Smart notebooks bring the age-old pen and paper notebook into the 21st century. With them, you can transcribe written notes, organize and tag your pages, and even save audio recordings with your notes. Here, we’ll break down what kind of notebooks are on the market, and who they’re best suited for.
For the Budget-Conscious: Rocketbook Everlast
Traditional notebooks are pretty cheap, but some smart notebooks can get up there. If you’d rather save the cash, the Rocketbook Everlast ($30) is one of the least expensive ones around. It comes with 36 reusable pages and an erasable Frixion pen. You can clean each page with a damp cloth when you’re done and use the notebook over and over.
Each Rocketbook page has a grid of dots and a series of symbols along the bottom. You can scan each page into the mobile app using the camera on your phone. The app can then send your notes to different apps like OneNote, Evernote, or Google Drive depending on which symbol you mark at the bottom of the page. The app can even turn handwriting into selectable text, though it’s not quite as robust as other smart notebooks.
For Easy Re-Use: Rocketbook Wave
Similar to the Rocketbook Everlast, the Wave ($27) is a re-usable notebook that uses erasable Frixion pens to erase your pages and start again. However, the Wave can be wiped clean by putting it in the microwave. Since the Frixion ink erases with heat, the microwave can wipe the entire notebook in one quick go. The downside is that the notebook can only handle 5 reuses or so before the “ghosts” of past notes make the pages illegible. Still, if you’d rather have an easy way to wipe a notebook, this model has a small advantage over the Everlast.
For Seamless Digital Notes: Moleskin Smart Writing Set
The Moleskin Smart Writing Set ($180) is easily the most expensive notebook in our list, but it also gives you all the bells and whistles. It uses a special Bluetooth pen that pairs with your phone or tablet and digitizes your notes as you write. The set comes with a 176 page notebook, though when you fill that up you’ll need to buy a replacement Paper Tablet.
For all the extra money, you get some fancy features. The pen can also record audio, which can be synced with your notes. If you want to find out what your professor said when you wrote something down that makes no sense now, just go back to that part in the audio and hear what they said. The app can also transcribe your written notes, convert pages into PDFs or images, and share with other note services.
For On-the-Go Note Takers: Wacom Bamboo Slate
If you’re always on your feet, moving from one place to another and need a notebook you can easily use while away from your desk, the Wacom Bamboo Slate ($130) may be best for you. It has a clipboard-style design that’s easy to hold in one hand while you write with the other. You can use any paper with it, but you’ll have to use the special Wacom pen.
The software can be a little limited, though. The Wacom Inkspace app can sync your notes and convert some handwriting into text, but if you want rich text editing, you’ll need to pay for a monthly subscription. On top of this, there’s a separate Bamboo Paper app for more in-depth editing which can be a little disjointed. However, you can upload pages of notes to OneNote or Evernote if that makes more sense for your workflow.
For the Office: Wacom Bamboo Folio
The Bamboo Folio ($150) is very similar to the Bamboo Slate, except in—you guessed it—a folio style notebook. You can fold over the cover to protect your notes and keep other papers inside the notebook. Like the Slate, it uses any paper but you have to use the included been to sync and store your notes. It’s slightly more expensive than the Slate, but it does look fancier, so that’s nice when you’re in a meeting with the boss.
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