on it. But the next morning my mind was racing with ideas about how it might fit into my workflow and how cool it is.

I have been cutting back on YouTube for a couple weeks, but this completely undid. I had to watch as many videos about the Nomad as I could. I wasn't a fan of the long 30 minute+ reviews and I quickly found a lot of repetition. For this use case, I prefer two types of videos: tech reviews and long term reviews.

Unboxing and first impression videos are not helpful. Everyone goes through the same motions and covers the same topics. Everyone has the same "complaints" re: the screen being rough the begin with but that it breaks in after time.

A tech review video would be useful as a quick recap of the features and abilities. I think cam's video did that well.

Long term reviews are great for how a device actually fits into someone's workflow. Not someone who has 12+ e-ink devices and considers themselves an expert in the field. Sorry, but your workflow doesn't feel applicable to mine.

I remained very excited about this device.

So on February 23rd I signed up for their newsletter. I am interested in their business and wanted to learn more. I was basically asking: sell me on your ecosystem.

Buying It

3rd party devices aren't allowed at work, so it would have limited usage there. And it was hard to justify $400+ on a device where I'm not 100% sure how it will fit into my existing workflow which is 100% digital (mostly Obsidian).

But it was an ear worm. I couldn't get it out of my head. It just seemed... fun. Thankfully, I'm in a position where I can occasionally justify a large purchase as simply a toy. Something fun to play with. I hope it will fit into my workflow, but for nothing else, it seems fun. It'd be fun to draw on it.

On February 24th, I purchased one. The site said that shipping would be mid-March.

I ended up going for the white back. I wanted to be practical and know that I'm really not going to be looking at the back that often, especially since it will be in a case. But the crystal back told me that this company had a design sensibility that I would be willing to support.

Supernote vs Others

Honestly, I usually do more research when making a big purchase. But for this one, it was still a bit of an impulse purchase. The main reasons why I didn't bother going down the rabbit hole of Supernote vs ReMarkable vs Boox was that I had a general idea of ReMarkable and Boox already and the videos I watched reenforced my initial impressions (confirmation bias anyone?).

In my mind the ReMarkable is a very simple system. But with only having a large form device and a monthly subscription, that was a no-go for my use case.

The Boox design just doesn't resonate with me. Additionally it seems to be more of a full Android tablet which is more than I want (with the sacrifice, I imagine, of battery life).

The Supernote checked the boxes for me. (A) Ability to do everything offline and control my files, (B) right design philosophy, (C) focus on writing, but still providing powerful controls that come with it being a computer, and (D) smaller form factor. Bonus: great battery life.


Now all I had to do was wait. I'm not great at waiting.

I kept watching videos and reading what I could. I also found their Subreddit (a site I had cut out entirely, thanks for reversing that Ratta \s).

After a couple days, the excitement wore off and I started having a critical eye about everything.

I read most of Supernote's website. And questions started to come up.

Why exactly is this company named Ratta?

Their site says:

Ratta was founded 15 years ago as a developer of IC card terminals (POS) and payment systems. ... Now, we are creating a new category "Digital Stationery” for making the world a better place.

I'm still not sure why it is called Ratta, but it sounds like it is a hold over from their previous initiatives. With everything else saying Supernote, especially their URL, I kind of wish they would simplify and just change the company name to Supernote. But there are probably trademark issues around that.

How big is Ratta?

I have no idea.

Where exactly is this company located?

Their site says:

We are a private company with offices in Shanghai, Tokyo and Washington

But where is the headquarters? The invoice has their address as:

Office #3114
445 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, California 90071
United States

But their newsletter says:

Ratta US
601 W 1st Ave
Spokane, WA 99201

Where do things get shipped from?

I wasn't able to find an answer to this. Reading the subreddit I saw there is an EU store, but that sounds like it is a different entity than Ratta, potentially ran independently. From their site, it looks like they are an authorized seller, but it is weird because they use the Supernote name as well.

The other strange thing is that the authorized seller websites are actually better than Ratta's site. More video, more pictures.

Generally speaking Ratta's site copy is very poor:

  • They leverage a lot of us-vs-them language (e.g. "Let's face it, most E Ink tablets are cold and dull.") rather than just talking about their strengths.
  • There is a lot of filler text rather than focusing on what the product actually provides.
  • They like to promise future features. Just sell what you have today. Leave future initiatives and goals to your roadmap/community.
    • "DIY options will be available in the future."
    • "Export to PSD (Under development)"
    • "A Linux-based system will be open in the future for community modifications and customizations." Note: Is this Android side loading or something else? There is no learn more links for these items.
  • They have images with small fonts baked in.
  • Their marketing page has some pretty technical terms associated with it (e.g. "300 milliseconds for quick page turn" rather than "half a second")

The user experience on the site could use an uplift as well.

  • Under "2nd Gen Soft Screen Film" if you watch the video (which is just an ad with no voiceover) you are reset to the top of the page when you are done.
  • The "No "Connect", No Problem" headline is trying too hard to be cute and ends up with poor communication. This may be a better phrase in a different language.

The site structure is also a bit confusing.

  • There is a reviews section but also testimonial & use-case pages (both of which look like they were last updated in 2022)
  • The solutions pages feel like a V1 pass of how a Supernote could be used, but the use-cases section kind of does this a bit better.

Overall the website did a poor job of actually show casing what a Supernote can do or a good job selling the product. I know UX and marketing are both hard, but I have to imagine some investment here would help sell more product and build stronger trust in the brand (I was seeing some comments in Reddit asking if this is a scam).

Which brings me to the last topic: inventory.


From everything I can tell, from February and March 2024, it seems like they have a hard time keeping inventory in stock. The A6X2 (Nomad)* said shipping in mid-March. If it is shipping snail mail from China, then I may need to mentally attach another month to that timeframe. I don't care about when it ships I want to know when I can expect to get it.

* This is another question: why Nomad? Why not just stick with their great naming schema of A6X2? That enables such a great foundation for iteration.

As for the A5X, it just isn't in stock. They have announced an A5X2, but that won’t go in sell until Q2 (originally planned for Q1).

On Instagram I saw they announced a new Folio color and it was sold out in a week.

For all the complaints above, it seems like they are doing a fine job selling their products (I did buy one after all didn't I?). That or they just don't have the resources/sophistication to be able to buy enough stock.


The past three weeks have given me a glimpse into how hard it is to be a small hardware company.

Smaller production runs mean higher prices. Something that every reviewer feels the need to complain about. I think the price is reasonable, even good.

Dealing with the transition to a new product is difficult. If someone buys an older version they will be mad at you for releasing something new. Apple does this well with leaving old products on sale and dropping the price. But this strategy may not work well for smaller companies.

Pre-announcing devices, features, or accessories is a double edge sword. Customers start to expect things to be coming out any day and any delays in timeline cause a mini-revolt. I would guess that standard cadences in software releases (e.g. quarterly releases) and hardware updates (annual / bi-annual) would help. But there are a thousand factors I am missing.

Today, March 14th, and I received my shipping notice from Ratta and DHL. Shipping from Shanghai, due here on March 18th.

I am surprised that their newsletter hasn't sent anything after the first email. At minimum I expected a drip email getting me up to speed on their brand, what they stand for, and their products. Then update emails when they release new products or software updates.

I look forward to my Nomad getting here next week. I want to be a fan of this company and its products.

Ryan Mathews

Ryan Mathews

San Francisco, CA