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Huawei MatePad Paper is like the child of a Kindle and a reMarkable

Alan Martin
27 Feb 2022

Huawei’s first ebook reader is certainly ambitious, but much will depend on factors beyond its control

For all its recent problems with the US, Huawei certainly knows how to make a desirable product and the MatePad Paper certainly follows suit. It’s ambitiously attempting to combine the best parts of Amazon’s Kindle Oasis and the reMarkable 2 tablet into one (presumably quite expensive) product.
It’s a 10.3in e-ink tablet with a Kindle Oasis-style spine to ensure it can be comfortably held, despite its hefty 360g weight. Huawei boasts that the large screen gives it three times the screen area of Amazon’s basic 6in Kindle, which means more words per page. Being e-ink, it has the usual benefit of a superhuman battery life, with Huawei promising up to four weeks of standby power.
The elephant in the room, however, is what words you’ll be reading. Titles can be purchased via the company’s Huawei Books store, but past competitors such as Kobo and Boox have struggled against the sheer scale of Amazon’s publishing operation and the convenience of its Whispersync book sharing. Yes, the MatePad can open all the ebook formats you could name (except Amazon’s proprietary AZW format), but its success will in large part depend on how easy it is to get books on it.
“In large part”, but not exclusively. That’s because the MatePad Paper has a second string to its bow, where it has the reMarkable 2 tablet in its sights. With support for Huawei’s second-generation M-Pencil and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, you have a rather handy digital notepad. 
That means you can use it to take notes with a paper-like feel, all of which can be automatically saved to text for easy digital use. It even has a microphone for voice notes if you’re an auditory learner, with everything stored neatly on the 64GB of internal storage, and security is provided by a fingerprint reader embedded in the power button. Any notes you take can be easily synced with other HarmonyOS devices using the company’s Super Device file transfer system.
Here, of course, there’s a second elephant in the room: the number of people who use HarmonyOS in the UK is vanishingly small, and we’ll just have to wait and see how nicely the MatePad Paper plays with – sorry Huawei – more popular operating systems like Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. 
In short, on paper, it all sounds marvellous, but Huawei has three difficult hurdles to clear for this to be a winner, and not all of them are within the company’s control. 
Can the Huawei Books store compete with Kindle? Will it play nicely with operating systems other than the niche HarmonyOS? Will it be competitively priced? 
Huawei will need to be able to answer “yes” to at least two of those three questions. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what it’s like in person.

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